When I signed into WP yesterday, I accidentally clicked on “Random Post”, and I was led to this post, where I listed a few things I had decided to do something about, to avoid getting back into the rut of a monotonous life.
And I noticed that I had written “Vacations are life’s necessities”, and had sworn to go on one every month And then I again checked up my blog to see if I had stuck to my decision, and I realised I did it without fail from April – August, and had failed badly from September – November. [September was a month of break from the monthly travels and November, well, Pumbaa wobbled in].
No, not December, because I’m off on vacation now: from 24 Dec – 1 Jan 2011! It’s a B’lore-Kerala-Goa-B’lore road trip, with Dad, Mom, Bro, the husband and Pumbaa!
Anyway, while checking the blog, I again noticed (!) that there was a trip in October, to Ooty, and I’d completely forgotten to update my blog with photographs and superlatives. Well, it wasn’t mere forgetfulness. It was also the fact that the trip wasn’t all that great and I had no superlatives to remind me of it with.
I had high expectations of Ooty, and they all crumbled down all the way to the valley! I think Wayanad is the culprit—the root cause for this “hmmm…this place is nothing in comparison with Wayanad” attitude!
Anyways, let me not let the trip slip into the little wedges between the neat piles of good memories and travellogues!
So, here it is: the Ooty travellogue.
Uncle, Aunt and the two brats were coming down from Delhi for their first ever Bangalore trip. Their usual agenda is Delhi-Trivandrum-Adoor-Delhi; and it’s been just that ever since my aunt got married way back sometime in the early 90s Anyway, this time, they broke the spell and decided to get off the train before it touched Kerala
Now, this is an aunt who loves being crazy – and has raised two equally crazy brat-girls. The elder one is the embodiment of the word ‘tomboy’ and the younger, as feminine as any girl can get. And the Uncle, for as long as I’ve known, is as strict as anyone can get and has successfully completed 50 years, in spite of living half of that in a house with three crazy women So, while I was soo looking forward to have them all home, I was a bit anxious about what might and might not upset him. Turned out, he’s a new man He was the most fun to have, this time!!!
Yea, so they reached Bangalore on a Friday morning. After loads of hugs and laughs and leg-pulling, I came to work, dreaming of just a trip to Mysore on Saturday. At about 8pm, the husband turns up at office and says, “we’re going to Ooty tomorrow early morning, so come home early. I’m here to pick you.” Ooty!? Yippeeeee! The first and only time I’d been there was in Dec 1999. Over 10 years! I was super excited—and immediately wound up for the day
We had planned a quick Bangalore-Ooty-Mysore-Bangalore trip for the weekend. and set off early Saturday morning. The four of us ‘kids’ in the Punto, and the four oldies in the Alto
As is customary, we had a quick stop at Srirangapatna, to pay respect to Tipu and his ‘tharavaadu’ Well, with the senior brat around, respect was just NOT a possibility!
The body of TIPU SULTAN was found here
Entry to Colonel Bailey's dungeon
The dungeon's story...
The King's Battery -- now called "Sultan Batheri" -- which hides the dungeon.
A view of the many arches "under" the vault. The stone slabs on the far end of the pic, where prisoners were chained to. the part of a canon, just a decorative piece (per what I overheard a guide say )
After a quick tour of Colonel Bailey’s Dungeon, we stopped at Tipu’s favourite mosque, the Masjid-e-Ala built in 1784 (whoa! 200 years before I was born ).
Twin towers of the Masjid-e-Ala
The open terrace, near the entries to the prayer hall.
After a quick tour of the mosque (it was closed), we drove on towards Ooty. The weather was splendid, and we had a good drive—light drizzles, sunshines, rains, drizzles and more sunshine.
The harbinger of rains...
Rains that splashed all around...the car
View from the shielded side of te windshield
When the rains left, and only the droplets remained
Anyway, on the way, we passed through Bandipur National Park and spotted a few animals (unlike the experience at Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary.Oh, but nothing “wild”, anyways
The elephants and a little one.
The python that crossed the road...
...and the long, winding road.
The brats were thrilled to see the animals, the various other animal safety signboards, the sexy, winding road and the greens on both sides. And of course, that was no python. It was just a piece of log, which did NOT cross the road
And it was then that a trip plan for December was formulated and agreed up on. I was explaining to the brats how this National Park was spread across 3 states—Bandipur in Karnataka, Mudumalai in Tamil Nadu and Muthanga in Kerala—and the name Muthanga just COMPLETELY avoided me! We all kept wondering what the name was: one that starts with M, had a tribal case in Kerala long time back in the name of that place, a tribal female involved, etc. And finally, the husband said some name and was sooooo sure he was right. I was soooo sure he was wrong, knew it was a longer word, though I couldn’t quite get the right name. Finally, he agreed for a Delhi trip end-of-Dec if I could prove him wrong.
The next 15-20 minutes, I was super silent. All I had in mind was a violent and sad tribal police case known by the name of this place, the letter M and this tribal lady’s face and her curly hair . It was almost a half hour later, while in the midst of photographing a group of hyper active monkeys, I dropped the camera, dug my nails into the husband’s shoulder and said “Muthangaaaaaa”!!! For a moment, he was so blank-faced, I felt like apologising!
