CTC "Eye Cam – Surprise Photo Trip" Write up

What a lovely and fascinating trip it was! Right from the comfortable and, at times, bouncy bus travel (we liked it a lot though!!).  Simple but enchanting place where we stayed, friendly and knowledgeable drivers cum guides – Abbas & Co.  The cool cool open-top jeep rides on those ever rugged and omnipresent Mahindra’s around those winding trails along the Tea – Coffee -Cardamom plantations.
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The soul-merging aroma and the prana pervading clean wind, unique to the Shola Forests – the breathtaking walk around the undulating Meadows of Wagamon (though now on a dry) – slippery jiggery trails down those Pine trees – The dip into the deep chambers of that Chathram forests – the Vrooming drives up n down those bland hills(Motta Malaa ???) – the pleasurable undisturbed boating on that murky water pond in a serene corner of the world- lovely different food n snacking- an awesome chance to witness that aggressive but artistic Kalaripayattu.
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More than all THE LOVELY BUBBLY BUNCH OF CTCians along with us – PRAMOD, VIJAY AND INFANCIA making all these possible with their planned precision. wowwww….Donno how best I can describe this surprise EYECAM which has become SOUL SEARCHING NATURE – MERGE TRAIL all along – when I look back into those photos.  Those lovely and lively weekend days just opened up afresh again in-toto !
KUDOS TO ALL OUR FRIENDLY FUNNY FREAKY CTCians who made this come alive!
“If we were meant to stay in one place, we’d have roots instead of feet” ~ Rachel Wolchin.
To describe how badly we all yearn to travel, this trip would be perfect. All they said was “Surprise photo trip”  and we all geared up, ready to explore the unknown destination. And where is it? That is the least of our worries. We all knew, “It is the travel that counts, not the destination”. So, it was the matter of coming out of your comfort zones and being eager to create beautiful moments.
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Escaping the office quarters, freeing ourselves from the hectic projects and threatening deadlines for this wonderful land was what each and everyone of us wanted badly. Having everyone assembled right on time at the bus terminus, we started this wonderful trip. Few formal handshakes! Few for-the-record selfies! Devoured dinner of delicious chappathis and aloo subji! Mixed up music with turbulence of the bus! Finally we settled down in our couches.
The next morning, a wonderful breeze welcomed us to this capital of spices at Kumily lower camp. Opening up yours eyes to this scene of green valley and stream, I wish all my mornings would start like this. It took around ten minutes to reach the halting station through bends which are soaked in the beauty of pristine nature. Magnificent penstock pipes that carry water to the power house made us wonder equally about man’s fancy too.
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Finished our bus journey at Kumily and now it’s Commando time. When we got down, two jeeps were waiting to help us explore the land. After little refreshing of ourselves, we all set to begin our journey. but oh wait, what would be the point in visiting Kerala without tasting the famous mallu cusine?! Our first stop was at a pure Keralite hotel and we treated ourselves with variety of tiffin items of this place. Well done and devoured, we started to Vagamon meadows. The meadows were able to provide us with great views of the mountain scapes around and the lake which resided among them. It was fantastic even though the cease of rain fall in the region had its impact on the meadows. We soon moved to visit Pine valley of the place. Huge lofty pine trees neatly lined up in rows raising up to sky. What else could be a better place for a greedy photographer? We spent a quality time among the pine trees trying hard to balance ourselves on those slippery dry pine twigs and posing for photographs until we realised that it was time for lunch.
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Had a late lunch downhill, we again set up for the hills again. Stopped by the resort, Tabernacles. A little piece of human made hill-side resort that resided far away from the noisy market streets rendered us a marvellous view of the area around. We hiked to the place along the edges where we were able to see a wild bisen. On the summit, we set ourselves with some snacks and chatted a while. Rested in the twilight, we enjoyed the descending light from the peak, not to mention the numbers of clicks from there. As advised, we descend down to our jeeps and entered a beautiful building owned by the resort. Ordered ourselves some appetizing lemon tea and sipped it with some Kerals’s own banana chips. Maybe we should blame their savour we were getting late for the kalari performance we had booked.
