20th August 2022

The big blue mountains

Vattavada, Devikulam, Idukki, Kerala, IND

In December last year, I and my boyfriend Kriso went to Munnar to meet a friend. We made the simple and humble invite into a simple and humble excursion. I was traveling out of Kerala for the first time in 2 years. The paranoia of meeting complete strangers was bubbling up. I hold tightly to Kriso’s hand and didn’t let go or didn’t let him off my eyesight even for a bit. And the trip began, on a cold early morning, we took our bus from Thampanoor bus station to Idukki (Munnar). 

Throughout the trip, there was a fight then a settlement. We fought over food, over the place to stay, over money matters, and so on, but each time the fight got resolved quickly and there was something new to discover within ourselves. Each time a small waterfall, a chai stall near a foggy valley were the ones pacifying our fights. Slowly I realized the difference between that place and our home back in the city. The greenery was stunning and there was a freshness in every breath we took. We fell in love with each other again. We embraced ourselves in mist and laughed at our silly fights. We felt like being in heaven. 

Our destination was Vattavada, which is around a 1-hour drive from Munnar bus station, but we travelled a little deeper from there. And I repeat this sentence every day till I die, ‘that place is heaven on earth’, but being massively exploited. There are timber loadings, everywhere, every hour a tree is falling. It is cruel enough to break anyone’s heart. This heaven showed me the nicest human beings on earth. Everyone in the village is friendly and caring. Everyone has a warm smile, that will melt one to the core, nature reflects on their faces. The people we saw living closer to the hill have entirely different energy compared to the people living in the town nearby. Though they all were equally innocent and joyful. 

Living there I overcame the fear of approaching people. I used to keep my head down while I walk to avoid eye contact with people, but there I walked holding my head high, seeing everyone, greeting everyone like a native. We walked for hours, through the town, through the forest, we walked along with the paved ways. We walked through a forest with huge trees. In the early morning, we could see the golden sunrays slowly spread across the woods, but the sunlight barely lit the place because of the thick leaves covering the sky. Sadly, this was only one part of Vattavada, the other parts are changing rapidly. Most of the valleys are barren now, leaving the misty blue mountains in the scorching heat. 

Every day in the mornings we went for a walk, that’s the only time we didn't hear the sound of a chainsaw cutting down trees. We walked into the forest, slowly moving deep into the village. There we were welcomed by some warm smiling faces, some fruit trees, sweet-smelling flowers, birds, and the misty blue mountains. The air and people I saw there were distinct. We made our walks regular for the two, three days we stayed. I wish we could settle there, live among them, become a local there. But then the timber trades; they cut my dream’s head off. 

The trip was a lifesaver for both of us, he found his old self, and I found a new self. The misty blue hills sure are magical; the air, water, and food around it can heal and change. The urge to revisit won’t go away either. I hope the magic hidden in the hills will stay intact for years, forever. It would be hard to find an alternative for them. Spare some time to visit them, to explore, absorb, and reflect. Spare some time to heal yourself and the hills of Munnar.