Friday, October 12, 2007

Wayanad - Gods Own Country

October 2nd is special to many of India but even more to me. But Oct 2nd 2007 was a day worth remembering for a plethora of reasons and the hierarchy of their order confounds me till date. The reasons, being the long weekend, the green pastures, the undulating peaks, the simple lifestyle of people, the leeches, the soul stirring Malabar food or was it the gang of the persistently energetic team of 6 friends with whom I had been to Wayanad. Wayanad I must confess stands true to its self proclaimed name of ‘Gods own country’ in terms of landscape beauty, food and what not.

Seven of us Karthik Kalkur, Monish(me), Pradeep Panda, Sunil Kumar, Sivanantham, Vimal Kanth and the chauffeur Raju embarked on this express trip to be completed under a 48 hours.

Kalpetta in Wayanad would set your speedometer forward by around 280 – 290 kms and your watch by 6 hours ahead from Bangalore. The roads are as nice as you could imagine. We reached the coffee day near Mandya by about 12:00 pm and we descended from the travera to sleepily slurp a class of coffee renamed(F2) as lattes and cappuccinos and Raju was also offered a glass of coffee for which he was very skeptical in accepting it(the reason will be disclosed soon). Then a few gaana’s ahead after straining each ones vocal chords and after a few long winks we reached the Karnataka – Kerala border where we stopped for a road side chai – pit stop. Again Raju was skeptical in accepting chai from the hands of his passengers (the reason will be disclosed soon). Then we started again and for wildlife enthusiasts this is one of the best stretches from the Karnataka border to the Kerala Muthanga checkpost where we spotted many stray wild elephants, spotted deer’s and some more URA (Unidentified Running Animals). Then we had to pay the tax at near the Muthanga checkpost which was close to 800 bucks for a Tavera. By 5:00 am we were in the hotel Haayatagiri which has quite a good pulling web presence, but not a too gravity defying presence once you are in their premises – but the tariffs at 1500 for 3 serve your purpose for a hideout during the nights. We decided to sleep for about 2.5 hrs and get out of the hotel by about 8, but as we all know how sleep can get the better of all of us and screw all the preplanned scheduling, the same happened here as we woke up at 9 but in this case our sleep didn’t majorly spoil any plans as it was raining pellets of water. So finally after conquering a heavy breakfast aka puttu and other Kerala delicacies we trooped out of the hotel to carry on with the days agenda of ‘Discover Wayanad’. First stop was Chembra peak a tea estate where for trekking you need a forest officer’s autograph on a torn sheet of paper or you need to be a knave and bribe the highly grounded guard at 2000 meters above sea level with a few hundreds and move on.

As we walk for about a km we see many streamlets and miniaturized waterfalls and at one point we see many guys in varying levels of undress which left us wondering about what was happening to people these days and they were screaming leeches and true to their word we saw many blood leaking wounds on their legs and hands and then to our dismay we were almost to be a free hosting site for the leeches as they were getting ready to invade into our blood stream – they were all over our shoes and socks and getting ready to draw first blood by then we got smart and recovered from the initial shock of their attack and cleansed ourselves from their attack and decided not to venture into the grassy wet leeches inundated area. So we started back and on the way back we conquered a streamlet right up to the top and spend some time there relishing the express vacation.





So after a few 50 pictures we were truly on way to the Sochipara falls which is about 20 km’s from Kalpetta, Sochipara falls is a small beautiful waterfalls in a nice locale, but the crux of this place is the nice body exerting walk of about 2++ kms in a ever changing inclination.

After this we decided to get to the Phooket lake, at the same time we started getting some vague signal reception from many of our stomachs which started demanding for some food which was forgotten in all this scurry of activity. We stopped at some place called Ananda Bhavan and the clocks in their town read 5:00, we had Fish Fish and Fish with some little bit of dosa as the side dish and paid 160 rs for 6 peoples lunch, man wasn’t Wayanad expensive compared to the silicon valley earlier known as the garden city. By the time we reached the lake, the boating was stopped for the day as it was dangerous to boat in the dark, the vehicle ticket collector spoke in flawless English that the place was closed and he told us to come on the next day around 9:30 and he even gave us a recommendation to visit a place about 3 km’s away called the GHAT area where you will engulfed in a eerie cloud of white mist. As we approached that place we started to see some real thick mist ahead of us and at the pinnacle of that point we stopped and got out of the car and we really couldn’t see each other at a distance of few meters.


Then we started back to the hotel and reached back to the hotel at around 7 and when we asked them what facilities they have they replied that they have a pool and a ‘outdoor shuttle court’. Then Sunil, Siva and me decided to play shuttle for a while and as we went to see the court we saw a brown color covered place in a corner of their property which could be mistaken to be their garbage dump. Siva was following us behind maybe a minutes delay. As soon as I kept my foot on the court I went skidding a few feet ahead and as I got up and walked a few meters ahead I fell again much to Sunil’s delight and to my disgust, but immediately I saw Siva coming and I got up and kept quiet ..real quiet he came – kept his foot – and YES he did skid and fall and the night erupted into a frenzy by my laughter – a true sadistJ. Then with footing as graceful as a cat we crossed our nemesis the shuttle court and we all decided to go explore the local Kalpetta market and dine somewhere and get back. Kalpetta market place was a straight line of a few km’s with small shops and vendors displaying their wares, then we came to a nice restaurant called Woodlands which was like our very own local Nandhini without the standard meals, but if you have a train, bus or flight to board in the next few hours you would really be happy to give this place a miss or cancel your tickets and dine here and that’s how fast they can serve. After a few hours and with heavier stomachs and lighter purses we returned to our rooms to retire hurt for the night after few detailed heated up discussions on the IT industry, the economy and other hot topics, while all this was going on in one of the rooms poor Sania Mirza was battling out a match in the background on ten sports without garnering much attention from us.