I won the bet. So, the plan was on for Destination Dilli in December “Before that, where to, in November?”, I asked. To which he smiled slyly and said “That might not happen, and you might not even want to”. It was a mystery to me then. But when Pumbaa wobbled in, I knew! Of course, Dilli plan changed the day Pumbaa came in—and just a week back, we finalised Goa plans:D
As we began the climb to Ooty, the beauty of the Western Ghats slowly unveiled. It was soothing and a prelude to better things to look forward to.
First sighting of the Ghats...
The mingling rain clouds and the emerging sun gave a captivating image...so we stopped for a few clicks.
This is when, the teenage senior brat got into the ro-ro-romantic mood a love song and a backdrop of cloud capped hills can get one into. And she, in a most dreamy way, said “I think I’ll come to Ooty for my honeymoon…with a horse.” “You marrying a horse!?”, we asked, to which she said “Yea. Free horse ride all over the place.” “Hmmm…and horse power advantage too”, I said. She was shocked, and immediately regretted the horsey honeymoon idea. And we teased her no end about it.
We stopped at a view point a little further up to see these:
From the viewpoint...
We reached Ooty by about 6pm and settled into a decent hotel.
Oh, in between, let me not forget to mention that Amma was feeling nauseous the previous night and feared dysentery—and her fears were met the next day! In spite of which, she was trip-ready! The poor thing threw up so many times, and was totally exhausted by the time we reached Ooty! After freshening up, we took Amma to the nearest hospital. Bad news greeted us: Amma was badly dehydrated and had to be put on a double-bottle-drip treatment! Poor thing We stayed with her at the hospital till about 11, leaving only to have dinner, that too, in shifts! Took her back, and we all had a good night’s sleep.
Amma was all healed and completely rejuvenated the next day morning, and we set out to see Ooty: which wasn’t much. We went to the Honeymoon Boat House, had a good round of boating (throughout which I, highly disappointed in the scenery, kept bragging about the boating we had at Pookkode Lake, Wayanad).
The Honeymoon Boathouse
The lake and more...
The brilliantly blue sky is what made the lake look this good!
They grazed the occasion
And that’s when the senior brat noticed a few horses nearby. “Horse ride next”, said she. In between peals of laughter and more leg-pulling, it was then rounds of horse rides for the two brats and the uncle! And me, the photographer, had to trot, gallop and out-race the horses to get pics from all angles. Phew! Was that tiring!
The boat house was maintained very well, and had some really beautiful flowers that adorned the place. The blue sky and the towering trees added their bit too
We then headed for the toy train which we spotted from the lake and had a joy ride–yelling “chayey…chai”, “vadey vadaa vadey”, “meals meals meals”, etc. We created such a din that the folks in the other “bogies” were either laughing, or cursing us No one joined us, though. Kill-joys!
Spotted this from the boat, and just HAD to have a ride
As we chugged this way and that...
...and even went squealing through a tunnel!
Then, we headed to Doddabetta, the highest peak in Tamil Nadu (2634 mts above msl) that lies near the meeting point of the Eastern and Western Ghats! The thing I loved the most there were the bisi bisi bhajjis and the cold cold ice creams
The view tower, which promised a telescopic view of the Coimbatore city, was a complete scam. I even told the operator that much. Said “Anna, even without my glasses, I can see the city more clearly than through your silly, unfocused, scam telescope.” He soooo didn’t like it, and almost shooed me off the pedestal, to make way for the next! But seriously, such a waste of time and effort, I tell you! Why, there was even a long queue to be eligible to view. Bah! I even discouraged quite a few people joining the queue, much to the operator’s chagrin
The scam centre
This is what we COULD NOT see through the telescope!
Way to Dodabetta...and back.
Ooty was done. We bought a couple of bunched from the dry-flower vendors outside the Botanical Garden, and were on our way to Mysore, stopping only for a quick lunch.
Mysore was brilliantly decked up: all lit up and crowded. It was the 10-day Dussehra period. And to add to it, this year it was specially special. It was the 400th Dussehra being celebrated!Thanks to a stupid camera and a milling crowd, all pics taken were blurred!
One of the two royal "chariots" on display
One of the two royal "chariots" on display
But honestly, the palace stands like a real jewel when the surrounding areas are dark! It seemed to lose some of its splendid beauty in all the light! But beautiful it was, nonetheless. The crowd was overwhelming, and we decided not to go into the palace, after the disappointment a couple of months back! I recently got this by mail…a 360 degree view of the Mysore Palace—interiors and exterior. Probably filmed ages back, or maybe as a means of getting people to visit, in spite of all the missing artifacts!
So, after more pics , by about 7.30pm, we decided to head to the Vrindavan Gardens which was slated to be open till 9pm, thanks to the festive season. But well, like last time we tried to reach the Palace from Chamundi Hill to catch it lit up, we went around in circles for almost an hour, with every single of the 12 people we asked directions for, sending us in opposite directions! That all the roads were blocked up at different parts because of the festival, traffic and finding the route became a chaotic nightmare! Finally, by the time we were given the right directions, it was just too late and we’d have no way reached the Garden before closing time We gave up! And by about 8.45, took the road back to Bangalore. We reached home tired, exhausted and unbelievably sleepy by about 12.45am!
The trip was not just disappointing, it was hectic as well. Our mistake. We should’ve either taken an extra day, or left Mysore for another day. But well, even the time at Ooty wasn’t all that exciting. Sigh.