Finally, a planned holiday. A week plus two weekends – Yippeee!!! After bugging the Arien forever, we got started on the planning smtm late april and came up Zilch. We had a fantastic option of Ladakh and Leh but we opted out. Yercaud option – managed to get overbooked and we were cancelled out. I was very sure we were going to spend the holidays at home 😦 Finally, we decided to go to Wayanad. The Arien planned the routes and took care of the booking. I took printouts of the places to visit and we left on sunday.
We started at 5:50 am armed with a borrowed SLR. The Arien has been wanting to buy an SLR forever and suddenly everyone we know seems to have one. This trip he wanted to get the feel of an SLR so he can plan his next buy arnd it. I was, as usual, very worried ’bout taking a very expensive item on a trip, especially wen it did not belong to us. Of course, the Arien was least bothered. The Arien kept his temper tantrum and lecture in check inspite of the delay I caused – this cud b b’cos of the SLR accompanying us – praise the Lord!! I also decided not to get irritated when we stopped for Petrol and cash on the way.
Before we knew it, we were on Mysore road, and I suddenly heard this loud Vrroom… and saw that a number of bikers were driving past, sm in super bikes, sm in the regular bikes, sm togged up in wht I call spykids outfits and the others in leather jackets 😀 The Arien clearly wished he was with them going on sm lone biker dudes kinda stuff – he had tht look on his face – but it looked like so much fun that I smiled. There were a lot of ppl on the road surprisingly, considering it was sunday and soon we lost sight of the bikers. With all the hulaboo, we actually reached Kamat Lokaruchi earlier than planned at 7:15 am. There were quite a few empty tables that had both of us staring. We left half an hour later after a gud breakfast and after the Arien had taken a few snaps. I forgot to take the Kinley bottle back with me and felt guilty for a while.
It was a looong, good drive but I was suddenly a lil nervy at the speed and so I bugged the Arien to go a lil slow. I was glad wen we took a Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) break at 10:45 am near Gundlupet. Their Choco-latte was pretty good unlike Barista‘s choco milk shake. The Arien did not like his coffee thingie. We had been driving for 5 straight hours and we still had another 1 hour to go. The break at CCD came at the right time.
We reached Sultan Batherri arnd lunch time (12:30). I also came to know that Wayanad was the name of the district. You cannot point to sm place n say “Thats Wayanad”. You cud stay at either Kalpetta, Sultan Batherri, Manathavaddy or Vythiri. We were planning to stay at Sultan Batherri which seemed like a central location to us.
While we were going towards Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary – we see 3 elephants. There are 2 older elephants and 1 child – it cud be a family. One of them was throwing mud on his head – I was not too sure if tht was for fun or if it was angry. We scrambled for our cameras but the Arien was quicker. The elephants moved back when we stopped and it looked like they jes wanted to cross the road. I was a lil Grr… b’cos I was unable to take snaps. The Arien was thrilled beyond compare as he got some pretty good shots.
Apart from the thrillingly close snap – thnx to the SLR zoom – we moved ahead and took another snap of them crossing the road. Looks like we were in their way! Am I glad that we moved – else we wud have been moved. Lots of vehicles came to a sudden halt with a sudden screech as the giants decided to cross the road. It was a lovely sight. I felt it was a good sign. I still recall our last attempt to take a snap of elephants – it was laate evening and it wud require spl skills to identify the elephants in the snaps 😀
Pretty thrilled with the sightings – we headed towards Sultan Batherry. The first thing we did was have an early lunch and then slept for an hour. The Arien must have been pretty tired b’cos he actually did not want to go anywhere. For the first time, I was raring to go 😀 I insisted that we go to the Muthanga Wild Life Sanctuary. We made haste and reached there to see a huge crowd standing outside the sanctuary. We were the last in the line. There was no way we would go and suddenly it started drizzling. The idea of going on a safari in an open jeep while it was raining was suddenly awful. I convinced the Arien that we could do this the next day and then the Arien spotted the Malabar Squirrel. I knew that the Arien wud shoot a zillion snaps of the poor squirrel (which I cud not spot) – thanks to the SLR – and we wud be delayed. I managed to convince him that if it was so easy to spot – we wud def spot it tomorrow as well. (Fingers crossed!!)
I decided not to waste the daylight hours and insisted we shd visit sm other place. We drove up to view the artifacts in the Wayanad Heritage Museum at Ambalavalam. It was open. A lady graciously offered to be our guide but she spoke only malayalam. I played the role of a translator to the poor Arien who spent most of the time blinking 🙂 Nothing impressive or fantastic. The visit was over in 15 mts and the slow drizzle that had threatened our Safari – had disappeared wen we came out! We decided to visit Phantom Rock. The best part was that the directions were aplenty and ppl were only to happy to assist. The trick was to pronounce the name of the place jes like a malayalee wud. The Arien got tht hopelessly wrong and we had quite a few laughs. I don’t know what I expected out of Phantom Rock – I guess I expected a head that resembled the masked hero of comics – Phantom: The ghost who walks or something like that. What we saw completely depressed me. It was a quarry with a huge rock formation. It did not look like anything so why was it called phantom rock??
We were planning to turn around when smne from another car told us that we had to go further up. We climbed the rock formation – both of us were out of breath when the car when past us – so we cud have driven up!!! Anyway, the walk was invigorating – we saw rubber collection from trees tht we wud have missed if we had driven up. All the trees had this container. It was a cute sight!
We reached the summit and were not too sure what we were looking for. The whole place flattens out and we saw quite a few ppl. Two families were busy taking pics. One guy wearing a cowboy hat made sm singularly depressing comments “Wow!!! Fantastic – This is a view”. I almost broke out into giggles. Meanwhile, the Arien was busy shooting so many pics – I was worried tht we may not have the amazing SLR clarity for the rest of the trip. The view was indeed fantastic.
There was another huge rock formation that looked like a giant eagle. In fact it looked like one of those old wine bottles! I refused to believe tht tht was the Phantom Rock. And then we saw all the ppl taking snaps of themselves with the rock formation as the background. But, tht cud be eagle rock for all I knew. I managed to look at something entirely different and decided tht that was the phantom rock 🙂 We were told later that wht we were stared at and discarded was the Phantom Rock. (So much for our guesses!!).
We wondered if we should check out Edakkal Caves. It was not too far away. We drove half the distance when we were informed by a board tht we were allowed to view the caves until 4:30 pm. It was nearing 7 pm. We decided to call it a day. For the first time in all our vacations so far, the Arien wanted to rest while the lazy piscean (myself) wanted to go out and do something – anything. That was a fantastic change for this vacation.
After a quick dinner, we went back to our room to be greeted by thunder and lightening! It rained n rained n rained. We fell asleep before it stopped. A hectic start for our vacation 🙂