We were quite excited about this trip to Coorge and Ooty, as we had heard a lot about this place from one of my cousins. Earlier, I had postponed it once, after Maitreyi‘s sickness in December 2010 and so planned it again during June 2011. The issue was, getting the leave for Maitreyi and Sheetal. For both of them, it was just beginning of academic year and Maitreyi’s Principal had strict orders to be present on the first day of the school. But then we had no option, as the bookings were not available for any of the earlier dates and we decided to take her brunt, for this time.
Even my schedules have been too hectic lately and wanted a breather to get closer to nature and explore it a bit. Generally it’s not that easy to break the schedule and just run away on a different journey, however small it might be, especially when you have ample domestic and corporate obligations, to take care of. But then these short breaks in life give you that Oxygen, and you are back to life with more energy, different outlook and better plans to handle the everyday tantrum, with much more efficiency. Probably this is what is balancing out life, don’t you think.
I had split Club Mahindra’s 5 day coupon into, three days stay in Kodagu Valley resort, Coorge and two days stay in Derby Green, Ooty. The IRCTC booking was done almost six months in advance, as now a day’s getting train bookings has become a nightmare. Guyz, now few people might have a question raised out here, that buddy , while you are going to a Club Mahindra resort, with all the 3 to 5 star luxury and amenities, can you not get a plane ticket booked to make this more comfortable. I guess, it is a very valid question here.
I totally agree and that saves lot of time too, but then my purpose of travel is generally not just to fly to a location, soak myself into the luxury, offered by the resort and savor the delicacies offered by the multi-cuisine restaurants. Travel for me is a journey, where you create memories, meet new people from different walks of life and explore different terrain, different flora and fauna, understand new languages, new cultures and eat the local stuff as well. Now I do agree that a short trip of five days is too short to achieve all this, but then you got to make both ends meet, by doing a little mix and match.
I think, in western culture, the travelling has become much more mature, in terms of backpacking and exploring a distant culture by becoming one with it, for a considerable span of time. We Indians probably don’t have that luxury or rather yet to get into this more intimate kind of travel culture. Nevertheless, among all kind of tours, like a guided tour in groups or custom-planned family tour or even a visit to a different place or city due to official reasons, one should not miss a chance to leave the well accepted and traditional path and take a diversion to see the unseen. Anyways this can go on and on, so probably let’s start with our Coorge adventure and we can revisit these unseen paths concept sometime later.
Netravati assumed its journey at dot 11:40 from Lokamanya Tilak Terminal and we were on our journey to south. Although we had lot of feedback on both Coorge as well as Ooty and I had done some bit of homework on both the places, there was equal amount of curiosity in our minds. Our Co-travelers, an elderly man and his daughter in our compartment were heading for Kannur, which was around three stations ahead of Manglore. That added some more information to our meager knowledge on south. Now we were wondering that, we are going to be so close to the “God’s own country”, Kerala, but would not really touch it. Well, we just parked that for our future adventure.
After Panvel station, the train took a route through the emerald greenery of Raigadh, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Goa and finally the lush green coconut greenery of Manglore. We were at Chiplun at 6 pm and tried a potato wada from station, but I must admit that, it wasn’t that great. You must have noticed, I have jumped from Goa to Manglore, as I was off course sleeping for that part and the weather was so nice, that the limited sleeping space and train bumps, had not affected my slumber.
The first station I could see, through my drowsy eyes at 5:30 am was Uidpi. Well yes, we had entered the Dravidian country, the country of Dosa’s and Idli’s, the country of beautiful temples and coconut curries. Right from Raigadh, till Manglore the rain had cast a magical spell on the whole terrain and it was bubbling with life, serenity and pristine beauty.
The thatched houses, cloudy mountains everything was so picture perfect. The clouds were playing hide and seek with the mountains and the ocean was handshaking with the sky in the form of clouds and streaming down from mountain to meet you in the form of tiny fountains and springs. The silvery white to brownish red streams, making through the mountainous terrain, finally pouring down with love and making you feel happy. The joy is immeasurable and no matter what state of mind you are, the sight of this rain and those gushing streams makes everyone happy. This is probably the celebration of life with, every tree, and every bush, wearing emerald greenery in every shade, making you feel fresh and oozing out with life. Every element of nature is telling the same story of a new life.
Introduction of Konkan rail has changed the equation of a bumpy overnight ST (State Transport) Ride, to a pleasant journey of breathtaking views, dark tunnels, and bridges going over huge rivers, the life affirming village life, scenic mountains, paddy fields, coconut thickness and cozy houses. The small village stations like Veer are a stark contrast to our suburban chaos and fight for life. Here it is nature, the pleasant weather, the monsoon, the greenery, the fresh air, all pumping more and more oxygen in your lungs and making you feel livelier.