I returned back after the Wayanad trip today afternoon. It was a great trip. So let me put down the travel details.
There were 10 of us, including me. Anil Kumar, our manager (One of the nicest person I have met in recent times), MS Sunil Kumar (who organized the trip so well - he is always a great organizer) , Karthik Ramachandra (called Piltu, he is the entertainer of the group) , Madhu Babu (called Tommy for his experiments with a type of Gin called "Tom Collins"), L Shankar Ganesh (Who, after the trip came to be known as a very investigative person, especially regarding leeches in Wayanad), Dinesh Kumar the bodybuilder (so called as Body), the ever enthusiastic Joy Dutta, Dipanjan Roy and Gopkumar.
I had to wake up at 4 on saturday, which was a difficult part of the story. I always hate to wake up early. Anyway We started at 5 from Bangalore, on a hired tempo traveler. We reached Mysore at 8 and had a not-so-nice breakfast at a hotel called Sidhartha. The journey from Mysore to Sulthan Batheri was beautiful, through the vast expanse of lush green fields, through the Bandipur national park and Muthanga sanctuary. We could see few deer, peacocks and elephants on the way. I had gone through this way many times, through KSRTC buses, but those were all night journeys. This time I could see the places in daylight. The lunch at Hotel Jubilee in Batheri was nice and cheap. I had typical Kerala meals. It was very colorful as well. There was Paalakkadan Mutta rice, Sambar, Rasam, a curry with beet route mixed in curd, Aviyal, Payar Upperi, Two grand Pappadams, curd, Fried chillies and many other things. Everybody liked the "Kerala food".
From there we went to Vythiri, passing through Kalpatta and Meenangadi. I was excited to see the Malayalam letters in various boards and cinema posters after a long time (it has been around two months that I went home). We took three rooms at Greeshmam resorts at Vythiri. It was a nice place. There was a great view of the hills from the resort and we could have a birds-eye view of the eastern parts of Kozhikode district. (The resort was just at the end of Wayanad district). It started raining shortly and it was beautiful to see the rain falling. It looked like we were above the cloud level, and we could see that some places far away are getting rain and some places not. Shankar badly wanted to go for trekking in that rain. He was so excited about it and took Dutta along with him. They went for half a kilometer and came back.
We went to Pookkottu lake when the rain stopped. We did boating for some time. The lake was not very big, but the surroundings were beautiful. Shankar and Dutta got few leech bites there. We came back night and had dinner from the resort. There was a hotel management school along with the resort and we could see few colorful students roaming around. Karthik and myself were busy with giving "ratings" to them.... yea we could see some 8 of 10's and I was very happy to see them...:-)
We played cards till late night. I learnt many card games. I used to play when I was in school, but had forgotten them. It is not actually the game, but the players that makes it interesting.
Sunday morning we went to a view point nearby, but there was too much fog that we couldn't see much. We got packed food from the resort and went to Soochippuzha waterfalls, which is some 40 kms away. The road went through Harrison's tea plantations and it was beautiful. Soochippuzha was calm, silent and we could smell nature there. (Later I could feel it through couple of leech bites as well, first time in my life). We have to trek for around 1+ Km through slippery and rocky areas to reach the beautiful waterfall, which was as high as a coconut tree. The water flowing through the rocks was crystal clear that we could just drink it.
We went to Edakkal caves from there. There we had to trek for around 1+ hours to reach the top of the hill that is 4000 fts above sea level. We saw the stone carvings made by tribals in the 10th century BC. There were figures of men, women, a peacock and elephant, and some Brahmi scripts which are understood to be "The person who killed the tiger" or something. There were some Buddhist carvings as well, I think. The journey was very much tiring, at least for me, as I normally don't take much of an exercise..But it was a good experience..
While coming back, we saw the "Chain Tree". The legend goes like this: There was some tribal person who guided a British person through the Wayanadan Churam, and was killed by him. The restless soul of the person was roaming around the hill and was later trapped and tied to this banyan tree, and a chain was put to its branch. It seems the the chain has been growing since then, along with the tree.
Today morning we started early, at 5 (again...) and reached here at 2. It was a great trip. Only sad incident was on saturday, when a kind of bird (Kada Pakshi...?) came running to our room in the night. It was looking frightened, and hid under a table. We informed the room boy about this, but the consequence was horrible. The bird had actually escaped from the kitchen. The room boy came and caught it, and in front of us he twisted its neck. We really felt bad to see it, even those among us who eat animals.