Kodaikanal yet again

I never thought that visiting a place for a second time can be such a different experience. I have been to Kodaikanal two years back with a gang of 8 guys, which meant buffoonery galore. This time it was a little different as the ratio was 2 guys and 2 gals, which meant *RESPONSIBILITY* and no boys talks and watch your tongue and don’t stare at other girls. 🙂

For starters, Kodaikanal is a beautiful hill-station situated in the Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu in India. It is situated amongst the Palani Hills in the Western Ghats and is an ideal summer retreat.

So, Kodaikanal happened yet again because we panicked. There was news floating around that we might be transferred from Chennai anytime and thus we just wanted to visit the places which were left out ASAP. As I had already visited the hill station, so no one bothered to ask me whether I wanted to go or not. I HAD TO GO. PERIOD. 😐

The train left Chennai on 28 March, 2008. Everything was quite similar to the Vizag trip, except that this time Vidya made an extra dish for the dinner on wheels and we were nearly killed by the autorikshaw driver who was still under the hangover of Dhoom2. Just for the record, we just missed a head on collision with a local bus by inches.

Our night journey was quite uneventful as our fellow passengers were just dying to sleep as soon as the train left the Chennai Egmore station at 9.30 pm. So, we ate our lunch dinner hurriedly and the lights were switched off at 10.30 p.m. 😐

We landed on Kodaikanal Road Station at 5.30 am and started our 2 hours journey to the hillstation by road. The weather was upbeat and cold and several waterfalls and mist clad mountains made appearance as we steadily moved up towards the hillstation munching cheese balls. Our driver took himself to be a James Bond clone and was driving as if 5 cars were chasing us. He gave me this incredulous look when I offered him the cheese balls as if I have committed some unbelievable crime. We readied ourselves for the day ahead in our hotel and had hot tea before we started our endeavor. Our first stop was the famous Punjabi restaurant where we had Golith sized spicy, yummy, mouthwatering and unforgettable paranthas. Then followed a visit to the beautiful local Church followed by the Liril falls. Here we trekked a lot to reach accessible viewpoints of the falls which were quite breathtaking, to say the least. Spotless water gushing through the lush green grass and erratic boulders under the cover of a soft mist. Priceless!!!

Next we moved on to see the Bear Shola falls, the dolphin nose and the Echo Point. The fog was quite thick by now and all we could see around was “Tide jaisi safedi”, and a few scattered trees peeking out of the fog as if trying to show us the way ahead. At the Bear Shola falls, Vidya and myself witnessed the daredevil act by Atipriya and Lokesh who climbed up the rocks like monkeys to reach the top of the falls. Atipriya almost slipped at one point and I could not imagined what would have happened if she would have swooshed down with the running water and hit the couple from behind, who were standing at the foot of the falls and smiling into the camera(I can imagine the photograph. 😆 ). The Dolphin nose, which is a very dangerous point, is a rock protruding out of the mountain and hanging in midair. If you fall from there in the chasm below, your body won’t be found for sure. We found a newly wed couple sitting at the tip of the Dolphin nose munching Uncle chips. It just reminded me of a scene in Baazigar in which Shilpa Shetty is thrown off the terrace. I wondered if the guy is in the mood of doing something like that? We stared at them for a good 10 minutes before they realised that they are not sitting in the drawing room of their house and stood up. Before we could reach the Nose and take snaps, another gang of 40 people tumbled upon us and all we could manage was some snaps here and there with 10 people standing behind us. 😐

Echo Point is an equally dangerous spot as there is no fencing to buffer your fall. It was too engulfed in fog and we sat on the protruding rock for sometime before trekking back up through the tree roots filled pathway. The evening was spent by taking a boat ride in the Kodai lake for a good one hour and singing some forgotten, unmentionable hindi songs and later chatting on a bench besides the lake watching the swift sunset.

