Excellent Write up from Uma:
Hello Fellow Trekkers, I am an amateur writer and this is my first write up about CTC outing.
There are people who can write about things they have seen or felt in such a way that you will feel that you were involved in the same way as the writer did. But as stated above, being an amateur writer, I will not be able to recreate or make you travel along with my (our) wonderful 3 days of eventful journey. However, I am still attempting to write because my heart want to screeeeaaaaam and tell the world about the joy and enjoyment I had in past 3 days of‘cruise” journey – Yes it is cruise journey in many ways.
For me it started with goof up. I thought I need to assemble at Tambaram Station, our meeting point, on Friday instead of Thursday because CTCians normally do not ask people to start on Thursday (because CTCians respect working group constraints of taking leave). Fortunately, my boasting of the trip with colleagues (she read the mail and told me the date) helped in realizing my error and took leave adhoc ignoring my Boss frown and soft growlsJ. I hurried and got myself new floaters and cruised home to pack my things.
I went to meeting point and was happy to see a group of people already assembled for journey. Once again a round of small intro about names and the trekking experience got triggered. This ritual kept happening for few more rounds till everyone in the group knows about others.
The journey started exactly at 7:30 p.m with Scorpio (Billi, the Glider) and Swift (Ponpandian, the Smoother) leading the way. The third vehicle Etios(Mano, the Speedster) joined us later. I will give explanation for the adjective tagged to each driver in coming paragraphs.
Before I start the journey, let me introduce you to other characters along with their identity tags in this trip:
Prem (Organiser and the BOSS), Raja Yadav (Commando for this group), Ravi Mu(La)nnagi, Dhanasekar (Accountant), Reen (Mrs. Billi), Crissanda(Jr. Reen) Priya(Navigator),Varun (the diehard photographer), Arvind(lawyer), Siva (Hero(he insisted that we write nice about him and not the truth 😉 ) Naveen,Muthu&Muthu (innocents) & Uma(I do not know what is my identity tag).
My first carrier was Scorpio and my co passengers were Commando, Billi Family and Hero. As usual, we travelled in highway and played songs, mainly Tamil. The first stop for both Scorpio and Swift was at Kumbakonam coffee shop. True to name, the coffee was really nice and the place was also very clean. After a refreshing coffee, the journey started again.
The travel is going to be for whole night and thus we started sharing stories and our interests. The highlight was Commando’s story about Manipur, shootings in Manipur, his marriage and his return to place of origin. The comical part in the stories shared was from our own Hero and his adventures of overcoming the “Conjuring” effects ;-). Fortunately for the group and unfortunately for our Hero, his story paved the way to tease him for the rest of this trip. Thanks Siva for providing the entertainment and you are indeed the Mass Hero in that wayJ.
After close to 10 hours of travel, our boss decided to give break to all three drivers and thus we rested and took a short nap in an elevated mud platform near Maruti showroom (See pic) till dawn. Then we wrapped up around 8 a.m. This time the Scorpio was driven by Reen, who unlike her hubby, drove the car in such a way that everyone’s Adrenalin pumped up and woke us completely from our sleep :-). Nevertheless, still the ride was fun and entertaining.
Our first sightseeing stop was at Aanakotta – the Elephant Sanctuary maintained by GuruvayoorDevastom. The moment we got from car, we saw an Elephant being scrubbed and bathed by two strong men. Really it is very tedious and strenuous activity to bathe the Elephant. Kudos, to the people who work there and took good care of the Elephants. Almost every Elephant had a caretaker and was responding to its needs. We had a brief photo session and started our journey to reach Kumarakom for boarding the famous Houseboat of Kerala.
Most of the way was guided and navigated by Priya. Learning: Travelling in Kerala Highway is same as travelling in our city main roads, so allocate your timings accordingly. Now Etios group was ahead of us and continued to be for the rest of the trip, courtesy our own F1 driver Mano. They spent some time on photographing and waited for us to join. Finally, all three groups joined around 4:30 pm and boarded the houseboat at 5:00 pm. The entire group was famished and exhausted from the long travel and was hungrily waiting for the spicy food to be served.
After all negotiations, the deal was successfully fixed by Priya and Prem and the boat started moving. Now the pain of travel melted away as we sailed on the backwaters of beautiful Kerala. The experience got more blissful when the meal was served with tasty fish and meals, though the quantity was limited.
The exotic and natural landscape dotted with clouds, leaning trees, tiny islands, artistic huts and houses kept passing us while we cruise smoothly. One group was enjoying and taking photographs and one group was playing cards in the verandah of houseboat. Overall, everyone was enjoying in their activities and passing jokes whenever some “Target” gets trapped. And, of course our Hero, once again was in the lead of being trapped more frequently than others. After more than an hour, the boat was parked near a village and hot tea is served with vada. Then few people ventured out to check on surroundings and buy some fish / meat for dinner. Unfortunately, we were not able to get good fish at decent price and thus settled for Duck meat alone. Learning: Buy fish and meat from market before boarding the houseboat
The Dusk fell and we once again as a group started sharing about ourselves and trekking interests. The conversation brought the point more apparent that Adventure outing / trekking is the common thread that ties us and brought together in this journey. Each of us was happy that we are on same boat and sharing the same interest…literally!!
