A journey to the Misty hills
Relax, unwind and have fun. This was the topic of discussion during the evening tea and snacks session with a few of my colleagues. This discussion soon became a frantic search for a weekend gateway from office. And we zeroed on Vattavada.
Vattavada is a village in Idukki district in the state of Kerala, bordering Tamil Nadu, India. Vattavada is a virtually rain shadow village, lying in the eastern side of the Western Ghats near to Marayur and towards the north of Munnar. The mean maximum daily temperature is at its lowest during the monsoon months with the highest temperature being 19 °C (66 °F). Vattavada is also famous for its wide variety of crops which is not seen on the other parts of Kerala, which includes varieties of apples, oranges, strawberries, guavas, pears, blackberries, plums, gooseberries, canistels, peaches and passion fruits, etc.
As the place was decided, we startedlooking for good places to stay with cosy villas and other amenities. We reached out to Kerala Holidays to get a good place to stay for us to relax and enjoy the weekend. They put forward multiple suggestions, and we zeroed down to Camp Noel, Pazhathottam, Vattavada.
We loosely framed an itenary that we were most likely to follow. We decided to start as a group from Kakkanad, Kochi, stop over at Neriamangalam Bridge, followed by breakfast at Farmyard Restaurant and then through the forest check post at Pampadum Shola towards Camp Noel at Pazhathottam, Vattavada. We also had a few other places in mind, like Lockhart Gap Viewpoint at Munnar.
We decided to start our early to avoid the morning rush on roads. Thankfully everyone was sharp on time and we were able to start our journey from Kakkanad at around 5:15am. After driving for almost an hour, all of us felt that it was time to take morning tea break. Everyone was now on a lookout for a decent tea shop. By the time we reached somewhere near Kothamangalam, we found a typical Kerala tea shop, and we all got down to have some hot tea. While ordering tea I saw some nice hand drawn doodles at Tea shop which showed the old tea shops and morning routine. In the meanwhile everyone was too excited about the trip and that was helping us to unwind from our busy life schedules.
As planned, the next stop was at the Neriamangalam Bridge, which is an important historical place. The bridge was built across the Periyar river and is often referred to as the gateway to the high ranges. This bridge was constructed during the reign of Travancore Maharaja in 1935. We took a stroll around the bridge and nearby places. The view of the Periyar river flowing in all its glory was mesmerising. We clicked some photographs and continued our journey. Our next stop was for breakfast. We found a nice cosy place called FarmYard at Chattupara, Adimaly, Kerala. The breakfast was good and without wasting much time here, we continued our trip to Vattavada.
The journey to Vattavada is through Munnar and anyone who has gone to Munnar would know how beautiful this route is. We took the Munnar Bypass Road which leads us to the top station without touching Munnar town. We slowed down at 2nd Mile Viewpoint to enjoy the view. The mist was slowly rising and we enjoyed riding through the misty winding roads. Cracking jokes, and having fun while riding through those amazing roads, we passed through Munnar in a jiffy and were approaching Eucalyptus Tree Photo Point when we received a call from Camp Noel. They called to know the approximate time of our arrival and also advised us the best route, i.e. via Mattupetty > Ellapatti > Forest Check Post, Pampadum Shola > Vattavada beauty viewpoint > Pazhathottam Jn > Camp Noel. They clearly told us that there won't be mobile range hence it will be difficult to communicate while travelling through this stretch of roads. Initially, we were a little sceptical about the route, as this was our first time in this direction. As we went through it turned out to be a very good experience and we enjoyed the trip and it indeed turned out to be the best route to Camp Noel. We stopped at multiple viewpoints, took pictures, had some snacks and refreshments.
However we were advised not to stop while driving through the Pampadum Shola National Park as there will be wildlife crossing. We spotted bison, wild hogs and a few interesting birds.
