For how many of you has instagram been an inspiration for your next travel? Believe it or not, our last travel plan to Vagamon and our recent trip to Munroe Island have stemmed from a couple of reels that popped on my instagram reels feed. How is it that I’m from Kerala, but have been oblivious to this quaint yet beautiful island? was my immediate thought.
My husband’s birthday was round the corner, and I was inching close to the end of my second trimester (which they say is the best phase of pregnancy). I fortunately was fit and healthy, so it felt right to go ahead with this travel (while internally totally wishing that the baby turns out to be an explorer). After researching for a day, we booked our 2 nights 3 days stay across two resorts – Fragrant Nature Backwater Resort & Ayurveda Spa, Kollam and Lake n River Resort, Munroe Island.
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Munroe Island is a gorgeous cluster of 8 islands in Kollam, each of them separated by small water channels and lakes. It is named in honour of Resident Colonel John Munroe, who is said to have integrated several backwater regions by digging canals. A sunrise or sunset canoeing tour through the backwaters and kayaking through the perfectly shaped Mangrove arches are a must do when here.
So, we boarded the 16723 – Ananthapuri Express from Chennai to Paravur on a Wednesday night, reached Paravur the next morning and checked into Fragrant Nature Backwater Resort & Ayurveda Spa, Kollam. It was a short tuk-tuk ride of about 20 – 25 mins from the station to the resort.
We were greeted with a welcome drink, some Kerala special banana chips and jaggery banana chips (also famously called Sarkkara Upperi). After a short wait, we checked into our villa. We had booked a Premium Lake view Villa. The villa was quite spacious and comfortable, and the lake view from the balcony of the villa was pleasant. The weather was a bit on the sunny side, but we hoped by evening, it would get better.
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We were famished so we ordered in lunch in the room. It was a delicious South Indian Thali consisting of rice, sambar, moru curry, beans and carrot upperi, some pappadam, curd and pickle. We stuffed ourselves stomach full and took a short nap.
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We woke up just in time for sunset, got ready and head out towards the lake. The colours that the sun painted the sky was breathtaking to watch. The vistas before our eyes were unbelievably beautiful. Aashish and I looked at each other and retorted that while having such fantastic sunset views in India, we spent a fortune visiting Santorini in Greece for perhaps less beautiful sunset views. The views soothed our soul.
We watched till the sun went down the horizon yet left different hues of orange as lasting impressions for us to linger onto for as long as our heart could behold.
We ordered for some tea and coffee and enjoyed the scenic views while our conversations continued till night took over and now we were sitting under a starlit sky in tranquility.
The only sound we heard was the sound of the splashing lake water as fishermen headed home in their boats after the day’s hard work. Gosh! It was so beautiful. We wished time would pause for a bit.
After a walk around the resort, we got back to our villa and ordered dinner and asked for it to be served by the coffee zone facing the Ashtamudi lake. It was a candlelight dinner, that we enjoyed in private with no one around and it felt lovely.
After our dinner, we went for a short walk where we explored the resort’s Ayurveda & spa center, the king size swimming pool and the recreation centre. We then got back to our villa, spent some quality time together and hit the bed.
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The next morning, we woke up just in time for breakfast. We freshened up and head to the restaurant and relished some hot Puttu kadala, Poori bhaji, Masala dosa, Bread toast, strawberry milkshake and coffee. It was followed up with a short walk around the resort. We then got back to our villa to pack stuff and get ready for checkout.
We checked out at 12PM and we had a tuk-tuk waiting to take us to Lake n River Resort in Munroe Island where we would spend the night. From the resort, Munroe Island was at an hour’s distance. Because of the insane rains that hit Kerala the previous week, the road to Munroe Island was gone to the dogs. We reached the resort after what seemed like forever to me.
The hotel manager briefed us about the activities at the resort and we then checked into our room and ordered our lunch. The room was good, but the highlight was the balcony, it was HUGE and with a nice and serene view of the Puthanad lake.
The property had a very big green space with stone benches to relax and sit by and just enjoy the tranquil. There was also a room for recreation activities like Carrom, snooker etc. There was also a facility to indulge in a Barbecue dinner at night. The resort was indeed a good bet for a day trip as it had all the necessary arrangements for it.
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The speciality of the resort was that the Puthanad Lake and a Kallada River collided here and hence the name. After our lunch, we took a much needed short nap and got dressed for our canoeing experience through the Mangrove arches. I was really looking forward to this experience after I’d seen amazing pictures of it on the internet. We secretly also hoped that the setting would be perfect to get some pictures clicked and get a mini maternity photoshoot done.
We started our canoeing experience at 5PM.
The weather was just right. The rays of the sun felt nice and soothing on the skin. The sun was prepping for its departure for the day. We had only little time at hand for sunset pictures. So we instructed our boatman to head right to the Mangrove arches first. Canoeing at Munroe Island is a boat ride where the boatman pushes through the water with a long round and thick wooden stick to direct their path through the water. In less than 5 minutes into our ride, the mangrove arches were visible and we could see the rays of the sun emerge right through the arch. It was a gorgeous sight to behold.
