I am never alone. Because I always have a cup of tea to keep me company.
I was 8 when I had my first cup of tea. It was a monsoon evening with a clear but clouded day. I played ‘nine tiles’ that evening. After an hour, I came back home a winner but drenched. When my mother gave me a mean look, I began shivering mostly with fear. After a customary reprimand, she helped me change to dry clothes, covered me with my favorite crimson colored blanket and gave me my first cup of tea in a shiny, white porcelain cup with a warning that the cup was too hot. But it wasn’t. It was just the right temperature with the sweetest drink inside. That was my reward for beating my friends at ‘nine tiles’.
I have been in love with tea since then & the bond only grew stronger when I visited Munnar in the November of 2014.
The Road to Munnar:
We started our journey from Mysore, Karnataka & reached Munnar, Kerala via Tamil Nadu following Udumalpet-Munnar road.
It was 8:30 on a bright morning of early November. None of the cafes were open yet in Mysore. So, we headed to a bakery, we knew opened at 7 am, grabbed a couple of patties, gulped down extremely sweet shots of filter coffee and started off our journey to Munnar in the name of tea.
After a few hours, when I were busy planning a stop for my afternoon tea, my husband nudged me to look around. We were driving on a twisted road of a hill (somewhere around the border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu) enough for only two vehicles to pass at a time. To my left were very beautiful mountains cloaked in green plantation.
As I was admiring them, the air grew crisper and my ears started popping. The visibility decreased drastically because of the omnipresent, pure fog and we started driving very slowly and carefully. The windshield of our car joined the spirit of the weather and went all cloudy. We lowered our window glasses to let the air pass. Along with the brittle air, came awave of mist that filled our car to the brim and sent a chill down our spine. At that moment, I shivered in joy, smiled in happiness, adjusted my jacket to cover myself and badly craved a cup of hot, ginger tea.
Shortly after that, we entered the plains of Tamil Nadu with cemented and broad roads. Driving is a cake walk in here. You could take a short break here at a local bakery & enjoy the coconut cake, potato patty & a glass of freshly brewed tea. This energy is much required when you have to focus on road while driving on 30+ hairpin bends and blind turns on the top of the mountains and in the midst of forests.
Soon after the hairpin bends come the Anaimalai National Park on the border of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Anaimalai is home to many medicinal plants grown amongst the deciduous and thorn forests. After crossing Anaimalai, you could whiff the love in the air. And in your heart, you would know, Munnar is not far.
When I reached Munnar:
As you enter the Devikulum Taluk of Idukki district, Chinnar wildlife Sactuary, like a gracious host, welcomes you at the entrance of Kerala. If the welcome is this grand, how great will be the stay, is something you can’t help but think while driving through the forests of Chinnar to sight the green, gargantuan mountains of Munnar on the other end.
Above 5, 200 ft. above sea level, Munnar sits like a jewel in the top of the crown of Western Ghats range of mountains. Munnar, meaning three rivers, is the confluence of Mudhirapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundaly rivers. For me, however, Munnar is a medley of tea, mountains and romance.
As we were driving through the tea plantation, the air grew aromatic just like the mélange of fragrance of cardamom, cinnamon and ginger just before the tea is served, hot. Later, my resort owner took us to a guided tour of spice plantation. And indeed, they grow cardamom, cinnamon and many other spices in abundance in Munnar.
Munnar is picturesque beyond a canvas painted with oil colors. This is probably why it has gained stardom between newlyweds, friends and travel enthusiasts. Along with the fragrant tea plantation, Munnar offers stunning scenic views, thrilling treks, wondrous waterfalls & fabulous food. I saw all of it, but was particularly impressed by the sprawling mountains and tea trails.
On the last evening of our stay in Munnar, I was sitting in the lawn of our resort facing the sky. The Sun was in no mood to set that evening. The warm tea felt like a blessing to my cold hands. I was contented that evening, With nobody in the lawn, I closed my eyes and started to deep breathe, with a hope to take as much of Munnar as possible with me.
I didn’t know that my husband noticed me from the sideways restaurant. Three months later, he showed me a plant with cosmos flowers. When I asked him what’s so special about it, he told me that he took a few seeds from the resort that evening. And now, with the plant booming, I really have a piece of Munnar with me.