Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Back with musings from the Orange Country...

It's been quiet a long time since I have updated this blog owing to my work pressure. Anyway let me not get into that sad story now...

Life off late has been riding the monotony wave and a quick escapade was precisely what the Doctor ordered. Decided on a weekend trip to Coorg (Thadiyandamol in particular). So bundled up the members of iBC (Indiranagar Boys + Chikku... lol) into my Swift which was thirsting for some action and headed right for the newly upgraded Mysore Road on the early hours of a Saturday morning. Caught a glimpse of my college after a long time (R.V.C.E), the cheers and nostalgia flowed down as expected. Those days... (nope, not this time, will save it for another story). :-) The newly laid road was simply excellent and we coasted to the outskirts of Mysore in less than 2 hours where we took the bypass to Coorg. We stopped for Bfast and out came the delicious Aloo Parathas prepared by my friend's mom (thanx Noisy). It was finger licking good and consequently we had some canine company wishing to share the booty.
After replenishing our energy levels from the sumptuous snack, we moved on to the normal Indian roads and as expected, the my vehicles suspensions were tested to the fullest extent. The stretch from Mysore to Madikere is being re-laid and hence the journey is literally forced to move through rubble and debris. But more importantly, one thing that was sorely missed were proper signboards on the way. You are simply left to make enquiries at every point to remain on the right course. Midway, near Hunsur, we took a left towards Virajpet. Though the initial part of the road was pothole ridden, the forest range that you soon enter was exhilarating with the nature's bounty caressing the winds. Kau and Noise wanted to have a look at a muddy pond on the way and hence a break in the middle of the forest. Meanwhile Chikku's grinding machinery started rumbling and we were in the middle of nowhere. Soon the phenomenon spread to others as well but we firmly made a resolve to break bread {pun intended... sadly} only after reaching our destination (Palace Estate - Kakkabe). But little did we realise it wasn’t to be soon and what awaited us there was an anti-climax. The greenery to some extent assuaged our stomachs and we progressed through winding roads passing through small towns. After cruising through Virajpet, we finally went up to the deviation which would take us to Kakkabe. My Swift wearily treaded through the steep gradients that offered a scenic view of the mountains which we were to ascend. I suddenly happened to spot 2 huge jackfruits lying on the roadside. Greedily, we stopped to pick them up and burdened my fatigued Swift with these additional dead weights (the primary one being Chikku... just kidding). After grappling around, we finally headed towards our destination. Suddenly, everybody in the cars cheers in unison. Surprised I spotted the board on the right which they were pointing to. It said "Entrance - King's Cottage" and 'Palace Estate' in small letters below it. Triumphantly we turned left into an extremely narrow road with sloping plantation on the right and a steep drop on the left (without any protection at the edge). Our instincts pressed the panic button after travelling 100 mts and we stopped to enquire with some people who were busy at work. They enlightened us that we are on the wrong path and had to trace our path back. This was insane, how on Earth were supposed to take a U-turn there. Finally we decided to push the car up the ramp on the right and then try to turn around. The car now stood on the 70 degree incline and was moving backwards fast. When I finally stopped the car, the rear wheels were at the edge of the road with the prospect of a free fall looming behind (should have been some experience for the people at the rear). Anyway, we managed to make the turn without any causalities and drove back to the main road with a lot of curses in the air. After trotting uphill for another 5 kms we finally made it to the real 'Palace Estate'. And boy was it worth all the struggle, absolutely!!!
This was simply the best resort I have ever seen nested in such seclusion and splendour of Mother Nature. The resort built completely in wood stared at
us and all frown turned into smiles. The owner quickly made an appearance and welcomed us. With a blissful heart consoling a distraught stomach, we climbed the wooden steps while looking to attack anything edible on the table. We dropped our baggage into the cosy rooms with our eyes scanning for the dining room. But fate had different plans and the owner (Mr Prasad) confirmed that we were not expected for lunch and hence there was no food. Aghast, the greenery around us quickly turned into wilderness. Civilization was a good hour's drive away. Realising our predicament, Prasad offered to arrange for some salads (yuck, I hate them), bread and maybe some egg (thank God)! We happily nodded to his suggestion and soon the promised treasures appeared on the small table outside our rooms. We could finally envisage the ground realities behind Revolutions and Civil struggles in the history of mankind when there was literally a bloodbath to grab the, otherwise simple, offerings on the table. Multiple refilling ensued and finally the demons inside were tamed to some extent. Now with our senses restored to normalcy, we decided to explore the wilderness around. Prakash suggested that we start with a beautiful waterfall right behind our abode. So we started out in search of it after having been repeated assured that the dinner would be a much more elaborate affair. No sooner we reached the solemn waterfalls, the clouds above opened up to drench us to the hilt. Wet in the wild, we dragged ourselves back to the rooms with those bloody leaches feasting on our scarce resources. After a hot bath, we settled for a game of cards called 'Literature' (I was forced into playing that dumb game). Later in the evening we went down to explore a Palace beneath our resort. It only served the purpose of distracting out mind from supper. Finally, we trooped into the main room at 8:30 where the food was supposedly going to be served. When the plate was actually filled, we realised it was definitely a dampener on our expectations (priced at 110 bucks per head), anyway we filled our stomach, mindless of the contents.
After a good night's sleep, we woke up to a pleasant morning. Quickly we set out for a trek (or at least a semi-trek) to the peak. Kau and Noise equipped themselves with their ammunition (frail sticks.. what else). The climb starts with a narrow but an asphalted road and slowly moves into ravaged terrains that exercise every muscle that has been dormant while squatting away in front of the computer (sorry IT folks...). Steep climb, cool air, breathtaking scenery and of course, the leaches on the way made the hike truly memorable.

After heading back to ur rooms, we freshened and bid adieu to our host in the resort. Pangs of hunger, yet again, haunted us on our way to Talakaveri. We finally settled for a mediocre breakfast at Bagamandala (en-route Talakaveri). We reached the holy place where River Kaveri sprouts to life to begin her long journey to the bay (Bay of Bengal). The humble beginning (birth) of a river that grows with its passage through terrains (travails) and finally coalesces into the arms of the ocean (death) was a splendid parallel with human life.

After our horrendous struggle with bad food or the lack of it, we were finally blessed with a good meal in Madikeri (district HQ of Coorg). On our way back we also happened to visit the Buddhist Monastery (Tibetian settlement) near Kushalnagara. The return journey was without any untoward events and we sailed into the urban chaos of Bangalore at the late hours on a Sunday night. This trip made up for all my inaction in the past few months. Phew! A good one...