Delhi, Kochi, waterfalls and monkeys in Munnar Hill Station

In October, after work was done, I extended a business trip to India to spend a few days travelling in Munnar, Kerala. I did not have much time, so I hired a local driver, which turned out to be a wise decision because I managed to see so much in practically three days, and I did so in the comfort of an air-conditioned car while it was 33°C outside.
I definitely want to return to India to experience more of this beautiful, unique country rich in history and wildlife.

In Delhi, I visited three temples.
Akshardham temple
An exquisite Hindu temple, stunning in its beauty. It is actually a new temple, built in 2005 according to principles of traditional Indian architecture. Photography was not allowed there, otherwise I would’ve taken hundreds of photos.

The Red Fort
Beautiful fort, palaces, and gardens near Delhi’s old city center, which served as the residence of the Indian emperors around 1600-1700 CE. The walls are made of red sandstone, hence the name. I stood out as a semi-blonde foreigner among the local tourists, so I got many photo requests—I felt like a celebrity!

The Lotus Temple
The Baháʼí temple was nice. The exterior was pretty, but it was hot, the gardens were not accessible, and the interior didn’t have air conditioning.

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Kochi, Kerala

In Kochi, Kerala, I stayed a few nights in the picturesque Bolgatty Place Island resort, situated in an old Dutch mansion right on the waterfront with floating lotus flowers and sprawling lawns. From my lake-view room window, I could see fishing boats with traditional fisherman divers, as well as tourist boats.
But, there’s nothing else around it on the Bolgatty Island. It took a long taxi drive to reach Kochi fort.

For my three days in the Munnar area, I hired a driver once I realized public transportation is scarce and I would not get to see much without a car, especially because it was my first time in India and I was a solo female traveler. I got a recommendation for a car company from a local and it totally made my trip! The driver was very nice, spoke good English, and was helpful with suggestions for interesting places to visit in Munnar. I highly recommend him. His name was Sreekanth.
The company’s WhatsApp number: +91 90723 23778.

Kochi to Munnar road--tea plantations.jpg  A cow on the road to Munnar, Kerala, India

Road from Kochi to Munnar

We left the unbearable heat of Kochi early in the morning and took the national road to Munnar, driving up the mountains and through the forests, where the air got cool and moist, fresh and sweet from the lush tropical flora and frequent rain.
The Munnar area has many beautiful places to visit—countless waterfalls, streams, winding walkways, scenic valleys, and sprawling tea plantations. The wildlife is abundant—from birds and butterflies to monkeys, goats, and elephants. A treat for nature lovers.

The first stop on our route was Cheeyappara waterfalls, right on the national highway 49 to Munnar. The waterfall is nice, though for me the real attraction was the flock of monkeys on the road barrier: males, females, and many young ones who demanded (and received) fruit. You must be careful—they will snatch things right out of your hands. I could spend hours with them. They are so human.

Riding on, we stopped for a herb and spice garden tour at the Kerala Farm. It was my first time seeing the cultivation of tea, coffee, cocoa, and a bunch of other plants and herbs used for Ayurveda—the ancient Indian medicine. I’m a believer in natural alternative medicine, so I purchased samples for whole the family.

Right by the spice shop was a single elephant tied to a pole, available for rides, and I used the opportunity. She was a magnificent large female, decorated with red coloring on her forehead and ears. It was a very exciting experience for me, since it was my first time being so close to this graceful animal. For an extra 100 rupees, I also fed her watermelon.
Standing next to each other, our eyes were on the same level, and when she looked at me with those big eyes, I was so filled with emotion that I wanted to hug her.
I did feel bad for the elephant because she was there alone, with no friends of her species around.

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Continue to "A Taste of India - part 2" ->>

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