The fog finally clears as the little, yellow and black, rickshaw finally manages to push up the mountain and through the clouds. On the narrow serpentine road that goes up the Western Ghats, on the border between Kerala and Tamil Nadu in southern India, every new bend offers a stunning view – but also a possibility that it could be the last view of your life. Dust flies in the air as blue and orange trucks blasts by, and in a little rickshaw, that would stand no chance in a crash, the only protection is the never-ending, frenetic honking by the chauffeur to signal that “here we come”. Oh, and of course. There is also the fact that the roadside is a 250-meter steep drop to death.
But do not let this put you off. While the road up is stressful, the views are without a doubt the most breathtaking about this route. Mile after mile of tea plantages. Lush green bushes filling the valley. Tea bushes that are hand-picked every day, and then carried away and purchased all over the world. Hundreds of workers, both men and women, stand with bent over backs picking leaves or carrying big sacks of the precious tea. Hard work, without doubt, but when speaking with them, they still smile big and friendly.
The only downside of the Western Ghats is that there is not much of a view on the ground below. The clouds are fully covering the ground and it is unknown if it would have been Kerala or Tamil Nadu down there if the clouds opened up. But to me, it does not matter. Rather, this creates a feeling of being in a new world – a world of green tea leaves, grey mountains, yellow rickshaws, blue trucks and white clouds. And the view is beautiful enough as it is. There is only one thing that worries me: the drive down…
The mountains and tea plantages of eastern Kerala are widespread, however, most reach them through the hill station of Munnar. Munnar can be reached by bus or taxi from the coast and is located about two hours from Kochi and 4-7 hours from Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum).