Udhagamandalam (Ooty)

Day 3 – Part I

Day 3 started pretty early for both of us. We decided to leave early 36bendsso we can finish the Ooty trip and then check out from the resort. We had asked for permission to check out as late as 2 pm so we could complete the trip in peace. The resort owners sweetly obliged.

We left the resort at 6:45 a.m. and the drive was indeed breathtakingly beautiful. The hairpin bends were indeed scary – they are actually known as the 36 Hairpin Bends to Heaven. I wanted to stand and stare – the bends looked lovely and there were very few ppl on the road. You do feel one with the clouds as you go around the hairpin bends. This particlar snap was taken frm one of the bends – I was standing atop the chuntu embankment and took this picture. The actual view is so beautiful that this snap does not do justice to the view.

botanicalgardensThe plan was to visit the Botanical gardens, first. I was not sure if it was even open at this time – it was 7:45 am and everything seemed closed. Also, it was republic day and so I was not sure if as a mark of respect – it may be closed?!! Its amazing wht we realize after reaching our destination!! We needn’t have worried.. the Botanical Gardens was open to public at 8 am – this information was gleaned from the local chai shop from where we had our first chai of the day. While we were discussing if we shd have breakfast and gulping down hot chai/coffee – the chai fella told us to get going to the Botanical gardens. Well, that decided things.  😀

I thought we wud be the first ones but wht do you know – there were so many ppl – most of them taking snaps. We saw this tree that looked oh-so-different that the arien happily took a picture. It was awfully cold and I was shivering inspite of the red jherkin that I was wearing. The sun was slowly making its appearance.

There were so many weird looking trees that totally caught our attention – I bg-difftreethink I wanted to take snaps of all of them but the Arien was not interested. The trees were from all over the world – I saw one from Australia, and another from China, and they all looked so different and the garden had so many different varieties that I really wanted to stand and stare. This was another one of those trees that made me want to stand and stare – it was right next to the entrance and I was surprised we missed it wen we walked in 🙂

My fingers were numb and I think I was hungry b’cos I was slowly turning cranky as we walked around the garden. It was a lllooong walk and it almost seemed never-ending. The Arien wanted to climb a small hill and I told him to go on – I was really not interested in climbing that hill. It was no longer as cold but it was not warm either and I was hungry – the arien came down after a while saying he had no clue where the hill ended and he did not see any other way of coming down and so he returned – he was hungry as well – by then.

fishWe had breakfast at a local saravana bhavan and going by the crowd of irritated ppl – we decided to order the fastest breakfast item namely, Idli Vada 🙂 True to popular notion the idli vada came by pretty quickly and soon we had finished eating and were ready to leave while folks who had come in before us were still sitting (im)patiently. As we walked out of the hotel, I saw this aquarium which had two huge fishes – that looked vaguely familiar. The Arien stated “What Bull – all tht 40k crap at KRS – and here this guy has two of them”. And thts when it hit me – of course, this was the same fish that we saw in Krishnaraja Sagar dam near Mysore,  that supposedly cost the government 40k – and this guy had two of them!! I asked to take a snap of the amazing fish and he smilingly waved me on.. and so here is the pic.

The next stop for the day was the Rose Garden. This was where the Arien lost the temper ‘cos he was not allowed to rosepark in a “Only Government Vehicles Parking allowed” area, by me. He was furious for a looong time 🙂 The rose garden is of course a garden full of amazing roses – you can smell them from a distance but they looked dry and care-worn. There was even a rose named after Jayalalitha. Some of the roses were huge, some were small and they were in so many different colours – so many ppl were posing with the roses tht it was really too much – the arien was of course fuming n so we walked our different ways until we met at the middle of the garden and then decided tht we had seen enuf of the rose garden 🙂 This rose is not the Jayalalitha one but was the biggest one we had seen in Ooty. MIL’s roses are almost always this size and look amazing as well 😀

