Saturday, 4 June 2011

Bangalore to Wayanad - concluding part

Continued from Part 4...

The day started with ayurvedic massage, for us. Almost all resorts at Wayanad have the ayurvedic massage and treatments, either included in the travel package or availed separately. We saw a few ayurvedic medical shops and clinics. The rainforest is a treasure of herbs and roots that are used as medicine. The water is purified using some roots; and the water tastes good. No wonder people from these parts of India are healthy, pretty, and active!

The massage made us hungry, and we attacked the breakfast buffet. After a good breakfast, we were ready for another round of sight-seeing. We had a different driver and a vehicle to take us to the tourist spots. Our first stop was Kuruva Island, which is a favorite picnic spot. The Kabini river flows around the islands; when the water is low, we can walk across to the other bank. When we went, the water was about 20 feet deep, and we availed the ferry service. There are small boats and big rafts made of bamboo. And, yes, the place was packed with people.

Bamboo

After we reached the island, we bought tickets to enter the island. There were lots of trees and bamboo. More than the melodies of birds, we heard bird-calls by human beings. Remember that it is easy to get lost on this island. Don't venture inside a prohibited area. Follow the walk-path, enjoy the Nature, click a few photos, and return safe (before dusk). Exercise caution when getting into the water. Carry sufficient food and water because there are no shops inside the island.

We spotted a few monkeys; shy ones. Orchids and ferns plants grew on several trees. Bamboo grew everywhere; gigantic. There were lots of butterflies; it's the butterfly season. The branches of trees made geometric and abstract shapes; interesting to see. Have you seen a wild coriander? See http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-qWwOkXpC2bA/Tee3DGtf6TI/AAAAAAAACxY/k-JkUIrHJTs/s1600/Newdump-pics+235.jpg.
After walking about 1.5 kilometers, we could see other smaller islands. The river was bigger and filled with rocks. Every rock had people sitting on it. Can you imagine how crowded the place was? We didn't get down in the water or hop from one rock to another. We started walking back. And funny, we saw an uncle carving his mobile number on a bamboo (like several other people had done). We teased him, and continued towards the exit gate. By this time, we were hungry. Guess what waited for us? Typically Kerala vegeterian lunch.

Kabini river

There are several houses that provide food for the visitors. Our driver had arranged lunch at Mr. Umesh's house. We were surprised to find out that Mr. Umesh and his wife spoke Kannada. Seems he lived at Coorg for some years before relocating to his native place. Was awesome to talk to someone in Kannada! The lunch had a good spread of dishes, boiled rice, and payasam. We gobbled every morsel. :-)

Typical Kerala Lunch

Our next stop was the Banasura dam. We walked about half a kilometer or so to reach the dam. The walk was refreshing. The entire area was covered with lemon grass, and the air was fresh. We took deep breathes as we climbed the stairs; seemed endless. Remember that you can also take a jeep to the top of the dam. When we reached the top, oh what a sight! The hills, clouds, and water... Seemed like heaven. The peaks were covered with clouds. After a few minutes, the clouds would move lower and mask the dam. 
Dam
Banasura hills

Yes, boating facility is available at the dam. There is a small and neatly maintained park and a cafe. But we loved to stand and watch the elements of Nature. The wind kissed our faces a million times. The clouds covered the peaks, and then uncovered; repeating this sequence. It drizzled too. Seemed like Mother Nature was showering her love on us. To distract us, from somewhere, a motor boat cut the silent water into slices.



We saw traditional drummers, welcoming the new minister. The troupe danced to a nice rhythm.


After a beautiful day, we retired. The next day we started our journey back to Bangalore. Just before we entered the forest area, we saw people watching something; cars were parked too. Hey, what did we see? At a distance, we saw a wild elephant; had entered a banana plantation, was uprooting banana plants, and eating one after another. Such a risk for people living in the surrounding areas, but they are used to such incidents.

On the way, we stopped at Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary. On weekends and holidays, this place is crowded too. There were several vehicles with Kerala registration! Excited to capture a few birds in our camera, we entered the sanctuary. The birds sat on trees that were far away; only way to reach them was to use the boat. There are crocodiles in this river, and please do not put your hand or feet inside the river. We opted not go boating, but to sit and enjoy the scenery. Hubby took a nap - power nap; while I watched the activities of the birds.