Next day, after taking the morning tea and a South Indian breakfast we landed in Coakers walk. The walkway gives a picturesque view of the valley and the clouds were so thick that day that it felt as if we were walking on them. The Kodai Lake view point and the Pine forest followed soon and we found ourselves singing “Jaan-e-jaan” in the forest and taking a lot of “Orkut” snaps, as we call them. After the Pine Forest we went to Silent Valley view (which according to me is the best viewpoint in Kodaikanal. Here we were fortunate enough to see the fog dissolve and to view the deep valley below), Guna Caves (Which was a waste of time as the caves are all fenced and you can’t go inside), Pillar Rocks ( Which were again engulfed in fog and made a very brief special appearance for a minute. Here we tried the combination of Lokesh’s cowboy hat and Atipriya’s goggles with disastrous results), the Chettiar Park and the Kurinji Andavar temple. Finally we reached back to the Kodai lake for a quick round of the 5 k.m. track around the lake on bicycles.

Soon it was time to call curtains to our two days trip and we packed our bags in the evening and left for the station leaving behind this mesmerising, beautifully cold hill station taking with us a truckload of home made Kodai special chocolates, marsh mellows and Gulkand. 🙂

Related post : A trip to heaven

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Vizag and Araku Trip


“Kanyakumari can be a wonderful one day trip…”

“Ooty. It will be a pity if we don’t go there while we are here in South India.”

“Its too commercialized.”

“Coorg??”

“Vizag & Araku?”

The endless discussions went on for a week amidst frantic Google search sessions and Moi, Lokesh, Atipriya and Vidya finally settled down for Vizag trip. Tickets were booked in a rush and we were lucky enough to chart out the whole trip before we started.

14 March, 2008. Friday.

We all decided to cook our own food for the dinner on wheels. Lokesh came back early from office to cook some yummy Paneer Masala dish. The girls cooked Rotis in the evening while I ran from one shop to another to collect all the Munchables I can lay my hand on. The train was on time and at 21:30 hours, we bid farewell to Chennai. The home made food, Antakshari and Fortune teller kept us busy till our eyelids grew heavy and sleep engulfed us.

15 March, 2008. Saturday.

A bread, butter and cutlet breakfast kicked off the day. We reached Vizag(Vishakhapatnam) at around 10.30 am. After a quick bath and a very delicious lunch we set out towards the harbour for a ferry ride. The ferry took eternity to take off as there weren’t enough people in the afternoon to take the ride. The Vishakhapatnam skyline looked splendid from the waters and we ended up clicking it from every damn angle. Unfortunately, out of the four of us, only Atipriya was equipped with sunglasses, so we took turns and thus the glasses passed over a lot of ears and noses while we clicked our photos. 😉

Our next stop was the visit to the Kursura Submarine which is kept at the RK Beach. Its a real submarine with all the machinery inside intact and is open to visitors. It looked like a huge black whale from outside and as we entered it, we were quite surprised by the mind-boggling intricacies inside the vessel. Believe me, you have to be some sort of an Einstein to operate that thing. And I felt so claustrophobic inside that it was hard to imagine how the crew would have felt when they went deep inside the water. By the time we came out of the 91 meters long giant, we were nothing less than amazed. And yes, I took a lot of photos inside – from toilets to torpedoes. 🙂

Next on the hit list was the Kailasgiri Park situated above a hill which overlooks the sea. We took a cable car to the top and the view was breathtaking from there. The whole city lying in the valley between the sea and the hills was visible from there. Its a very beautiful picnic spot and you can spent hours there feeling the fresh gush of winds and eyeing the vast expanse of sea and land. The spot also boasts of a train ride around the hill and a huge Shiva Parvati statue in the middle park. As the sun slided towards the west to doze off, we finally moved up to the highest point of the hill to view the changing colours of the sky and the city lights. As the sky changed from blue to red to orange and finally to grey, the whole city came alive and for a second it felt the city was a mirror image of the sky, holding millions of stars in its lap.

By the time we reached the bottom of the hill, it was almost 8 pm, so we went to the Kali Temple at the RK Beach and then roamed around on the beach for some more time before retreating back to our hotel.

