Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Munnar 1st to 5th Aug 2005

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Day -1 Saturday 30th of July 2005
Air India flight slipped on the runway. We were in continuous touch with our parents in kalyan. The more we talked the more skeptical we grew about our visit to our parents place for the week. This would be the second reschedule we would be doing as the Air deccan flight to Mumbai got delayed. Finally we cancelled our plans based on recommendations from family.
I had already cancelled my vacation once and did not want to do that again. Also I was not sure about what should be done with a week at hand. There were wondering thoughts to do Delhi-Madhura-Agra and Jhansi or Jhansi-Gwalior-Allahabad-Varanasi or khajuraho or kanyakumari.

Day 0 Sunday 31st of July 2005
The confusion is carried forward to this day too. The eyes keep looking at watch as I am thinking hard for probable destination. Finally at 1:30 I decide to try kanyakumari or Swarna jyanti express. My turn at reservation counter came just before the counter was about to be closed. Kanyakumari was giving me waiting list and a confirmed ticket in 2nd Ac which I was reluctant to take.
Then I carried forward my body to travel agent and did the usual enquires but could not decide. Another person came and enquired about foreign destination and the tour agent suggested him “Sri Sathya sai tourist” office address. Somehow it got registered in my head and I called up my wife to help me decide.
I decided to go back home but took a U-turn to check out at the Sathya Sai office. The person out there was quite helpful and was suggesting many things like Wayanad/Coorg/Kodai but I finally settled on Munnar. The bus was to leave at night 9:45 from Madiwla checkpost KPN bus stop.
Thus the journey to Munnar begun.

Day 1 Monday 1st of August 2005
The bus passed though Salem and Erode and finally dropped us at Palani at about 5:15 in the morning. It went ahead to Kodaikanal which was 75 KM from there. Munnar was another 110 KMs from there. We got comfortable in the small bus but the winds were chilly and strong and took us by surprise. We noticed some windmills in distance too. We had breakfast at Udumalpet and then we crossed through Chinnar wildlife sanctuary.
We had taken a scheduled break at Marayoor and the driver made scheduled call to inform munnar office of his movement. He was told that the way was blocked by two landslide and we had to wait for more than two hours for road to clear and us to proceed.
Suddenly a very familier smell brushed our noses and we were told that that was due to sandal trees which were passing by.
As we gained height the view became more spectacular and we saw tea studded gardens as far as sight could take. Also the valley was full of water and the mountains full of monsoon water falls. The winds were chilly and the air was fresh.
The clouds would not relent and it was under severe downpour that we checked in and had to ask for heater for warmth. There was a eucalyptus garden nearby and they were swaying and playing music that we could hear as long as we were there in the room.
We went for lunch and found that package had a separate menu card but it was fulfilling and we consumed more that we could take. Same was true for dinner.

Day 2 Tuesday 2nd of August 2005
We met the driver, a person of ever present smile and full of information and knowledgeable about most of languages. We visited few dams and their backwaters. Boating was banned by the District magistrate. We took lots of photographs and as it rained the driver was running around with his umbrella trying to cover the camera for us.

Day 3 Wednesday 3rd of August 2005
The plan was for Thekkady, the name is derived from teak ady meaning the land of teak. More tea studded mountains and moving clouds with sun giving glimpses once in a while. We passed through cardamon and coffee plantations and many a towns before reaching Periyar wildlife sanctuary. Someone informed us that Sun had come after two weeks and it had been raining like hell till yesterday.
We were not expecting to witness many animals as water level was high and animals would not venture out as water was close to their abode. The boat ride itself was beautiful with jungles on all sides and hills forming rest of landscapes that went and touched the blue and cloudy skies. The jungles and hills had all shades of green that one can imagine. Muskaan had great fun with fellow passengers and with herself.
We came back tired and exhausted and slept like logs.

Day 4 Thursday 4th of August 2005
I realized that I had lost my bracelet in the morning.
The bus was at 3:30 and as it is off-season, the hotel manager said that we could check out by 2. We went out to the nearest tea garden and spent good time with workers, all women and all from Tamilnadu. Only the supervisor was a man who knew some English. The women were chirping and wondering how Muskaan had her super fair color.
We went to Market and did some shopping at Kurinji, a shop by Woman organization of Tata’s. It beagan to rain when we reached town and we had to visit a Lord Murugan temple but It was closed when we reached their and we passed through the fish market and their at one of fruit stall Mamta noticed a peculiar fruit which was named Tomota fruit by the shopkeeper. We asked him to demonstrate eating it and he slowly peeled the top and squeezed it from bottom and suddenly bloody juice started to ooze out and I had to turn away my face, aghast at the sight. It tasted like Tomota.
The driver was inspired lot when we started back and reached palani by 7:30. The bus to Bangalore was at 8:30 and we settled down after having some snacks and fruits. After dinner at some location Muskaan puked over us and I was wondering whether to change as the smell grew stronger. After some hesitation I could wait for the stuff to dry and went back to last seat which was fortunately empty then to completely change.

