Saturday, December 21, 2013

Travelogue: Kerala

Finally, towards the fag end of the year, do I get the time to update my blog, after a prolonged absence of nearly 8 months !!... :)
Reception at Thekkady resort
Anyways, finally got the time late last month to execute our only long vacation in 2013. Trip to God's own country, and on to the Club Mahindra resorts in Thekkady and Munnar ! It was actually a trip not planned much in advance, and I was pleasantly surprised to get the resort reservations in early September (nearly 3 months in advance, but late by Club Mahindra standards !!**). The other reservations followed soon thereafter, and on the last Sunday in November, Aarya, Anjali and me were on the flight to Kochi. From Kochi, it was a nearly five hour drive to Thekkady resort, including a halt for the ubiquitous Kerala lunch on the banana leaf ! Otherwise, the drive itself was pretty uneventful, save for a brief shower in between that made driving quite difficult. At around dinner time, pulled into the ClubM resort there.
ClubM Munnar... from nearly a km away !
The ClubM resort there surprised me pleasantly. Frankly, I was not expecting it to be any great shakes, especially as compared to the next destination viz.  Munnar, but the design and the layout (cottages spread across with undulating paths to lead) were pretty nice. One got the impression of being in the middle of the forest, what with the many trees that surrounded your cottage ! The next morning, did the mandatory ride on the Periyar lake, but it ended in disappointment with only 2 elephant sightings to show for in the 1.5 hr journey. This was followed by the elephant ride in the evening, which Aarya thoroughly enjoyed. Actually, there is not much to do in Thekkady, and in fact most tourists give it only a day. So we got the next day pretty much to ourselves in the resort and Aarya had a ball with the crayons set and the rides in the activity center, while her parents tried their hands at carom and table tennis.
KTDC Flower garden.. must visit !
On Wednesday morning, we set off from Thekkady to Munnar, The 100 km journey is famous for its twists and turns (and not to mention some gorgeous sights of the tea gardens and the hills) and I admit to a couple of bouts of restlessness on the way. But the moment I sighted the Club M resort in between the clouds from afar (see picture taken with maximum zoom), we all felt fresh and invigorated. Literally, the resort took our breath away. I think it can safely lay claim to be the best ClubM resort (though I will confirm it only after visiting Tungi near Lonavala in 2014). Nestled in the mountains, there are 120 rooms and cottages spread across various levels and walking from the highest cottage to the reception is a task in itself. We checked into a 1 BR apartment with views of the tea gardens and a small lake from the balcony. We did the usual sights in and around Munnar (Erivakulam National Park, Mattupetty dam, tea factory tour etc) the next couple of days. But the one that impressed me the most was the KTDC flower garden (which is on the way from Munnar town to Mattupetty dam). Rarely before have I seen such a riot of colours. It was truly magnificent and simply not to be missed on your trip to Munnar !
Boating at Mattupetty dam !
After another day to enjoy the hospitality of the Munnar resort, we came back on Sunday, a refreshed lot !!


** Must compliment Club Mahindra on throwing open the reservation system online. It is very transparent, and you know exactly what room types you are getting and on what dates, rather than waiting for an operator to answer your many questions ! Kudos !!

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