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Old 10th August 2019, 23:56   #1
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Default Vagamon Diaries: A Thrilling Endeavour

Oh, an adventure it was! Completely unexpected, but a fusion of sights, cuisine, amusement and thrill. This expedition unleashed the inner hellion out of all us; prolong coarse roads, flourishing verdant foliage and flora, misty woods, vast expanses of tea orchards, sizzling barbecue and campfire, a plethora of sightseeing havens and an off-road endeavour (quite literally); it was an adventure alright! Vagamon, also known as the Scotland of Asia, was on our bucket-list as a mountaintop oasis ever since our trip to Munnar two years back. A few blogs and videos were suffice to catch the eye, we started looking for holiday destinations and resorts. After some research, we decided to stay at the “GreenHill Estate” resorts. Post some discourse, we decided to spend three days in Vagamon and I was given the task of drafting the plan.

I have passed my sweet sixteen with flying colors and I go to high school to do the same. I take interest in photographing, blogging and sharing my adventures; and here is an all new adventure brought to you by yours truly.


THE PLAN

The gang assembles at Thirumangalam on the morning of 26th July 2019 at about 7 am.
• From Thirumangalam, we will travel to Vagamon via Theni and Kumily.
• We reach our resort before evening at around 3 pm; we will spend the rest of the day at the resort.
• The next day, go sightseeing to several tourist attractions in Vagamon.
• We return back to the resort before it gets dark.
• On the third day, we have breakfast and check out.

*Well of course, nothing went according to plan*

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THE CARS

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THE CREW

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Old 11th August 2019, 16:23   #2
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DAY 1 [En route à Vagamon]

Our voyage commenced on the dusk of 26th July 2019, at Madurai.

A few of us gathered at Madurai and we had our breakfast there. Chow was composed of an all-you-can-eat tiffin setup consisting of freshly cooked homemade idlis, sambar, duo-variety chutney and country style chicken curry. After breakfast, we left Madurai en route to Theni where the rest of the crew will join. As opposed to the original plan, the rendezvous point was shifted from Thirumangalam to Theni. The ride along NH85 was smooth and pleasant although quite crowded, and we reached Theni soon enough. At Theni, we shuffled from NH85 to NH183. The scene painted the picture of two cars travelling along a stretched expanse of asphalt surrounded by silhouettes of teal mountains at the horizon. A few small shops occasionally, but quite in destitute other than that. We covered some distance along the road, before we halted near a tea stall somewhere between Theni and Kumily. Tea and snacks were served; we bought more morsels to fill our bellies along the way. We waited for a bit, before another car joined in, and we had got confirmation that the last car was about to join us in Kumily.

When we reached Kumily, it was about lunchtime. We had to enter the town which was very slow and crowded. Not much later, we found a restaurant, which had a parking area to our relief. Many ordered for Kerala-style meals, which consisted of white rice and a variety of sides. Some also ordered for the classic – chicken biriyani; although the chicken tasted like fish. Fries and curries of lake fishes were also served. It had been over an hour and even half the crew had completed shopping before the last car showed up. Once everybody had gathered, we left Kumily and versed on the way to Vagamon via some road which was claimed by Google Maps to be the shortest. It was a narrow and thrilling route but spectacularly scenic. The four cars steadily advanced along the dark tar road, encompassed by lush blooming foliage and dynamic oyster sky. We stopped by the road at a place with a shallow valley, and a small stream flowing through it. We captured some beautiful landscapes and some profile-picture worthy portraits.

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After clicking some pictures and dipping our feet in the ice-cold water of the brook, we continued on our way to our resort. We got delayed at Kumily and hence we were already running late. It took a long time to reach the Vagamon town, and we still had a long way to go to get to our resort. After a point, the road became really rough and that ten kilometers of trail took ages to cover. Once we had reached the resort, it was already post evening.

The resort was surrounded by beautiful hills with a serene atmosphere, tea gardens and cardamom plantations. It presented a view of acres of tea estates on one side; and dark, foggy forests on the other. The resort has two five-bedroom villas, a few small cottages, a restaurant and reception, a swimming pool, a basketball court and a children’s park. The resort in one word could be described as “stunning”. We completely booked all five bedrooms of the Green Villa which is one of the two five-bedroom villas. The view from the villa was sensational and breathtaking. Words or pictures can’t fully describe the beauty of this hilltop view.

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Before nightfall, we set up a campfire at the park and grilled barbecue; we had a lot of fun! A huge stereo speaker was brought, and everyone danced to music around the campfire. That night was one to remember.

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It was late night before we had to put out the campfire, and we proceeded to the restaurant for dinner. A mouth-watering buffet of appetizers, mains and desserts were laid on the table. Salads and fruits for appetizers, and main dishes consisted of paratha, ghee rice, dal and ginger chicken. Everyone ate to heart’s content, or well beyond. Three vanilla cups per person was sufficient to qualify as desserts. Back at the room, the kids were playing various indoor games till midnight.

Either the beds were so soft or we were extremely exhausted, everyone slept like a koala. The first day went like a charm, and everyone were psyched for the next day to come.

