Sunday, June 17, 2007

Back from a break!

"Hey, let's go to Wayanad!"
"Sure, why-a-not?"

That was a sad attempt at a sadder joke. Now that that's been got out of the way, I'll get down to the post itself.

A few of my friends - Archana, Murali and Sharmila(Mul), to be precise - and I decided recently that we decided a break. Murali had been slogging away at work and clearly needed a few days off. Archana was enjoying her last few days of rest before leaving for IIM Calcutta, and felt she owed herself a treat. Mul had just graduated and richly deserved to enjoy her very short holiday before joining work. And I was, quite simply, bored. A week long bout of discussion and argument later, we decided on Goa Kanyakumari Andaman RoadTrip Wayanad.

For the uninformed, Wayand is a district in the North East of God's Own Country. No, not my room; I mean Kerala. (Connoisseurs of my blog, if any, would remember my having cracked this sad joke earlier.) It boasts beautiful forests and tea estates, multiple water bodies and a several days of stress-free relaxation. (More useful info available on Wiki and the official website.) So that's where we headed for three whole days - Wayanad.

As we drove into Kerala from Karnataka on NH212, the landscape changed from ho-hum plains/towns to stunning greenery with only a few smatterings of civilization along the way. It felt good to be far away from the heat and grime of Chennai, with the cool mountain breeze welcoming me as I hung out of the car window, not unlike a dog. Those who know me well would insist the similarities don't end there, but let's not discuss that now.

We checked into a very nice hotel in Kalpetta, the capital of the district. It wasn't exactly a budget hotel but hey, we wanted to pamper ourselves a bit. So we went the whole hog and booked a duplex for ourselves - two rooms and a living room, to allow us our madness and celebration of life in complete privacy from the rest of the patrons.

We hit all the recommended tourist spots... Pookote Lake, phenomenally beautiful as the mists descended over it in the early morning (pic below). A major tea plantation, which afforded plenty of scope for photography. The breathtaking walk - and I mean this literally, we just about managed to huff and puff our way through it - to the Soochipara falls. Also on our must-view hitlist were a couple of dams (truth be told, they were rather boring) and the best viewing points.

The four of us also took a leisurely drive through Muthanga wildlife sanctuary, and got a glimpse of several deer, wild boars, exotic birds, two herds of elephants (the baby elephants are sooo cute!) and even a tiger! Another interesting place was the Kuruva Dweep (Kuruva Island), a protected ecosystem on the Kabini River. We went on a two hour trek through the evergreen forest, much of it to the accompaniment of eerie noises and twittering birds, not to mention the steady yet upliftingly light rainfall.

Some distance from Kalpetta, we came across the curiously named tourist hotspot, the Chain Tree. It is, quite literally, a tree with a chain on it. The tale behind this is quite interesting... As the legend goes, a prominent British Engineer was building roads through the mountainous terrain of Wayanad, and decided to hire a local lad for help. An young Adivasi man named Karinthandan volunteered, and was instrumental in guiding the engineer through the region. His mission accomplished, the engineer brutally killed the guide so he could take full credit for the work done. Karinthandan's soul, it is said, lived on the tree where he was killed and subsequently haunted travellers for years. A local priest controlled the troublesome spirit by chaining it to the tree... hence the Chain Tree. Quite a good yarn.

A special mention must be made of the Edakkal caves, which feature petroglyphs several thousands of years old. It was awesome, mind-bogglingly brilliant. The experience was rendered all the richer because we hiked up a painfully steep slope to get to the caves, and then battled the pouring rain and slippery mud, clinging onto rocks and rickety ladders for dear life as we pulled our way to the caves. Sweet triumph, sweet victory. And it was a special feeling, all of us wet from the rain and the sweat, gathered together under a overhanging rock, drinking in the sweet smell of wet mud in the tropical monsoon rain. The leaves glistening, the flowers blooming bright, laughing an enjoying the moment with my friends, and the promise of a hot chai to follow. Beautiful.

At night, we relaxed to a hot meal and card games, the Simpsons and the news, swapping stories and memories of our school days. We also treated our feet to a hot water massage and cleansing session, which gave me almost orgasmic pleasure, as the picture clearly shows.

All in all, a VERY welcome break for all of us. Sadly, as we go our different ways in a few weeks from now, we don't know when we'll meet next. When we will once again have a chance to relive the good old days and discuss our futures. When we'll get the time to, quite simply, chill out and bask in the comfortable warmth of each others' friendship and company.


NIRMAL said...

Hey AC,
Actually last year in august as a part of team building activities we had gone to Wayanad
its a beautify place, esp edhkal caves,trekking and that peak,boating etc etc
truely an amazing place to visit.
Also it was very cheap and best place to visit.

Good that you enjoyed the trip before u gonna start working

archana said...


praveen said...

its obviously a good place which remained unnoticed....
There are many places in gods own country similar to this

i was simply wondering where ac went after a marvellous comeback!!!!!!!!...anyways i hope the rain pours continously once agian


Anonymous said...

I'm sad that I had to read the details of this vacation on your blog. Would have liked to hear it straight from the 'horse's mouth' as they say.

Arjun/Srikrishnan Ganesan said...

hmm. good stuff... now go to gurgaon and slog :D
lemme plan a trip to this place sometime...

AC said...

Yeah, it wasw good to have a nice break like this before I join work... vacations will be few and far between in the corporate world :(

@ Anonymous: I'm sorry, really sorry. Neigh.