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Old 18th July 2022, 11:10   #1
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Default Chasing the summer showers around Theni and Thekkady

We are in the midst of magical monsoons. Its a gods gift to our country which no other place in the world can boast off. There are so many magical moments associated with the rains - rain clouds in various shapes and shades of grey, lush greenery, overflowing rivers and streams, gurgling waterfalls. The entire country rejuvenates and wears the look of a young bride/groom just before their wedding, aptly captured by the mood of this song. I think this is one of the most underrated gem of Lata overshadowed by the Kishore's version.


(courtesy: youtube)

The beauty and charm of monsoons gets even more glorified through the eyes of a poet or a writer. The novels and poems of Kuvempu set in Malenadu region are my favorites.

Next best thing would be to enjoy the travelogues of those lucky bhpians who bring the monsoon experiences to our favorite screens. Reading these travelogues in rain drenched balconies with hot 'n spicy maggie noodles or bajji-pakodas are just as heavenly as actually being in the thick of action somewhere in Western Ghats region.

These thoughts have inspired me to finally shrug off my procrastinating mood and jot down few things about our last trip.
Though we didn't do a monsoon trip oer se, but it was actually a summer trip to the hills, but unexpectedly, the pre-monsoon showers chased us wherever we went, giving a feel of forthcoming monsoon vibes. These unexpected encounters make our experiences more enjoyable and memorable. The title of this travelogue is inspired by another favorite monsoon book of mine Chasing the monsoon.

Rant alert !
Sometime in March this year, somehow I started feeling restless that we are not doing as many road trips as we wish to, probably a welcome or unwelcome side effect of being a budding bhpian. Though it was just last December, we had been to Karwar https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...karnataka.html (Beaches of Uttara Kannada district - The best kept secret of Karnataka) , these three months that passed seemed like ages ago. So I made plans and reservations to do road trips every alternate weekends in April and May to make the best use of my daughter's school holidays. But as the saying goes - Man proposes, God disposes. But actually He didnt dispose the plans outright, but He transpired it in different ways than I had planned, so I shouldnt be complaining rather be grateful to whatever transpired. Hopefully it will be captured in my next travelogue which is still lying in the assembly line. Meantime, I thought I will just put some effort to bring out this travelogue in the interim.

It was getting hotter in Bangalore by April beginning, especially in concrete jungles of Whitefield. Planning summer trips during this time is like a double edged sword. On one hand, we are itching to go somewhere and on the other hand Karnataka doesn't have a proper high altitude hill station like Kodai or Ooty to cool off and beat the summer heat. The usual suspects Coorg, Chikmagalur, Sakleshpur will be overcrowded and these days weather in these places will not be that different from Bangalore. Other popular hill stations within comfortable driving distances in neighboring states, Kodai, Ooty, Munnar have been done and dusted few times already.

Left with no better options, eventually settled on our so called family favorite destination to Theni region and nearby Thekkady 'hill station'. The advantage with Theni is that we have access to our relatives places at the foothills of Kodai near Batlagundu. We are never bored of visiting this place (A staycation amidst the hills of Tamil Nadu) anytime of the year. Though these places were expected to be hotter than Bangalore, my family members reluctantly agreed to do a quick trip for a change from our routine daily life. So there was not much expectation from this trip assuming it will be hot and humid coupled with crowds due to school holidays everywhere.

Last edited by mankuthimma : 31st July 2022 at 21:30.
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Old 18th July 2022, 12:39   #2
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Default Re: Chasing the summer showers around Theni and Thekkady

So off we started one fine weekend morning in April. Early morning comfortable weather set the tone for a good start for the journey. Took our usual Chikka Tirupati route to join Hosur highway.

Nowadays our defacto pitstop for a fuss-free breakfast has been Murugan Idli. Fuss free because they have an excellent crowd management in place unlike other popular eateries in this stretch where we have to push, pull and jostle to have our plate of tiffin. Excellent parking space, clean toilets, good food and courteous staff - what more is needed !

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The traffic on the highway eased out after the branch off to Chennai Highway where the majority of weekenders seemed headed to. Soon we crossed Salem making a note that we need to stop at Aasai-Dosai atleast this time for lunch during the return journey. Usually, the Rasipuram - Dindigul stretch is my favorite and peaceful section of the highway - flat roads, occasional or almost nil traffic - one can engage cruise control at 100 kmph for longer stretches and cruise comfortably. But this time, there were few places where flyover construction was in progress, roads blocked, deviated to service roads, which was quite baffling to think about the need for such flyovers in this part of the highway.

