Trip Advisor highly recommends the misty mountain range and that’s the reason we decide to head straight to Meghamalai from Munnar. What awaited us, nestled in the clouds, was way beyond our imagination. The plan was to reach Meghamalai by evening and then set off early morning to revel in the sights.
Such impromptu travel plans was not new to us. Encouraged by Google and some hurried hotel bookings was all it took, to get us on the road to lovely Meghamalai popularly known as the ‘High Wavy Mountains’.
What Munnar lacks, you will find at Meghamalai. Along the Kambam – Theni route, take the road on the right from Chinnamanur. Proceed on this road for about 52 kilometres to head to the destination. We reached Chinnamanur by 5.30pm. An estate manager Raja Anduvan whom we met online was to be our guide here. He arrived some time later with provisions and helpers in tow in a Mahindra Jeep.
Once you cross the check post, tamarind trees line both sides of a long and winding mud road. Scenes from an idyllic countryside greet you, complete with sheep grazing in the fields. Around 18 hairpin turns, and after each turn the meadows lay bathed in a golden stream of sunlight.
Our overnight stay was arranged in a tea estate cottage, located right where Meghamalai begins. Behemoth Mountains all around, almost making it seem like we were in a fortress. Meghamalai was still quite far away. It is a bus route, but looks like we have to depend on the hardy Jeep. Well, we have the rest of the beautiful night, to ponder on how we are going to get there. There is nothing that sleep cannot cure!
A sliver of light woke us up early morning by 6 am. A thick blanket of fog has descended and the cottage looks like a castle in the clouds, like something out of a fairy tale! We set off for Meghamalai after coffee and a quick breakfast. Expansive tea estates for miles together, that’s all you are going to see for now. A majority of these green ranges belong to the Woodbriar group, and tea is the main livelihood of thousands of families living around here. The weather is still cool because of the morning rains. The off-road trekking trip continues. The vehicle is familiar with the estate workers, so there is never a dearth for niceties!
We cross the Thoovanam Dam. Few signboards here and there inform us that these are areas with likely elephant sightings. The jeep hurtles along slicing through the mist laden road and everything around is covered in smoky fog. Few scenes remind us of the film Iyobinte Pusthakam.
The rains have come down and the plantation workers file out in long rain coats and high water proof boots. The grocery at the estate belongs to a native of Iddukki. The shop seems small, but you can get everything imaginable there. The television in the tea shop nearby plays some golden MGR melodies, hot teas, cold chilly bajjis, and the sky darkens for the next shower. The mood is set for a scene out of a period film.
Splendid Meghamalai appears to be in a perpetual state of time travel. We leave it there and slowly travel back to where we left our lives....
The Anayirangal Dam is enroute from Munnar to Meghamalai. From Theni it takes 2.5 hours to reach Meghamalai
Some must see places here: Highway Lake, Manalar Dam, Thoovanam Dam, Iravangalar Dam, Upper Manalar Dam, Venniyar Tea Estate.