Written by koshkha on 18 Dec, 2011
In many respects I like to think that I'm not typically British but there's one area where my roots show through very clearly and that's massage. I have German colleagues who merrily book a week at a spa and let strangers pummel and prod them…Read More
In many respects I like to think that I'm not typically British but there's one area where my roots show through very clearly and that's massage. I have German colleagues who merrily book a week at a spa and let strangers pummel and prod them for hours each day but the very idea fills me with dread because – like many Brits – I'd really rather not be touched by people I don't know. Yep, I know that multitudes of readers will now be thinking that I'm a bit weird but the idea of stripping off and getting basted in weird oils leaves me a lot less than thrilled.There is therefore no way on earth that I'd have chosen to go for a full body massage in a little back street massage place in Munnar if I hadn't been almost forced to. My husband wasn't keen either but our driver was absolutely determined that whether we wanted to or not, we would be getting an Ayurvedic massage from the salon whose brochure he had in the back of the car. We tried to evade, hoped he might forget but it was not to be. We were marched in and with an imaginary gun pointed at our heads, forced to make a booking for the following evening. I managed to escape from the head and neck massage knowing it would take forever to get all that icky gunk out of my long hair, but grudgingly agreed to having the rest of me attacked. My husband, ever inclined to go with the flow also booked. The brochure had reassured me that I wasn't going to get rubbed down by a man so I figured the potential for utter humiliation and embarrassment couldn't be all that great.The next day we set off to a tea plantation and then to a wildlife park. We watched the clock as we got horribly delayed in search of mountain goats, crossing our fingers that maybe, if we were really lucky, we might get out of the massage. It wasn't to be. After a long day of sightseeing our driver delivered us to the salon, telling us we would feel "very very good madame". I wasn't convinced.I was led to the top floor by a muscular looking lady in a salwar kameez. She took me into a small room and I felt as I imagine a young man visiting a prostitute for the first time might feel. What was going to happen to me, what was the etiquette, would I get out alive or at least uninjured? A large plastic table filled the centre of the room and the masseuse lay a thin cloth over the hard black plastic. A channel ran around the edge for the oil to gather. At the head of the table the dreaded head massage oil container loomed ominously and was soon dismantled and put away. I was directed towards some pegs on the wall where I could hang up my clothes. I stripped to my underwear and the masseuse shook her head at me. My bra came off and she shook her head again, taking out a small roll of cotton to tie around me like Mowgli's loincloth. I felt like an utter ninny standing almost starkers in my little cotton nappy. I climbed onto the bed, lying on my front and the attack began.I don't know if all ayurvedic massage is as vigorous as what I received. If my poor old chakras were misaligned this lady was soon going to whip them energetically and violently back into shape. The technique consisted of a lot of oil and hard, long strokes. Lying on a hard plastic bed meant that some parts of me were getting pummelled into the bed quite violently and whilst my muscles weren't too fussed about what was happening some of my joints were objecting quite strongly. If my ankles could have spoken they'd have begged for mercy. My poor knees, long abused by too much past sport would have been on their knees pleading for her to stop. My feet quite enjoyed it though but most of me was just lying there thinking "Please God, let this not last TOO long". A slap on the buttock told me it was time to roll over. I kept my eyes closed as the attack recommenced. I was relieved that the woman spoke very little English as this just wasn't the time for small talk. "Are you out this evening? Have you had your holidays yet?" and all that hairdresser chatter just doesn't seem right when someone is slapping your flab around and you're just praying she stops soon. They say you should feel fabulously relaxed and rejuvenated after a massage; I just felt immensely relieved that the experience was over and I could attempt to rub off some of the oil and get dressed again. I did smell lovely for a few hours and my skin felt very soft but I'm sure I could have achieved that with a liberal dose of body butter in the privacy of my own room. My husband by contrast seemed to have a lovely time and spent most of his time chattering away to his masseur who had a lot more vocabulary. We paid, I headed back up to hand over a quite generous tip (based on a sense of 'apology for being such a terrified wimp') and then we headed back to the hotel where I told my husband that if he ever spotted me considering such a thing again, he had my permission to take me out and shoot me. I believe we paid about 500-600 rupees each – I'd happily pay ten times that to not have to do it again. Close
Written by MichaelJM on 16 Jan, 2006
Munnar is a busy town that welcomes tourists with open arms. Things can be a little expensive here as the locals cash in on the town’s popularity. The town has a fascinating manmade skyline feature (the whole town nestles picturesquely in the surrounding hills) made…Read More
Munnar is a busy town that welcomes tourists with open arms. Things can be a little expensive here as the locals cash in on the town’s popularity. The town has a fascinating manmade skyline feature (the whole town nestles picturesquely in the surrounding hills) made up of three churches overseeing and dominating the town. The Muslim, Hindu and Christian edifices form a crescent shaped symbol of religious unity and are best seen in the evening when they are lit up for added impact.
