Espero, a glimpse into the world of an incurable romantic
-Pooja Sarath Chandran
The next morning was spent exploring spice gardens in and around Kumily. Though cardamom is the primary spice grown, the air constantly smelled of a blend of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, etc. A visit to the spice gardens offers you an insight into how much of meticulous work and dedication goes into growing, harvesting and shipping each spice. It’s mind-blowing to think of how potent these tiny spices are and how they have impacted the history of the State, nation and world at large. The number of wars waged, cities built and tales woven around the legendary Spice Route is ample testimony to the power locked within these subtle flavours.
The spice walk was extremely interesting and engaging. We must return when our girl is old enough to understand and appreciate what she hears and sees.
By around lunch time we left Kumily, all set for the last leg of our adventure. We headed to Munnar via Nedumkandam, Santhanpara and Anayirangal Dam stopping off and on to gaze at the undulating carpets of tea plantations spread out below us augmented against the backdrop of the majestic Western Ghats.
By around 5pm we reached Munnar, the Kashmir of South India, and checked in at SN Lodge located in Old Munnar. The cosy, rustic charm of the lodge was heartwarming and within half an hour we were back on the road headed to the Lockhart Gap located around 13km away from Munnar for a date with the sunset.
Munnar is located at the confluence of the three mountain streams — Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni, and Kundala. The erstwhile summer resort of the British government in South India, this picturesque hill station is situated at a height of around 1600 meters above sea level.
The entire place is like a dream. Long winding roads through hillsides covered in shades of green you never knew existed, mists that whisper tales from centuries past, picture-postcard towns and a climate that makes sure you keep returning to its embrace time and again.
The Lockhart Gap in a sense reflects everything life is about. In fact, all of Munnar and the beautiful places we travelled through in our quest for the Neelakurinji reflect life.
We are all on different kinds of quests aren’t we? Love, success, money, fame. Our journeys all have a destination in sight. A point to which we focus all our time, energy and hard work. But in our hurry to get there, more often than not, we forget that (oh so common) cliché we have all heard. That Life lies not in the destination but rather, in the beautiful moments, sights and memories created all along the way.
Lockhart is not a place or destination. Rather it is a spot so many people drive past daily oblivious to the fact that they are missing out on ethereal beauty few places on Earth can offer.
Once we got there, the minute I stepped out of the car, baby in hand, I was swept off into another world. The sight before my eyes was pure, divine.
As the golden shards of light from the setting sun broke through thick chunky clouds, the green valley soaked up the gentle warmth and glistened in joy.
The heavens had cracked open to shower us, mere mortals, with golden benedictions.
The evening was the perfect appetiser. Munnar was gorgeous and we were hungry for more. Much more.
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