I wanted to get a Toda Shawl for myself and my mil, and sil. We spent a lot of time, losing our way in the process, walking one way and then the other, to no avail. When we finally found the toda emporium – it was closed on account of Republic Day and I felt sorely cheated. We decided to have a second breakfast while we were at it – hehehehe 😀 I purchased tea for family junta – I mean – everybody who visits ooty buys tea n chocolates and while we saw quite a few chocolate vendors – we were told tht the best was King Star who opened at 11. So we waited till 11:15 and yes – it was obviously the most popular – I spent an amazing half an hour there before I realized tht I had come in to buy chocolates!!! After buying a lot of chocolates – I found that I did not have my purse :O I had to go out of the shop – get my purse frm the car – and then get the chocolates – if the Arien was fuming earlier – he turned furious 🙂

kite1Our next and last visit was to Doddha Betta. I was completely bugged by then – I had no wish to go anywhere and so I sat at a bench that was thoughtfully provided ( I am sure it was for older folks and not for me) but who cares!

Suddenly, the place where I was sitting became xtremely popular because of a cute bird that was seen fluttering in mid-sky. It looked pretty weird – like it had had enough of being pushed arnd (pun unintended) and decided to stand and face the music. Everybody was pointing and staring and for a few awful minutes, I thot they were pointing at me and then I was staring too. The arien took this snap.

By then – I was ready to leave – seriously. There were so many ppl – it was a holiday and I was sure we were late and it was already 1 pm. We had chai and chilli bhajjis – as I was not too sure wen we wud have lunch and the arien has this tendency to become xtremely cranky if a meal is delayed or missed. After that we decided it was high time we left – because there was no way we wud even reach the resort by 2.  When will we check out??!!… Grrr!!! I was worried tht they may charge us for another day – we had not planned for tht – I was totally tense!! The Arien refused to believe that may happen – he can b way to optimistic ’bout things which bugs me a lot!!

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Mudumalai – Day2 Continued..

Did not realize how tired we were after the nature trek… we awoke at 6 pm!!!! The Arien was angry because we were late. I managed to convince him that we were not late and we set off almost immediately. We reached Masinagudi and the Arien insisted on stopping for chai and so we stopped at a local chai shop on the road – tea was bearable – coffee was good and so we were feeling a lot better.

We moved from Mudumalai to Bandipur – no sight of any animal and then we braked hard. All vehicles in front of us were standing still – we were actually able to make out a cute herd of elephants (5 in number with 2 kids) – it was pretty dark and so it is pretty tough to take shots of the herd. I tried – but the snaps came out so bad that it was a wasted effort. We also saw the amazingly easy to spot: the spotted deer !!  I did not want to take snaps and then when we saw too many of them happily sitting, I decided to take a few snaps – they also came out pretty bad – with red eye 😦 Not a photo shoot day for me.. Waaanh :(!!!

While we were returning via Bandipur Checkpost we are given a shocking piece of information “The route to Masinagudi was closed post 8 pm” and it was already 8 pm. It would take us 3 hours if we chose the other route – I was worried! We decided to proceed and see if they would let us pass through. At Mudumalai checkpost, we were given leaflets ’bout driving at 40kmph. While we stared clueless, they told us that majority ppl drive recklessly and usually hit animals attempting to cross the road. If you travel at 40kmph, you can brake when you see a herd trying to cross the road. We nodded. We were asked where we were headed and the moment we mentioned “Masinagudi” – we were given the same information. I was now totally worried. Finally, we reached another checkpost, the guy peered at us and as he let us pass – he told the other guy “Family – Bitbidona” meaning they are a family and so we can allow them. I was looking at the Arien and burst out laughing when he said “Thanks to your presence – we are allowed to go into Masinagudi”.

