What’s your phone/laptop wallpaper? Is it a stunning scenery from your last trip to the mountains or the beach? Why did you put it up as your wallpaper? Perhaps, so that every time you look at it, you can momentarily escape the humdrum around to that blissfully happy place.
Well, I have had this pic as my phone wallpaper for close to 2 years now. It was clicked from the terrace of a homestay in Munnar (Chithirapuram to be precise) that we stayed in for two days, back in summer of 2015. There are several reasons why I have not gotten around to changing this for two years now. Not only does this image of the sun preparing to rise over the fog shrouded green folds of the Western Ghats makes my heart swell every time I look at it, it also takes me back to that picturesque house next to a gurgling stream; the one nestled among dense spice plantations away from the madness of Munnar town.
The Shade is a little known homestay situated in Chithirapuram, 14kms downhill on the road from Munnar to Kochi. If the higher altitudes of Munnar are covered with tea gardens, the slopes in Chithirapuram are ruled by spice plantations. Clinging to the edge of the hill and overlooking a valley, this three storied house has only three rooms for guests. Quaint right? But that’s not it. There are a few basic things that the owners of the The Shade get right and that really makes it a home away from home in the hills of Munnar. Read on to find out what:
- The Location: Going back to the pic that I have had on my phone screen for two years now… need I say more? If one can enjoy this view from the breakfast table or leafing through the pages of your favorite book, what would be the need to go “sightseeing” anywhere else. Which is exactly what we did during our stay in The Shade. Being situated away from the town center meant none of the pesky crowd, the noise or crass commercialization.And if you get bored of just lounging around and admiring the view, go for a walk or cycle along the curving roads around the home stay, smell the wild flowers or trek down to the hydel power station nearby.
- The Size: The charm of this place lies as much in it’s size as it’s location. There is one double room for families (two adjoint rooms with a single bathroom) on the second floor and two separate rooms with attached bathrooms on the ground floor. The room on the second floor has a balcony with a sit out and also access to the terrace where one can lie down and spend hours watching the soaring peaks play hide and seek with the sun and the clouds. The rooms on the ground floor have a private sit out facing the 2.5 acre spice plantation attached to the house and also access to the machan (tree house like structure) that gives a clear view of the valley.
Simple math: Less rooms = Less guests = More privacy = More quality time in the lap of nature
- Basic but Clean: Remember this is a homestay so they don’t have a pool or room service or 24 hour restaurant but what they do have are clean and comfortable rooms (I mean every one in two reviews on Tripadvisor actually talks about how clean the place is!) and serene and picturesque surrounding. They provide bicycles on rent and also organize treks and sightseeing tours on request. And yes no TV in the room which acts as an extra motivation to go out and explore the surroundings.
- Helpful but non-intrusive hosts: The real charm of a home stay lies in it’s hosts, isn’t it? The Shade definitely has lovely hosts. Mr. Santhosh, the owner, actually went out of his way to pick us up from Chithirapuram bus stop (2 kms away) on arrival and was thoughtful enough to lend us umbrellas when we were stepping out. He and his family live on the first floor of the house which has it’s own separate exit and entrance. So, you will always find the hosts close at hand if you need any help but at other times you are pretty much on your own.
- The Food: The room tariff includes complimentary breakfast but after having one lunch somewhere in the town, we chose to have all our meals in ‘The Shade’ by paying for them separately. The meals, simple homely fare from Mr. Santhosh’s kitchen, are cooked in traditional Mallu style but are very tasty and reasonably economical. I would go back there just to savour their puttu and idiyappam. Totally yum!
A word of caution: If you are visiting Munnar with the intention of doing some heavy duty sightseeing, staying in The Shade may not be such a good idea as it is far away from the town center and even if you have your own conveyance, it might still be a long drive. Also, if you don’t like Mallu food, you might just end up hating the place coz there are no, absolutely no other restaurants in the vicinity.
However, if you are in the mood for a quaint quite do-nothing escape to the hills, The Shade is just what the doctor prescribed!
Tariff: Two years ago, we paid INR 1650 per night for the room ( A steal in my opinion). The current tariff listed on their website is INR 2500 per night. Inflation, I guess. Value for money? Leave it to your judgement.
P.S. If you want to hear what the more recent guests say about The Shade, click here.
So, until next time, Happy Wandering!
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