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|27th June 2007, 11:19||#1|
Join Date: May 2004
Thanked: 54 Times
5 Guys. One Merc. Loads of Fun.
1.It is very very long.I think one of the longest Travelogues.
2.My thanks to my friend Thomas for the chunk of the narrative.
3.I am too lazy to mask the plates and the owner doesnt mind not masking it.
4.Please excuse the photos.I know that a good travelogue should have pictures of the scenery,but most of my snaps will either have the car or one of us in it ,smiling ofcourse.
5.Dont go by the pictures or the narratives.Both wouldnt do justice to the beauty of the places mentioned.
So it was decided, it would have to be somewhere close, somewhere not too hot and somewhere nice (of course!). Since one of us had gone there a week prior, it was decided that this time, we would head down to Thekkadi.
The route was easy enough Cochin->Kottayama->on the fabled KK road->Kumali->Thekkadi. But WAIT!
There are two ways of going about things..the right way and the fun way. As we were not under any time constraint, we decided that we would take the fun way.
Cochin -> Pala -> Theekoy -> Vagamon -> Kuttikkanam -> Kumali -> Thekkady, and yes, we were right about it being the fun way.
The motor of choice was a C200 Kompressor,solely because our guy who was supposed to bring the innova suddenly had a memory lapse and we all wanted to be together rather than in two cars. We set out early enough at around 7:30 (yup, thats early!) from Cochin.
The Prey & the Predator: Bikes Vs KSRTC -Welcome to Kerala
The Road from Cochin till around Ettumanoor is absolutely nothing spectacular, it serves the purpose and that's about it. But once you get past it, things get political and smooth. Political because one of the biggest politicians in Kerala is from here, and smooth because he has made sure that the tyre rubbers of his constituents wouldn't wear out any faster than what the manufacturers claim. It's just as smooth as a baby's bottom.
Now, it wouldn't make mark as a scenic route on any map, but it's a great road to drive on, cause the roads are very good, there are loads of twists and turns and corners and you can throw your car/bike around/over/across it. En route, as prettymuch everywhere in Kerala, you can find decent enough restaurants where you can have your brekkie, brunch, lunch or whatever you fancy having. And thus it continues till Erattupetta (ee-raattu-paetta).
From there on, it's just the normal country roads, but there is a sudden change in scenery, once you are past Theekoy. There is a certain charm to the place, like something out of a '70s movie. The air seems fresher, the trees seem greener and the roads start to wind up-hill.
We were 5 guys with average height and weight of 6' and 75kgs and this is where the C200 K proved a pleasure. In most cars, you would be changing gears faster than an actress changes her clothes in a song scene. But the C200 K pulled us like a hot chick would pull guys in a nightclub. Not a bother.
From Theekoy, prepare and be willing, to stop a lot cause the scenery is just breathtaking. Such thick vegetation, that you could easily pass it off as somewhere in the Congo or Cote d'Ivorie.
The tall trees reach high and stand mighty. Just looking at them makes you feel relaxed and refreshed. Now, normally, you would go straight from Theekoy to Vagamon, but if you have the time, its well worth it to check out Pullikkanam. It's mostly tea plantations, but the views down the valleys are simply the best. I will soon run out of superlatives in describing the trip.
As you may all know,Keralites being keralites,drink brandy and whisky even in the hot and sweaty middle east.So can a local like this be left behind without the swig of Jameson.We found a good enough place to enjoy a drink(it wasnt hard.trust me),drove a bit off road and the guys settled down to talk,drink and make merry.I being the teetotaler of the lot was designated to be the driver for the rest of the trip.Ha,who is complaining!!
Where is the road.Hic!
From Pullikkanam on to Vagamon, the roads are still small and winding, but there is never much traffic. Expect the occasional Mahindra Major with umpteen people hanging out of it.
Vagamon is turning into a bit of a tourist spot than it ever used to be, and it shows. There are a lot of tiny hills around the place, but as it is always busy with tourists, you don't get to enjoy the view as much. But there is not much of the commercialisation muck that you would see elsewhere. And then we reached Kolahalamedu (koh-laah-hala-meadu).We never expected the place to be this beautiful although we knew that it was called Kerala's scotland by the locals.
Again, the roads from Kuttikanam to Kumali are real smooth and with a good car, great fun to be on. The scenery is still stunning, but at this stage, you are quite tired of going 'wow..that looks great' every three seconds or so.
Enough for a single post I guess.Will continue in the next post.
|27th June 2007, 11:28||#2|
Join Date: Mar 2007
Thanked: 57 Times
Awesome trip and you were complaining about the pics? I think some of them sure should make it to the the official auto image thread. Enjoyed readin it, and yes a trip to be made to kerala soon.
|27th June 2007, 11:32||#3|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Thanked: 29 Times
Excellent Pics artofzen and a nice description too !!!
I need to quickly do a trip to Kerala (so far it is only Wayanad for me)...
Its the ideal place to eat, drink and make merry...
|27th June 2007, 11:43||#6|
Join Date: May 2006
Thanked: 2 Times
Thatz a keeeewl spin dooooood!!! You are toooooooooo lucky a guy!!!
Everything funtabulous!!! Steed, gang, path, places, climate....ugh!! Yeah you enjoyed it thoroughly...!! we know! many cheers to you and friends!!
drive on..... mooooooore....!
|27th June 2007, 11:50||#7|
Join Date: May 2004
Thanked: 54 Times
Cont. from Post#1
It's pointless that they have a board saying that you are in Kumali, as it's quite evident once you hit it. Its hotels everywhere, places offering elephant rides, souvenier shops, ayurveda parlours etc etc.