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Before we head there, the boatman stopped by a dense mangrove cover that had taken the shape of a semi circle and was a perfect photo-op. We head right in with our canoe. Our boatman happily clicked some beautiful pictures for us.
The vibe of the place was very much similar to a gondola ride in the Grand Canal in Venice. Only not as many people luckily, as the place still remains pretty offbeat. We then head straight to the Mangrove arches next and it felt amazing as we sailed through the arch. There were two mangrove arches right next to each other. So as we manoeuvred through one and got onto the other side, we again passed through the second one from the other side. With the sun setting right behind us, it had turned out to be a beautiful spectacle. The boatman managed to click some instagrammable pictures for us!
We then cruised forward and soon we were passing through a low lying bridge and we had to literally duck our heads to get pass it. Again total Venice feels!
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We moved through the lake for another hour through various attraction points and witnessed the sun set for the day.
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That evening, we were in for a different treat as the sun left a reddish tint in the sky and it was our first witnessing a red sky.
The 2 hour canoe ride for Rs.1000 was totally worth every penny.
We walked around the resort for a bit after our canoe ride and with the lights on it looked lovely. The green open space was well light and a walking path created through the space made the whole walking experience even better. We then ordered some paranthas and dal for dinner at the restaurant and stuffed ourselves full. We then head back to our room and spent long hours in the balcony just conversing and enjoying the tranquil and then hit the bed.
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The next morning, we were up by 7:30am and we decided to go kayaking.
The weather was nice, and not too many people were around. So we kayaked and made our way straight to the mangrove arches. Oh my lord, they looked magnificent even in the day!
We swiftly passed through them and after a good 30 minutes made our way back to the resort. It was a good start to the day.
We then proceeded for breakfast. The breakfast menu that morning was South Indian and comprised of Puttu kadala, Idly sambar and chutney, bread toast, cut fruits and tea/coffee. We finished our breakfast and went for a walk. Watching a bevy of swans move through the lake, bathing themselves and then making their way out to a dry land and pecking with their beak and cleaning themselves was a visual treat.
We sat by a stone bench across the lake for sometime after our walk and watched as all kinds of boats – canoes, shikaras and houseboats went past us. After a pleasant morning spent in the company of nature, we got back to our room, relaxed for a bit, got ready, and came down just in time for lunch.
We had booked a cab to pick us up and take us to Jatayu Earth Center post lunch and then drop us to Kollam railway station in the evening for our train back to Chennai. Post our lunch, we boarded the cab at 2:30PM and made our way to Jayatupara which was an hour’s drive from the resort. Since I was pregnant, the driver paid extra attention and made sure that I felt no jerks on our drive through poor roads. We made it to Jatayu Earth Center at about 4PM.
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I had recently read Amish’s Ramayana Trilogy – Ram, Sita and Ravan and hence I was pretty much aware of who Jatayu was and what a crucial role he had played in rescuing Sita when Ravan abducted her and took her to Lanka in his Pushpak vimaan. It is believed that when Jayatu’s left wing was clipped by Ravan, it fell on the rocks in Chadayamangalam in the Kollam. It is the same place where the sculpture has been erected and also where he was laid to rest.
We purchased our tickets and made our way inside. Surprisingly, the place was well maintained and everything was properly organised. We crossed another ticket counter for a cable car ride to the top. Alternatively, if you’re interested, you can take 826 steps to get to the statue. We took the cable ride and made our way to the top.
As we de-boarded our cable car and walked out of the room, we walked into a huge Jayatu sculpture resembling a vulture. It had a sharp and pointed beak. Its little fingers had a curve with the ends pointed in a way that look frightening. Its feathers were long and detailed.
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There was constant wind blowing and it felt nice. The surroundings views from the park were green and serene.
The park also houses a Jatayu Rama Temple where monkeys flock in several numbers. You can pay for a Monkey feast and get a chance to feed the naughty monkeys there.
It is believed that Sita blessed Jatayu to remain alive until Lord Ram’s arrival with Lakshman who had gone hunting for food when she was abducted by Ravan. Once Ram and Lakshman returned, Jatayu narrated to them what had transpired and breathed his last breath. Lord Ram performed his last rites.
At Jatayu Earth Center, you can also find giant footprints of Lord Ram indelibly imprinted on a rock.
The park also has several other activities like zip lining, paint ball etc which unfortunately were closed for use. We spent a good hour at the park and made our way back to Kollam. We stopped by a restaurant for dinner and then made our way to the railway station and boarded our train back to Chennai.
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Although it was a short trip, but my baby moon was just perfect. We were able to efficiently balance my rest time and yet explore and experience everything that we had put as part of our plan. On a parting note, if it’s a healthy pregnancy, don’t stop yourself from doing what you love. In fact, do a lot of it!
Thank you for some beautiful memories Munroe! Until next time!