Sentinel Rock stands guard to tea plantations of Mundakai

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The hills that stretch from Meppadi to Mundakai are covered with tea plantations. Scattered among the tea plants are silver oak trees that shoot up into the sky. Small roads intertwine through the estates. Apart from some Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses and jeeps, there are not many vehicles plying through these narrow roads.

Most of the roads heading up to hills end at cottages. Each family has three small rooms in these cottages set up for the estate workers. Standing at the courtyards of the cottage, you can see the slanting raindrops descending on to the valley. Sometimes, it's the all-consuming mist that engulfs the hills and its surroundings.

You would have to cross the infamous Puthumala, which was wrecked by a major landslide in August, to reach Mundakai. An uneasy calm still prevails in the region.

Soochipara Waterfalls

soochippara-waterfall

But once you leave the Puthumala region, the route to Mundakai has several scenic views in store for you such as the Soochipara waterfalls and 900 Kandi. Most of the tourists make this journey purely for the sake of the Soochipara waterfalls. Surrounded by dense forests, the waterfalls offers a nice picnic location. It is also one of the best spots to capture the images of the picturesque tea estates.

Sentinel Rock

If you want to explore further, drive forward to reach Mundakai. en route you would see the towering Sentinel Rock at a distance.

mundakkai-rock

Vellaraparai was probably named the Sentinel Rock as it was considered to be a guardian of the tea plants. The estate owned by the Harrison Malayalam Plantation is also called as Sentinel Rock estate. Sentinel refers to a soldier or guardian.

A huge boulder, soaked in the rain, with a small rock sitting next to it – that’s the Sentinel Rock to you. The name Sentinel Rock is written in block letters on the big boulder, while a single tree stands proudly on the small rock, whose rain-laden leaves are ruffled by the passing breeze at times.

Once you get off the main road and stray into the estate paths, you would be in the line of a possible leech attack. Sometimes, you might feel the bite, but most often you would only realise of the attack after the leech has had its fill.

But once the leech detaches itself, the blood would flow profusely from the wound.

After you bid farewell to the Sentinel Rock, you would go by the river flowing blissfully near the Mundakai government school. During the rainy season, the river would turn a shade of muddy brown. However, once the weather clears, the water would be crystal clear.

tea-plantations

The tarred road ends at Mundakai Angadi. Then on it is the muddy trail. However, some parts of the steep path have been concreted.

The path leads you to a temple, that stands tall at the top of the hillock. The temple courtyard has been beautifully adorned by pretty wild flowers with scores of dragon flies and butterflies fluttering by.

All around you would see deep gorges and lush forests. There would be also narrow streams flowing down the hills. You can breathe in the air of the hills and treat yourself to the most charming view ever. But even as you take in the disarming beauty, mist would suddenly descend from the hills completely hiding the view. A white blanket resting peacefully on the green plantations – probably your best shot at experiencing nature at close quarters.

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