In search of my Kurinji: The Tale of a Land across Time

The splendour of the blue mountains, the swooning beauty of the sea of blue buds beneath and the airy blue above....drowning in all the beautiful blues

Marayoor and the Sandalwood forest  

The hills of Marayoor

It was with a heavy heart that I got into the car to drive on. My destination was Kanthalloor which is a sleepy hamlet high up on the Western Ghats. There was news that the neelakurinji had bloomed there too. I was determined not to let my romance with the kurinji flowers come to an end soon. The nearly 50 kms drive through the beautiful Munnar landscape of tea gardens knitted across every hill and hillock, plain and valley with forests bordering the horizon was an unforgettable one. I had no breakfast and was ravenously hungry, but there was nothing on the wayside and finally in exasperation I stopped at a small tea shanty, a makeshift arrangement with a tarpaulin stretched between two trees.

Marayoor Sandalwood forest
The sandalwood forests of Marayoor

It was nearly two when I drove into the sandalwood forests of Marayoor. This natural outcrop of sandalwood trees is unique to this land and the brooding dark trees with their small olive green leaves and a fragrance unparalleled attracts many tourists to Marayoor. However it is also a tree that strikes gold for many, for even a little twig fetches a fortune in the market. Therefore the forest officials are always on the alert with constant checking of vehicles at the border. In Marayoor town, which hardly merits the name of a town, there were hardly any hotels that attracted me. Finally I entered a small restaurant. The food was surprisingly tasty and the vegetables were lavishly served. I had arranged for a small home stay in Marayoor. I located the place and drove in for a much deserved siesta.

The muniyaras, or dolmens as they are called by the archeologists of Marayoor

By five I was up and refreshed with a pot full of tea from the loving landlady. I decided to drive to the muniyaras, or dolmens as they are called by the archeologists. Relics from the Megalithic period, they are believed to be burial chambers of the ancient dead. The intact ones have four huge flat stones placed corner to corner with a capstone on the top, thus forming a small stone chamber. Because of the vandalism practiced on many of the muniyaras, without any respect for what should have been protected monuments, the government set up an Anakottappara Park on the Kanthalloor Marayoor road. It was to this park that I headed. Situated atop a hill with mountains all around, this place offers spectacular views. There were a few Neelakurinji blooms, dancing in blissful isolation from the rioting Kurinji hills I had witnessed in the morning. But these lone ones had a forlorn charm in the evening rays of the sun. I found a few blooming near some of the muniyaras and I thought of how the dead, from thousands of years ago, come back through unfathomable and may be archetypal memories, and maybe also as flowers. The sun was setting amidst the cloud-capped mountains, and the evening was clothed in a mystic blue. There was a 360-degree mountain view from where I sat amidst the remnants of a time when humans as old as these hills had lived and loved here. Probably the Sangam age poets had been inspired by the neelakurinji flowers which bloomed on these hills, and the blooms were a part of their lives and longings, as much as their poetry was... I sat with my kurinji flowers, the dolmens, and the mountains till a gentle darkness enveloped the land. Time comes to a standstill here, and all I could hear was my heart beating softly to the tune of the mountain breeze and the flowers.

Jaggery Making at Kanthalloor

The next day I took a leisurely drive to Kanthalloor village, stopping at a jaggery maker’s shed in the sugarcane fields.  I drank sweet sugarcane juice and sat with the jaggery maker, watching the skill with which he boiled the juice in a large cauldron and made jaggery. Marayoor jaggery is very famous and I bought some for my parents and friends. Kanthalloor is a little village perched on the Western Ghats. Because of the cold yet sunny and salubrious climate, fruit and vegetable farming thrives here. I looked in awe at the pumpkin and gourds ripening under a fecund sun, and the bunches of carrots being washed in a mountain stream by a little girl. There were orchards of apples and oranges and some strange fruits which looked like tomatoes but were not, along with straggling bushes of neelakurinji here and there. My drive back to Munnar through a  quiet and warm day, interspersed by the chirping birds and squirrels was punctured only once when I saw a bunch of people gathered near the road, looking down into the tea valleys. On enquiring, I was told that there was lone tusker in the path down below. I felt sorry for the giant pachyderm to whom these hills had belonged once upon a time. I decided not to disturb him and hoped that he would find his way back to the soothing forest green in the distance. 


In search of my Kurinji: The Tale of a Land across Time

Munnar hills Once upon a time, Kerala, th ...more

Kovalam to Cochin via Alappuzha… and the Pazham Pori

An evening shot of Kovalam beach  From K ...more

Road trip from Alappuzha to Cochin

The Alappuzha Beach The one hour drive fr ...more

Dosa’s of Aluva 

As I neared Aluva, I realized that my stomach had ...more

Kothamangalam and its culture of farming 

The topography I was traversing would be what the ...more

Neriamangalam to the dream destination 

From Neriamangalam begins the Mullai or forest ter ...more

At the foothills of Western Ghats – Adimali 

Adimali Town   In another half an hour ...more

'World’s End' at Pothanmedu

Pothenmedu  I drove on to my hotel which ...more

Off to Eravikulam – the abode of Kurinji and Varayadu 

Thalayar Tea Estate, situated on the way to Erav ...more

Kurinji laden hills of Munnar 

It is difficult to describe a scene as breath taki ...more

Marayoor and the Sandalwood forest  

The hills of Marayoor It was with a heavy ...more

The Mattupetty and the Top Station – view points of Kurinji flowers 

I reached Munnar town and drove onwards to the Top ...more