If you ask anyone who have been to Kerala “What is Munnar famous for?” The single most common answer you will get is “Tea”. The reason is simple, you see tea gardens everywhere, the only place where you will not see tea would be on the rocky mountains. If you ask me whether Munnar looks beautiful, I would yes, it is beautiful, but I would not want to stay here for long. The tea gardens look beautiful at a glance, but I would not want to see it for a long time as it starts boring. The gardens become nothing new for me after some time. The whole of Munnar was of thick virgin forests, until when the British got into the forests and planted tea. The identified flora and fauna here was even made into a encyclopedia by the British, so rich was the bio diversity here in these forests of the Western Ghats. Tea changed the face of Munnar from raw wilderness to a refined tea garden. Nature in her pristine form is raw and naked, just like how we were all born 🙂 loud and naked.
I had this very lucky chance to visit Razook of Bleaf farm stay at Kottakamboor, forty five kilometers on the Top station direction from Munnar, if fact on abandoned Munnar Kodaikanal road. Rozook was in the advertising and photography industry for a long time, it was very recently he retired at a very young age and headed for his dream to build a sail boat which took almost one and a half years. After he got his boat in the waters, Razook came down to the Valley of Kottamboor, a small village in the Western Ghats. He was taken by the beauty of the land, its people, the historic relevance, and its farm lands. He plans to settle down here and built four rooms so that he could accommodate his friends when they pay him a visit. It did not take long, guests started to come down to Razook’s Homestay through AirBnb, but more than AirBnb, it was like couch-surfing, it was like minded people who would love to be close to nature just like Razook.
Razook got his residence constructed in Kottakamboor by a few tribal men from the nearby hills. There are still tribal communities settled in these hills and they have a very peculiar method of constructing houses, protecting them from the harsh weathers of the Western Ghats. They erect sticks vertically to form a wall and pack rocks and granites stones available from the mountains. They cement the exterior with clay mixed with herbs, which gives it a cented aroma all the time. The roofs were of Elephant grass, but Razook’s Bleaf farm stay has a tin sheet roofing with Grandis sticks as support for the roof. The best part about this ethinic method of construction is, the temperature inside the room would always be the opposite fo what you have outside. If it is warm outside, it would be cooler inside the room and if it is cold outside, it would be warmer inside. The rooms are of very moderate size with an attached toilet and has a bed that could accommodate two adults. Bleaf has a external kitchen where they cook food. The sit out has wonderful views of the the mighty mountains and other terraced farmlands which make the view more terrific. More than the tangible elements that make the accommodation comfortable, it is the weather, the ambiance and the farm lands that bring in the feel good factor in to you.
As Razook says, the Vattavada, Kottakamboor and Kilavarai are places where humans inhabited since the Sangam age. There are cults of Lord Siva found in many places within the forests here. A river flows close by Kottakamboor and the the banks of the river was a route from Pallani to Sabarimalai through the hills. British did not grow tea after top station in Munnar, top station was the top point, where there was a rope line to the downhill plains of Tamil Nadu. Processed tea was transported to Top Station from where it was transferred to the downhills through the rope line, from down hill it was transported to Coimbatore. From Coimbatore it was taken to Madras (Chennai) by railroad and from the port of Madras it was exported to England by sea. The British feared Japanese invasion of India from South during the second world war, they built the Kodaikanal Munnar Road as an escape road to Cochin via Munnar, from where they could board ships to Escape to England. This road passes through the Kottakamboor village, however the road is being abandoned by the forest department sine the 1990s and is now covered with vegetation. Kottakamboor still remains as an hamlet due to inaccessibility of roads, which in a way helps in retaining the charm of the village.
Farming is the most common occupation for the villages of Kottakamboor, they cultivate potatoes, beans, soybeans, carrots, Strawberry, cabbage, beetroot and a lot other herbs, berry, beans and paddy. Here people still continue the barter system where they take their harvest to the shops and take whatever they require. There are Many interesting trekking routes, both short and long routes. If you trek for a two days through the abandon escape road, you will reach Kodaikanal, which is another popular hill station in the Palani hills. Horses are common here, since they they are being used to carry cargo since from a smaller age, they dont gain height. Razook is planning to get a horse and get himself trained in this art of riding a horse for his local conveyance. You can still see ox here, which the villagers still use to plow their fields. We witness and learn a lot of things that we learn during our primary schooling, that we might not have ever seen, unless in youtube. No electricity, fresh mountain spring water from a perennial source, and a whole lot of villagers doing farming for their livelihood, life is on the slow lane and people are happy here. And to be happy is to be with happy people 🙂
I have not put in a lot about Razooks Farm stay, rest is for you to come and experience – The hidden treasures of Munnar along with Razook. Razook had guests who have come here for 2 days and have extended their stay up to 15 days. Since it is a long Journey from Cochin – 190 Kilometers, we suggest you should stay here for a minimum of 2 nights. drop in a mail to email@example.com if you would wish to plan a visit to Bleaf Farm Homestay.