Day 5 Friday 5th of August 2005
Some body was shouting Madiwala as my sleep broke and I rushed out with the luggage. The auto driver wanted Rs.90 for a 50 rupees travel and finally we had to pay 70 to reach home. Muskaan was very happy to return home and wanted to play with toys but our eyes hardly opened and we half slept and half-played.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Independence day 2005 - river rafting sita nadi - mist of jog falls - shimoga

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Day 1 Saturday 13th of August 2005
We waited until after noon contemplating to go for sita devi or pondicherry. After having lunch at “dal roti” we decided to view “Mangal Pandey” at Innovative Mutiplex. And the evening was spent having dinner at Nagarjuna. Meanwhile we got a call from Bhaskar saying his cousin reached in evening from Mumbai and they would go ahead and do the booking. We played along and said yes sportingly. Pondicherry was to wait for some more time in future.

Day 2 Sunday 14th of August 2005
Early Morning:
I got up at 3:45 AM in morning and wondering how would I manage the dogs of JP Nagar when they give me early morning scare. As time flew, I got my focus shifted from dogs to loo to day ahead. Carrying the load to yesterday’s digested food byproduct I started the Passion and picked up Harshad enroute to Bhaskar’s residence which is in Mathikere. Off we went at about 5:30 AM with tankfull of diesel and Tata Indigo on NH4 until Tumkur where we switched over to NH206 or BH(Bangalore-Honnavar) Road.
BreakFast:
After few hours of highway driving and regular breaks answering nature we reached tiptur and stopped at Tiptur to have delicious Idli and Wada and a minor glass of chai. After breakfast, we had to leave NH206 at shimoga and take diversion to Tirthahalli. I guess it was NH13. The forest drive was beautiful with monsoon lakes and thick green cover. Here I missed carrying the Handycam.
TirthaHalli:
We had to wait for Manju, another cousin of Bhaskar to join us from Mangalore. We snatched a quick glass of chai to refresh our nurves and then went ahed on the beautiful highway. We passed through Agumbe which is known as cherapunji of the south. Down we went though thirteen hairpin curves to reach a small village few kilometers before Sita Nadi Nature Camp site where we had our lunch. Nothing significant about the lunc but the place was selling lots honey.
Sita Nadi Nature Camp:
Only BSNL had network so my phone was utilized for making calls. We continuously bugged ManjuNath the organizer for direction and meeting. Finally we saw the raft and the river. The riven was making noise but otherwise the jungle was quite. A guy with long hair described the precaution and necessary instructions and after some confusion we set sail along with Rupak the guide, tight lifejacket, helmet ,spade like oar and 4 more guys from Oracle.
Their were initial butterflies but after 10 minutes of warm up and intial rapids we were attenued to what was coming and began enjoying, shouting, teasing ,listening to jungle’s quite ,kingfisher’s fishing and darting across, going through tree branches trying to save our skin against getting bruised, swimming in the corner and jumping down a rock. All the while guided and inspired by Rupak who helped us negotiate through stones and broken trees and their branched.
After about three hours of fun we came back in Jeep passing Hebri on the way which is only 4 KM from the camp site.

Back to Tirthahalli:
The remote security pad of the car got wet and was not functional and the moment we put in the keys and opened the lock the car would scream in alarm. Vicky found the power supply of the alarm in bonnet and got it disconnected and even the blinking went off after five minutes. We took a sigh of relief and began our upward travel.
But our woes did not end there. After few hairpin as we gained heights, clouds too followed suite and covered up the way leaving us clueless about the way forward. Some of us were having our head out of window and guiding Bhaskar until we crossed Agumbe and then the downpour began with the roof of car making noises equivalent to skeletons dancing onto tin roofs.
Finally we managed Tirthalli and checked into Mayura hotel. Rs 200 for double cot room and 300 for triple cot room. Somehow got through the dinner and slept.

Day 3 Monday 15th of August 2005The day was Independence day for us. I got up at about 6 AM and was surprised to see hot water coming through one of the tap and was motivated to take bath despite the wet weather outside. Walked along half a kilometer to meet river Tunga in full muddy glory negotiated herself through rocks , trees and bank. Called up parents and wife and came back to check out and took the upper road enroute to Sagara.
Vicky got inspired to get a stick cut out of paddy field fence and we had the flag ready to be waved out of running car. We shouted patriotic slogans and obtained quite a response from people passing and especially from children parading alongside road with their own band and flag.
We had Roundbhajji and bun in breakfast at Ripponpet and then rejoined NH206. We reached Jog falls in afternoon and our first glimpse was faded out by the cloud cover. Within five minutes, the clouds had moved on and drifted along the sky opening up the veil and the four waterfalls were in front of our eyes in full glory. Beautiful, is all we could say. As we followed the streams downward journey and the clouds forming as they kissed the earth which was about 960 feet below. At one place they were forming a circle with water stream on the left and cloud formation on the right.
We had lunch at Sagara and snacks at Pai Hotel in tiptur as we reached Bangalore in the night.

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