Meghamalai Ratings & Reviews

Devan Varma

Devan Varmaratingratingratingratingratingrating4.3/5

4 reviewsPosted 5 years ago

Summer Tea Break at Meghamalai, never to miss this untouched beauty

Summer Tea Break . . Meghamalai! This place has so much of poetry in its name. In loose translation from Tamil, it means Cloud Mountains. If I was anything close to a poet, I would have delighted you with a better translation. This name, found its first mention in the great Tamil epic, Chilapathikaram by Ilango Adigal, the great Tamil poet who was also a prince from the Chera dynasty of Sangam era. I shudder and any further attempts of literary show offs end, right here! It's become a habit for us to enact firangi life every summer. Wood Briar group owned Tea Estates India Ltd has opened up their treasure box of some exotic bungalows for the planter life fans. Last summer, we did it at Valparai - another little known station. So, this time they suggested that we shift the stage to Meghamalai. They had kept a well kept secret there called Highwavy Estates. And here we were! Meghamalai is a cute little paradise that sits at 5000 feet above sea level on the eastern slopes of Western Ghats, in southern Tamil Nadu. It's like a wedge driven into the vastness of Periyar Tiger Reserve of Kerala. The first frame on screen emerges with rolling hills of tea with thick forests enveloping it from all sides. As it pans out, you get to see sprawling water bodies with green hedged borders all around, mirroring the blue skies. To add drama, you have silky clouds rolling all over the greens at leisurely pace. All possible shades of green with little touch ups of blue & white describe the setting. If you have trained eyes on tea plantations, you'll begin to spot some unusual patterns here. Tea is planted on some steep slopes with intermittent narrow patches of thick groves of forest running down all along the mountain side. These patches are retained as wind breakers but also double up as safe conduits for animals to hide their way to the water bodies downhill. We checked into the cute & cozy Sand River cottage in Upper Manalar. What strikes you first as you pull up at the porch is a canopy of bright purple bougainvillea that sits pretty over the portico. The cottage comes with two bedrooms with attached dressing rooms & baths and an intimate dining and a spacious drawing room, complete with fire places et all. It sits pretty on the steep face of a hill surrounded by tea gardens. A sprawling lawn of Buffalo grass, framed with Impatiens and other typical hill station variety of little flowers adds charm to the setting. The entire cottage is furnished with rich period furniture. So thoughtful the hosts are, the small library is packed with British magazines and novels dating back to mid last century. All of us picked up names of the original owners of these books and we chose to act as Mrs & Mr. Willoughby, a prominent first generation manager of these estates in the last century who cleared forests and planted tea! Pandyan, the chef and Pushparaj, his assistant are two courteous and ever smiling people packed with great cooking skills at our service during the next couple of days. Post sun downers, an excellent dinner and some divine caramel custard that followed, we tucked ourselves into thick blankets in the middle of an April when the cities that we left behind were reeling under heat waves! Hey, this is heaven We woke up to a thousand piece symphony being played by all the birds of our hill. The day began with a leisurely walk through the tea plantation at the break of dawn. As we stepped out, we saw the real Meghamalai! We were enveloped in pure white rolls of clouds and my fantasies of stepping out of an aircraft in mid air were almost coming true here. On our return, cups of fresh brew were brought from the kitchen. That's the time when they roll out the breakfast menu options. A quick shower followed and we were lined up at the table to indulge in the vast spread of breakfast. As we reach out for the next cup of tea, Narayanan presented himself. A tall, dark and well built frame with sharp eyes, a trademark mustache and a nose trained to smell and identify every species. He is going to be our guide during our stay at Meghamalai He suggested that we begin the exploration with a visit to Meghamalai's Hardrock. Not a cafe, but it is a popular waterhole for the wild but an unusual waterfall for us. An jaw bone welcomes you at the entry point of hard rock. Narayanan informs us that an elephant had rolled over the rocks and fell to death here, many years ago and townsmen had taken away every little bone as a souvenir during their expeditions. We waded the low hanging tree canopies and made our way to this gigantic single rock waterfall and dived into the pool right below the water landing. It was freezing and when we emerged out, the chill factor in winds added to our trauma. After the waterfall experience and two way walk, the first lunch we had at Meghamalai was an event by itself, be etched forever in the place's history. Siesta followed and I chose a lemon tea at the customary evening tea ceremony in the lawns. Next on agenda was a sunset drive to the highest point of this part of the hills, a mix of grass lands and rocks. Half the way through, our commander, Narayanan got off and directed all of us to be silent and asked us to wait at a nowhere place and vanished behind bushes! He had smelt something! After one of the longest ten minutes of our lives, we spotted him emerging much ahead of us. He signaled us to tiptoe and follow. What we saw at the end of our tread was a vast open grass land with some massive gaurs and a calf grazing at peace, unaware of our presence. We watched them for some time till the wind blew the other way. A protective aunt, perhaps with a better nose than Narayanan realized our presence. She froze with head high up and ears set like antennae, staring at us. Soon, others followed, tucking the calf to the safety under their bellies. Before Narayanan commanded, I had started the jeep and the entire group was safely in. The pre dinner prayers were well said by all of us from the bottom of our hearts. Meghamalai is exceptional due to the heady mix of charming environs and the rustic wilderness that await you just a few minutes of drive away. So you have a unique chance of mixing excellent treks and abundant scope of wildlife sightings topped up with nice hot water showers and elaborate dinners set in the comforts of old world charms. Thekkady is just an easy trek away and can be even seen from one of the peaks. We saw the Periyar reservoir and Magaladevi Temple from one of the emerging of this virgin hill station. We pray that Meghamalai remains innocent as she is forever unlike her queen bee cousins. How to reach: The 400 kilometers from Bangalore to Dindigul on the 4 lane highway is a delight, except for the half a dozen toll stations at regular intervals. We arrived at Dindugul in 5 hours, passing Salem, Namakkal and Karur towns en-route. Early next morning, we set out after breakfast towards Theni and a little town further ahead called Chinnamanoor. The road to Meghamalai starts from Chinnamannor. The ride from this point is not great and it took us 3 full hours to cover 45 KMs with 18 hairpins and some bad estate roads. The effort is worth as pristine environs await you up there. To indulge in one of the best experiences of planter's life, get in touch with Ms Parameshwari of Tea Estates India Ltd at Coimbatore on reservations@teil. In or call her up on 0422 4351500 .

Shankara Prabu

Shankara Praburatingratingratingratingratingrating4.6/5

2 reviewsPosted 5 years ago

Adventure place to visit

If you love adventure then Megamalai should be one of your destination in your itinerary. The over all experience will be outstanding once you visit this place. You can go for trekking, Night ride, etc. There is one place called maharajamettu over there don't miss to visit this place during sunset, one of the most romatic place I have ever seen.

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