We finally reached the resort, occupied the best place, asked for a stove to keep us warm, played to Scrabble (yupp – we actually did tht!!), and had a late dinner. By then the Arien was bugged with the lazy holiday we were having – he had already spoken to a few folks regarding travelling to Ooty which we thought was a 3 hr journey. We found out it was a 1 hr journey via the scary 36 hair-pin bends. Soon we were planning our trip to Ooty. End of Day 2!!

Mudumalai: Day 2 and the Nature Trek

Day 2

This year I was determined to be the change that I always wanted. Getting up early is pretty tough for me – I usually like to stay in bed until 8:30 smtms even 10 a.m. This year I was determined to change that. trekbeginning The moment the Alarm went off – I woke up and we were both ready by 7:00 – we had earlier decided against having a bath because that may delay us and we did not want to be late. We reached the cottage where dinner had been served and then started our looong wait. Two gals came by – tried coffee and then tea – were thoroughly unimpressed as we were – n went back – we waited – forever it seemed – and totally lost our patience. The Trek guide arrived at 7:30 but we waited arnd for the huge group to arrive and they did – slowly – in ones and twos.  It was the arbid grp we had seen last nite at the bonfire – they were actually a bunch of married couples and a few single folks.  There was another family, 3 members – a father, mother, and a young son. We finally started out at 8 – I was completely cheesed off and so was the arien who was pretty quick in showing his irritation on the trek guide. While we waited near the trail – the father had disappeared and so we spent sm time observing the scenery.  The trek guide was eager to settle things with us as we were the only tamilians and asked us to chk out a tree with amazing fire-like flowers – while we all stared open-mouthed – the arien shot his first pic of the day 😀

Anyways we were off.  It was a steep incline and I was out of breath in 15 mts 😦 The only casualty was the mother who asked the guide if it was going to continue to be steep – the guide replied that this was only the initial incline and we had a lot more to go – she dropped out. We went on ahead at a steady pace – I did not plan on quitting and so I walked at as brisk a pace as possible in an incline.  We saw the spotted deer on our trek but could not take any snaps as we were arnd 18 ppl and the noise made by the 18  supposedly-tiptoeing ppl is actually louder than a twig breaking and so the deer disappeared frm view 😦

nilgirimountainsWe walked n walked n walked – we came across a waterfall, elephant dung, deer dung, amazingly picturesque locations, and almost came face-to-face with a lone tusker but that happened much later. As we climbed, I sometimes wished the trek would end – I was tired out and then we would see the dung and I would foolishly believe we may come across either more deer or the elusive elephant.

We continued walking…  and then we reached a plateau which was specifically meant for a photo-op and so we used it. You can actually see the Nilgiri mountain at a great distance with the shadow of the other range on it – it looked simply lovely 🙂 I thot we had reached the end of the trek. Well, the trek guide told me we were not done yet. The beeg grp of 14 was happily involved in various photo ops till I was ready to scream. The kid was bugged and actually said wht we 4 were thinking “Not one more snap! Come on!!” The ice was broken between us and the father started on a loong story of a bee biting him and the Arien was the sole listener – the kid had obviously heard the story before and I was trying hard not to glare.

The group of 14 finally stirred and we were off – some more climbing and soon I was weary and before we knew it wemachan were going downhill. My salwar was completely covered in brambles and those teeny circles of thorns that hurt awfully – I was tired of having to pull them out of my salwar so we could move on when suddenly the trek guide went on ahead. He told us to wait and all of us were frankly too tired by then – it was nearing 10:15. He came back running and looked panic stricken. We could also hear a noise that sounded like a huge animal was moving towards us – the trek guide advised to start running the moment he shouted. The sound stopped jes behind a huge clump of bushes and shrubs. None of us were fit enough to run at tht time and so we all stared at each other and laughed. The animal was a lone tusker that was well-hidden but pretty close to where we were and could turn violent. We waited a while hoping 2 catch sight of it – no chance.