For lunch, we stopped at Vasudev Adigas.; had a quick lunch, and then continued our journey. We witnessed a couple of accidents; disturbing. Pleasant sight was of vendors selling mangoes and jackfruits on the road side (Ramanagara). The smell of these fruits... intoxicating! We took the NICE road, and joined the Bannergatta road; had coffee at Adigas. In minutes, we were home. Home!

The trip to Wayanad was fantastic. We would love to visit the place again. We hope that people retain the beauty of the place; not commercialize it beyond recognition.

Happy traveling!

Regards,
Asha

Friday, 3 June 2011

Bangalore to Wayanad - Part 4

Continued from Part 3...


After lunch, we were went sight-seeing; a taxi was waiting for us. We drove towards Pookot lake, which is a natural fresh water lake. The hills stand to protect this lake; the trees tend to hide this lake. During rainy season, the lake will look romantic, with lush green trees as a backdrop. Ah, sitting on the bench, holding beloved's hands, and resting head on beloved's shoulder... That wasn't possible at the lake. Why? Oh well, when we went, the lake was totally crowded. The vehicles were parked for a kilometer and more. Unexplainable fusion of serenity and chaos; no privacy to express love!

Pookot lake
There was also a newly wedded couple that came with two photographers - one clicked their photos in different poses, the other shot movies! They stood leaning against a tree, gazing at each other. They sat in a boat, holding each other. They smiled, they blushed, and... they ran off! Ha ha... Obviously, the crowd watched them, and some boys or men teased them. Who would miss such an opportunity!

In the lake complex, there is an aquarium, walk-path, boating facility, tea shop, crafts shop, and small nursery. I bought chilli seeds from the nursery. We didn't see the aquarium; didn't go boating. Thanks to the crowd. But we sat, sipping the tea and watching the lake. The light on the water was magical. The rowing boats formed tiny ripples. The happy faces celebrated life, masking the noise pollution. Pretty!

We walked out of the lake, and down the road; called our driver to join us a few meters away from the entrance. There were two small nurseries that I had seen on the way to the lake; went there to see the plants. Yes, I ended up buying a few plants, and chitchatting with the owner (modest person). He was a painter, and he showed his paintings. I was surprised. Wishing him success in his endeavors! And see my orchids, http://rake-and-spade.blogspot.com/2011/06/fertilizer-friday-jun-311.html.


Our next stop was the Chain tree. There was Ficus tree, and iron chains hung from the tree. A raw temple was made at the bottom of the tree, and a lamp was placed. It's easy to miss this tree. It has an interesting story; see http://www.wayanad.net/places1.html.
Chain Tree

The next place was a View Point - curvy road that leads to Calicut. The clouds had begun to cover the hills and the valley. Again, this place was crowded too, but not as much as the lake. The curved road and the vehicles moving on that road looked pretty. The traffic was relatively high; probably, because it was weekend. You know what... People are friendly and courteous.

View Point - Calicut Road
Curvy Road

One last stop for the day was at a bakery that sold delicious banana chips and halwa (sweet). The same shop also sold fruits. The pineapples were grown by the native; the fruits had an intoxicating aroma. Mangoes and papayas were from Bangalore. The road and the shops reminded me of a scene from R K Narayan's book. We stood at the shop for a long time; until the owner neatly packed the snacks. Everything seemed to be slow and steady; no hurry for anything. Oh, yes, that's how holidays are meant to be!

We returned to the resort just in time to see the clouds engulf the entire resort and the hill. The resort was fully booked, and guests were all families; no bachelors. Cricket was keeping the guests busy. Children weren't as cranky as they would usually be, because they had company; were kind enough to let their parents be at peace. Dinner was yummy; loved the boiled rice and all the dishes. What an eventful day!

What did we do the next day? That's in the next part!

Concluding part...

Regards,
Asha

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Bangalore to Wayanad - Part 3

Continued from Part 2...

The NH 212 is a beautiful road; absolutely spotless. In fact, all through Wayanad, the roads are beautiful. Almost everyone gets tempted to speed on this road; well, they do speed! Only when you reach the townships, please watch out for autos (especially) that move in unpredictable direction without a clue. We witnessed a few accidents (though minor) because of such carelessness. We also saw a car off the road, and passengers injured. An ambulance was helping the passengers out. People, speed kills!

As we drove into Vythiri, we saw sign boards of several hotels and resorts. One among them was Windflower Spa and Resort. Imagine holidaying in a coffee estate of about 27 acres. What an experience that would be! We drove past the sign board only to find more sign boards. Ah, Vythiri Resort and Spa... That's a heaven on Earth because it's about 150 acres of rainforest with natural waterfalls and streams, and the resort can pamper you to the core. Seriously, I wouldn't mind being an orchid in this estate; peacefully enjoying Nature and all its goodness!

