One would think that I have become a sort of travelogue writer and I do not do anything else apart from travelling. Just that the other things that I do in between roaming, do not give enough material to write!Nonetheless, I would simply quote here the lines from the great poet Iqbal – “Sair Kar Duniya ki ghafil, zindagaani fir kahan, Zindagaani gar rahi to, Naujawaani fir kahaan”!
So where were we.. ah, yes in the beginning of the new year. Most of the team members were in a mood to have a long weekend, clubbing the holiday of the 26th of January with the weekend. Though it sounds unpatriotic, but one can’t help it that nowadays, for most of us, the Republic Day has become just another holiday… nothing more nothing less. So we started on our mission of making that a memorable weekend and what better memories than those collected during a journey!
Hence all of us were set on the task of finding a place to go. After lots of discussions over coffee, and having collected reviews from friends, we finally agreed upon going to Wayanad, which is a picturesque and comparatively, less commercialized region of Kerala. We decided that we would also do one night of camping in the jungles of Wayanad, which would be the first experience of this kind, for most of us.
So thus planned, we finally settled everything and started for Wayanad in the night of the 25th of January.
We reached Kalapetta in the early hours of 26th and it was quite dark then. The driver managed to take us to the hotel which we had booked.
So after having checked in in the hotel, almost all of us being quite sleepy, we decided to take some rest and then meet for breakfast at about 8:00 AM. But it was not to be, some members of the trip just slept off peacefully and the waking ones had to knock their doors many times before they could be pulled out from their slumber:-).
We had a hearty breakfast and as soon as the group was ready, we started with a guide from the hotel for something which I would remember for the rest of my life. It was called the Edakkal caves which in Malayalam means – a rock in between (Ed-Rock Akkal- in between). The ascent was quite difficult for novices like us, but the sight upon reaching the cave, was worth the effort. It was a large cave with one rock held between two huge rocks, for the roof of the cave. Its importance lies in the fact that it was inhabited by several people from different ages. The first inhabitants were about 3000 years old and the next set about 2500 years old. The occupants of the caves left behind them, their artwork. The drawings comprised the figures of man, woman, elephant etc. Seeing those drawings, I got the feeling that the desire to decorate one’s home was there since those early times also when the homo sapiens were just emerging out of jungle. But the other reason could also be to leave their mark, so that the future generations remembered them ( the same reason as to why in the later stages of the history of mankind, the kings built huge monuments in an attempt to be immortalized, not physically but at least in the pages of history.)
The guide in the cave, very graciously explained to us the carvings in the cave. He also translated for us the writings on the walls, which he told us to be in Prakrit and the other one in some other script.
One of them was translated as “The man who killed tigers, named Nandu, lived here”.
There was also one very narrow opening at one end of the caves, and seeing that, we assumed that it was used to punish the wrongdoers, by throwing them down that crevice.
After the breathtaking tour of the caves, we started our descent. We refreshed ourselves with coconut water. Also we tasted the fruits preserved in brine (salt solution) which was something that I found at lots of places that we visited in Wayanad. I am not sure if that is something commonly found across Kerala, but it tasted good .
Also on the way, I saw a whole lot of botanical diversity. I saw pepper plants, coffee plants, lemongrass, eucalyptus to name a few.
Upon reaching back to the hotel, some of us who were too tired, decided to have some rest before starting for the next major event of the day. We had our lunch by which time it became quite late for us to cover two places that day. So we decided to skip the Soojipara waterfalls and started with the guide for the Kuruwa Dweep. The initial plan was to camp at the Chembra peak after a long trek but since there had been a forest fire a few days back, the hotel people told us that there was nothing much left to see there. Hence they made arrangements for us to stay in the jungles of the Kuruwa Dweep. We had not anticipated what was in store for us but the day was turning out to be more and more unpredictable and at the same time enjoyable. So all set with our gear for the night stay in the jungle, we started with the guide.
After having lots of singing and all in the tempo,we finally reached a place from where we had to start on foot. The guide led us to the river Kabini that flows through that jungle. It was something which looked pleasingly untouched by many tourists.
