Did you know Laurie Baker lived at Vagamon before he moved to Thiruvananthapuram circa 1960? Well, it was a serendipity for us when we reached Asha Sadan at Kurisumala.
After the novelty of monsoon showers, it was not a very good idea to ride a motorcycle to Vagamon from Cherthala. There is a shorter route from Cherthala via Vechoor-Edayazham-Kallara-Kuruppunthara-Kuravilangad-Pala-Erattupetta to Vagamon taking around four hours covering 100km by an old Yamaha RX100. Change gears after Erattupetta for winding, steep, war field like roads. The roads are preparing for a complete 4lane conversion and many blasts tore open the mountains. Few sections of the road reminded us of the roads in Arunachal Pradesh.
Deluge of the monsoon season berained the valleys and mountains. At 982m altitude the three hills - Thangalmala, Muruganmala and Kurishumala at Vagamon were wet and cold requiring some warm clothes. There are frequent KSRTC buses from Kottayam and Pala. A few private buses go to Kumily via Vagamon-Elappara. The old house of eco friendly master architect Laurie Baker was bought by a nature lover and he developed Asha Sadan (Tel: 98479914519, 8281723268, dbl Rs.800, www.econestashasadan.com), simple vegetarian meals are not overpriced and very tasty. You can choose from basic rooms, cottages and dormitory. Sagar, the manager claimed upto 250 people have stayed at once there including many Malayalam movie stars. Strolling around a lovely campus of Asha Sadan watching the lush green slopes filled with a thick blanket of fog is sheer bliss. Kurishumala Ashramam is a short walk away.
Four kilometre away from Kurishumala, at the town centre restaurants and lodges greet the tourist. Love Land Home (Tel: 9961017379, dbl Rs.700) is run by Seban and his brother Joji offering rooms and cottages. They can arrange home cooked food. Their mother Mary Kutty runs a restaurant at central junction, Kurishumala.
Vagamon is frequented by college students and youngsters looking for a cool location to consume hot booze. Film making crew and honeymoon couples throng the meadows and tea estates for shooting. Pine Valley, Thangal Para, Kurishumala Ashramam, Kolahalamedu, Suicide Point and cattle unit are the places of interest for 'sight-seeing' tourist.
Travellers can take a ride to Elappara (15km, 1hr) or Elaveezhupoonchira (22km, 2hr) to soak in the complete experience of the Western ghats. We got soaked in the morning, literally, after a ride to Elappara through the bad roads among the hills shrouded in the mist. Elappara is a medium sized town with petrol pump and ATM thriving on tea estate economy. Two roads in opposite direction take you to Kuttikanam and Kattapana from here. If you are driving from Munnar to Thekkady stopping at Vagamon is a good option. Less touristy and more misty.
The traveler is active; he goes strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience. The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him. He goes 'sight-seeing'. - Daniel Boorstin