Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Wayanad - Kerala

Trip to GOD’s own Country

Bangalore –Mysore – Nanjangud – Gundulpet – Sultan Battery – Kalpetta – Bangalore

Vehicle: Alto LXi and Chevrolet Tavera

After the Hogenakkal trip, I thought of taking a break and spend July weekends in Bangalore but the thought went for a toss when all of a sudden, on a Wednesday afternoon some team members in office gathered that uncanny josh to go for a trip. They made me the scape-goat (read as trip coordinator). Finally they made it official too so hopefully we can get the reimbursements too. Initially we thought of taking 2 cars but the big boss said no-no. Hire a cab. Oh no!! I was really upset as I cannot drive to Kerala for the first time and I cannot drop the idea I am the coordinator. Anyway, may be drive next time. Still on Friday, I checked the car and kept it to tank full. On Friday evening, we went to Bangalore central to buy the stuffs like liquors, snacks, soft-drinks etc.

8th July, 2006: As planned, we were supposed to meet at ITC Park at 5AM. So we get up at 3:45AM packed the regular stuffs, took a nice bath and I was about to start my car for office, I get a call from Satarupa that I need to take my car too as 7 people plus luggage can be cramped. I did a big punch in the air, YaaHooo, Finally I am driving to the God’s own country. Immediately I ran upstairs took the file containing car papers and the extra spanners and ran in the car. That was like a dream come true. At office we all meet up and the guys load my car with their luggages and took away the bag containing the beer cans. Finally we start our journey at 5:50AM.

Mysore road was almost deserted and I was in the lead as the cab went for a fill. Once after Kengeri, speed increased and I was doing a nice 110-120kmph. Within no time we were in Kamat Lokaruchi after Ramanagaram for Chai, breakfast at about 7AM. Soon the cab followed and the guys were really excited to have food here as they heard a lot through my travelogue but never experienced it. All relished the ambience and ofcourse the banana-leaf wrapped idlis, dosas, chais, vadas.

We left Kamat at around 8 AM. Roads were as usual deserted in the morning and we did enter Mysore by 9:15AM. Instead of taking the ring road we decided to go through Mysore as it might not be that crowded on a Saturday morning. It did turn out as we expected. In another 30min we were out of town and on NH212 to Nanjangud. As we went past Mysore the roads became better-n-better and so was the speed. I kept the speed between 60-80kmph as this was the first time I am driving on this road. We also enjoyed the scenic beauty of the surrounding especially the sunflower trees spread in huge area was simply awesome.

Road and surroundings before Gundulpet

We reached Gundulpet in an hour’s time and there is a right turn immediately after that which goes to Calicut. After driving another 10km we broke for some snacks. All had chocolates, cakes, soft drinks, snacks. I drank lots of water and took a bar of munch.

At around 10:30AM we started the last leg of the journey. This was an awesome drive mostly through the jungles, first through bandipur and then through Muthanga (although the jungle is same but name is different in different state). Roads were great but inside the jungles there were sudden unmarked humps (set of three), even though I knew about this and was careful but still missed one of them and went over it thud-thud-thud at 80kmph. Maan, I felt really upset that my baby (car) had to undergo that torture. Anyway, I didn’t miss any after that and also during return. We also had slight drizzle and this deciduous forest looked dense green and awesome.

Pics inside Forest

Soon we reached the Kerala border and the checkpost. We reached Sultan battery by 11:15AM and Kalpetta by noon. We had already booked an ecotel named Hotel Harithagiri there. Nice hotel and a great ambience at a reasonable price. We freshen up in another 30min and head towards the restaurant for lunch. All of us hogged almost whatever we thought of from Mutton biriyanis, chicken65, fish curry to egg omlette, burjis to kerala parathas to dal frys. Even some of us didn’t spare the Fosters and the 8PMs too.

After the sumptuous lunch we decided to go to Pookot (Pookod or Phookode) Lake about 13 km from hotel. We all decided to go in the Tavera for sightseeing. The ride from Kalpetta to Vythri, Lakkidi was another worth mentioning. I am short of words describing it with occassional slight drizzle, winding roads, huge hills with full of greenery, tea plantations etc etc.

Pics inside Pookot Lake

It is a natural fresh water lake, brimmed with ever green mountains. The weather here is salacious; the scenic beauty, hypnotising and the nature, unspoiled. I was also told that one of the main tributaries of Kabini River (Panamaram rivulet) takes its origin from Pookot Lake. Thick bushes and tall trees along the path round the lake gave a cam spritual atmosphere. We decided to go for boating and jumped into 2 four seaters. The 4 guys jumped on one. I decided to balance the ladies as they paddled in the front seats. I was seated in the centre. It was great experience boating in a lake surrounded by huge hills.

