Impromptu plans work out the best. And this one just seamlessly fit perfectly. After finally getting done with our appraisals, and putting to rest the tension and anxiety that dominated our heads for the past couple of weeks, my husband and I felt that a short break could help.
Scenic images of Vagamon and its mist-covered tea estates had been prominent in my Instagram feed. And at the talk of going on a holiday, it was an immediate recollection. And as simple and quick as that, the destination was fixed.
Now on the question of how do we reach Vagamon? The best way to get to Vagamon, as we found out, was taking an overnight train from Bangalore to Erankulam and then a drive of 3.5 hours on the road. We checked for the availability of train tickets and booked them immediately.
Next, we needed to book a car to and from Ernakulam railway station to Vagamon. We found that a Wagon R was available at a good deal in Indus go, the zoom car equivalent in Kerala, and booked it instantly.
Lastly, on the stay, after checking on the availability of several properties, we booked our stay in Honeycomb by Astral Inn. If you plan your holiday to Vagamon well in advance, then I’d highly recommend staying at the stone house in Mountain Vila, Vagamon.
It was a Thursday evening. My husband and I, his close college friend, and his wife gathered at Krishnarajapuram Railway Station and boarded our train to Ernakulam at 7:30 pm. It had been a while since our last holiday; we were excited and really looking forward to it. For dinner, we savoured some delicious Pav bhaji that I had cooked that morning and got some rest.
We de-boarded our train at Ernakulam junction at 6:15 am and picked up our self-drive car.
We, unfortunately, could not avail of early check-in, so we had an entire morning that we could utilise to explore Kochi. After stopping by a nearby restaurant to brush and for some tea, we head straight to Fort Kochi.
It was a pleasant morning. We took a stroll around the breezy Fort Kochi beach.
We discovered the Chinese fishing nets, watched as Fishermen washed and segregated their fish for the day for sale, and witnessed souvenir shop owners put their products on display in a perfect array.
After a good walk, starving, we stopped by a nearby restaurant for some South Indian breakfast. We then explored Burger Street – a colourful lane with houses painted in different beautiful colours.
Right in the same street lies Kashi art cafe, where we halted for some Pancakes and then made our way to Vagamon.
After an hour’s drive of driving through Kochi roads, we soon entered the Idukki district and a few minutes later, we joined the road that went uphill. We saw several rubber plantations on the route. We stopped by one where Aashish’s friend explained to us the entire process of rubber extraction. It was fascinating.
Getting back on track, we drove for a few more additional kilometers upslope and were enveloped by green views stretching as far as our sight. We had entered Vagamon. The weather was super pleasant and anywhere you glanced, you could see tea estates. On route, we witnessed a few ladies picking tea leaves with the tea picking machine with scissors. I requested if they could let me try and experience it. They obliged. It was fun.
We again stopped by after a few kilometers as the views only kept getting better and I wanted to capture every bit of it in my camera. Vagamon as we uncovered, still mostly remains offbeat and untouched. There are only a countable few hotels/resorts. If escaping crowds is your idea of a vacation, then Vagamon is your go-to place!
The time was 2:30 pm was we checked into our stay. It was a two-bedroom villa with balconies, a large living room that encloses the dining space, and a balcony leading from the living room. The views from the balcony were very good. It was a good last-minute deal that we got lucky with!
We had reached the hotel well past our lunchtime and were starved. We requested the staff to arrange for some food. But there were a lot of tantrums in terms of, the chef comes only during the evenings. Eventually, after a lot of back and forth, hesitantly they agreed to cook us lunch. The lunch was abysmally poor. The gravy of Paneer butter masala was watery, and dal was undercooked, but we stuffed it anyway to stop our stomachs from growling.
We spent the rest of the evening sitting by the balcony, doing what they call bakchodi and taking in the stunning green views while munching on some soya sticks.
After the sun set for the day, we took a short nap and got ready for dinner. We decided to explore Palette Hill View Restaurant, a restaurant at about 200 meters distance from our stay. It was quite an adventure walking through a narrow road with no street light whatsoever. Mobile torch light came to the rescue. We had an average dinner but left with the satisfaction that this was the best we could get in Vagamon.