We were smiling because we were approaching our destination; we had entered Lakkidi. Lucky day especially after all the adventure! On the right side of NH 212 stood Upavan Resort. We drove in, stopped, and stretched. It was the 'Coming home' feeling. The resort rested on a hillock, and looked lovely and neat. When the clouds covered the hillock in the evening, they would enter the rooms (if windows or doors are open). That's what I love the most.

Upavan

One part of resort
The resort staff were courteous, and quickly finished the formalities. We totally loved the wooden furniture. Oh, the earthen containers were placed inside a stunning cane basket! I wanted one such basket, and dreamt of decorating our little terrace garden with all such artifacts. First terrain has the dining hall, gym, and rooms. Second terrain has the indoor games. Final terrain has the cottages. Seemed like the entire hillock was sliced like a bread loaf. When we reached our room, the room smelled like lemongrass. Beautiful! We were ready to crash, but not before we had our lunch.



Cane, cane!
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were buffet, and the food was delicious. Just outside the dining hall window was a storage for natural water source. A pretty kingfisher bird sat on the parapet wall for a long time; unfortunately, we didn't have our camera to capture its vibrant colors. A few more birds flew down, and sat on the parapet wall. Their melodies were like welcome drinks. The Pink lilies occupied one corner of the pond. Perfect calmness during lunch.





Did we not loaf around after lunch? Hmm... Read about that in the next part! :)

Happy traveling!

Part 4...

Regards,
Asha

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Bangalore to Wayanad - Part 2

Continued from Part 1

The vehicle opposite to ours was closer to the elephant than us. The driver being a native of the place, shut down the engine, and waited for the elephant to move. After a while, he grew a little impatient, and started making some signals to us. We just couldn’t decrypt this sign language; sat inside the vehicle and enjoyed watching the elephant have its breakfast. Come on, how many times do we get to see something like this in real?

The driver opened the vehicle door, and yelled something at us. We looked hither and thither for any other wild animals or something that seemed dangerous; nothing at all. What was the driver telling us, anyway? Hearing the driver’s voice, for a moment, the elephant stood still. That’s when the driver quickly closed the door, and sat still. Ha ha! We all sat wondering the direction in which the elephant would move.

I tell you that this elephant was such a teaser. When he finished uprooting the grass from one spot, he moved two steps towards us to eat the next bunch of grass. Hubby started the vehicle, and reversed a little; shut down the engine and waited. It’s comical when I imagine the whole situation now. An elephant relishing its breakfast without a care of its audience; its audience holding their breath and heart beat each time the elephant moved.

After a few minutes, the elephant was walking in the middle of the road towards us. We sat still, refusing to reverse the vehicle any further. Period. We were saved by another bunch of grass tempting the elephant. It moved a little off the road, but now faced the opposite vehicle. I told you that the elephant was a teaser. The driver started the vehicle; all set to either zoom in reverse or zoom towards the elephant. In all this drama, another vehicle came behind us. Hubby and I frantically waved our hands, signaling the vehicle to stop. Oh God, we didn’t want him to horn or overtake us, and crash into the elephant! He stopped; too shocked.

Heading towards us
Holding grass in it's trunk

One more bunch of grass!
Slowly, the driver inched the vehicle towards the elephant; we reversed our vehicle so that he gets enough distance to zoom through and not crash into us. After he had reached a confident distance, he zoomed past the elephant. He stopped to talk to us, and said he signaled us to come while he waits. He advised us to follow his stunt. And we did! If only the elephant had turned towards us, and waved its trunk to bid us good bye, we would be literally flying or rolling with our vehicle. Of course, the camera was rolling; but captured only blurred images of the elephant.

Stepped aside; only to come back later!
After we crossed the elephant, we waited for the other vehicle to come, but I guess the driver wanted some time to digest what he had seen. As we continued our journey, we saw herds of deer, with young ones. The young ones were delicate, and stuck to the herd. A deer was licking her young one, and yes I’ve captured it in my camera. Indeed a mother’s love is the most precious. The drive, through the forest, until we reached the resort was a gratifying experience.

Herd
Mother's love
Such a joy!

Handsome and curious!
Where did we stay at Wayanad? Ah, you have to read the next part of this blog!

Happy traveling!

Part 3...

Regards,
Asha