Camp Noel Nature Resort is a secluded wilderness resort hotel that is located high up in the clouds of the western ghats of Kerala at an altitude of 7000 feet. We are 45 kms away from Munnar town near the village of Pazhathottam. It takes about 90 minutes to reach the resort from Munnar town. We were promised that our experience at Camp Noel would completely be unlike the typical Munnar resort or hotel experience, that is to enjoy nature at its pristine best. Camp Noel is a destination in itself, offering enchanting nature walks where you can enjoy some stunning vista, treks of varying durations to suit your preference, including through deep forests and the occasional wildlife rendezvous. Camp fire in the lawn area will be provided upon request with a music system.
We reached Camp Noel and while my friend, Anees and myself completed the check-in procedures, the others were busy exploring the resort. It was around 1300 hours, and we were already hungry, and Camp Noel was ready with our lunch. We had fried rice, veg and chicken dishes, with chapati etc. followed by some sweet dishes. After the sumptuous lunch, we went to keep our luggage and got ready to go for a quick tour nearby. The first place we went was the Pazhathottam viewpoint.
We started off our ride, the ride was a little bumpy. Since two of our cars were 4X4 off-road vehicles, they went smoothly. However, the other two struggled, especially the Honda’s City. So, we decided to ask Camp Noel to provide us with a 4X4 vehicle or arrange one for us. They did provide us with a Jeep which helped us to take our colleagues to the nearest Viewpoint Pazhathottam first. The climate was pleasant, the breathtaking view and the cold breeze made us feel calm as well as refreshed.
Back at ResortUnfortunately, the sky turned dark and the clouds started getting heavier. It started to pour heavily. We had planned to go towards the nearest waterfall. However, the climate wasn't helping us at all. It was too bad that driving around was very difficult. Especially with the truck around small and narrow roads which was too slippery too. With a bit of disappointment, we decided to go back to resort.
By the time we reached back, the rain had become a drizzle thankfully. While some of them got ready for the pool, the rest of them went inside the cabins to stay warm. There were a lot of indoor game options too like Foosball, carrom board, darts, table tennis etc. Luckly, in few minutes, the sky was clear, and a campfire was set at the centre part of the resort. The campfire was totally cozy especially as the evening was pretty cold and we were served yummy non nonveg and veg snacks.
After dinner, we all went back to respective cottages, however one of the cottages was active with fun and laughter. Where our Muthumani as we call Febin, started to talk about his stories which were mostly about him being the Superhero who kicks down the Villains to save the weak. This kept on going, and turns were taken making fun of each other, and untold secret stories. We all laughed and had a lot of fun and time just flew by. Finally all the superheros decided to go back to their dens.
The next day morning, we were all up and around We moved over to the indoor play area. We played all the games that were there and had a great time. We even had a friendly foosball tournament . Once everyone assembled at the play area, we went for breakfast and decided to vacate as few of them have to leave immediately due to other appointments.
Until next time, Adios Camp Noel.
- Best time to visit : The climate if pleasant all around the year, however September to April is the best time of the year.
- How to reach ? a.) By Rail : The nearest Railway Station is Ernakulam / Cochin, and from there take public transport / taxi to reach Munnar top station and then to Vattavada. b) By Air : The nearest airport is Cochin International airport. Once you reach Cochin, you could take taxi or public transport to Munnar. However from there you should take another taxi to Vattavada. c) By Road : From Munnar, you should be taking the route via Mattupetty > Ellapatti > Forest Check Post, Pampadum Shola > Vattavada beauty viewpoint > Pazhathottam Jn > Camp Noel.
- Why should I visit Vattavada: a) If you love to explore the unexplored hidden places, then this place is for you. You could learn about the lifestyle, traditions, and the natural beauty of vattavada. b) There are sanctuaries in and around vattavada. Pampadum Shola, Munnar Reserver Forest, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kurinjimala Sanctuary, to name a few. c) Strawberries and carrots : There are lot of strawberry fields and thousands of tourists visit vattavada, would buy those fresh strawberries directly from the strawberry vines. Also there you will be able to get freshly prepared strawberry tasty jams. Treat yourself with fresh carrots also which are plucked from the cultivation, you could wash and have it right then. Those are of high quality carrots.
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