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Old 21st August 2006, 22:53   #1
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Default A Weekend at The Sad, High Doubt Resort, Vagamon

This trip began as a visit to the Saj HideOut at Vagamon. There is a reason for the title, though.

Vagamon is one of the lesser known and therefore peaceful vacation destinations in Kerala. Popularly known as 'Mini Scotland' on account of its grassy, undulating hills punctuated by a few hundred brooks, streams, cascades and waterfalls (many of which cross the road to Vagamon) and drizzly weather, this place has remained free of commercialized tourism. Hence our decision to visit this place.

How to get there:

From Cochin you would take this route: Cochin > Tripunithura > Muvattupuzha > Thodupuzha > Muttam > Erattupettah > Vagamon.

For those travelling from the South of Kerala, follow the MC (Main Central) Road upto Palai and take the road to Erattupettah.

For those travelling from the North of Kerala or from other states, turn left off NH47 at Angamaly where the MC Road begins, follow the road to Thodupuzha, turn left into the Idukki route, turn right at Muttam which is about 9 kms down this road, follow the rest of the way.

Spent most of Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning trying to reach the reservation numbers of the Saj Hide out, based on the information provided on their site. No response at any of the 6-7 numbers mentioned on the site. We decided to try pot luck since its off-season. The drive up to Vagamon is quite uneventful, with the roads alternating between excellent and good, with a few bad patches and corners along the way. Nothing to worry about. Reach Vagamon by late afternoon and spend some time looking around the place. Reach the Saj HideOut at about 6pm - this place it tucked away at a spot about 3 kms from the main road - NO car can reach there because of the dilapidated roads which are essentially Jeep tracks with rocks thrown in for good measure.

Reach the resort to find bewildered guards staring at us. The gatekeeper is more anxious to get our Safari off the driveway since "MD is staying here - he wont like it if I dont get cars into the parking lot". We walk in to a reception that is leaking from the roof with the reception desks drenched. The 'reception' is a couple of desks in the far corner of their restaurant. The chaps in charge are a bit flustered since they werent expecting anyone and people only turn up after making reservations. I tell them that none of their numbers seem to be working for me to make a reservation, so he calls up the manager to check whether he can take in these unexpected guests. We find out from the guard meanwhile that there is NO guest at the resort except the MD (he's not a guest - he's the bloody host!). A few moments later, a very apologetic receptionist tells us that the manager has told him not to take in the guests because - hold your breath - THERE IS NO FACILITY TO ACCEPT PAYMENTS AT THE RESORT!!! He apologises profusely, saying that he made it a point to mention to the manager that it is a family and that it may be too dark and misty to drive back from this wilderness, but that he didnt receive an 'ok'. Before I could blow up, the poor chap tells us helpfully about the Summer Castle resort nearby which is new and will have rooms, and offers to escort us there so that we dont get lost. The management may be totally screwd up but the employees arent....the Eco Friendly resort is not Guest Friendly and therefore we leave the place in darkness, with thankfully thin mist that makes the broken 'way' back to the main road a bit visible. I keep asking myself why I turned up at this place, a place where they turn back guests even when they have none. This explains the title.

Anyway, we find Summer Castle resort within about 15 minutes. The receptionist at the Sad HThe igh Doubt resort had informed us that Shah Rukh Khan and Mallika Sherawat (!!!???? do the two act together?) are shooting near the Summer Castle Resort for some new movie. No trace of SRK or Ms. Shararat at Summer Castle, but the resort is new and the staff is very friendly, even though we are, AGAIN, the ONLY guests. We dont get turned away, though - instead we get personalized attention and the chef's personal special snacks to accompany my Blue Label. Needless to say the Chef was invited to share the bottle of scotch and we had a great time.

The next day was, again, RAINY and DARK. We spent some time around the place, driving around looking for good spots. I spent some time driving up jeep and tractor trails, giving the Safari a good workout. Drove up a tractor track on a hillside and came down the other side where there were no tracks. Drove through some brooks and some rocky trails - the Safari pulled us happily through everything - rocks, mud trails, streams and grass - before rushing us back to Cochin at speeds of 120 kmph plus later that day. My respect for the vehicle grows as it carries out its job without complaint.

Rest of the story is in pictures. Please excuse the inconsistent picture quality as we had a badly configured D50 mixed with a now antique Kyocera 5mp compact camera:


On the way - somewhere between Muttam and Erattupettah. Rains, greenery and cool weather - Gods Own Country!




Next day - view from the room at 10 am. NOTE: those are RAIN CLOUDS below us, NOT mist/fog:




12 noon and there's no sign of respite!!!




Duboy meanwhile is bored stiff after having gone up, down, in and out of the resort a few zillion times:




1 pm and the cloud cover begins to relent - it finally looks like daytime!




Pine forests near the resort. Mr. Khan and Ms. Shararat are allegedly shooting somewhere in this forest or nearabouts. No sign of them, though we saw some security on the way in. Duboy decides to SHOOT:




Someone's trying to grow tea here, rather unsuccessfully if the sad tea bushes are any indication. We use the site to shoot ourselves:




Grass, cows, etc - these are all over the place. It looks a lot better then I describe it, though!





