Monday, 25 April 2016

V for Vagamon - W for Wanderlust

He wanted his friends to realize that life is a journey and not a destination - Simon Peter

Vagaamon tea estate - you can purchase farm fresh tea here.
Vagamon happened last week (April 24, 2016) by sheer chance ! I will explain that. My wife had suggested and planned a visit and lunch at Misty Mountains, Kuttikanam, Idukku district. However we had certain challenges in terms of logistics and availability of time and so we decided in favor of Vagamon.

Where is Vagamon?
Vagamon is a hill station located in Kottayam-Idukki border of Idukki district of Kerala, India. It has a cool climate with the temperature between 10 and 23 °C during a summer midday. It is situated 1,100 metres above sea level. Vagamon was discovered by the British who found the place ideal for tea plantations and they were followed by Christian missionaries who built their abode of service at Kurisumala in Vagamon. National Geographic Traveler has listed Vagamon on their directory of the '50 most attractive places to visit in India’

On the way to Vagamon - a brief stop over for some breathtaking views of the plains and hills
How did we reach Vagamon? 
We decided to drive down to Vagamon from Kottayam. 
We started from Kottayam by 1200 hrs. The roads are drive-able and in good condition.
1300 - 1400 hrs Lunch break:  We first touched Pala and stopped for lunch. The lunch was simple and served on plantain leaf. We finished lunch and soon started driving towards Vagamon. We passed through Erattupetta.

Vagamon is at the fringe of the Western Ghats and the foot hills on its lower side reach up to Teekoy with a gradual descent. This narrow strip of descending land gives a much needed and strategic connectivity to the plains as both sides of Vagamon up to Kuttikkanam on the south west and moolamattom on the north east, are marked by steep and inaccessible hill slopes. Travelling by the hill highway in this section is an exhilarating experience with deep valleys and spectacular 260 degree views with an ethereal touch. Vagamon's charm is worth experiencing and is indeed one of the must see places in Kerala and India. 

Vagamon tea estates
Reaching Vagamon itself is an extraordinary experience. The meandering ghat roads to Vagamon is cut in solid rock lined with forests. And as you wind your way through green capped hills, the rolling plains come into view thousands of feet below you. The road to vagamon from Erattupetta (Erattupetta also known as the gateway of Malanadu) opened an easily accessible and direct route to vagamon from the plains. 

1600 hrs Tea time :  We stopped for tea at Eco park.
Tasty bites - Vazhakkapam - banana fry and tea

Eco park is a nice place before Vagamon. Our host Marykutty chechi did not disappoint us. She instructed her staff to quickly bring piping hot vazhakkappam (banana fry) and steaming hot tea. While I was putting away these  goodies, my children asked their aunt, mother & grandparents to show them around the Eco park which boasts of a small lake and farm animals.
Vagamon tea estates
My children demanded a look at the horse and cattle. We walked in to the Vagamon tea estates and were presented with beautiful scenery of tea estates. My children urged me to stay for more time as they spotted two calves who were happily munching on the sweet grass.

Image result for jeep rally vagamon
Jeep rally - off road events are conducted in Vagamon
We finished tea and set off for the road. At about 1700 hrs we reached Vagamon. There are 2 roads . One on the left takes you to Vagamon town. We took the other road turning right as it has got awesome tourist attractions. We also chanced upon an off road event - a Jeep rally. We saw MM540DPs, Willys and Gypsies roaring and setting fire the Vagamon roads!

Mottakunnu - Vagamon

1715 hrs : It was getting colder and we quickly trekked on to mottakkunnu in Vagamon. This place offers a complete view of the neighboring hills.
Tip: Avoid trekking the Vagamon hills during rains and lightning. There have been recent incidents of lightning striking tourists.

1800 hrs: The fog started setting in. (the dense fog is known as koda manj in malayalam). We bid goodbye to Vagamon and started back for Kottayam. En route, we did stop to buy farm fresh tea at Vagamon Tea estate

There are many tourist places in and around Vagamon like Kurisumala Ashram, Indo-Swiss Project Dairy Farms, Vagamon Meadows, Pine Forest valley, Mooppanpara. However, we decided to visit these places next time ... may be stay back a night in a good resort at Vagamon and chalk out our plans for these places!

It is good bye for now and wishing you a great week ahead..

@ Vagamon - a driver maneuvering the winding roads.. undaunted and unfazed by the challenges ahead - the unsung hero of Vagamon


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