Just when I thought that I had seen the broad overview of India it threw up one more surprise. Looking out of the window of the bus was an absolute treat as I traveled through the hills and tea plantations of Kerela. It really was quite special. Straight out of a post card it is yet another wildly different scenery that India has in its armory.
It is with those views in mind that Munnar dissappointed. It is quite a grubby little town that detracts from the beautiful setting that it is a part of. My initial impressions were not helped by the amount of tourists from both India and further afield. Since arrving in India I have been fortunate to have been able to move from place to place, without a worry for accommodation. Since arriving in Kerela however its all change and I’ve been having a struggle to find budget rooms. Munnar was no different and I ended up joining a line of people heading towards a group of guest houses that offereed the only budget accommodation available. Luckily I got one of the last rooms for a decent price but it was unnecessary stress on arrival.
On the first day I took the time to go for a good fifteen kilometer walk. It was a pleasant stroll through the tea plantations but a bit restrictive in terms of the paths being private property so you were mostly road bound. On the second day I took a bus out to Top Station which is a superb spot promising excellent views over Tamil Nadu. Unfortunately by the the time I had arrived the clouds had rolled in. That said it seemed to be out of reach of most visitors being over 30km outside of Munnar and so I enjoyed several hours of peace and quiet amongst the company of a lovely older Australian couple. When you find quiet places in India you have to make the most of it.
As I left Munnar on the bus to Coimbatore, I was treated to more spectacular views. It was worth visiting for the bus rides alone, even if the excursions were a little disappointing. In hindsight I should probably have hired a rickshaw for the day to get around more of the area but the costs were a little steep.
And it was with that thought that I left India’s second most popular state. I have to admit that with the build up it gets from some people I was a little disappointed. Sure it was scenically beautiful and had plenty of things to do but I couldn’t reconcile the sheer volume of people. It just felt like you were on a continuous conveyor belt of tourists. Of course that was always going to be the downside of traveling through it during peak season but still it does detract somewhat. I think also in comparison to say Himachal Province or Rajasthan the sights in Kerela just feel that more established, that more polished. Unfortunately whilst that makes certain aspects easier it does mean that personally I felt it loses a bit of that Indian rustic charm.