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Old 21st May 2010, 20:46   #1
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Default Five Days - Kochi - Kalpeta - Kodaikanal - Valparai - Kochi

I had been planning for a trip for sometime. Was not very sure where to head. The toss was between places like Ooty, Kodai, Munnar and Thekkady. Out of this Ooty was knocked off as I have already visited there some five times. Munnar visit was done in Feb this year, so did not want to repeat the trip. It had to be a new trip with new locations. Started reading all the travelogue trips and started scouring the internet for locations. Kodai was an obvious choice.

Then I read about Lalu's trip to Neliyampathy (thanks Lalu) and a small idea started taking shape. Found out how Kalpeta/ Sultan Battery was a good location too. Did some googling and asked some questions. Many thanks to HVK, Lalu and Ampere for their suggestions and help in finding right places to visit and to stay. Finally, decided on a five day trip.

This is how it looks on paper

Five Days - Kochi - Kalpeta - Kodaikanal - Valparai - Kochi-visit.jpg

The trip was going to be covered in four legs

Leg 1 - Kochi to Kalpetta.

Leg 2 - From Kalpetta to Kodai via Nilambur, Manjeri, Palakkad, Pollachi and Palani.

Leg 3 - From Kodai to Valparai via Palani, Amravathi Dam, Udumalpet and Pollachi.

Leg 4 - From Valparai to Kochi via Chalakudi.

It was a trip of lifetime for me as the scenic beauty of all the legs, great road conditions and best part of it, lack of traffic on interior roads so you can really enjoy the scenic drive.

A few teasers from the trip:

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Detailed report to follow......
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Old 22nd May 2010, 08:58   #2
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Default Day 1

Started from Kochi at 7AM. Total number included self, HM and my son. Took NH47 bye pass and joined NH17 on Edapally junction. I had traveled from Kochi to Mumbai way back in 2003 and had carried some horrid memories of NH17. I thought things would've changed for better in seven years, how wrong I was. For long stretches, it was like driving through somebody's backyard. I thought after crossing Guruvayoor traffic will mellow down, but once again my thoughts were proved worthless.

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Stopped at a place called Triparayar for breakfast. A well appointed restaurant it was. Strangely, it had only Poori masala in breakfast when we went in expecting sumptuous Kerala cuisine. Once again my thoughts were worthless.

Continued after breakfast towards Calicut. At Kunamkulam, un-thinkable happened. A deadly red box carrying people, with no brake lights stopped abruptly in front of me. I was busy looking for correct road to follow (numerous diversions) and my reverie was broken by a loud thud. To my horror, I had managed to damage my Linea. An altercation ensued, but I knew it was not going to go anywhere. So after letting my blood boil for a few seconds, I resumed. On first inspection, the damage looked quite superficial, so decided to continue. Car did not show any signs of problems so decided to continue the trip.

Five Days - Kochi - Kalpeta - Kodaikanal - Valparai - Kochi-img_0878_1.jpg

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After crossing Calicut bye-pass, ghats started almost immediately. Nine hair pin bends only. The drive was scenic and enjoyable, yet with a lump in my throat. Stopped for lunch at Waynad gate. Time was 1400 so had called up the resort people to not prepare lunch for us. The restaurant where we had lunch, had a nice flower nursery.

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After lunch, started towards Kalpeta and reached the resort by 1530. Checked in to the tree house immediately. The manager was quite friendly and on enquiring, took me to a Maruti repair shop close by. Guys there looked at the damage and suggested to get it done through insurance as they rightly, they did not have broken clips etc... After talking to mechanics, decided to continue the full trip rather than canceling it. Some snaps from resort.

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Last edited by NutsNBolts : 22nd May 2010 at 09:08.
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Old 22nd May 2010, 09:23   #3
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@Kapil - If I read it right, you've a Linea right? But why did you go to Maruti A.S.S?
Resort looks awesome; could you share location & name of the resort? Was that expensive?
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Old 22nd May 2010, 09:29   #4
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@aargee. It was not an authorised Maruti A.S.S. Went there in hope of getting the bumper fixed. Resort is Sunbird Garden resort. Details here Sunbird Garden Resort
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Old 22nd May 2010, 09:35   #5
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@Kapil - Tariff looks expensive, but the complimentary breakfast & dinner sounds good & the Nadan Sadhya for 150 buck (if unlimited) is also OK. But I'm glad that you should've enjoyed your stay there. Looks very beautiful. Really, I feel like staying in tree house & cottage and this is at Kalpeta right?
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Old 22nd May 2010, 09:50   #6
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@aargee. It is between Kalpeta and Sultan Battery. Seven kilometers short of Sultan Battery actually. Tariffs of most resorts in this area are on similar benchmark. Since it is inclusive of food, I found it to be alright, as hunting for good restaurant in this region can be a nightmare. Food in the resort was sumptuous to say the least.
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Old 22nd May 2010, 10:21   #7
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Vital Stats:

Kochi to Kalpeta

Distance: 323 km
Time taken : Eight hours including various stops for sight seeing, breakfast, lunch.
FE : 15.2 km/l

Woke up in the morning to soak up the nature all around with variety of bird calls. Elephant mountain in the distance was covered with clouds. Temperature outside was quite pleasant and the rain last night made the chill factor go up a little. Our tree house was surrounded by palm and jack fruit trees.

