Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Thekkady and Munnar Trip

These days we travel at the spur of the moment. One such travel was to Thekkady and Munnar at Kerala. We got our Beast (vehicle) cleaned, and took him out for a spin; he loves to travel! Our route from Bangalore was: Bangalore > Hosur > Krishnagiri > Salem > Dindigul > Theni > deviation to Thekkady. The direction map is available on Google Maps. This trip was for five days; first stop Thekkady, and second stop Munnar.

The roads were peaceful because we travelled on a working day. We stopped at Adiyar Anand Bhavan (AAB) for breakfast, and drove nonstop till we reached Thekkady. The weather was humid till we reached the hill and forest range. Trees had bloomed pretty flowers, and that attracted birds and small animals. Who doesn't like the spring season?
Waterfalls, bamboo, and different trees
Thekkady is filled with resorts and hotels of all kinds. Ensure that you book accommodation well in advance. You can find spice shops, massage centres, handicraft stores, and tours agencies. Don't get scammed; check details about anything and everything before availing services. The place has Periyar Tiger reserve, Periyar lake, Gavi forest reserve, and many more tourist stops. On the day we arrived, we familiarized ourselves with the place. We walked a lot, sighted lovely birds, a family of wild boars, langoors, and malabar squirrel. At evening, we saw Kathakali and Kalaripayattu shows. Kathakali is a form of dance; the two performers were wonderful. Kalaripayattu is ancient martial arts of Kerala; Rashid and his team were excellent. We relished Kerala cuisine.
Kalaripayattu weapons and artist performing with fire, and Kathakali performance
The next day, we decided to visit the Gavi forest reserve. The jeep arrived at 5.30 am, we hopped on to it, and set to gamble our luck to see wild animals. We saw the dawn break on a super cold morning. The reserve opens by 6.00 or 6.30 am for visitors. At the check post, we paid entry fees, and waited in queue (along with 6-7 jeeps) to enter the reserve. Remember that there are no toilets anywhere in that area; you'll have to surrender to Nature.
At last, the gate opened. The vehicles adhered to the speed limit (say of 30kms/hr). Our heads would turn all over to sight an animal. Slightest  sound, say falling of a dried leaf, we would get eager, and assume that some animal must be moving. After a while, you'll realize that the vehicle noise might have forced the wild animals to go deeper in to the forest. Or that we weren't lucky to spot animals.
However, the forest itself looked beautiful, with trees and grassland. We heard calls of birds but couldn't stop to get a glimpse of the birds. We aren't supposed to get down from the jeeps at the reserve. At one point, we saw all jeeps parked, and people looking down the valley and clicking photos. We dashed out of the jeep, and looked. And looked. Not at the elephants because there were none; but at the beautiful landscape. Stunning!
Glimpse of Gavi
Our drive continued till we reached Gavi reserve. The forest department had organized breakfast for the tourists. Neat toilets and washrooms were available. The lake looked inviting. The flowers at the garden looked pretty. We trekked a little on our own before breakfast; saw langoors and birds. We had an option of trekking inside the jungle for 1 hour, 2 hours, or 3 hours; we opted for 3 hours. We were assigned a guide of some sorts to accompany us during the trek. We began our trek puffing and panting. Leeches entered our shoes and socks; it was their breakfast time too! Two foreigners, who had opted for similar trek option, offered us a band-aid; that was cute.
During our trek, the guide gave no commentary about flora and fauna. It was just about searching for wild life (without luck). Because we love the trees, we enjoyed our trek. Each tree is different. We found litter of civet cat and of elephants. My husband also spotted a deer. We saw remains of wild jackfruits that monkeys and langoors had eaten. We saw tiny insects, which I can't identify. We admired wild flowers. We heard calls of birds, and of hornbills fighting. The colours of the forest were absolutely brilliant. By the time we completed our trek, our stomachs were growling. The forest department has lunch spread out for us; decent spread of dishes. We had options to row a boat and visit spice garden; we dropped both options and returned to Thekkady.
Wild board, nest of wild ants, spider's web, langoor, deer, and squirrel
Yet another glimpse of Gavi
The next day we headed towards Munnar. We took the Thekkady-Anavilasam road. The journey was pleasant. Spice gardens and estates filled the area. We checked in to a resort at Munnar and explored the tea estate. Because we had already visited Munnar and seen the tourist spots, we decided to chill at the resort and visit the neighbouring resorts. The resorts try to sell all types of sight-seeing plans; evaluate before falling for the tours plans.
When the tourist crowd heads out for sight-seeing tours, there is peace at the resort and surrounding areas. We took our camera, wore our shoes, and walked. How much we have walked we don't know; but the walks were amazing! The tea estates are primarily owned by TATA enterprise; you need permission to enter the estates; however, you can walk on the public roads that form a border to the estates. We met natives, spoke to them, sat on cement benches looking at the estates, and clicked photos. Yes, we sighted several birds during our self-created bird-watching session. Our lunch was excellent. We met some interesting people who knew to converse light. We were thoroughly rejuvenated. Tranquillity at its best!

Tea estates at Munnar
With a promise to return to this place, we drove out of Munnar; took the Bodi route to reach Theni, and then retraced our journey to Bangalore. The drive down the hill was on bad roads; there must have been landslides earlier and the government seems to be widening the ghat roads. Hardly was there any traffic on that road. It's so much better to be away from the crowded roads. 

Bangalore welcomed us with slow-moving traffic and honking noise. We woke up to reality - Holiday was over! We smiled thinking about how much our pets would have missed us. They would want our complete attention the minute we stepped in to the house. We had gifts - spices, tea, chocolates, sweets, and banana chips - for our family and friends members; would be nice to see a
smile on their faces. That's fun too.

Joining Photo Theme for Thursday - Landscape.

Monday, 3 March 2014

A blur photo clicked at Beach Road, Pondicherry

A blur photo clicked at Beach Road, Pondicherry.
The evening was pleasant. The sea was seductive. The people were at their best. We loved the place!