After we got back to our hotel, we were discussing the Andamans and how we should head there next. My husband’s friend was from Andamans, and so he enlightened us about Andamans and their various tribal communities. We also discussed the Jews and their life after death. Surprisingly, I’ve grown to be curious about history and it fascinated me what I learned that day about the tribes in Andaman.
We again sat on the balcony of our hotel room and enjoyed the weather that had turned out pleasantly cold that night. And hogging onto some Maggi in chilly hill station weather although cliche is almost unavoidable. So we called the hotel staff and requested for them to make us Maggi. They obliged. We relished it despite our full stomachs from dinner and then hit the bed.
The next morning, we woke up at leisure. Breakfast was ready. Unlike our lunch experience, the breakfast was good. Idiyappam, Kadala curry, bread butter, freshly cut watermelon, and some bread omelet for the non-vegetarians in the group.
After we stuffed ourselves stomachs full, we booked a jeep for a tour of the famous attractions in Vagamon. All of us then got ready and while waiting for the jeep to arrive, we clicked some stunning pictures with mist-covered green tea estate views as the backdrop.
The jeep man arrived soon and for the next few hours, we off-roaded through Vagamon roads. Believe me, when I say this, you would not have experienced offroading of this kind ever. As we manoeuvred through unconstructed roads at length while moving from one attraction to another, it gave the feel of roller coasters at Wonderla. I’m not someone who enjoys roller coasters, but this probably was the only time when I’ve honestly enjoyed such an experience. I felt huge respect for the talent of the jeep driver driving through those roads.
We first stopped at Thavalappara View Point from which there was a stunning lush green view of the tea estates.
The next stop was at Kottamala Meadows View Point. Humungous mountains were covered in green grass that stretched up to the sky. Funnily, from a distance, we could see that in some places there was sunlight and the colour of the mountains in those places appeared a lighter shade of green. Nakhre of nature, I tell you! After clicking some pictures with that gorgeous setting in the background, we left for the next attraction.
The next attraction that we head to had fantastic views of the Idukki dam backside View Point. We stood in silence for a bit and got lost in the beauty of nature.
Last stop before we stopped for lunch were the majestic Ulupunni waterfalls. The sound of the gushing waterfalls and the white foam from where the water crashes into the water was just amazing to witness.
After our waterfalls experience, it was now time for lunch. We drove down from the hills and stopped by a restaurant in Vagamon town. One thing after that lunch we were sure about was that food was just about average in the whole of Vagamon. After our average lunch, we head next to Vagamon lake where we stopped to enjoy some kayaking with lush green tea estate views on the side. Funnily, they did not have the oars of the kayak to row it, so we had to rely on the oaks of a rowing boat. But it was still a lot of fun.
After our delightful kayaking experience, the last stop for the day was Zostel Vagamon. They have a giant net that protrudes out into nature and is a terrific place to play games with friends & gaze at the breathtaking valley view. We came in just for a few clicks at this spot and it was all worth it.
After an eventful day, we got back to our hotel. Unfortunately, we had to settle for dinner at the hotel, but luckily it wasn’t so bad as the lunch the previous afternoon. We sat for a while doing more bakchodi and then called it a day. It was a crazy but totally fun day. It was about 11 pm when we hit the bed.
The next morning we rose to the early sun and quickly got ready. With us getting ready, the breakfast was served. That morning’s special was Appam with stew, bread butter, bread omelet and followed by tea and coffee. After a decent breakfast, we bid goodbye to Vagamon and descended to Kochi. It was about noon when we reached Kochi. We dropped my husband’s friend and his wife at their relatives and discovered the rest of Kochi that we couldn’t the day we landed.
We boarded the train that night from Ernakulam back to Bangalore. Vagamon was an amazing find and the short trip got us all rejuvenated and gave us the much-needed zest to look forward to life, at least for the next couple of days ;).