Travelogue: Bangalore to Munnar – A trip to God’s own country

Travelogue: Bangalore to Munnar – A trip to God’s own country

We visited Munnar during the 15th August long weekend in 2017. We were a group of 4; me and my wife along with a couple we’re friends with.
We hadn’t really done any detailed planning for this trip except booking our transportation and stay in Munnar. We just wanted to get away from the city hustle and bustle and the monotonic daily office schedule. So, we booked our train tickets and hotel stay 2 months in advance and started waiting for the Iday long weekend.

Finally, the day arrived. Our itinerary included taking a train from Bangalore to Aluva and from there traveling via road to Munnar. We had booked the Bangalore-Kanyakumari Express (16526) for travel on Friday (11-Aug-2017) night. We were boarding the train from KR Puram station in Bangalore. We arrived at the station at 7:30 PM, an hour before the scheduled arrival of the train. Soon after, it started pouring rain. The station was already jam packed, and when it started raining, people started crowding under the relatively small covered area on the platforms and the overhead bridge. We somehow managed to cross to our intended platform using the crowded overhead bridge. By the time the train arrived, we were completely drenched. We changed into dry clothes and settled onto our berths. We then had some tasty biryani, which we had ordered and before we left home, and went straight to sleep.

Saturday (12-Aug-2017)

The train takes a slightly longer route than the road route. The scheduled arrival of our train in Aluva was 6.50 AM, but it was running about 30 mins late. I woke up at 6.30 and was greeted by this beautiful first view of god’s own country.

God's Own Country - Beautiful Kerala

This was the first time I was visiting Kerala, and I was already mesmerized by the amount of green there. It was captivating, beautiful and lush and it was everywhere.

We arrived at Aluva at around 7.30 in the morning. We found a nice restaurant near the train station and had our breakfast there. The KSRTC bus stand is located about 300mts from the train station. By the time we reached the bus stand and enquired about the next bus to Munnar, it was 8.15. We were told the next bus is scheduled in 15 minutes. The bus arrived right on time and we boarded. It was a normal non-AC seater bus. The ticket to Munnar cost us Rs. 344 for 4 people = 86 per head.

And so the second leg of our journey started. The road was beautiful, with little traffic and beautiful homes on both sides. It took us approximately 4 hours to reach Munnar including two 10-minute breaks. We reached Munnar at 12.15PM. Here are some pics along the way.

Beautiful landscape on the way to Munnar from Aluva by bus.

 

Beautiful landscape on the way to Munnar from Aluva by bus.

 

Beautiful landscape on the way to Munnar from Aluva by bus.

 

 

Beautiful landscape on the way to Munnar from Aluva by bus.

 

Beautiful landscape on the way to Munnar from Aluva by bus.

We had booked our stay in Elysium Gardens Hill Resort (GMaps). We had selected this hotel mainly for its location. It is perched atop a small hill, around 1.2KM from the bus stand. We reached the hotel at around 12.45PM on Saturday.

Hotel Experience

After reaching the hotel, the check-in process was quick. They took copies of our IDs and then asked us to wait in the lobby till they get the rooms ready. We settled down in the lobby, tired from the almost 16 hour-long journey. Soon after, we were served the welcome drink – extra sweet strawberry milkshake.

Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait too long in the lobby and our rooms were ready in about 15-20 minutes. We checked into our rooms and then came the surprise: no hot water before 6:30 in the evening. Mind you, they have this hot water policy even when their check-in time is 12 PM. I discussed this with the staff, and they said they can give us hot water in buckets. Even the buckets they have in the bathroom and the ones they bring hot water in are very small – roughly half the size of a normal sized bucket we use at home.

I was already regretting my choice of stay. We got ready and headed down to the restaurant for some lunch. We were very hungry and tired also. As we entered the restaurant, we found another group of guests frowning over the restaurant staff. Apparently, they had been waiting for their order for over 40 minutes and still hadn’t been served. They started shouting at the staff and walked out. The restaurant manager mediated and got them to come back in the restaurant.

After witnessing all this drama, we were assured that it would take forever for our order to get served, but the manager assured us that they will get us our food in under 30 minutes. We did not want to wait so long, but none of us had the energy to walk at least 1.5KM to the nearest restaurant. So, we stayed put, and finally after 25 minutes, got our food. We finished lunch at 3.30 PM, a full hour after we entered the restaurant, not bad. We then decided to get back to our rooms and get some rest and then head out to Munnar town in the evening by around 5.30.

We had paid above Rs. 2400 per room per night for a balcony room. I have had better hotel experiences for lesser prices in the past. But, for 2400/night, you would expect better facilities than what is offered here. The hotel from our experience turned out to be pretty average.

Pros:

  • Clean rooms and bathroom.
  • Very good location.
  • Courteous staff.
  • Tasty food.

 

Cons:

  • Limited hot water supply – 6.30 to 10.30 in the morning and same time in the evening.
  • Even when the hot water supply is on, there is a lot of variation in the water temperature continuously.
  • Slower restaurant
  • No laundry facility – This could be a seasonal thing.
  • Patchy room service – although, I and my wife did not face any issues with room service, the couple we were traveling with did.
  • Extremely limited selection of TV channels in the room. They do not even have the basic set of channels subscribed. All Hindi/English movie channels I tried were not available.
  • No hair drier / bathroom slipper in the room.

We had some much-needed sleep after the lunch and woke up at 5.30 PM. We got ready for a walk to the town and left the hotel at 5.45 PM. Munnar town is a small area where major roads meet. There are multiple spice shops, “home-made” chocolate shops, restaurants and other regular stuff. We were looking for a travel agent to plan our next two days in Munnar.

Taxi Experience

We eventually found the Taxi Union’s office which is very near to the bus stand. We discussed with the person there in detail about the available packages. He explained that there are four possible directions to take while exploring Munnar.
1. Kochi Direction
2. Coimbatore Direction
3. Mandupetty Direction
4. Thekkady Direction

Each direction has several points and stretches anywhere from 35 KM to 65 KM. For our next day’s travel, we chose the Coimbatore direction, which ends at Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, about 65 KMs from Munnar. And for the third day, we booked the Mandupetty Direction which ends at Top Station View Point, about 35 KMs from Munnar. Each day’s travel cost us Rs. 1500 for a Toyota Etios car, so in total 3000 for 2 days. We paid 500 as advance and headed out for some shopping.

After a few hours of shopping, we had dinner in a Marwadi restaurant and headed back to our hotel at around 8.30 PM. We had a full day’s travel the next day, so we slept early. And that marked the end of our first day in Munnar.

I will be writing a separate post detailing our next two days, with many more pics and route and other important information. Stay tuned.

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