As the journey progressed, mercury levels started rising. The AC which is quite chill for Bangalore weather, was struggling hard to keep the cabin cool in the wake of searing heat radiating from all directions. Lower AC levels resulted louder fan speeds, fancy UV cut glasses, window blinds, nothing was helpful so much so that wife started suspecting the car has serious issues with AC. She was even suggesting a quick checkup at any Kia workshop on the highway.

For lunch, I thought we will stop at A2B, Karur, a small deviation from the highway. But A2B is bang in the town centre and parking was a challenge. Father-in-law suggested a small eatery at the entrance of Karur Textile Park on the other side of the highway, Sumathy Restaurant We could feel the dry heat the moment we stepped out of the car. They had an option for indoor or outdoor seating. Indoor was like a oven, outdoor was slightly better, but still hot. Somehow managed to have a decent lunch in challenging weather conditions. Apart from the heat, this place makes for a good spot for a lunch break, just beside the highway, typical Tamil Nadu sapaad served with love and humility, a hallmark of Tamil Nadu interior regions.

While we were having our lunch, the car took some rest under the shelter of a lone tree shade. Now the AC was again effective, not optimum, but comfortable. So lesson learnt that even car needs some rest in this summer heat and we need to have small breaks in between. But the downside of highways nowadays is the lack of tree cover along the roads. Still managed to break at few places as we progressed.

The scene dramatically changed the moment we started approaching Dindigul and deviated towards Kodai road. There was good amount of cloud cover, roads were wet, small puddles along the road, giving the first indication and hope that it is not all that bad over here.

Roads are butter smooth as always in these 2-lane roads, but the yellow rumbling strips were irritating and they were occurring way too frequent. We were once again to happy to see the Kodai range of hills appearing in the distance, typical sights and smell of TN rural landscape, rolled our windows down and starting feeling the cool breeze, a stark contrast to the heat waves just few hours back.

Finally turned right into the Kodai Ghat road. As usual, the winding tamarind tree lined roads are like stairway to heaven. The very first ritual on this road is the customary stop for the tender coconut.
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While sipping the tender coconut, the shopkeeper gave us the unexpectedly lovely news that it has been raining very heavily every afternoon with strong winds!! It was a pleasant surprise after all the apprehensions about the hot-humid climate that we were expecting.

Usually this spot makes for a pretty picture with its greenery and the background, but the effect of dry weather was evident
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Finally we reached our relatives place at the foothills of Kodai. We dont have to go up the Kodai ghat sections. Notice the outside temperature is cool 24 degrees !!
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Our car resting at the destination after all the huffing-puffing on the highway.
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Soon, dark clouds started looming with loud thunders and lightning, it rained heavily with gale like winds, typical summer pre-monsoon showers. It appeared as though the rain gods are providing a grand welcome for us.
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Next few days were spent doing nothing in particular. The days remained pleasant through out with intermittent rains and drizzles. There was no hint of summer heat.

It is interesting to observe how the kids mentality changes once they are outdoors. Our daughter, just like any other urban kid, who thinks the only way to pass a free time is sitting in front of idiot box, found much more better ways to spend her time here, engaging with people, lending helping hand for homely chores, gardening, appreciating the surrounding etc This time she is grown up enough to handle a DSLR, started exploring her creative side with photographic skills. Some of her mundane shots too got me admiring, that photography lies in the eye of the beholder than any other technical 'skills'

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And she made few friends too..
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Last edited by mankuthimma : 31st July 2022 at 21:30.
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Old 31st July 2022, 14:36   #3
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Default Re: Chasing the summer showers around Theni and Thekkady

Whenever on a holiday, I will never miss to witness the riot of colors during dusk and dawn, when the sun god carries out a procession during sunrise and sunset, the most beautiful things in this world! Every passing moment is just magical and surreall. It is just divine. DVG, the famous Kannada poet says,- if you want to believe in God, just look at the nature!

My general tendency would be to look through the camera eyes first to create a 'photographic memory', but this time I was determined not to succumb to this urge, but to experience and admire the beauty through my senses first. It was just irresistible not to pickup the camera and click these shots. Of course, the camera cannot capture such beautiful moments. But you can imagine that the reality was 1000 times more awesome than these pictures.

