Hill stations in south India

It’s been a while since I updated this blog, mainly due to laziness but also lack of internet. I’ve been here 7 weeks and I’ve only had internet in 3 of the guesthouses I’ve stayed in.

Approaching Ooty. The roads are really winding with some amazing views.
Hampi was a real highlight for me, not just in India but on all my travels. It was however, ridiculously hot. The hill stations in India were used by the British as holiday retreats from the overwhelming heat, I want me some of that!

Role reversal - men doing the ironing.
I went to the 3 major hill stations in south India – Ooty, Kodaikanal and Munnar. The first 2 are the state of Tamil Nadu and Munnar is just across the border in Kerala. India is divided into 28 states, each with their own culture, history and usually language. India is basically loads of countries rolled into one name.

Walking through villages people wave from everywhere.
Travelling in India is always fun, there’s always something to look at and normally one or two strange things going on, and the series of buses to reach Ooty was no exception. From Hampi, 3 buses and around 20 hours of travel was required. On the last bus while driving through a scenic national park straddling two states, an oncoming vehicle threw a plastic bottle at our bus causing a huge crack in the windscreen. Pandemonium broke out – the bus driver was pissed off. An argument ensued between the driver and another passenger, then the driver slapped him so hard his head didn’t stop shaking for about 10 seconds. I was looking around with a huge smile across my face waiting for more mayhem. Other passengers were making the “he’s been drinking booze” sign with their hand, still not sure if they were talking about the driver or passenger though. I found out that the driver has to pay for any damage incurred to his vehicle, which would equate to about half his monthly pay. No wonder he got a bit slap happy.

A village near Ooty. Reminded me a little of the favelas in Rio.
The surrounding hills and villages of Ooty were so beautiful, although the same can’t be said about the town itself… Interesting Indian town but I wouldn’t necessarily associate the word beauty with it. So I was immediately ready to get out and explore. I met some fellow trekkers and set off in search of a waterfall. It’s not rainy season so the falls weren’t at their most spectacular but the walk was well worth it, especially stumbling upon a tea factory and being received with ear to ear smiles.

A random government organised dance in the meeting of the street. The village drunk came along to shake my hand and was thrown out by the town mayor, very funny.

Tea pickers sorting out their goods.

Loads of tea!

Workers in tea factory, more than happy to have their photo taken.

Smiles all round.

Amazing views of the hills with a little temple in the middle.

A miniature toy train take you up or down the mountain with spectacular views.
Kodaikanal was a lovely town much visited by Indian tourists as well as foreigners. Kodai has a large lake, many waterfalls and great view points, unfortunately the mist foiled most of my views but when the skies cleared it was amazing.

Kodaikanal lake in the mist.

In the background was supposed to be a valley, I got a sad monkey instead.

Wax museum. This guy tried his hardest to get me in.

Great views.

My favourite hill station was definitely Munnar, in a different state with a more laid back feel and even better scenery. The surrounding lush hills were stunning with a spectacular array of flowers and colours.

Striking colours were everywhere in the hills.
The day after I arrived in Munnar I was told there would be a nationwide strike lasting 2 days – the longest since India gained Independence from the British. The strike was primarily a result of increasing fuel price and the state would be in lockdown – no transport, no restaurants… nothing would be open! It seemed to me Munnar would be the perfect place to enjoy this peace and quiet, I couldn’t understand why people were in such a rush to leave! I found a great group of fellow marooned travellers and used the time to really explore the region, it was brilliant.

Lush green everywhere. It looks so soft almost like a bed, unfortunately it wasn't.

Tea pickers in Munnar.

The tea trees are growing in every conceivable place. I wonder how long it took to plant all this tea.

Overflowing bags of tea leaves.

We were lucky enough to meet the ‘big dog’ in town, who arranged a bonfire by the riverside including fireworks and rum, we provided the music and danced into the night. During the evening, around midnight, the word coconut was mentioned, at which point our host summoned one of his minions demanding he bring a coconut for his guests. Despite our protests, this guy went away and came back 10 minutes later with a coconut ready to drink. I had an image of a drunken Indian falling out of a palm tree but thankfully not. It was a good coconut and so was the evening.

Comments

  1. loved this post! sounds like loads of fun. The drunken bus fight sounds hilarious and the tea plantations are amazing!! :)

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  2. Visiting Munnar is really a pleasurable thing when you are on your south India or Kerala trip. It is truly a travellers paradise which is a must visit destination of south India. Nature of Munnar is amazing, beautiful landscapes, hill stations and plenty of tea gardens make munnar a perfect destination for nature lovers.

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