There are really decent hotels to suit every taste and budget and our choice was the quite spartan, but adequate S. N International. We were there for just the night and was only looking for clean sheets and comfy pillows and the place was spot on for that. There are loads of places to eat out in Kumali, from the street vendors to 5 star hotels. It's worth going to the Kerala - Tamil Nadu border (just down the main street in Kumali) as it is quite a sight to see. Once you are past the checkposts into Tamil Nadu, it's almost as if you have come not 50 feet, but 500 miles. The difference is startling. For those with spare time, it's always a good drive down the Kambam-Theni route to take in the view of the plains of Tamil Nadu.
After tons of take away food, litres of alcohol(which fuelled a 'serious' discussion about hedonistic materialism) and many embarassing pictures of drunken selves, we left for Thekkadi refreshed and rested. That's just 4km from Kumali and we were there in no time. Guess we were a bit early for the wild animals. After all, they have nothing to be doing at the crack of dawn (even on a monday) and must have been in deep slumber by the time we got there. There are facilities to go boating in the lake, but if you arrive in the middle of summer, be prepared to walk a good bit in the scorching sun. We had no intention of disturbing the peace of the wild, so we had some breakfast and decided to turn back and head home. And that's:
Thekkady-> Kumali -> Kuttikkanam -> Vagamon -> Theekoy -> Pala -> Cochin. Right? Wrong! Remember the right way and the fun way.
How about Thekkady - > Nedumkondom -> Devikulam -> Munnar -> Cochin. We were off.
Now word of warning to anyone who is planning to take this route. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 being the smooth belly of a supermodel and 1 being the roughest part of the martian landscape, around 35km from thekkady along this route is a 2.
It really tested the cars suspension, our patience and the drivers will power to go ahead or turn back. I can only imagine what a good monsoon and a few mudslides can do to this terrain. And there is only 1 petrol station along the way, so fill up your tank before you leave, unless of course, your dad runs the ministry of defence and an air-lift is just a phone call away.
It's the western ghats putting on royal show. The far away hills all dressed in an emerald green and crowned with a laurel of clouds. At your feet are endless tress of cardomom plants and around you the incessant crickets sounding almost as if they are cheering you on. By the way, this description applies to most of the trip. It is at this point, opiated with the beauty of it all that one of us remarked that Kerala is truly God's own country. A sliver of green between the vastness of the arabian and the might of the ghats with backwaters to laze around in and remenisce about it all.
It's all quaint little villages and lush thick plantations for about 35kms and leading upto nedumkondom. And once the road gets better, it really does get better. Its a great driving roads with a bend thrown in around every bend. The traffic is light enough and the road is wide enough for anyone to have a bit of fun.
Now, tyrannical as their rule might have been, their obsession with discussing their plans for world domination over a nice cup of tea obliges us to thank the British. Afterall, it was them who tamed all the land that are now tea plantations around Munnar and Devikulam. Neither a million two dimensional photographs, nor all the languages ever to be spoken could do justice to what you would see there. You have to see the sights, feel the soft wind, breath the pure air and listen to the sweet sound of serinity to be able to fully appreciate the place that Devikulam is. You take a bend and wham!
It's tea estates as far as your eyes could care to look. And they look absolutely breathtaking. You feel like thanking the millions of tea addicted government employees who would't sign that certificate without their 'chayy' for keeping this place going. It's a shame that a lot of people come as far as Munnar and never make the effort to head upto Devikulam.
Munnar is an inevitable part of growing up and living in Cochin. Going up there on a bike is almost a rite of passage into the petrolhead club at this stage. And as avid wanderers, we had all been there countless times, on buses, bikes, cars and trucks. It's sad to see that the place is losing it's charm and turning into one big souvenier shop/ holiday resort. Only in a glorious and not too distant past was the town's economy driven by the workers of the tea estates, when it managed to stay small and idyllic. Drives home the point then, that change is better is purely a subjective matter. After all that miles, we were happy to wrap it up at Munnar and head home.
Some Misc Snaps:
You could go places where your eyes see sights that it will never forget, or eat food that may taste like it's mannah from the heavens. You could sleep on houses built on the tallest of trees in the thickest of woods. You could swim the deepest of lakes in the calmest of valleys. But being able to share the food, the small rooms, the private jokes that no one else would get, memories that linger and bonds that stay and most of all having the best time of your life is something just as important as the roads that take you to all those wonderful places. The five of us did just that for 2 days driving through a place that the God's themselves would be happy to call home. We left as freinds and came back as a family.
The End.Thank you all for your patience!.
Last edited by artofzen : 27th June 2007 at 11:54.
|27th June 2007, 12:07||#8|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Mumbai, India
Thanked: 163 Times
Awesome account Naushad and wonderful pictures. You guys seem to have had a blast. It was nice reading the whole story
|27th June 2007, 13:19||#11|
Join Date: Sep 2006
Thanked: 7,890 Times
Really awesome pics and the narrative was also really good. What never fails to surprise me are the roads of kerala, extremely clean and pristine. Great scenery and a fantastic holiday place.
|27th June 2007, 13:49||#12|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Vikhroli, Mumbai, India
Thanked: 20 Times
Fantastic travelogue. And the pictures were fabulous. Lovely country. Makes me want to head down South asap.
|27th June 2007, 14:10||#15|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: May 2005
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Fantastic write up Artofzen, with great pictures to match. Specially loved the Merc taking a turn on the upward bend on the ghats and the one of the Merc at the Devikulam tea estates. The tea plantations look like a Japanese garden with some Bonsai trees. Great work buddy.
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