We continued walking and saw the electric fence – we were advised not to touch it and then suddenly we saw a machhan. It obviously did not belong to our resort – there was a lot of private property deep in the jungles which was pretty surprising. We happily took pictures of the machan 😀 We are actually standing pretty close to the electric fence that we were not supposed to touch.

We reached the resort at 11 and walked straight into the breakfast area – I was famished. An amazing spread was laid out consisting of Idli, Pongal, Vada, Egg burji, toast, sausage, chicken, and I cannot really remember what else. I think we all hogged quite a bit – pongal was re-filled, toast was made again – I think everyone was famished and so we gorged on the food 😀 By the time we decided tht we had had enough – it was almost 12:30 😦 I was not too sure if we could have lunch at all.

tortoiseWe finally had lunch at 2:45 – it was awful 😦 I really wished we hadn’t come for lunch – the veg biriyani was so spicy – I managed two spoonsfull and decided tht was all I cud handle after five glasses of water 🙂 Most ppl lowe curd rice which was the alternative and I cannot the stand the sight of it n so I decided to have the sweet which was Gulab Jamoon. The chicken biriyani was supposedly ok.  As we walked back to our cottage, I came across this tortoise sunning itself – it was still for so loong tht the Arien believed tht it was probably a small statue placed for our amusement. And then it blinked, the arien missed that and so did not believe me and then it moved its feet and he finally did. He took the snap before the tortoise decided to disappear into the water. We also spotted the friendly fish – bright orange in colour in the water. The Arien was not too interested in taking snaps of the cute fish and so we went back to the cottage. I was looking forward to a siesta 🙂

We opted for our very own safari in the evening. We decided against opting for a safari from the resort and decided to drive down to Bandipur and back. I was hopeful of catching sight of a lot more animals. Fingers crossed!! 🙂 Zzzzzz 🙂

An Anniversary Special – Mudumalai

It was that time of the year….. when we have our anniversary! After having bought our gifts early on – I was not planning on getting surprised – but I was. The Arien surprised me with a trip to Mudumalai.

Day 1

The alarm woke us up at 5 am and for once I did not kick up a fuss 🙂 While I was making coffee and tea, the arien was packing the items which had not been packed last nite. The Arien surprised me with a very funny card, a lovely bouquet – I have no clue how he managed to keep it hidden. I was more than a lil embarrassed b’cos I had not got him a card – I felt a total goof 😦  My mood was restored after I went over his card – I laughed so hard – I had tears in my eyes 😀  We were ready by 6:30 am. However, we were not going to be  starting the journey to Mudumalai so early – we visited the church, dad, my grandmom, his mom – had breakfast of hot pooris with alu palya and started  arnd 11.

I was actually sleepy by the time we started. By the time we reached Kengeri – we had been wished by most of the family members. B’cos we had had a heavy breakfast at 10:30, we were not ready for a major lunch when we reached Kamat – so we settled for the breakfast which they continued to serve arnd lunch time: Idli vada and Maddur vada.

RouteThe route was familiar – we have often travelled on the bangalore-mysore route – the condition of the road was good – lot of folks were travelling towards Mysore or so it seemed – and the arien ripped. I had one of those infamous power naps – I was amazingly recharged when I woke up.  I woke up to the blaring honk of a Honda City whom the arien had overtaken and who was probably cursing us.  We overtook 3 more cars when I told the Arien that I wanted to celebrate the next anniversary with him and so could he please slow down. He responded by going down to 80.. n told me tht it was foolish to go below this on a highway… Grrr… 

The route we took was via Srirangapatnam, Mysore, Nanjangud. We went into Nanjangud  (it was a lil more than a village) to buy some necessities and I was absolutely amazed to see the number of temples all around. This is the last bit of the road that was good 🙂

