How often do you chance upon unknown islands on google maps and then decide to head to it after curiosity gets the better of you?
Read on, for I promise I had never heard of this island before. It was google maps that took me there.
The day was Sunday, the 4th of September 2016. I was all packed waiting at the Varkala Train Station for my train ride to Munroe Island. A few minutes before that, the auto driver who dropped me to the station had offered me his last best price of Rs. 800 for a drop to the island. I had politely declined.
It was a beautiful day in Varkala. I was both sad and excited to leave Varkala – sad because I had an awesome 4 days and 3 nights of stay at the pretty beach in which I explored everywhere possible in and around Varkala and excited because I was finally heading to Munroe Island. Don’t you like the name of this island? Pretty exotic like Marylin Munroe. Yes, the name! What’s in a name they say? Perhaps, everything! The name, yes the name is what took me to the island.
About 4 days back, while on my train to Varkala from Chennai, this island kept popping up each time I opened google maps in my phone to check the right station to get down. It was officially the first time I was travelling alone in a train. Meaning it was the first time that I booked my own tickets, boarded the train after figuring out the right platform number and ultimately reached the right train station safely without anybody’s help. I’ve traveled alone in quite a few train journeys before but I always had somebody to help me out with the right platform number and finally boarding me into the train. For some reason, I always thought it was a task getting into a train, something that this trip proved me wrong. Moreover, I’m used to taking flights and buses. The name intrigued me for reasons still unknown to me and that’s how I started searching on the internet if the island was actually reachable and eventually looking for options to go the island and trip advisor did me good by showing up all good reviews on it by foreign tourists.
I was waiting for the train when suddenly I saw a familiar someone (Akanksha Mishra, one of my college mates from KIIT) getting down from the train in front of me. You know that feeling of meeting someone familiar from a long time ago in an unknown distant place?After catching up with her for a few minutes and bidding goodbyes, I finally boarded my train to Munroe Island.
Please note that the train to Varkala leaves at 3.57 pm and 6 pm daily.
The 10 rupee local train ride to the island was one interesting ride. From being asked if I was a foreign tourist, to questions on why I was alone, the local ladies beside me seemed to be very intrigued and interested in a lot of “whys”.
Between talks that can hardly be deemed “understandable” to friendly gestures to constantly looking out of my window trying to capture the scenery of the lake the train was passing through, I did not quite realize how quickly the one hour passed by.
And then I finally set foot on the island. I looked around the place. A first impression of the island and I couldn’t be more thankful for chancing upon this island on google maps and then actually deciding to head here.
“TRANQUILITY” is the word that comes to mind when I remember that evening. So peaceful that all I could hear was the sound of the insects around like those regular evenings back home in Manipur minus the sound of people chattering away or children playing and all I could smell was fresh agarbati. A Rs 60 auto ride brought me to Lake and River Resort Munroe Island, greeted by the very friendly hotel owner Amal and caretaker Sushil and then later on the rats in my tummy were treated with a sumptuous
Kerala style dinner.
Ever since I read reviews of foreign tourists about this island on trip advisor, I always knew the one thing I had to do once I reached the island. So the next morning, I was woken up by the friendly and cheerful Sushil for a canoe ride through the inland backwaters of the island. I was pretty excited for this. You can make the booking for this canoe ride through the hotel itself and I paid 250 for a one hour ride in the morning.
Check out this page on facebook (link below) for more pictures and info on the traditional canoe ride.
Vishnu does a great job of showing you around the island through the backwaters, briefing you about the island history and bringing you one step Munroe closer.
He also stops by to let you have a taste of the best masala chai around. After a very peaceful morning canoe ride through the backwaters with the sound of prayers at the backdrop and the smell of agarbati, I was dropped back to the hotel where I slept for some time and had another good lunch.
The same evening I decided to do the canoe trip around the lake as recommended by Sushil. I booked it for two hours this time and it was oh so worth it.
This was when I encountered some of the best people I met in Munroe Island. Talks with Sannidhi, the boat man’s daughter and Sangeeth Sanjeev, the son, of life in the island and the curiosity to know more about the place I call home and photo sessions throughout the entire ride – beautiful moments spent and captured is what I would take away from that ride not to forget the best sunset views in the lake. Note that all of these pictures with me in them were taken by the son and daughter.
From telling me how to pose for pictures, to being invited for a casual conversation at a sunset point and eventually for a cup of tea and tender coconut at their own house, to showing me their rooms and terrace, I couldn’t have asked for a better evening. I was falling in love with the place all over again.
And thanks to them, I headed back to my hotel room with tons of beautiful pictures from the day.
Want to know more about the island? And what I did on my third day and last morning in the island? Look out for my next blog post. More pics from the third and final morning! Snippets below. Until then sayonara!