It was approaching the time of Vishu festival (a Hindu New Year festival celebrated in Kerala) and as usual my husband and I started planning for a vacation. As we planned for a week-long vacation since my husband just completed his post graduation, we decided to drive down to my native village. My husband, always bitten by the travel bug, started planning for a short trip around my village. My home is a 3 hour ride from the famed Munnar hill station that abounds in tea estates and waterfalls. Although Munnar was an oft visited vacation spot for me growing up, I grudgingly agreed thinking that it would be a respite from the sweltering summer heat of my village. So, after checking the availability of my ever-busy parents we decided to travel to Munnar. Still nostalgic about our African safari experience, my husband found a resort enroute to Munnar that provided the African safari tent experience. The resort named Season 7 was around 20 km en route to Munnar town and is nestled in a village nearby. To relive our African experience we decided to book two tents for our stay there.
The trip from Bangalore to Kerala was uneventful. On Vishu day, following a heavy breakfast, we started on a beautiful traffic-free drive to Munnar. On the way, we saw the Cheeyappara and Valara waterfalls. Due to the Kerala summers, the former was merely a trickle while the latter had atleast some water before it joined the Thotti Aar. As Season 7 is located at Chithirapuram village, we took a deviation from the Munnar road at Anachal and arrived at the resort around 1pm. The lack of good restaurants on the way saw us requesting the resort staff if they could prepare lunch for the four of us the moment we arrived. They courteously agreed to prepare lunch for us and within an hour, to our surprise, they had a full Vishu sadya (traditional Kerala meal served in plantain leaf) waiting for us in the dining area. Nothing could please my husband more! The staff had also provided adjoining tents for us and my parents which added to our convenience. After eating the sumptuous meal, we retired to our tents for an afternoon siesta before we could explore the place.
Season 7 boasts of an excellent view of Muthirapuzhayar from their lobby. The lobby, made entirely from bamboo, provides ample space for seating so as to enjoy the scenic beauty of Muthirapuzhayar. The pleasant burble of the river flowing down below mingled with sound of various birds chirping provided a really tranquil atmosphere and a much deserved break for introspection away from the hectic routine of a metropolitan life. The resort had 8 tents in total which were at par with the African tents we saw during our safari and had all the facilities that one would normally see in a hotel – table, chairs, shelves, pedestal fan (required only during the peak of summer), locker, a small dressing area and a well-equipped bathroom.
I was seriously surprised seeing the facilities provided in this tent as I did not expect much from this resort as it was located in a remote area in Munnar. Additionally, they have 3 valley view cottages which had all the facilities of the tents in addition to having a TV. The tents had a small deck area that overlooked the dense vegetation below with intermittent peeks of the river running below. This place is ideal for reading or writing whilst enjoying the wild beauty of nature in its true form. We were extremely happy in choosing this place for our stay.
The common dining area too has a bamboo finish similar to the lobby and served excellent authentic Kerala dishes. My mother was really happy about this and we even got the chef to share a few of his recipes. The resort has two areas for campfire, one near the dining area and the other a little further down from our tent. There were also a few hammocks placed that were high enough for my husband to lie on. He was so excited about this that he spent most of the time in our trip on the hammock.
In the evening, we met the young and dynamic Vimal Nair who is one of the managing partners of the resort and was staying in the premises. He started this venture as an escape from the bustle of the city life post his retirement as Lieutenant Commander at the Indian Navy. He was extremely courteous and friendly and created a family atmosphere in the place by introducing the guests to each other and breaking the ice. He suggested that we explore the nearby plantations on foot to enjoy the true flora and fauna they had to offer. We enjoyed the walk in the chilly evening with the cool breeze playing with us which was a great relief from the heat in the rest of Kerala. We also met another Naval officer during the walk who talked about his passion for bird viewing. He informed us that the place abounded in various species of birds and even showed us a few pictures he had clicked of them. We were ignoramuses in front of him and enjoyed the photos without commenting much about the birds.
After dinner, we met with Vimal who charted out a plan for us with nearby places to visit the next day. As we were more in a resting mood, we decided to skip most of the tourist spots and to just go for a ride in the tea plantations. With my dad retired to bed and my husband refusing to step out of the hammock, my mother and I spent some time gossiping gleefully. In the darkness we could see an abundance of fireflies flying all around us. We had never seen such a massive congregation before and so we switched off all the lights to enjoy this sight till it was time to hit the sack while enjoying the natural air conditioning of Munnar.
The next day we woke up late and had a great breakfast at the resort. Even though we were feeling very lazy, Vimal insisted that we go out and visit a few places. We drove to Munnar town and stopped by Vimal’s recommended KDHP (Kanna Devan Hills Plantation Company) outlet to buy some tea powder. Soon we ended up purchasing packets of green tea and varieties of spiced tea. The cardamom tea powder gave such a strong aroma of cardamom that it convinced even a non-tea drinker like me to purchase a few packets. We decided to proceed to the Top Station only to crawl in Bangalore-like heavy traffic in Munnar town. The way to the Top Station was beautiful as we were flanked by picturesque tea gardens and valleys on either side. We drove beside the entrance of the Eravikulam National Park (famed for its mountain goats) as the massive crowd present at the ticket kiosk itself was a big deterrent for us.
After driving around for a couple of hours we made our way back to Munnar Town later afternoon as we wanted to reach Season 7 before dusk. It was as crowded as ever and even getting a parking spot was hard. We finally made our way to a fancy looking restaurant for a late lunch (around 4pm) and was shocked to hear an hour’s waiting time. So we hopped over to the adjacent one, managed to secure a table after some hardships and had a great lunch. My mother and I shopped around for some spices too to take back home. By this time, the fog was descending over the town. The weather was pleasant and there was no hint of the summer heat in the air. Finally, we made our way back to the resort in time for snacks.
We spent an hour walking in the neighboring places and then some time at the lobby enjoying the beauty of the river below. We had a sumptuous dinner thanks to the fantastic cooks and sat at the camp fire talking for a while before retiring to bed. We woke the next morning and packed our bags with a heavy heart to leave to this beautiful resort. Vimal also obliged my father’s request to give him a few saplings of the wonderful plants in the resort. Before we knew it, our vacation had come to an end. We started our return journey bracing against the heat enveloping Kerala.