Category Archives: Travelogue

Wayanad – jamais vu

A quick, nippy trip to Wayanad, the place we go when we have no other place to rock the weekend. Being so close to our place, it’s just like we take a promenade through our backyard. So, in order to get over the monotonous and droning feeling that we get of going to the same place again and again, we experimented a bit.

So used to the day time travel, we decided to reverse the practice. We left Kannur well after 10:30 pm, and by the time we crossed Nedumpoyil and reached the Ghats and hairpins, it was well past midnight. Got to say, this is “the” paramount feeling one could get out of the trip. The midnight fog, the sound and music of the jungle, the danger of an elephant jumping in front of you, all this gives a singular, extraordinary and unique feel to the drive.

Another sight, got to see, the Thunderbolts (the exclusive anti-Maoist commandos of the Kerala Police) doing their job. They were at a check post at Boys Town after Periya Pass, and a group of five men in a car driving well past midnight do evoke qualms. Only the previous day, there was a Maoist attack on a resort at Thirunelli, and this was the same route we were heading to. Couple of days after we were back home, there were news reports that The Thunderbolts had a face to face gunfight against the Maoists. Anyways, they were a lot of buoyant, pleasant commandos who were a pleasure to interact with.

November – December may be the best time to visit Wayanad. The cold weather is at its best, and if you are not going to stay in a hotel with water heaters, you could get the one-shot experience of a shower in freezing waters. We stayed at a friend’s house, and waking up late after the night drive, and a bathing in that chilly icy sunup waters was the closest anyone can get to rapture.

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We had seen everything and anything that Wayanad had to show us, countless times. So this time, we decided to go beyond the Sahyadris. Like us, those who are bored of the same sights and sounds can take a trip to places like Gopal Swami Betta and Bandipur forests; quite refreshing, revitalizing and energizing.

Just take care of one thing, once beyond the borders of God’s own Country, on this route, there is no place where you can get decent food. So be prepared with your stock of Britannia Good Day, Snickers etc to strike back when hunger strikes.

For those who are tired of going to the same place again and again, the best way you can get over it is do it differently. And it can be invigorating like no other!

“There’s an opposite to déjà vu. They call it jamais vu. It’s when you meet the same people or visit places, again and again, but each time is the first. Everybody is always a stranger. Nothing is ever familiar.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk.

Picture courtesy – my Instagram and Flickr pages

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Munnar musings

Munnar is one place that I always love to visit. But this time it was special because this is the first time that I would be taking my wife and baby along. It is definitely one of the most beautiful places on earth. But this time there were a few points worth mentioning. Some may be positives, and most of them censure, but I feel, all these are worth a mention.
 
 
It was a run-of-the-mill start for us. We were already late by 30 minutes to the scheduled arrival of our train when we reached the railway station. Lucky for us, in this case, the train too was late by the same time. Indian Railways be blessed, whatever improvement in the services, they run late, true to their old self, one time too many. Just in time, we jumped in, the wheels started rolling.     
 
The planning for the trip was done when all stories of Munnar freezing in zero and sub-zero temperatures were doing the round in the news. But once we reached there, there was nothing of that sort. It was just the normal temperatures, maybe around 15 degrees or so. We could easily roam around till late in the evening with just the normal t-shirts on. So much for all the sweaters and jackets we had packed and carried all the way uphill.
 
The resort was nippy. Cheap and best. For the diminutive price we paid, we got almost 5 star facilities. The ambiance, settings and natural sounds of the forest were a perfect locale for a relaxing vacation. The food was also great, and it was a wonderful feeling in the evening, whiskey in hand, the Karimeen pollichathu, and the super cool night wind. “Cool land” – really it is.
 
Someone who has made a trip to Wayanad, and then to Munnar, would definitely note one big difference – the quality of the roads. The ghat roads up to Wayanad, be it through Kannur or Kozhikode are definitely better maintained and spacious than those that drive up to Munnar. There are quite a few places where there is hardly any space for two cars to move together. Unlike the roads that lead to Wayanad, the sidewalks that look into the gorges have no railings at all. I have felt a lot safer driving to Wayanad, even through the ultra-dangerous Paalchuram via Kottiyoor, than cruising upwards to Munnar. Being a prime tourist destination in Kerala, this could have been better.
 
 
The roads were jam-packed, needless to say as it was a vacation for all. In fact, most of the time we spent outside our resorts, it had to be in the traffic blocks. Unfortunately, I could not see even a single police man anywhere who could take responsibility to clear the pandemonium. This definitely speaks a lot about the responsibilities of the command and administration in promoting tourism and maintaining law and order. The roads were free for all, and overtaking others from left, right and centre, things were getting worse only. We took a quite a long time to wriggle out of the mess, and once we were out of it, we were totally energy sapped.
 
 
The race against time was there for the return journey too. Sliding down the hills was quite a thrill. The return tickets were in waiting list, and it was like a suspense thriller, waiting each moment for the tickets to be confirmed till the chart was prepared. And at last, it would be. This time the train was on time, and we too just made it. In the end, all the hurry-burry were just worth it, and it was a perfect capping for a wonderful vacation.
 
Mind – cool, relaxed and back to work on Monday; again.