Last edited by Onyx Panther : 11th August 2019 at 16:56.
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Old 11th August 2019, 16:55   #3
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DAY 2 [Vagamon Sight-seeing]

It was the crack of dawn when most of us woke up, and we were sipping hot tea above the clouds as the sun rose at the distance. Everyone freshened up and made their way to the restaurant for breakfast. The breakfast buffet menu was so diverse that everybody had what they liked. From bread, jam and butter to poori and uttapam, vegetable gravy and sambar; the choices were so many in number. Freshly cooked omelets were also served. Once we were done with breakfast, we got on our cars and rode downhill. Setting up Android Auto, the first place we were planning to visit was the Vagamon Meadows. It wasn’t that far off and most of the other places we were planning on visiting were somewhere nearby the meadows. Along the way to the venue, we discovered some jaw-dropping sceneries.

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Vagamon Meadows, also called Mottakunnu, in my description would be a cluster of tiny hills similar to Scottish grasslands and are perfect for picnics. Apparently, it was quite a tourist spot since it was surrounded by numerous kiosks selling chocolates, tea and other souvenirs. At the top, it would be like anyone would picture; many other perfectly velvet green hills stretching out of sight. The spot proved to be an excellent location for more portraits.

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We grabbed some pickled mangoes from the stalls and drove over to the Vagamon Pine Forest. The Pine Forest is a valley encompassing acres of lofty pine trees that grow on the slopes. When we reached there, we had to down an alley surrounded by a lot of shops. The pine forest radiated an ethereal feeling, as we walked along the stone laid path. We couldn’t resist spooking the kids by depicting slender-man tales, and how he would appear, tall and thin in the dark and misty pine forest.

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The Hi-tech Bull Mother Farm was nearby the forest and there was an ice cream parlor just outside the entrance. Each of us had an ice cream of choice, and they were delish. We set up Google Maps towards Thangalpara, where we decided to go to before lunch. The navigation took us to some place beyond Thangalpara; however, it proved out to be a really scenic view point. The view point was at the cliff of a lofty mountain peering down upon the valley beneath. It was an excellent spot to take some amazing shots.

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On the way back to Vagamon town, and quite nearby, the entrance of Thangalpara showed up. We decided to just look it up since it was nearby although it was beyond lunchtime. People climbed up a rock that rose to quite some height, and the views got more breathtaking as we progressed higher. We went to the base of the rock and took some pictures. Some of us went even higher, and those who did not come up really did miss a beautiful sight.

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We did not climb all the way up, and we spent very little time in Thangalpara since all our bellies were rumbling. We rushed off to Vagamon town, and had lunch in this pretty crowded restaurant called “Green Line Restaurant”. Everybody ordered what they wanted and we all had a hearty and heavy lunch. We only had two places left on our list, Kurisumala and Vagamon Lake. We made our way to Kurisumala and two cars got lost along the way. But once we made it to the foot of the mountain, we found out that we have to climb all the way up to reach the Kurisumala church.

Since we just had lunch, many decided not to climb. However, some of us started climbing, especially the enthusiastic kids. As we made it up, it got pretty tiring, but once we made it to the top, the view was sensational. There was a well at the top from which we quenched our thirst with pure cold spring water. Getting downhill was easier than expected, although the whole trip uphill and back took nearly two whole hours.

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By the time we got back, it was late and it was getting dark and so we had to cancel the Vagamon Boating plans. We got back to the resort, pretty exhausted but amazed at the sights we had witnessed. To spend time, many of the kids went to play indoor games like table tennis and carrom and some even played football along the pavement. But many others went to rest since it was a very energetic day. Dinner was served at the restaurant, yet another buffet. Food included paratha, vegetable fried rice, gobi manchurain and country style chicken gravy, and payasam for dessert. After dinner, most of us went to sleep since we had yet another change of plan.
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Old 11th August 2019, 17:09   #4
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DAY 3 [Off-road Endeavour]

Once again, contrary to the initial plan, we decided to go off-roading along the Uluppuni Trails and forests drives. We hired two jeeps and took our own Ford Endeavour. After breakfast, which was the same as the previous day’s, everyone got on one of the vehicles. I mounted my GoPro on the Endeavour to record the off-road drive. The first place we rode to was the top of small hill which had a good view.

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The way down the hill was muddy and intense; the off-road experience was amazing, locking wheels and climbing rocks. The people in the jeep behind claimed they saw one wheel in the air while the others were locked, how cool is that! After that, we made way through some narrow country road to yet another hill but one which a car couldn’t climb since it was too steep. So we had to walk our way to the top. From the base, it didn’t look that difficult but once we started making our way up, there was no stopping since the slope was too steep. It took quite some effort to get to the top, but the all the effort paid off since the view from the top was once again, amazing.

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Climbing down was more frightening than climbing up, but once we came down halfway, the slope was relatively less steep. From here, we drove down a narrow jungle road surrounded by grass and shrubs. We came deep into the forest and we stopped to notice the various plants that grow here such as cocoa, which was grown in large numbers. We also saw a tree house on the route.

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We parked the car next to a tree near to yet another view point and ventured on the two jeeps since the route was a pretty difficult one to cross.

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The view point looked upon a distant lake and some island floating in the middle. The whole place was surrounded by grass and we were high above the clouds.

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From here, we went through some rocky terrain and reached a waterfall. I decided to try various effects created by altering the shutter-speed in my camera and I got some smooth silky flowing water shots as well as some frozen-in-time water shots.

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It was afternoon by the time we returned to the resort, so we quickly packed up, took our cars and headed back to Theni, where our adventure was to come to a close. The navigation showed a new route and we were headed to Cumbum. This route was very scenic as well but all of us were extremely hungry and we had to stop by a small deserted restaurant and everyone had Kerala meals along with fried fishes. The trip to Cumbum was long but it was relatively shorter and easier as compared to the route through which we came to the resort.

Somewhere between Cumbum and Theni, we stopped near a tea shop. We all had the last tea for the trip and waived our adieus. Four cars parted to four ways and our journey had come to an end. Those three days had been action-packed and turned out way more adventurous than we had initially planned. This would be one vacation which all of us would probably never forget, and I just got a new story to tell everyone.

Onyx Panther, signing off.
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Old 11th August 2019, 18:13   #5
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 11th August 2019, 21:32   #6
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Sweet travelogue. Your photographic skills are developing nice. I had plans to visit Vagamon this August but the news of heavy downpours, land slides and loss of connectivity made me drop my plans. I guess you were one of the lucky ones visited just before the heavens broke loose.
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Old 11th August 2019, 23:47   #7
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I'm stumped by your writing skills! Awesome!

Keep it going..
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Old 12th August 2019, 17:20   #8
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Vagamon had always been in my list, this write up has increased that itch wonderful photos and amazing writing skills
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Old 12th August 2019, 19:17   #9
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Great travelogue and those are some amazing photos! Been planning a Kerala for quite some time but no success so far. Thanks to you, this place in now in the list. Will try at the end of the year. But Kolli Hills before this.
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Old 13th August 2019, 17:13   #10
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Very well written and inspiring travelogue with all relevant details. The photos are mesmerizing. Keep it up dear brother.
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Old 19th August 2019, 21:45   #11
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This is an amazing travelogue. The beautiful photos augment the wonderful command of your English writing. I enjoyed reading every bit of it.

Ford Endeavour is my dream car. I have no doubt about its capabilities.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Onyx Panther View Post
DAY 1 [En route à Vagamon]

Before nightfall, we set up a campfire at the park and grilled barbecue; we had a lot of fun! A huge stereo speaker was brought, and everyone danced to music around the campfire. That night was one to remember.
Off topic:
I read this travelogue almost a week ago. I refrained from raising this doubt till now as I did not want to hijack this beautiful thread.

Pardon me for pointing this here. It stood like a sore patch in this otherwise beautiful travelogue. So, I need a clarification from fellow BHPians.

With due respect to OP, I just want to know (from fellow BHPians) if it is appropriate to play loud music in tourist places, especially forest/hill station with wild animals (and local people) around? Being considerate to those around vs enjoying the few days of vacation?

I do not even play music in my car when entering forest/ghat section to not disturb wildlife, peacefully enjoy the surroundings and to listen to the sounds of nature.

Do you personally do this or support playing loud music around campfire? What is the general consensus of BHPians in this regard?
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Old 24th August 2019, 15:09   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arwin07 View Post
This is an amazing travelogue. The beautiful photos augment the wonderful command of your English writing. I enjoyed reading every bit of it.

Ford Endeavour is my dream car. I have no doubt about its capabilities.



Off topic:
I read this travelogue almost a week ago. I refrained from raising this doubt till now as I did not want to hijack this beautiful thread.

Pardon me for pointing this here. It stood like a sore patch in this otherwise beautiful travelogue. So, I need a clarification from fellow BHPians.

With due respect to OP, I just want to know (from fellow BHPians) if it is appropriate to play loud music in tourist places, especially forest/hill station with wild animals (and local people) around? Being considerate to those around vs enjoying the few days of vacation?

I do not even play music in my car when entering forest/ghat section to not disturb wildlife, peacefully enjoy the surroundings and to listen to the sounds of nature.

Do you personally do this or support playing loud music around campfire? What is the general consensus of BHPians in this regard?
Thanks a lot!

With reference to the loud music, I do understand your viewpoint on how it affects the environment, especially in these hilly and mountainous forest regions. However, the resort we stayed at owned acres of land covered with tea plantations and we did take prior permission from the resort before setting up the campfire and music. We are group of several families and we come together every year for vacations, so generally we tend to visit various beautiful locations around the country. Barbecue, campfire and music are some traditional things we do one night every year. However, I do agree with you in this regards.
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Old 24th August 2019, 15:10   #13
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Default Re: Vagamon Diaries: A Thrilling Endeavour

Here is a video of the off-road drive along the Uluppuni Trails.
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