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To brief you about this, Kalari is one of most ancient martial arts originating from southern zone. Kadathanadan Kalari centre trains its pupils on weapons, defending mechanisms and body control acts. In its well designed gallery, its members demonstrated various forms of kalari and engaged viewers too in the acts. It was a terrific performance giving us all steady goosebumps. Inspiring enough to jump inside and take a weapon in hand! Gladly no one did so. After the performance, we took up their positions and posed for clicks!
It was almost time for dinner. Walked through the spice-smelling streets of Kumily to find a hotel and had our dinner. The climate drove us towards the shelter and we were having enough arrangements for setting up camp fire. Soon, fire was on. Gathered around the fire one by one slowly. Started DJing with some peppy songs and an empty bucket as drum for support. Started dancing for the fast beat tamil and hindi songs. Soon we settled down with the melodies. Thanks to Rishi Uncle, lead singer of the crew we all sang together great melodies of Ilayaraja and AR Rahman. The list of songs kept on growing like anything. Played songs in the background and sang along and who really cared when the artist got all the words wrong?!! We kept on singing. 😀 Rakkamma Kaiya thattu and Varagara Nathikarai oram deserve special mention here. The fire was glowing so was our interest. Wouldn’t it be sinning to stop the campfire? We decided to go on this the fire ceases itself. The fire freed us around 1o clock. Good that we remembered we were supposed to start our next day 5 am in the morning.
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Woke up with a dilemma whether to take bath or not in that weather, eventually,  did it for the sake of fellow mates. We started early to Chathiram fuelled by pure Keralite Chaaya, drove up to the hills where stunning views were awaiting for us. Hiked around the area in search of amazing of flora and fauna. Hiking trials into the forests provided not just brilliant views but also gave us this secluded feel which no other place would ever be able to give.  Amazing bird watching was also there in store for us. Saw various bulbuls, kites and others. Blame my ignorance for not being able to list them down with specific names. Felt like cheated by time when we got back to the vehicles. Proceeded the journey to another mount, another stunning visuals of mountains. Gobbled tasty bread omelets and vadas on the way.
Climbed up Parunthumpara which as evident from its name provided us eagle view of the forest around. A luxurious place in the locality. Dont ever miss this place when you are nearby. Considering the time constraints we moved from there to another view point and quickly stole its look in our cameras before heading out of the place. Reached Tabernacles where our lunch was arranged.
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How lucky were we to get our own pond and a boat to row in it. The pond attracted us like a magnet do. Lunch was a wonderful combo of chicken and fish and some vegetarian dishes too (I’m not sure :P). scattered around in the resort we had a peaceful delicious lunch at our own pace. As soon as lunch was done, rowing classes were set up in the pond by Pramod. Rowed left, right, front and back and somehow managed to move the boat around in the pond. Commentaries ran throughout the session, achievements were videotaped. Found it difficult to leave the place even after spending hours around it.
Our scheduled bus to chennai was about to depart in another 30 minutes. We had to rush to our dorms and gather our bags. Boarded the bus just in time. We shouted byes to the mountains but no one meant it. We descended down Kumily bends and saw the streams flowing along with us. Heavy hearted, we sat down in the couches talking continuously about everything these two days had for us. The darkness brought us back to campfire once again this time without fire. Started singing songs. When physical tiredness overgrew, we slept and woke up in Chennai.
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Crossing the boundaries of your mind and geography always gives you this ecstatic experiences and lessons. Living in a chaotic world where for five consequent days we crave for two interesting days, this kind of getaways help you realise how nature is always ready to embrace you. It is always easy to perceive a lot but making another understand how marvellous it was, is a difficult task for an ameteur like me. Here I’m just letting our lenses tell you rest of the journey.
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I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question. ~Harun Yahya.
Blog: Ravi Rishi and Sangeetha Ramachandran
Photographs: Almost every member in our gang
Content Editing: Vijaykumar Duraiarasan
Organizers: Pramod Chakravarthy, Vijaykumar Duraiarasan, Infancia Sylvia

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