After boating it was time for tea and with that starts the great discussions centered on the bosses of our company. It all started with Swarup’s experience (rather encounters) with one of his favourite GUI (without the U). We had 2 rounds of tea and loads of laughter. The team was really at the top of the world. We were in the lake cafeteria for about an hour and then decided to leave.

At around 5:30PM we moved towards the ghat pass at Lakkidi another 5km from lake. We stopped by at one of the point on the ghat section and did some photoshoot and relished the nature. The lofty mountain peaks, the gurging stream, luxuriant vegetation and the bird's eye view of the deep valley on the south, with its winding roads, were breath taking.

Pics of Valley from Ghats:

All of us returned to hotel at about 6:30PM (except me and wife) and people retired to bed for sometime but me and wife decided to get down at Kalpetta town for some shopping. We strolled back to hotel after shopping at about 7PM.

Now comes the moment for which some of the guys like Melvin, Joseph were here for. They knew one word ‘intoxication’ and maan didn’t they intoxicate themselves. The party started in swarup’s room. I too shared the fun with a peg of Bacardi on lime cordial (hehehe, coz my wife was sleeping since 8pm and I didn’t wake her up). Maan, the full Bacardi bottle emptied in no time and the old monk opened up. We ordered Kerala Paratha, egg-burji and dal fry for dinner. I and Satarupa decided to hog the food whereas others decided to get more intoxicated before eating. The food was damn tasty. At about 10:30PM, I left the intoxication centre and retired to bed.

9th July, 2006: We wake up at about 6AM and stood by the hotel window to experience the beautiful Mountain View from there. Then we decided to go for a stroll in the next STD booth to wish my sister as the day was her birthday. We also had the bed tea not in bed but adjacent to the pool.

At 8AM, I decided to call on the intoxicating guys and woke them up. Satarupa was ready by then. All were up, freshened up in next 30min and back to restaurant for nice buffet breakfast. We had everything from bread-butter-jam, omlette to upma, dosa, idli, chutney and sambar and ofcourse the nice tea-coffee.

At around 10AM we jumped into Tavera again and this time our destination was Soochipara Falls about 28km from hotel. It was another breathtaking drive through dense vegetation, tea plantations, jackfruit plantation etc. The surrounding was awesome. We reached there by 10:30 but we need to walk down through dense equatorial forest for 1.5km or so from the parking to reach the foot of the falls. It was a steep decent and then a set of stairs. Although it was tiring but the reaching the falls we felt it was worth the effort. We did some photography. Trekking back was tiring but great. We did some shopping at the parking shop and had 2 rounds lime juice.

Pics of Falls & plantations:

We reached hotel from falls at 1PM. Things were packed only that we need to checkout but the guys had other ideas. They didn’t want to disregard that half filled old monk bottle by carrying it back to Bangalore. So Joseph opened the monk in a flash and made 4 pegs for four of them so that the bottle can now rest in peace in Kalpetta itself. It took 30min for them to hog those pegs and back we were in restaurant for lunch. This time people took a realistic / sensible lunch with kerala-fish thali and icecreams except me who preferred egg-fried rice.

Finally we checked out at 3:30PM and started the return journey. This time my speed was touching 90-100kmph as I was more familiar and we were covering the distances very fast. While I was approaching Mysore, I decided to take the ring road as it was about 6PM and Mysore can get crowded. It worked out really well. In another 15-20min I was entering Srirangapatnam.

Once in Mysore Road, It was 120-130kmph all the way. Thankfully traffic was not so much as you expect on this road (Atleast I experienced heavy traffic during this time in my previous trips). It was getting dark by the time we reached Channapatna. By 7:25PM my car was parked in Kamat Lokaruchi. I did a nonstop 239km in 4 hours. WOW, that was fast considering the kind of roads we were in.

It was hogging time again. I preferred a North Karnataka Meal which was simply awesome. I don’t mind going there from Bangalore for dinner to that place. People ordered everything like 3-4 varieties of dosas, idlis, besan laddoos etc.

It was a nice rest and also there was nice breeze blowing across. Now it was bye-bye time as I will move straight to home and will only meet them in office the next day. We started the final leg of the journey at 9PM when there was less traffic and within an hour I was in the Shell pump in VM road.

The car drank 29.42 litres for a distance of 586 km which was cool (with AC on for 50% of the distance). Now ‘Lets Go’ to home ofcourse. We reached home at 10:30PM after a very satisfactory trip to Kerala and lots of memories to cherish in my maiden step in God’s own country.

This travelogue was originally posted by Abhijit Kumar Roy on www.Team-BHP.com. The URL is http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travelogues/14969-weekend-travelogue-wayanad-my-first-step-gods-own-country.html