Tuesday – wake up – get ready – check out – settle the bills – bid farewell to the hotel all by 7:30 in the pre dawn early morning period. We then stopped for a sumptuous breakfast at a small little place and devoured appams, poori’s and chai. Then we went to the lake and were there before even the boating ticket agent could get to work. We first hired an 8 seater with a row man and we went on a nice wide trip with few onboard wishing they wouldn’t be thrown overboard. Then 4 of us decided to do raft/canoe on a twin seater with dual rowing on both sides. Now that was fun, the first 10 minutes was spent like a kid taking to a video game for a first time, the raft was doing circles, sudden turns and basically went in all directions like a car which had just lost its brakes and suffered a steering unit failure. But later it was fun and a must do activity for people getting there.



Then from there we went straight to Edakkal Caves, it was about 45 kms away from the lake and the drive was through real picture some canopies of trees and fresh fields and droves of tea bushes. We reached Edakkal caves and here you can hire a jeep to take you to the base of the caves else you can labor upwards for about 2 km’s to the base of the climb to the caves. We opted to hike it which we regretted within 5 minutes we were walking upwards at an angle of 45 degrees and with every passing jeep our jealousy was hitting a peak taller than the peak above the caves. We huffed and puffed our way up to the caves and saw our forefathers scribbling on the walls of the cave, their genes are still present in those of us who scribble in every possible wall & desk.

Then few of us decided to go further up to the top of the 2200+ meter peak, till about 1500 meters I made it with great fear and apprehension of the absolute lack of safety and the sheer drop/fall that I would have even if I make a single wrong move or if my shoes decide to desert me, at one point I was shaking and refused to budge from there and told them to carry on till the peak and get back soon, Siva Kartik and Sunil left me on a nice sofa like rock and carried on, after a few 100 meters the same unknown fear which hit me hit Siva and Kartik especially as they climbing with floaters and a grip less shoe, they parked themselves in a lesser comfortable rock and the mountain cat of our group Sunil continued on conquering the peak and was hopping and leaping rock to rock which left us all with prayers on our lips, finally he made it to the top along with only 2 others of a different group. Finally the descent was a great homecoming and we were more than happy.

Then after more than 3 continuous hours of mountaineering we refreshed and replenished ourselves and continued to Muthanga sanctuary where a safari was to start in an hour we were dreaming and conjuring up images of Animal planet, Discovery where you can see such nice pictures and close macro captures of all the habitants of a jungle. But in reality animals don’t present themselves in a tray to be viewed nor do they cat walk in front of you, so the first 15 minutes was spend in traveling in a rickety vehicle gaping at dried leaves and trees. Then finally Pradeep spotted the giant malaber squirrel which made my safari a nice affair, we got down and tried shooting them on a memory card but they were quick enough to escape getting caught as another picture on my flickr homepage. Then we saw some spotted deer and few monkeys and then we changed tracks to a completely horrific road less track where we spotted a huge black poisonous snake slithering away into the bushes and we ended our safari in about 40 minutes and after a 22 km drive.

Then we had a final Kerala meal at a mess which was again Puttu, Kappa and fish and we started our drive to Bangalore, stopped for dinner at Omkar dhaba close to west campus and after around 48 hours since we left and around 800 kms covered we reached our place safely.

And the reason for which the driver was skeptical initially in accepting things from us to drink and eat was that I had booked the taxi and had just given my phone number and told him to come to KR road, recently a group of thieves hired a taxi by giving only their phone number and then on Mysore road drugged/hit the driver threw him down a pit and drove away with the vehicle, so he was very scared of whether I was part of their gang and would do the same … heehaw – a villains laugh.



m.I.m

6 comments:

The Tall Dude said...

Some awesome pics coupled with superb description of the journey...makes me go there..keep up the good work minus a few spelling mistakes :)

Circuit said...

Gr88 narration! Took me through the events all over again!! We shall continue our adventure series with another exciting outing next month..
Add on the 8 seater boat ride excitement if possible; not to forget the adventurous and brave Karthik thru the ride :)

frivolous-mind said...

You haven't posted the "Photo-of-the-trip"

Aunindo n Manoshi said...

Hey thats a great blog...very very informative. I had consulted this while planning my trip - so thank you!

Do checkout my blog on Wayanad Forest Walk at http://ofourwalks.wordpress.com/2010/06/05/leafy-leechy-liberating/

Deepu George V said...

That was really nice description, and the photos made a it like real trip.

deane barlcays said...

a great write-up. entry recollected me my trip with my friends to this solid vacation destination. we got down @ tropicalforrest freshed up , had our b'fast and went around the places. we stayed for 3 days, every minuted is unforgettable.