16 March, 2008. Sunday

The alarm went off at 4 am. Lokesh could never ever wake up for his office morning shifts but the speed with which he woke up to get ready for the Araku trip was commendable. We had taken an Andhra Pradesh Tourism package for a trip to Araku Hill-station and had to report at the railway station at 5.30 am. Somebody just forgot to tell us that the train leaves at 7 am and robbed us of our half an hour of precious sleep. Araku is around 120 km from Vizag and it took almost four hours to reach there as the train tossed and turned through 32 tunnels and over a dozen bridges through the deep mountains. The longest tunnel is about a kilometer long. At Araku we visited the Tribal Habitat Museum and the Padma Rao gardens where we almost scared a lady to death when we asked her to take our pictures. She almost ran away thinking that we wanted to click her for some reasons. We also tried our hands on shooting using bow and arrows. Except for Lokesh, who managed some decent shots, the rest of us were quite miserable. A quick lunch followed at the AP tourism guest house followed by a tribal dance called “Dhimsa” by the local tribal women. Soon everyone started dancing with them and it looked like a pub with some really out of place and scared tribal ladies.

An evening snack later and we were off to GaliKonda, the highest point of Araku. The scenery looked like the windows wallpaper which has all the blue mountains. We sighed at the sight and clicked numerous pictures before heading to the Borra Caves. The caves house the ancient stalacites and stalagmites formation of rocks and are a visual treat. There are natural Sivalinga formations inside which are being worshipped and the width and height of the caves is amazingly huge. Its definitely not worth a miss. From the Borra caves, the bus took us back to Vishakhapatnam which was again a good 3 hours journey which we covered dozing off.

After reaching Vizag, we roamed around in the market place trying the local sweets like Mamiditandra ( a South Indian version of Aampappad) and Pootharekulu ( Rice starch and sugar rolled together).

After reaching I took the much required foam bath in hot water. It was Vidya’s birthday the next day, so we had planned a small surprise for her at 12 am which meant that we had to be awake till 12 which meant that I had to be awake till 12. I woke up Lokesh 5 minutes before 12 and we landed up in the “Girls” room with the cake and gifts. After the gala event we crashed on the bed at 12.30 am as we again(!!!) had to wake up at 4 am the next morning to see the sunrise. 😐

17 March, 2008. Monday.

We were ready and roaming on the beach by 5.45 am. The sun had yet to make and appearance above the foggy ocean, filled with large ships on the east and the huge Dolphin nose towards its west. Its hard to describe the colour of the beach as the sun emerged from the thin layer of clouds. See the pictures above and you would understand what I mean. We stared at the sun and the golden waves for sometime after which we headed to Rushikonda Beach.

At the beach, we were greeted by local fishermen who offered us a ride in their motorboat for 50 Rs per person. Before I nodded my head, a bright red life jacket was tied around me and my bag and I was ushered into the motorboat. By the time we four settled on the boat there were two other tourists who joined us. We were scared and excited as all four of us were doing this for the first time. As the boat moved towards the deep ocean, the water changed its colour and the sounds of human activities faded away, replaced by the whining of the motor and the calm of the deep sea. It was an experience which we would forever cherish. When we reached the shore, Vidya was very happy that she was still alive as it was her birthday. 🙂

From Rushikonda we moved further up to Bheemunipatnam Beach which is around 24 km from Vishakhapatnam. The remains of a Dutch Cemetery dating back to the 17th century are preserved here. After spending some time here we headed back to the city to have a quick lunch before we moved to the opposite side of the city to visit Simhachalam.

Simhachalam is a well known place of pilgrimage and houses the Sri Varaha Lakshminarasimha temple which is beautifully sculptured. I finally found a copper “lota” here which I have been frantically searching from a long time now.

Finally we moved back to our hotel for a buffet and picked our luggage to catch out train at 14.50 pm taking with us the memories of a unique city and 750+ photographs. 🙂

18 March, 2008. Tuesday.

And…ohh…yes…we again had to wake up at 4 am on Tuesday, as our train reached precisely at the same time at Chennai Central. 😦

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