It’s Munnar for a reason!
Updated: Jul 25
It’s been quite a long since I travelled. I already started to feel restless at home. I just don’t feel like I belong to a place anymore. Yes it happens when you are hopelessly in love with outdoors.
That is when I received a call from Manoj. Do you want to lead Munnar camp this weekend? I wouldn’t be surprised if you have guessed my response. Of course I said Yes.. Without any second thoughts.
To all those who are pondering over a question Wait, but who is Manoj? Why did he call you to lead a camp? That’s a long story for another time. But I will spill out enough as for you to connect the dots.
Manoj runs an adventure company called TentNTrek in Tamilnadu. And it was with them I had my first solo camping experience at Kodaikanal. When Manoj put up post in FB looking for an outdoor leader I nominated myself.
Eventhough he was bit thoughtful regarding my safety and how would I handle things that am not very much used to, Manoj right away got me into the team to see what am capable of!
That is how I ended up being an outdoor leader for TentNTrek camps. Well enough with the flashback rewinds. And coming back to Munnar!
Myself and 2 other guys were to lead this camp. We made ourselves available at Munnar one day prior so as to welcome our guests when they arrive early morning the next day.
We checked into some budget hotel late afternoon and had lunch somewhere around the hotel. The guys were not ready to leave the room. They had decided to smoke it out the rest of the day playing cards!
My bad I neither smoke nor play cards so I went to the terrace of the hotel. And found a guy skyping his mom. I just was standing there and trying to soak in the surroundings. Our hotel didn’t promise any scenic views from our porches but still there was charm around it.
The view from my hotel!
The guy who was skyping said Hi! And that’s it we started to talk. His name is Rohan, a student from Mangalore on trip with his friends. We talked almost late into night!
Now I know his love story, the story how he lost his mobile, his future plans and we even discussed many social issues. Like how guys are taking the girls for granted and sexually exploiting them.
It was getting quite late and the atmosphere changed too cold. And that is when did we leave the terrace to take on stroll on search of chai.
Soon found out it was time for Munnar to tuck into bed and almost all shops were already shut. Luckily found some chaiwala down the road who was already prepping to shut. Somehow convinced him to give us tea.
By the time we came back almost every one in the hotel was asleep. And anyway we have to get our sleep too as Rohan checking out early in the morning and I have to get my goodnight sleep for my big day tomorrow. So as millennial tradition we parted with goodbye selfie.
Hope he dont mind me sharing here…
The next day was upon us even before I went into deep sleep. But a cold water bath in Munnar can make you stay awake for days to come. Hell man! It was Brain Freezing.
We checked out of room. Met the Jeep drivers, campground hosts and made sure everything goes as per planned. But some things are inevitable like all the buses reaching Munnar was running late that day due to heavy traffic.
So we had to start later than usual. When almost all the people arrived, we drove to the campground which is located more than 30kms away from the city in Jeeps.
I always fascinate travelling in Jeeps. I can say it is almost my childhood dream come true. Because its not everyday one can see Jeeps in 90’s let alone travel in one.
Till date I savour my each and every Jeep journeys. And this is one such journey. I befriended 3 people instantly. 2 of them (Charanya and Jeff) from Trichy. Charanya working in coimbatore ( I did my UG in coimbatore GCT and fallen in love with the place ever since) and so the rest is history😉
Other guy Joshuva is working in ships as Electrical Engineer. His job is to travel around the globe from one port to other. So naturally he had too many stories to share. And we didn’t get time to even look out of our Jeep’s window.
We talked about his nature of jobs, turmoils of sea voyage, all the worst case scenarios possible ever and what were the backup plans they had, oh yeah I asked about pirates as well, did he encounter one during all these times. Fortunately he haven’t! Again before we even done wrapping up our topic we were there at basecamp.
Lush green tea estates is signature sight everywhere in Munnar and so does here. One can never get tired looking at this endless green.
Its me with Charanya and Jeff. Pic Courtesy: Joshuva
We started our short hike to the campsite from here. And people were actually enjoying it as it doesn’t have any steep climb yet. But there were variety of age groups in our camp. We are expected to cater to every individual needs.
Gone were the lawns of tea estates and now we are into the thickets of trees. The path was filled with litters from the trees that got drenched in the overnight rain. And nurturing numerous leeches.
Kids in the group were panic striken when they got in contact with leeches. We were prepared for the situation. And the solution is “SALT”. When the kids came to know that salt can easily make the leeches back off, they were not scared anymore.
With leeches chapter closed for now, then came the final ascend! Though it is nothing for usual trekkers it would be tedious for those who doesn’t even walk for long time. And many of the people in our gang fall into that category.
The final ascend to campsite!