We had a nice dinner and went to sleep (Boatman does not allow you to chitchat beyond 11:00 pm). The boat started its return journey around 8:30 a.m and the breakfast was served. This time the travel was of short duration and we reached the starting place in 30 mins. We all packed and continued our road travel once again.
As expected, the Speedster star Mano heading the way, we headed towards Athirapally falls. The road to falls is once again exhibiting its lush greenery of Kerala. The path to Athirapally falls was making a silent but an undisputable statement that Kerala is indeed Gods own country. Though I travelled very little and that too within India, I will still say that Kerala has one of the best land scape because of its serenity. For future trekkers, plan to spend some time in this travel, it is well worth your time and pain.
We reached the Athirapally falls and tried many ways to venture into waters beyond the boundary line (rope) as CTCians normally like to do ;-). But this time we failed because the guards can see us and did not allow us to enjoy in the way we regularly do. We were not successful in having fun in Vazachal falls also.Learning: Plan and Reach stream from sideways with full safety gear to have fun else you will end up with regulars (crowd).
After contending ourselves with view of falls, we came down the road to have beverage but we end up having our lunch because of fish curry and beef fry. We resumed our journey now towards beach.
This time I was in Scorpio but the Speedster was our Driver. Undoubtedly our ride was a roller coaster till we reached beachJ. This time my co-passengers were Commando, Priya, Siva, Muthu and Crissy. Everyone enjoyed the beach in their own way and Crissy enjoyed more than others. Sadly, her enjoyment was for short time. The poor baby started crying when our Speedster buried Scorpio in mud near shore while attempting a coastal ride. We end up creating a scene and became a sight for the people in that small hamlet. We dug mud, tried many primitive ways to lift Scorpio from the mud but the effort was futile inspite of local people helping us. Finally, Priya coordinated with Mano for JCB crane to pull out. Meanwhile, Crissy was getting more anxious about car and was crying. After more than 2 hours of ordeal, we finally pulled the Scorpio and left the place after thanking the local people. One more heartfelt thanks and apology was extended to Billi family for their gracious support during this time. Really very nice of them to take this incident as trivial and continued to enjoy the trip and relieved us from the guilt of giving trouble.
We resumed our journey to Meppady around 9:00 pm for trekkingChembra peak in morning. We reached Meppady town to rest and rejuvenate ourself for morning trek. We got accommodation in nice hotel which was clean and decently spacious. After breakfast we travelled towards the peak which is approx. 10 kms from our stay. Though the road was not nice to us, the land scapes and the view did not fail to treat our eyes and soul. Once again a lush green treat throughout the way till the parking area. After necessary formalities and rituals, we started the simple trek around 10:30 a.m.
As it always happen, a group of sprinters reached the peak and made the snailers (slow trekkers) likeme jealous of their speed and agility. I was towed from mid way by boss and Dhana to avoid delay in schedule. After an hour the snailers joined the sprinters in valley near the first lake completely surrounded by mountains with clouds touching us which was carried by cold and chilling breeze for us. No one will dispute if I say that this place is made by God in his own country to make the human forget all materialistic things in life and yearn to live there! I am sure that everyone who comes there will dream of having a home in that valley even if it means nomad and simplistic lifestyle. Then we went little further except the Honeymoon couple 😉 (Mr& Mrs. Billi) towards the second lake and took group pics near a suitable place. (Watch Varun 360 degree video)
We started our downward journey little sooner to escape from rain. But as you know, man can never beat nature and rain won the race and completely drenched us with more chiller and cooling water and made us to shiver in open breeze. Virtually we surrendered to its chillness and curled up and sought some respite to finish the trek without injury to our limbs. Die hard photographers like Aravind and Varun were shielding their cameras from the rain rather than worrying about the biting chillness or potential injury. Sapppamudiyala da samyevanga camera pasamparthunaan …..
Then we all joined again in parking area and went back to Meppady to have lunch. Post lunch we did not have time for other falls and sightseeing, thus we started our journey towards home via Bandipur National park and Sathyamangalam forest. This time our boss shuffled our seats to catch up with other team members so I ended up travelling in Swift car. A ride which is was smoothful because our driver Ponpandi is smoother and does not disturb your adrenalin flow or take you near death J
The travel via Bandipur was very nice because of road and landscape accompanied by comfortable weather. The time we passed the sanctuary, ofcourse after sighting the deers and elephants, the dusk started and we started our way to Sathyamangalam forest. Our Speedster and his team has taken a wrong turn and ended up in a detour of Ooty and other hill station before catching us in Villupuram. Meanwhile, the Swift and Scorpio gang hadPanipuri and lunch near Gobichettipalyam, Hotel Saral – a very nice hotel, the food was good.
Finally, once again the entire team regrouped and accounts were settled. Then came the time to bid goodbye and take leave to return to home nest and don the familiar identity and carry the tag of a normal IT or working people. Yes, we have concealed our adventure seeking soul inside us for time being till we get another chance to let it out and temporarily forget our domicile life.
Eagerly waiting for that chance ……