This would make a good venue for a 'Great Escape' !!!




So I decide to try it out despite warnings from the locals that those are tractor tracks not meant for cars or jeeps -
WHERE THERE IS A HILL.....:




There is NO way !!! One way track that ends at the top!




Take the grassy route down anyway, with the family waiting with camera to catch any mistake!!!




Duboy waiting to inspect 'his' car for damage when I finally get back down:




Checkout time - time to take a pic of our 'Cottage':




Way back - the road round the mountains:

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Old 21st August 2006, 23:54   #2
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Who's the dude leaning on your Safari?
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Old 22nd August 2006, 00:43   #3
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ur cottage and its location look awesome !.

How do I get there from Bangalore, how many kms and time?. Will a car go upto the cottage, or is the road big enuff for only 1 car to pass at a time? How much do the cottages cost and any websites?.
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Old 22nd August 2006, 08:50   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ritik123
How do I get there from Bangalore, how many kms and time?. Will a car go upto the cottage, or is the road big enuff for only 1 car to pass at a time? How much do the cottages cost and any websites?.
1. The car stays at the resort's parking lot. Rooms and cottages are on the hillside below, accessible through a network of paths and steps cut into the hillside.

2. There are quite a few resorts in Vagamon - we stayed at this one as we didnt have a choice. While the service levels were great, this resort looks good because its brand new. The quality of construction isnt all that great and the cosmetics are all superficial - the whole place reeks of cost-cutting which should give you an insight into the resort-operator's mindset. This may not be a good choice in the long run.

3. This place should be about 550-575 kms from Bangalore. A 10-hour drive down, max 12 hours. Definitely an overnight drive.

A couple of links from Kerala Tourism's official website and one of them has a 10-second video:

http://www.keralatourism.org/index.p...destid=7925490

http://www.keralatourism.org/index.p...videoid=810974
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Old 22nd August 2006, 15:21   #5
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ah, nice writeup. I wanted to go ther based on feedback by my cousin( he used to work ther with Excise dept). And that SRK part maybe true as Ms. Sher was spotted at tvm last week.

nice pix too!
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Old 22nd August 2006, 15:39   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by v1p3r
Who's the dude leaning on your Safari?
.....

Nice pics there Steer...
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Old 22nd August 2006, 16:01   #7
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LOL, the title had me in splits and I knew it was a rendition of the real hotel name. Sad to hear about the initial experience, but probably you should have confirmed bookings elsewhere before departing.

Vagamon seems like a lovely holiday spot. Great pictures.
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Old 22nd August 2006, 16:59   #8
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Wow, great scenery! Looks like you overcame/ignored your injury for this one. Just magnificient views. Must have been a great adventure. I gotta get myself an offroader some day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steeroid
Rest of the story is in pictures. Please excuse the inconsistent picture quality as we had a badly configured D50 mixed with a now antique Kyocera 5mp compact camera:
Darn! Are you still blaming me for this one...

Last edited by Samurai : 22nd August 2006 at 17:26.
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Old 22nd August 2006, 22:04   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO
LOL, the title had me in splits and I knew it was a rendition of the real hotel name.
Is the owner ("MD") the same guy who once owned so many quick-vanishing "blade" finance companies in Kerala?
If so, he was a state guest in Viyyoor and Pujappura "resorts", undergoing some years RI....

Secondly, Wagamon is a place where big sharks are trying their best to encroach as much forest land as possible. And the easiest way is - start a resort. This is much the same way as importing a Ferrari as a taxi.

Overall, an aptly named resort, in its owner's point of view.

Nice writeup steer...
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Old 22nd August 2006, 22:07   #10
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:
Yea Mallika Sherawat is in TVM for shooting. My friend doing his hotel management training in The Leela said she stays there.. Dunno about SRK, but Yana Gupta was there as well
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Old 22nd August 2006, 23:55   #11
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Nice title Steer. Now I know what to avoid on my trip to Vagamon! Duboy is your son? He seems as possessive about your Safari as my son is about his!
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Old 23rd August 2006, 14:33   #12
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Nice write up buddy and darn good pics especially the ones with junior.
Just to get my bearings of the place where is this located wrt Wayanad
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Old 23rd August 2006, 16:38   #13
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Nice pictures.. and trip detail too.. I liked the pics of your wonderful safari and they make a good screen saver and background.

I am just waiting for my Black Safari Dicor to be handed over from Prerana on thursday evening...

cheers man.
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Old 23rd August 2006, 18:05   #14
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Nice writeup (as always) and great photos, Steer.

One more place added to my "must see places" list. Man, what all do we have in our own backyard - Venice/Amsterdam (Alapuzha), Wayanad, Scotland (Vagamon). And to think that we hanker to see the places outside India, ignoring the treasures we have so close to us.

BTW, it's a pity you did not get to see Ms.Shararat.
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Old 23rd August 2006, 23:43   #15
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Nice write up....Great pics.....Awwwssum place.....

Good to see u back driving that monster...
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