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A quick breakfast and we were out for sight seeing. First stop was Edakal caves. At the entry spot, entry for cars is stopped and you can make the 1.5km climb either in a jeep or on foot. Decided to walk up the climb.

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A point comes where even jeeps can't go further and you have to climb about 500 - 700 meters of steep rock using built in steps. Problem was heavy crowds causing jams with no control over ascending/descending groups. At the top, view is just too good. I had carried only the mobile camera to top so photo quality is not what I would call great. Caves themselves have at least three distinct sets of petroglyphs, the earliest thought to date back over 5000 years. It is thought that these caves were inhabited by tribals at various stages in history.

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Old 22nd May 2010, 10:36   #8
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By the time we finished Edakal caves, it was already 2pm. Rushed to the resort for a sumptuous lunch and headed towards Mathunga Wildlife sanctuary. The sanctuary works from 7AM to 10AM and then 3PM to 5PM. We reached there by 3:30PM and looked at the huge crowds forming long queues.

You can't take your vehicle inside unless it is a gypsy/jeep/qualis/sumo. Bigger SUVs are not permitted. You have to stand in two queues; first to get your name registered and then second queue to make payment (heights of red tape). The queues were too long and by 4PM, no official was there to make the bookings. We were told that bookings were stopped to clear the heavy rush. We had to turn back.

Decided to drive on the Waynad-Mysore highway. It is a beautiful stretch of pure driving pleasure. We were driving slowly behind a jeep and soon found a group of cars stopped. We were looking at two elephants. Grazing and wildly shaking their heads. A great chance encounter; probably a reward for not going to the sanctuary. On the return leg, I filmed the drive on my handycam. Videos are high def and am not able to upload. Will have to find a way to reduce their size and then upload. On the return leg, we sighted a group of spotted deers crossing the road. Our day was made.

Five Days - Kochi - Kalpeta - Kodaikanal - Valparai - Kochi-img_0932.jpg

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Five Days - Kochi - Kalpeta - Kodaikanal - Valparai - Kochi-img_0940.jpg
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Old 22nd May 2010, 13:04   #9
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good one kapil . sorry for your linea.

OT - Im in Kochi now and let me know in case any T-bhp meets are there...
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Old 22nd May 2010, 17:00   #10
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@soccerfan. Thanks man. No idea whatsoever about TBHP meet in Kochi.
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Old 22nd May 2010, 17:32   #11
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Default Day 3

On 17 May, plan was to start towards Kodai. Route was via Nilambur, Manjeri, Palakkad, Pollachi and Palani. So after breakfast and saying good bye to staff at Sun Bird Garden Resort, we were on our way. Filled up petrol from Sultan Battery and took road towards Gudulur. Upto Nilambur, the road passes through tea estates and is an absolute delight to drive on. At Pandalur, road you have to turn towards Nilambur. If you continue straight, you can go to Gudalur and then to Ooty.

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Joined NH212 at Perinthelmana and jumped into chaos of heavy traffic. From there to Palakkad, was always in heavy traffic. Just before hitting Palakkad, managed to site the bye pass and went for it. It was the worst highway class road I have ever seen. Looked like it was as if pavements had been tarred with huge concrete slabs popping from underneath.

A look at the watch had me worried as we were pretty slow and I did not want to negotiate ghat climbing of Kodai in dark. From Palakkad to Palani, drove at constant 110 kmph and was at the bottom of ghat climb by 1900. It looked like I had to negotiate the climb in dark with a damaged headlight (whose functioning I had not checked till now). Switched on headlights, and to my relief found it working proper. By the time I started negotiating hairpin bends, it was completely dark. Got into slower mode with high beam and fog lamps burning bright. Traffic was sparse, but whatever was there, was in the form of huge buses. You have to stop to let them pass and hope they don't brush your sides.

This is the gpx file for the Kalpeta - Kodai route:

to kodai.gpx

By the time we finally checked in at the Kodai Resort Hotel, right at the entrance to Coaker's Walk, it was 2045. Tired as I was, decided to take dinner and hit the bed.
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Old 22nd May 2010, 17:38   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NutsNBolts View Post
Since it is inclusive of food, I found it to be alright, as hunting for good restaurant in this region can be a nightmare. Food in the resort was sumptuous to say the least.
You're right & I would've booked in the same resort, if I were you too.

I agree, forming 2 queue's are the height of beaurocracy; but then I would slightly agree when it comes to that because to let alone the animals live in peace.
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Old 22nd May 2010, 17:41   #13
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Yes aargee, environment protection must be top most. But if you see the jeeps they use to transport people inside, you will start doubting the intent. Crowds must be controlled, so no regrets on missing the entry to sanctuary.
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Old 22nd May 2010, 18:49   #14
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Hi NutsNBolts, nice log.
I am all eyes, all the legs are eqqually beautiful and green.
Waiting for all the pictures coming up.
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Old 22nd May 2010, 23:18   #15
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NutsNBolts, Just a correction. I think the NH at Perinthalmanna is NH213 and not NH212. But I do agree that its very crowded! That must have been an amazing drive though.

If you stayed next to Coaker's walk, it must be Villa Retreat !

Also a curios question for all:

How is the route to Kodai via CBE instead of Palakkad? That is : Kalpetta -> Nilambur -> Gudalur -> Ooty -> CBE -> Pollachi ?

Last edited by ampere : 22nd May 2010 at 23:22.
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