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The nearest airport is Nedumbaserry International Airport in Kochi, from where a chauffeured drive gets you to Windermere in a little over three hours. Though you might be tempted to snooze, there’s much to see and be mesmerised by – endless vistas of lush green, sparkling rivers and ponds; small thatch- roofed toddy shops tempting passers-by with aromas of fish curry, steamed rice and the local brew; and charming little chapels, temples and mosques all along the way.
As the road winds up beyond the little town of Kothamangalam, the paddy fields and coconut groves make way for rubber plantations. And as you pass Adimali, the vegetation undergoes a perceptible change as majestic teak, eucalyptus, and varieties of pine rise out of the mist. Russet-hued African tulips, colourful butterflies, and a variety of birds… the flora and fauna will keep you enthralled. Occasionally you would come across waterfalls; some roaring down the mountain, others a mere trickle.
When you approach the crown of Munnar, 5,000 ft above sea level, spice gardens and terraced tea gardens seem to spread out in manicured perfection as far as the eye can see. You could take a break to stretch your legs, and strike a pose with the tea pickers as they pluck the tender buds and leaves and fill their large baskets. Or just stand around, take a deep breath, and soak up serenity.
On your way
Kodanad Elephant Centre
En route you could stop by at the elephant kraal and indulge in some unrestrained baby talk. Located 45 km north of Kochi at Kodanad, it’s a minor 5 km detour on the left before you reach the town of Perumbavoor. Orphaned elephant calves brought in from the nearby Malayattoor forests are reared here with generous doses of both discipline and play. If you reach early enough – by 8 am – you can watch the elephants being bathed by their mahouts in the nearby Periyar River and pose for a photograph with an ever-obliging trunk.
Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
The most densely inhabited bird habitat in
peninsular India, the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary at
Thattekad (60 km northeast of
Kochi) is worth an extended halt.
As you enter Kothamangalam,
take the new bypass, and you can
reach Thattekad in 20 minutes.
Named after renowned ornithologist Salim Ali
and sprawling over 9.5 sq miles, the sanctuary
is among the most popular sites for birding
camps. Nestled close to the Periyar, it is part of a
lowland forest mostly populated by evergreens,
tropical semi-green and deciduous foliage.
The diversity of avian who’s who here is only
equalled by those in the eastern Himalayas.
Ornithologists have identified over 280 species
of birds in the area, including the Indian pitta,
crimson-throated barbet, sunbird, fairy bluebird,
Jerdon’s nightjar, whiskered terns, darters, large-billed
leaf warbler, ground thrush, cormorants, and several
varieties of hornbills and cuckoos.
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Click to enlarge map of Munnar Town and places of interest enroute to Windermere
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We respect Munnar
We respect everything that
we borrow from nature and
try our best to return the
favour. For instance, we
use energy efficient lighting
all over the estate. A bio-gas
plant provides us all the
fuel we need for cooking.
And water used around
our premises is recycled and
used in our gardens. As of
now, we are also experimenting resolutely through many trials
and errors to set up a
vermi-compost unit in our estate,
which should enable us to pursue organic farming—hopefully
sometime soon.

The bags and notepads used at Windermere are of recycled paper
made by children suffering from
disabilities at the nearby Shrishti Welfare Centre run by Tata Tea.

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