The drive became extremely boring post Nanjangud – the roads were really bad – the drive can be best summed up as Thud – Thud -Thud -Thud – Screeech – Thud – Screeech – Thud Thud Thud – Screech 😦 We finally reached Bandipur – and saw Jungle Lodges resturant – remembered last year and went on ahead – the road was a wee bit better and soon we were into the forest area – it was not yet dusk – everything looked so calm and peaceful – the sun was in my face – and I was hoping to shoot snaps of any animal that we could get our sights on – when the Arien shouted “Did you see that?” As I turned to watch, I saw a Sambhar deer (it was quite tall – in comparison our car looked like a dwarf) bolt past as the Sumo coming in the opposite direction braked hard. It took me a minute to realize that I had the camera and we lost the best shot 😦 The Arien went on and on ’bout how the Sambhar deer looked on both sides before it made its move – which was at a rapid pace – and I was feeling all woebegone till the Arien told me tht it had bolted so fast – no one cud have taken a snap – tht cheered me somewhat and I continued to hunt for animals.

langurWe saw dozens of  spotted deer, langurs, and also caught sight of a peacock on our way to Mudumalai. We almost went past the peacock – I made the arien stop and reverse so I could shoot the peacock as well as I could. I was very surprised that we managed to catch sight of so many animals. 

We moved on and reached the Karnataka check post – crossed it – and wenpeacockt on to a bridge tht was oh so typically TN – and then we saw the Tamil Nadu check post – and drove across the mudumalai reserve. However, we did not catch sight of any more animals. We did see a lot of burnt wood – black remains of wht was once a tree 😦 Looks like there had been a forest fire and so ob. the animals did not venture near the road. That was indeed sad.  

We reached the first town that was Masinagudi – we were pretty close to the destination and we sent up a prayer for a good holiday. We stopped and asked for directions and followed a jeep that was owned by one of the various resorts at that spot. As he led us down the winding road, we stared at the amazing Nilgiri mountains that is close to Mudumalai and noted that the mountains indeed look blue. We took the turn that lead us to Bear Mountain resort and soon we had arrived.

The first sight that greeted us after we parked our car and got out – was the reception area. It was one of those traditional hut type thingie… we recieved a warm welcome from Rudra, the manager and co-host, the Arien got  busy filling out a form and I was trying hard not to shiver – it was awfully cold. The Senior Arien had advised us on carrying sweaters n stuff  – we heeded that but I felt we must have ear muffs or something.

Another group landed while we were waiting and soon we were cottageescorted to our cottage. The cottage was a welcome respite and the hot water that was available a blessing – I was soon really glad we had gone ahead with the plan inspite of the bad reviews.  We had some snacks and went in for the evening tea at arnd 8 – it was horrid – we decided to have snacks so we could wile away the time till dinner. All the best spots were taken – they had these coal thingies for keeping warm and all of them were in use – three families were holdng sway over the downstairs area – and most of them were  snacking on Chicken 65 and the like. 

We headed to the Bonfire after indulging in Finger Chips – tht were not crispy enough. We were a disparate bunch consisting of 4 different groups- one was a family, consisting of an old father and mother, their two children, wives and grandchildren, two was a bunch of 4 telegu speaking, chicken 65 eating, beer drinking men who acted like they were in their home, three was a bunch of arnd 10-12 loud talking bunch of arbid ppl – I assumed  college kids, and us truly. I got fed up of staring at the fire and soon we were busy playing Dumb Cs and having a lot of fun. Dinner was served at 9:30 p.m. when the kitchen was finally closed for starters – I am sure no one can have dinner after stuffing themselves on the snax – anyways there was a sizable group of ppl waiting for dinner.

We had planned to go for the nature trek the next day. It was not part of the facilities provided but we felt it was a good exercise for us lazy travellers – we were supposed to be ready by 7:30 am. The trek was supposed to be for 2 -3  hrs and we would have breakfast after the trek. Sounded like a good idea – we confirmed our names and yawned our way back to the cottage. We also noticed that there was another bonfire on our way back – it was probably for a huge group that wanted their own lil bonfire… Interesting… Yawn!! End of Day 1.