Finally everyone made to the campsite with heavy breaths. Some leeches have got hitchhiked too. After making sure everyone got rid of it we went on to have our much needed lunch. Afterall I burned more calories in managing all these people than I usually does.
Only after lunch did we assemble for ice breaking session. Introductions were said and done! When everyone thought that finally they were good to go and have their own time, we were not ready to leave them yet.
We suggested a game called Dog and the bone! This time kids were more than eager to join and explained their parents how to play. Clearly they won almost everytime either by cuteness or by cunningness. And few took the game more seriously than others. Overall it was too much fun. By the time the game was over every group mingled.
Do you even want me to say who would be the winner?
Tents were set up. All the luggages tucked in. Everyone were refreshing and getting ready for the campfire and barbeque night. So did we. I almost forgot a special mention here. There came a family of four.. No five (Including their pet dog).
I was never a dog person. People who know me can vouch for it. But I would admit he is the best behaved dog I have ever witnessed in my life. He was very disciplined. And too friendly with almost everyone. And Everyone loved him back! He became the center of attraction to kids especially.
It’s a shame I dnt remember his name😕
Soon it was dark and we all gathered around for campfire. A much awaited event in our whole camp. Here is where people tend to open up freely. Be it sharing a life experience or showcasing their hidden talents. There is nothing that a campfire couldn’t get it out.
To make the session more interactive we suggested playing anthakshari and everyone were excited. People sang in whichever language they are comfortable with. On and on it went. I was enjoying myself! With the song of Ice and Fire…
Panneer and Chicken barbeque preparation was in progress. We were eagarly waiting for it. When we were still continuing the game, we witnessed smoke-like mist slowly crawling towards us from the distance like some poisonous gas is filling in the closed room.
I never had this experience before. Everyone were watching in silence. It became dark even with the campfire. The whole experience was kind of spooky. When we could not even understand what is going on, it engulfed us.
Only then we realized it was rain clouds. It started slashing merciless. We were running to take cover. We couldn’t find our tents in the dark everyone took shelter in the glass cottage that was under construction.
There was no sign of rain stopping anytime soon and the barbecues were long left forgotten in the rain. But Thank God the cooks prepared other dishes as well. We had chapathi, chicken gravy, salads and I was glad that nobody was complaining about the promised Barbeque!
Atlast the rain decided to stop pouring. Everyone ventured out like the ants from nest and settled in their tent fearing it might rain again.
Our tents for the night!
People woke up way too soon to witness the sunrise of their life over the majestic mountains. Everyone had the glee of child. Capturing pictures in every poses they ever know off. I was busy clicking everybody’s picture that I forgot to get one mine!
Photosessions were put to an end with the sight of breakfast. It was not sumptuous, but a healthy one to give people their stamina for the trek to come.
Its time to trek. Few people opted out stating few physical ailments. But almost all the kids along with their parents followed us. This time it is not going to be easy. People have to push their limits.
What started off with laughters soon died away with heavy breaths in each steps. But yet people were not complaining. We reached midway viewpoint. Our campsite can be viewed as thumbnail picture from the long.
Our campsite from the long shot!
Only after this point, one father of a kid told that we gave false hopes, telling it would be an easy trek and misled them to take up this long one. He was even complaining that his daughter have breathing problems.
I was not trying to reason with him. We clearly gave the chance to opt out from the trek like few other people did. But he didn’t take the chance. I had no other option but to ask them wait there until we all return.
With few more push we finally reached the top. And no pain can match the joy of reaching the final destination ever even though how teadious one may find the onward journey. And it happened once again. To my surprise the guy who told he couldn’t continue reached the top as well.
He didn’t seems to be regretting it afterall. Everyone were happy. And we took a mandatory group picture to have this moment etched in our mind for years to come.
Mission Success group pic!
We had our packed lunch and some time to ourselves to enjoy the beauty of the Kolukkumalai and Top Station hills that was exactly on our right and left view respectively.
It was time to descend. We took a different route than the one we have taken during our trek up. Well what was supposed to be the easy route was actually slippery from yesterday’s rain and people were literally slipping in one step or other.
They all handled it sportively and had good laugh over it. Finally we were back to the base camp. Our Jeeps were waiting to take us back to the city. We have to race in the hills to reach bustop on time. It was fun!
Parted everyone with heavy heart but happy memories. It indeed was a successful camp for me as outdoor leader! And I was happy to have gained few friends to myself by the end of the trip with whom am still in touch with!
More of my favourite clicks..
Finally captured the guy.. Who was running away from my lens!
The initial trail of the trek!
What was I thinking? Will someone save me if I fall in love with the mountains?
Even the traffic in Munnar is quite a view.. From my bus window!
Anddd.. Here presenting the Grand Munnar for u!