The best part began now. The hotel people had told us that we would cross the river on foot as it was not deep. What we had not known was that we would have to cross it at several places and not just once. So for the first crossing we were led by hand by the guide. We had inhibitions of getting the clothes wet but nonetheless, we moved forward. The fun began when we reached the deeper sections of the river where for the final crossing, I was in the water upto my neck. The taller ones would have it till their chest but seeing me in “deep waters”, some of them felt their courage deserting them and they stood transfixed in the water. Nonetheless, seeing me “sail through” they proceeded with some help from the guide and we reached a place where the river had a strong flow and there the guide made us stop and asked us to sit on the rocks in the river and enjoy the flow. That was another memory that I would carry with me forever, that of being in the river with so strong currents, that if one left the rocks, he/she would simply flow with the river! But the guide knew his job and he made all of us safely nestled between the rocks in the river, before finally darkness started descending upon the jungle and we hurried towards the camping site. God, was it cold when we came out of the water. All of us were shivering and it was a welcome sight to see the arrangements being made for the campfire at the camping site. Once there, we changed into the dry clothes and then settled down around the campfire and had lots of dumb charades and good food before finally retiring into the tents for the night. It was a beautiful sight to see the starlit sky as clear as one can see, which is quite an impossible thing in the cities these days. Most of us were feeling quite cold at night, not being used to spending our bedtimes like this, but all in all it was an enjoyable experience.
In the morning, we started back towards our hotel, wherein two people went for the famous Kerala massage while the rest of us had freshened up and had breakfast after which we decided to take some more rest as most of us wanted to catch up on our sleep of the previous night. So we decided that we would leave only after lunch to visit a lake called the Pookot Lake.
Before we reached the lake, the driver took us to a point from where the view of the valley was breathtakingly beautiful. But we did not spend much time there as the hotel people had told us that the boating at the lake would close at about 5:00 PM.
So thinking that we would come for the view the next day, in case we would go to Calicut, we went ahead towards the lake.
At the lake, we first of all rushed to take the boat ride. The water looked quite good, in spite of the fact that everyday lots of tourists come there. The scenery around the lake was beautiful. It was surrounded by lush green hills and the sky being clear, added to the beauty of the scenery. The lake also had lots of mauve colored beautiful water lilies growing into it. For some members of the group, it was a first time view of the water lilies! And as for me, I was reminded of a hindi poem which talked of a honeybee caught inside the lotus flower in the evening, when it descended for the nectar of the flower and the petals closed because the sun was setting. The poem was about the thoughts of the bee during that time. It was thinking, “When the night would end and the sun would rise again, I would come out of captivity and fly again in the free skies”! For those interestes in knowing, this was one of the poems of the genre “Rahasyawaad” which in English would translate to “Mysticism”.
After the boat ride, we also took a two km tonga ride around the lake. After that we also went to see the aquarium but that showed the carelessness of the authorities responsible for the maintenance. The water was unclean, the lights were depressing and the paint on the walls was screaming for attention. Anyways, then some of the team members went to the handicrafts shop there to buy souvenirs.
After that we returned to the hotel where there was a bonfire around which we danced and had a nice time. Then had dinner and retired for the night.
The next morning, after having a good night’s sleep, we all got set to getting back towards home. Earlier we had thought that we would go to some nearby beach but the nearest place was some three hours away and so we decided to drop the idea.
So we decided to start the journey back home. En route we stopped at some place for lunch and refreshments. Upon reaching Mysore, we thought why not spend some time at the Chamundi Hills, as we had quite a lot of time in hand. The view of Mysore city from the Chamundi hills was awesome. The sunset was as beautiful as the sunlit day and in the dark night, the lights of Mysore presented a beautiful picture and I found myself imagining the jewels in the dress of a princess!
Then without any further adventures, other than that of having snacks and dinner on the way, we reached Bangalore and were dropped one by one to our homes. Thus the journey came to an end, with lots of pleasant memories of the trip painted on the canvases of our minds!