Our driver was a Hindu and with great pride and due reverence he took me in to the Sri Svetambra Vimalanthar Jain Temple. He would not allow my wife to accompany us, although there were many women visiting the temple when we were there, and I left my sandals at the bottom of the long steep staircase that led up to the temple. This was a tortuous journey as my feet are not toughened and the route was uneven and sometimes stony. My driver showed little signs of any discomfort and led the way. On approaching the temple he showed great reverence and once entered dipped his fingers into colourful natural concoctions to make a bindi (a dot type mark on the forehead). For some reason there were two colours and having marked his own forehead he insisted that I should be similarly marked. Additionally he “stored up” additional dyes on the palm of his hand – “to place on your wife” he said in a whisper. The church was incredibly busy with worshippers moving around the temple’s different worshipping points in a set sequence. Apparently we were approaching a significant religious festival and the church in Munnar was assuming an importance approaching pilgrimage proportions. My driver pointed out original murals, dating back he assured me to the 1300’s. Certainly this was a fine temple with a prime vantage point over the town.
From the side of the temple there was a great view over Munnar with the Muslim Jamid Mosque and the Christian church of St. Michael Xavier sharing similarly impressive vantage points. The Christian church is classic in its architecture and seemed somewhat misplaced in the tea capital of the Western Ghats. We didn’t inspect it at close quarters preferring to take in its splendour from the site of the Hindu Temple. The impressive modern oriental architecture of the mosque was certainly glorified by the non-too subtle lighting and the tall simple columns were supporting a ball and crescent at their highest point. It seemed a particularly welcoming building and the single steep staircase leading to the main entrance was dimly let ensuring that the main features and stained glass windows of the Mosque were displayed to their best effect.
The harmony of these three churches seems to be reflected in the peace and tranquillity of the area, although the town of Munnar is noisy, crowded and far from idyllic. The area, however, is well worth a visit.
Written by TanyaJPaulMunshi on 21 Sep, 2006
I had the opportunity to see the famed Neelakurinji flowers 12 years ago, when I visited Munnar with my parents on a school holiday. Neelakurinji is one of the most unique species of flowers that bloom once every 12 years from mid-August to December. The…Read More
I had the opportunity to see the famed Neelakurinji flowers 12 years ago, when I visited Munnar with my parents on a school holiday. Neelakurinji is one of the most unique species of flowers that bloom once every 12 years from mid-August to December. The entire hilly area of the Eravikulam National Park is known to get flooded with thousands of these tiny blue flowers. This year, coupled with Onam, Munnar is flooded with local and foreign tourists trying to catch a glimpse of this flower.
As a ripple effect, we found a huge mob of tourists choking the roads leading to the Eravikulam National Park, which didn’t allow us to trek up to the hills and see the flowers at bloom again.
Amidst these flowers, the mountain goats known as the Nilgiri Thar or the Ibex also share the limelight. This is a sheer photographers’ delight to be able to capture the flora and fauna in peaceful harmony set admits the hills.
Despite the fact, we could not go inside the national park; we managed to buy some of the freshest teas produced at Munnar. Right near the entrance of the Eravikulam National Park, you can choose from a wide variety of teas at Kanan Devan Tea’s exclusive outlet. For instance, Green Tea is priced at Rs. 75/- for 250 gms and Madupatty CTC Leaves is priced at Rs. 45/- for 500 gm. What's more, during the drive you can spot several other tea estates having an outlet selling wide variety of fresh teas.
It is disheartening to see the line of plastic packets spoiling the greenery of Munnar, and the forest officials are doing their best to keep this area plastic free. This is one of the most magnificent holiday spots, and we as tourists should be careful to not spoil what nature gives us so bountifully.