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Tried out few long time exposure shots, with some jugaad since there was no tripod. Not perfect, but I was happy with the outcome.
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Last edited by mankuthimma : 31st July 2022 at 21:35.
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Old 31st July 2022, 15:18   #4
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Default Re: Chasing the summer showers around Theni and Thekkady

Country side drive and a visit to grape farm

It was grape harvest season around Theni and Cumbum. I wanted to drive on the interior rural roads and visit some farm on the way. The interior roads are also well kept and offer best rural vistas, I never miss an opportunity to drive on such roads whenever I visit this region. I am so fascinated by the towns and villages like Devadanapatti, Gengavarpatti, Periyakulam, Theni etc and driving around them is always my most cherished pleasure.

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The black grapes in this region have a unique 'paneer water' flavor . It was so awesome we visited this farm twice during our stay to bring back loads of this grapes to Bangalore. It turned out the farm owners were originally from Karnataka, had a nice conversation with them. The thick farm fresh grape juice they offered was fantastic !


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A farm getting prepared for cultivation after the overnight summer rains. The ground soil was moist and very soft.

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Last edited by mankuthimma : 31st July 2022 at 20:46.
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Old 31st July 2022, 15:41   #5
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Default Re: Chasing the summer showers around Theni and Thekkady

Thekkady episode:

It is always a pleasure to drive on NH-183 passing through some of the scenic landscapes
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Sky was overcast giving us hope that it would be a cool stay unlike the hot and humid summer we had imagined before starting from Bangalore.
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Soon we were at border of Kerala. A short ghat section and immediately we enter the town of Kumily/Thekkady.
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Thekkady welcomed us with rains giving us the monsoon vibes that is so much associated with Kerala. The resort atmosphere itself was perfect to experience the monsoon vibes. Photos courtesy the budding photographer who by now had become a pro operating the DSLR.
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One of the days, visited the Spice Village resort by CGH Earth for authentic Kerala lunch. The hospitable staff, the rustic ambience and the authentic food they served, everything was oozing elegance. Most recommended place to experience the kind of atmosphere they have created inside. We were so blown away, came here again for breakfast and lunch.
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Old 31st July 2022, 16:28   #6
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Now for the things to do in Thekkady, I was wary of doing any touristy things, instead I had done my own research and had planned few scenic drives Thekkady, Kuttikanam, Vagamon and even towards Munnar, with stopovers at homestays enroute for food breaks.
But during a casual walk around the resort, a jeep driver came to us and explained where all he can take us. He was a local, earnest, genuine, didnt seem like a tourist trap. I was skeptical about the photographs of the locations he was showing. Somehow my family members didnt want to disappoint him, preferred to go with him than with my plan. Reluctantly I forego my desire of driving around, instead, decided to just sit back and enjoy the drive.

First day, he took us around Sathram mountain ranges.
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We also visited the holy Subramanya Swamy temple from which the ancient traditional trekking path to Sabarimala starts. It was a very beautiful serene location. I didnt feel like taking photos at all.

It was surprising to see the the lush greenery and cool climate even during the peak of summer. Only a jeep could have taken us to these places. Had I gone on a drive, I would have just driven on the highways and would have totally missed out such landscapes. Lesson learnt - surprising things awaits us in the most unexpected ways. It didnt hurt to let go of my ego and go with the flow!

Last edited by mankuthimma : 31st July 2022 at 19:53.
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Old 31st July 2022, 17:46   #7
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Default Re: Chasing the summer showers around Theni and Thekkady

The famed Thekkady boat ride was wonderful time spent in the evening enjoying the various vistas around the lake. Luckily we got the first row in the upper deck providing uninterrupted views during the ride.

Compared to my last visit to Thekkady boating several years back, which was very very chaotic, it was surprising to see the orderliness and streamlining of the entire process by Kerala Forest Department this time. Most of the tourists were local Keralite families and a handful of outsiders like us. The holiday season had not started yet as I had feared before the trip.

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Wildlife sighting was minimal owing to rains
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Old 31st July 2022, 17:51   #8
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Default Re: Chasing the summer showers around Theni and Thekkady

By now, our jeep driver had won our hearts with his pleasant nature. Next day, he offered to take us on a day long drive through forests in Sabarimala mountain range. This was a fantastic way of celebrating my birthday too.

