KANNAN DEVAN HILLS – THE HIGH RANGES

The earliest written record of the “The dark impenetrable forests of the High Range” now known as the Kannan Devan Hills dates to the year 1817 when Lt Benjamin Ward and Lt Eyre Connor had surveyed and mapped these vast unexplored expanses located on the border of modern-day Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Fifty years later Col Douglas Hamilton visited the area to explore the feasibility of a sanatoria for the British in South India. Then, in 1879 the Turner step-brothers, Henry and A W “Thambi” come up with clear plans to convert them into commercial plantations of coffee, tea and cinchona. None of these early pioneers could have imagined in their wildest dreams that their efforts will make these serene hills a global hotspot for Tea.

The journey up the Kannan Devan Hills takes you towards the picturesque hilltop town of Munnar, set amid 24000 hectares of tea estates and at the confluence of three rivers. The drive via many switchbacks cut into the tall hills, offers breathtaking views of vast rolling greens merging with cotton wool clouds and blue skies far on the horizon.

The charms of these hills are the incredible outdoor vistas. Kolukkumalai Tea Estate, situated at 7900 feet, is the highest tea estate in the world. It is a wonder of human conception and endurance. The narrow summit has sheer drops on all sides studded with tea bushes. Only the bravest tea pickers would dare to pick the tender tea leaves from these precariously perched bushes. From this summit, on a clear day, you will see the hill station of Kodaikanal, over a 150 km away.

Sunrise at the highest Tea Estate in the world
Sunrise at the highest Tea Estate in the world

 

Eravikulam National Park is home to the rare and hardy Niligiri Tahr, a type of Ibex. These shy creatures are an endangered species with less than three thousand remaining in the wild. The park also plays host to a rare botanical spectacle, the blooming of the Neelakurinji flowers. This phenomenon happens only once in twelve years with the next one due in 2030. For a fleeting few weeks, the landscape is a riot of bluish-purple.

The Neelakurinji blooms once in twelve years!
The Neelakurinji blooms once in twelve years!
The Niligiri Tahr is an endangered species
The Niligiri Tahr is an endangered species

 

To savour the essence of this location, its best to do it on foot. Book a guide and go on a trek to the summit of Lakshmi hills which offers expansive views of Munnar town and the beautiful surrounding region. Walking on the crooked pathways inside lush tea gardens, listening to bird song, feeling the light wind brushing your cheeks and inhaling the fragrance of hill vegetation during the five-hour trek is a magical and sublime experience. To add to the sense of adventure and thrill go on a speed boat ride in the deep blue waters of nearby Mattupetty dam, a reservoir that generates power for this region.

Speedboat ride in Matupetty Dam
Speedboat ride in Matupetty Dam

 

Other unique local experiences are – an authentic Ayurvedic massage; watching a Kathakali performance; visiting a tea museum; visiting a spice garden; watching Kalarippayattu- the ancient martial arts form; or simply, shopping for the finest teas and spices. There is something here for everyone.

The next time you get an urge to experience breathtaking landscapes and marvel at pioneering explorers, do not hesitate, dash to the Kannan Devan Hills.

All images sourced from Wikimedia commons

Praveen Singh

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Duration
12 hours
Group Size
Up to 8

THE BEST OF MYSORE/MYSURU, SOMNATHPUR & SRIRANGAPATNA IN A DAY

An action-packed day tour where the journey is as exciting as the destinations.

Typical itinerary:

Stop At: Ramanagara

We believe food is an integral part of an Indian cultural experience; hence we start our tour early and detour from the highway to visit a traditional eatery serving authentic local breakfast. Here our accompanying guide will take you through a sumptuous culinary experience.

Duration: 45 minutes

Stop At: Silk Cocoon Market

We visit India's largest silk cocoon market - a sight to behold. From our accompanying expert guide, learn the history of the famed Mysore silk and the complex stages of creating a silk garment from scratch.

Duration: 20 minutes

Stop At: Keshava Temple, Somnathpur

We get off the highway for an extended detour through lush countryside to reach this stunning Hindu temple( a ruin) from 1268 AD. It is nominated as a UNESCO heritage site and awaiting accreditation. Some of humankind's most exquisite stone carvings and sculptures are here. Our accompanying expert guide will introduce its history, Hinduism, its pantheon of gods, and the context of each beautiful carving.

Duration: 1 hour

Stop At: Mysuru/Mysore Palace

We explore this bejeweled palace, among the most visited sites in India and the home of one of the wealthiest individuals in the world in its heyday – the Maharaja of Mysore. From our accompanying expert guide, learn about the Wodeyar rulers and their incredible contributions to putting this region on the global map as we leisurely survey and explore the interiors & exteriors of this dazzling palace.

Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

Stop At: Devaraja Market, Mysore

Our accompanying expert guide will take you through a stroll inside an 1880s market stuck in a time warp. As you take a walk back in time, marvel at the sights, smells and sounds of the shops & people in the bazaar selling the choicest fruits, flowers, vegetables, bangles and local produce such as Jaggery, Attar, Masalas etc.

Duration: 30 minutes

Stop At: Srirangapatna

From Mysore, we drive to the historic river island of Srirangapatna. Here we break for a relaxed and sumptuous lunch at a picturesque setting by the gurgling waters of the River Cauvery.

Duration: 1 hour

Stop At: Dariya Daulat Palace - Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace, Srirangapatna

Our final stop is the exquisite 1780s wooden palace of Tipu Sultan, where every inch of its interiors has delicate frescoes and murals of evocative battle scenes, floral and geometric patterns and portraits. Our accompanying expert guide will provide context to each hand painted artwork and regale you with stories of the valiant efforts of this ruler, the Tiger of Mysore, against the colonial powers of the time.

Duration: 45 minutes

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₹15,000
Duration
8 hours
Group Size
Up to 8

BANGALORE THROUGH THE AGES TOUR

Bangalore gives you the impression of a modern new city, yet if you scratch the surface, you will uncover a storied past dating back over 1000 years.

In this tightly paced tour, we will visit interesting sites of different eras – Historical Temples, Palaces, Heritage Buildings, Markets, Statues, a Fort, a Museum, a lush Park, and more and learn about their significance and contribution to the making of Bangalore.

It’s a tour of the story of Bangalore – from its modest origin in pre-medieval times; to the era when it was just another place compared to its more illustrious peers, now long faded into oblivion, to the fascinating times when the city was traded, and gifted like a commodity; then fought over and retained like a shining possession; right down to the times when it reached an inflexion point and came into its own as a modern mega city.

This is by no means an ordinary sightseeing trip, but a true journey of exploration with engaging commentary sprinkled with interesting facts and anecdotes. A tour is sure to stimulate your mind and invigorate your senses.

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₹10,000
Duration
4 hours 30 minutes
Group Size
Up to 8

BANGALORE THROUGH THE AGES – HALF DAY TOUR

Bangalore gives you the impression of a modern new city, yet if you scratch the surface, you will uncover a storied past dating back over 1000 years.

In this tightly paced tour, we will visit interesting sites of different eras – A lush park, A historic temple, the oldest Market of the city, and the centre of state government to learn about their significance and contribution to the making of Bangalore.

It’s a tour of the story of Bangalore – from its modest origin in pre-medieval times; to the era when it was just another place compared to its more illustrious peers, now long faded into oblivion, to the fascinating times when the city was traded, and gifted like a commodity; then fought over and retained like a shining possession; right down to the times when it reached an inflexion point and came into its own as a modern mega city.

This is by no means an ordinary sightseeing trip, but a true journey of exploration with engaging commentary sprinkled with interesting facts and anecdotes. A tour is sure to stimulate your mind and invigorate your senses.

from
₹7,000
Duration
2 days
Group Size
1 to 8

THE WONDER THAT IS HAMPI

Hampi, a UNESCO world heritage site with nearly 1600 monuments of significance, was the power centre of India's most significant medieval Hindu kingdom and among the world's wealthiest regions in the 16th century. Portuguese and Arab writers speak of riches and a grandeur not seen elsewhere during its heydays. Over two days, we will explore the most exciting and majestic monuments and temples.

Day One: Depart at 6:30 am from Bangalore, and after a sumptuous breakfast enroute, arrive in Hampi. Check in to your hotel and post lunch, we begin our exploration. Sites include the Royal Enclosure, Queen's Bath, Hazara Rama Temple, and Manyavanta Raghunatha Temple Sunset Point. Dinner is at your hotel.

Day Two: Vijaya Vittala temple and Bazaar precinct. After that, we explore the Elephants Stables, The Zenena area with the Lotus Mahal, Virupaksha temple, Hemakuta hill, Sasivekalu Ganapathi, Lakshmi Narasimha statue, etc. Post lunch, drive to Bangalore and, if time permits, explore Chitradurga Fort.

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₹56,000
Duration
12 hours
Group Size
Up to 8

POETRY IN STONE TOUR

In this awe-inspiring journey, you will discover that stone was clay in the hands of a breed of legendary sculptors, the likes of which are no longer around.

We will visit one of the ancient world's tallest free-standing sculptures created over a millennia ago, then gaze at idyllic countryside scenes that will invoke the meaning of life and such thoughts.

We will move on to marvel at the best collection of stone works not seen anywhere else in the world.

At an ancient temple that doubled up as a dance platform with exquisite statues of voluptuous maidens, surely inspired by the dancers themselves.

And at a 12th-century temple whose walls are covered with hundreds and thousands of exquisite carvings of gods, animals, flowers, mythical beasts, and patterns, sure to leave you speechless

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₹16,000