There were angelic voices chanting from a distance, they were coming from a white church marked with a red hammer and sickle; many churches in Kerala are adopting and supporting communism as their ideal form of socialism, a sign of poverty driven politics. As I stepped inside, I noticed how big and bare it was. The choir stood next to the altar around a small keyboard and as they began to notice me; the music faded and they started to giggle shyly, the echo of their little chatter rose loudly replacing the heavenly sounds of their hymns.
The eldest signalled me to come closer, they were impressed that I am indeed a foreigner, as well as reluctant to practice their english, however their kind village faces were radiant with pride and joy when I told them how their beautiful voices drew my attention from afar.
It was their first encounter with a stranger, not to mention an Egyptian coming from the mother land of all civilisations as they taught them in school. This short visit marked a moment I wouldn’t forget; at the end people are what matters…
The more I travelled in God’s Own Country (Kerala), the more I understood the nickname. It gets remarkably surreal, you slowly learn to let go of everything you thought you knew or understood. Despite the dirt, pollution, exaggerated traffic, poor hygiene and poverty; there is something about their raw nature that leaves you with nothing but an overwhelming satisfaction and inner peace.
Munnar speaks of peace and unity with nature, on your way up to the town there will be beautiful resorts where you can do birdwatching, elephant ride stations, random small waterfalls surrounded by little monkeys, wild elephants view points from an elevation to avoid any sort of interaction, spice gardens that you can tour and buy fresh products – pick your stop wisely though.
The main site seeing close to town is The Kanan Devan Hills Plantations museum and factory now owned by Tata global Beverages. You can also have a small guided walk across some of the plantations.
The museum has interesting historical facts related to how Munnar got populated by the genesis of the tea industry during the colonial English times. As the industry developed; the crisis of the hard working conditions and workers exploitation rose, how they formed unions and made strikes that shaped their own future. The small plant tour gives you a good idea of the simple manufacturing operation of different tea leafs, and appropriate ways to make tasty tea cups for every occasion…
Kundala dam lake is one of the hot spots both for locals and tourists; you can simply walk over the dam, buy some spicy mangos or corn and stroll around the lake, enjoy small talk with the street vendors, enjoy a game or two or ride a speed boat in the lake.
The place is enriching starting from the smell of the earth and water to the exquisite spice flavours that make you wonder how much you are missing in your daily life and why are we so keen on destroying nature gems around us…The simple villages in contrast with stone mansions and fancy resorts, signs of the Sickle & Hammer everywhere that may give the dreamers a good night sleep.
Munnar is truly not about the destination, and as a wise man named LAO TZU once said: ” A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”
All photographs in this post are my own shots, all copyrights are reserved.