The early morning drive was very nice passing through sights and smells of sleepy villages waking upto warm sunshine after overnight rains.
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We came across this valley filled with full of mist which our driver too was pleasantly surprised to see such a sight at this location that too in this summer season. It was as though we were witnessing snow peaked Himalayan mountains right here in Kerala. Again I am saying, the camera cannot capture the beauty we witnessed. It was breathtaking !!

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Our young photographer absorbed in action ! The winding Kumily-Kottayam highway was just lovely !
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Breakfast stop at Mariya Restuarant soaking up these kind of views. Authentic kerala breakfast - appam, kallappam, parotta, kadala curry - served with love and humility. I devoured as though I have been starving for days!

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After a long beautiful journey, reached the ticket counter for Gavi tour. This is a one way circult passing through pristine jungles and mountain ranges. The route passes through 5-6 mini dams and reservoirs along the way. The entire circuit was just exotic !
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We start with Angamoozhy Bowl Boat Ride. Surprisingly the boat man could converse in good English! It is afterall Kerala right ??
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Last edited by mankuthimma : 31st July 2022 at 20:06.
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Old 31st July 2022, 18:23   #9
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Default Re: Chasing the summer showers around Theni and Thekkady

Thoroughly enjoyed this outing! Here is the unedited footage of the entire drive. Let the pictures do the talking.

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A fantastic lunch at a humble canteen on the way.
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The only indication of civilization in this region
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Last edited by mankuthimma : 31st July 2022 at 20:11.
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Old 31st July 2022, 18:45   #10
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Rains started pounding heavily! We have heard so much about magical monsoons in Kerala, but never got to visit during the monsoon period. But here we are experiencing the same magic during summer ! We couldnt ask for more.
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After the rain, everything was looking fresh and green. We couldnt escape the leech bites too - just adds to the monsoon experience
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A stopover for kattan chaya break by the road side
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And some shopping for the Munnar tea without visiting Munnar
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Next day, we had another round of lip-smacking Kerala breakfast at this simple place Hotel Vasant Vihar followed by mandatory shopping for Kerala Nendran bananas, spices ( a suave enterprising and entertaining owner, I must say! ) and the iconic Kerala chips. Thus ended the unexpectedly beautiful pseudo-monsoon outing in Thekkady.

It was Tamil New years day as we entered TN plains. We could witness the festive atmosphere all along the route while travelling back to our base at Kodai foothills. Earlier I had plans of exploring the alternate route to Kodai starting from Kumbakarai Road and also a visit to Sirumalai hills. But I was so brimming with satisfaction with all beautiful moments that we experienced so far, there was no need for more. There is always a next time.

After spending 1-2 days more, we started driving back leisurely towards Bangalore. This time we timed our journey so that we stop at Aasai Dosai, Salem for lunch, a long pending wish. Had a very satisfying meals here.

Later when we entered Chikka Tirupati route to Whitefield, it started raining heavily on the way. We couldnt stop smiliing at our fortunes . It was as though the rain gods not only welcomed us in TN and Kerala, they actually followed us to Bangalore too. We didnt have to chase the summer showers afterall!

A pleasant 28 degrees in Bangalore!
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Thus we ended our pre-monsoon road trip with loads of memories.

Last edited by mankuthimma : 31st July 2022 at 21:28.
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Old 31st July 2022, 22:08   #11
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 1st August 2022, 13:07   #12
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A well written travelogue. Amazing pictures. Feel like dropping everything and follow this trail. Another must-do thing at the top. (This is piling up indeed).

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 1st August 2022, 13:41   #13
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Well written travelogue. One funny thing I noticed in the write-up that "paneer" is mentioned in place of "panneer". Why I mention this because, in many times/ places I have noticed Paneer( Indian Cottage Cheese) is wrongly mentioned as Panneer ( Rose water)in TN( as Panneer is already known here and nowadays Paneer is also sold in many places, this confusion .) But for the first to time I observed the reverse ( Paneer in place of Panneer).
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Old 1st August 2022, 17:15   #14
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Beautiful closeups and landscapes had me glued to the large monitor and here is where desktops have their own charm. Well, full credit to you for taking such nicely angled photos. The combination of dark clouds, greenery, water and mist have been brought out in the best possible way. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 1st August 2022, 19:15   #15
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Default Re: Chasing the summer showers around Theni and Thekkady

Your travelogue is quite detailed and illustrated with beautiful pictures.This will definitely be on my travel list.Hopefully it rains when I visit
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