Road to Kodai
Roads. Promise. Expectation. Itch.
Roads keep calling and more I travel more I discover facets to them and their types. The road to office is monotonous. The golden quadrilateral (GC)roads are praised by all. Nice, smooth, fast. Yet I find them boring and character less. Like the expressways of west. They are good and practical but boring. I used to like our earlier highways. Large trees on the sides and life lived right till the edge. So when time came for the customary year end vacation and with multiple calls wify dear managed a booking at Kodai, decided to take the NH209 via Coimbatore.
As the dotty dears year end vacations were nearing we were nearly panic-ing. No plans made and all good options gone. Then she got lucky and we got kodai for 2 nights. The route suggested to us for Kodaikanal was the GC via Salem,Dindugal and then Kodai. The black-beast and my heart went looking for the road map. Some google map staring and a visit to the teamBHP site made it clear that NH209 is the route to take.That highway is nice. The route – Kanakpura, Chamrajnagar, Satyamangalam,Coimbatore,Pollachi, Palani and kodaikanal. The road near Chamrajnagar is bad but good otherwise. Tamilnadu routes are much better than ours.
Then we got greedy. Why not do something else on the way ? Few discussions and Suresh ( my good friend) suggested Pollachi. So that was decided. We hit the road hoping that we will get something sorted out once we reach the place. Drive was nice, beast was singing happily. Dotty dear drew and slept on the back seat. At Pollachi we got into Hotel Sakhi, a decent-ish place to stay.
Next day went to topslip. Tip of the day – Go there early for the safari or in the evening. We royally landed there at 10:00 and there was not much to do.
So went on to the Kerala side and took a safari there.This was on a mini bus and did not feel like Safari at all. More of yatra to some temple. The Jungle was brilliant. The bus stopped for spotted deer and langurs. This has been my experience in all national parks. You see ample deer and monkeys but other animals know that I am visiting and hide. The spotted deer and monkeys come out to mock.
However this time an elephant family took pity and come out. As we were oh, ahinh and clicking, they posed and rushed to a tree to scratch themselves.
The three hour safari takes you to Dams, valley views and meandering roads. The narrow clean jungle roads bring peace to the mind. Lunch was in a hut-ish kind of joint. Food was nice, the lady managing the “hut” very friendly. I was surprised to find her speaking good Hindi while at other places we were communicating like dotty dear with hand and mouth gestures.
Came back to topslip, did elephant rides. Saw few more monkeys. Called near and dears, for new year wishes and slept the night off.
Next day we set off early at seven to Palani. The road was green with paddy fields and coconut grooves on both sides. Beast ate the highway and we were at Pallani before 9. The Murugan temple out there is very busy and crowded. After waiting for 45 mins in the queue for the “Wintch” to take us to the top and being duped by a guide into buying loads of stuff for Pooja archana we decided to ditch going up. (Forgive our folly Murugan sir). The guide was more disappointed than us. He had not taken any money at that time. Pay when you come back sir, he said. So he was sad. At the entrance to pallani there is an ancient Durga/Amma temple. That was nice. Very nice. 3-4 deities and normal crowds. I think we went on a special day.There was a procession with the Amma on a Palaki and lot of clanging plates, bells and dances. Ladies were making designs on the corridor with lemon juice, turmeric and “rangoli”. They were using the reversed, emptied lemon hemispheres as diya’s. Wify dear said that if you do this, your heart’s desire will come through. Usually for a child or a husband or a crore or so. Must do it sometime or get the wify dear to do it. ( You see all were ladies there, I do not have aversion to inverted nimbus)
Holified, we set out for the 60+ Km ghat ride. Thick forest. Crazy curves. Dangerous turns. Hairpin curves. Gurgling streams. Distant waterfall. Happy people in the black beast. That is how you reach kodai.
En-route you will see the Silver falls. I stopped at a brook to pose and relieve. An old lady sought lift and tried to sell a guide to us. Fresh from the Pallani experience we politely declined and reached kodai. The resort at Kodai was very nice. Clouds came visiting us. Dotty dear was the happy fairy. Lunch and sleep. Evening we went to the lake and shopped like tourists for the sweaters, toys and Neelagiri oil.
Kodai’s universe is around the lake. Large 5 km is in perimeter. Kids want horse rides. Moms look at the shops and dads at the fashionistas. You can walk, ride a horse, ride cycle, drive and boat. And eat.The sights are around a road and can be done in a day on a car. It is customary to start with the Coaker’s walk. But we did the other way. Observatory, film shooting pine forest, deciduous tress, Valley view, suicide point, pillar rocks etc. Ended with the walk and then lunch. Back to lake. Strolled along, another horse ride and went to see the bear shoal falls. This one is in the middle of a jungle and surprises you on a turn. Nice. Tired. End of day.
Next day, a bright morning walk on the hill roads. The morning dew, the pink-yellow jungle flowers, smoke rising in a distant hut, step formed fields were nice. Then started lazily for breakfast and started back. Wish we could stay more and the booking was for more days. Place like this needs leisurely walks and rested eyes to explore. It is very touristified yet very charming. The Jungles are still thick and green. Moon over mountains and the moonlight on the road need you to stay still and breath. The sun rising lazily and spreading the warmth takes time. Even the black beast took a push and a roll to start in the morning, just turning the key was not good enough. Till next time, the sharp waters and crisp air will stay in the memory and the roads will keep calling.