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A drive to Munnar…

One cannot simply call it ‘Munnar’; because Kerala’s most beautiful and well-known hill station is always spelt with surnames such as, Magnificent, Mesmerizing, Marvelous …. as the visual treats offered by this abode and its neighboring beauties are often beyond words.

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A drive to Munnar itself is a refreshing experience. As it is difficult to describe beauty with so many synonyms the best way is to take a pictorial ride like this…

Road to Munnar winding thro’ the lush high ranges

The first en route treat – Cheeyappara Waterfalls

Further drive brings you to another delightful cascade – Valara Waterfalls

After riding thro’ some exciting hair pin bends in the mountains, as Munnar becomes near you will sight Pallivasal – a pristine location, sight of Kerala’s first Hydro Electric Power Project.

Between Pallivasal and Munnar there lays one more eye-catching cascade – Attukal Waterfalls

Then comes the prime destination – Munnar (‘munnu aar’ means ‘three streams’ in local language, named so due to confluence of three mountain streams – Muthirappuzha, Chandavurai and Kundaly).

One of Munnar’s famous assets – the Tea Plantations

Plantations played a major role in the widespread fame of Munnar. This town houses a unique Museum dedicated to ‘Tea’

Tea Museum – showcases interesting facts, figures and artifacts about the growth and development of tea plantations in Munnar. Here curious ones can learn the techniques about how tea is produced and refined.

As stated earlier, Munnar’s neighboring beauty-spots are quite large in numbers. There are 3 most popular routes from the town which takes to all these spots.

1   Munnar – Rajamalai (Eravikulam National Park)
2   Munnar – Mattupetty – Eco Point – Kundala
3   Munnar – Devikulam – Lockhart gap


First Route

This route brings to Eravikulam National Park alias Rajamalai

Rajamalai – a National Park with many specialties… Apart from great trekking trails plus flora & fauna, this is also home to several highly endangered species in the world, namely Atlas moth (one among world’s biggest moths), Nilgiri Tahr (rare mountain goat) etc. Moreover, this is the site of Anamudi – the highest peak in South India.

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Second Route

First comes Mattupetty, a quiet village best known for its ‘Cattle Farm’ (the Indo Swiss mega project, only one of its kind in Asia). For security reasons this project is not open for public now.

Mattupetty has a splendid dam with boating facilities in its reservoir area

After Mattupetty, comes the Echo Point – as the name implies, here you will ‘hear’ the reverberations of your voice!

Next stop is Kundala – another pristine location with an angelic dam site


Third Route

On this route the first halt is the sensuous little town of Devikulam… abode of lovely lawns and plantations

Then comes the Lockhart Gap where anyone will get rejuvenated with the fresh mountain air, mist-coated hills and enchanting views

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Well, the onlookers certify this as the God’s own hill station without doubt !

Fascinating Finland Lakes

The Nordic country of Finland is popularly referred as ‘the country of 1000 lakes’. Indeed it is one of the rarest countries in the world where majority of its landscape is adorned with unscathed thick forests and lovely lakes.

Even the term ‘country of 1000 lakes’ falls short to describe Finland’s amazing geography. Actually there are around 2, 00,000 lakes (official records state: 1, 87,888). However there is a region in south-east Finland that aptly justifies this tag – the biggest Lake District in entire Europe.

This ‘thousand lakes region’ in Finland in fact accommodates much more than 1000 lakes which are dotted by numerous beautiful islands and covered with vast forests. With relatively spare population all over, there are few better locations that offer an ideal travel experience. Another amazing feature of this region is the almost round-the-clock daylight during summer season. When days a so long and nights – almost nil !

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Let it be varying seasons like summer or winter, Finland’s lakes’ offer eye-feats and entertainments in plenty. Summer will be a bustle of spectacular natural sceneries, when people can relish in full by means of lake cruises, yachting, fishing and swimming. Whereas in winter, all the rivers, lakes and even forest stand frozen – making a giant playground for outdoor activities like Nordic skiing, skating, hiking … So nature lovers, solitude seekers and adventurists can choose a season as per their preferences.

Amongst Finland’s around Two Lakhs of lakes (with 20,000+ kilometres of splendid shoreline), the top five, in terms of size and charm, are as follows…

1
Lake Saimaa

The largest and arguably most beautiful of all Finnish lakes, Lake Saimaa is situated in eastern Finland, between the cities – Joensuu and Lappeenranta.

A priceless jewel of Finland’s natural beauty, this lake is characterised by an extensive water-body dotted by thousands of isles and countless bays. A fishing paradise, Lake Saimaa is home to ‘Saimaa Salmon’ (a land locked variety of the popular Salmon fish).

2
Lake Päijänne

The deepest and second largest lake in Finland, Lake Päijänne extends from city of Lahti to the city of Jyväskylä (Southern Finland). This lake offers diverse sceneries with its landscapes – isles and shores – each varying in geographical shape.

The southern parts of this mighty lake are home to ‘Päijänne National Park’, an apt location for adventurous hiking trails. Päijänne Lake is a famous fishing site too.

3
Lake Inarijärvi

The only major lake among the ‘top five’ that doesn’t belong to Finland’s celebrated ‘thousand lakes region’, Lake Inarijärvi comes third in the list of big-sized Finnish lakes.

Perhaps the only one of its kind in terms of pristine nature and wilderness, Lake Inarijärvi accommodates about three thousand isles. This lake area offers one of the very best cruises thro’ unspoilt nature! Another speciality of this lake is its excellent water quality. It is said that there is no need to bring drinking water while travelling in Lake Inarijärvi.

4
Lake Pielinen

The fourth largest lake in Finland, Lake Pielinen lays north to the city of Joensuu. Another lake boasting of majestic sceneries, Lake Pielinen is beautified with many little isles and neighboured with pine forests.

Koli National Park, a well known natural site in Finland, is located on the western shores of this lake. Pielinen’s waters also houses a diverse fish variety including the land locked Salmon.

5
Lake Oulujärvi

Located to the west of the Finnish city of Kajaani, Lake Oulujärvi is the country’s fifth largest lake. Better known by nickname ‘Kainuu Sea’ due to its vast fishing resources, Lake Oulujärvi is rated as a top pike-fishing destination and is a favourite hunt of trollers.

Apart from its own share of charming shores and sand dunes, what makes Lake Oulujärvi distinct is its Island of Ärjänsaari – an isle with high sand banks.

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In a country like Finland that ranks high amongst the most stable countries in the world… whose capital (Helsinki) is world’s no.2 safest city… outings can be enjoyable in every sense. Almost countless pristine locations lay unexplored in not so large a country!