When it comes to planning for trips, I think I might stand last but one in the list of humans capable of planning. For that is the level of ‘fail’ I face whenever I plan, even if for a movie. The thrill of moving on impulse and forgetting to think before heading out on an adventure is a reason for which I am not on the top million in that list. Coorg happened and definitely was not planned by me.
I get a phone call from a relative of mine a week before the trip. I thought it would be a casual phone conversation, but ended up with me saying, “Coorg? Why not, count me in!” I took the liberty of not doing anymore for the trip. So the day of the journey finally arrives and 4 hours before boarding the bus to Bangalore (The meeting point) I do my final call to check if the trip is actually happening. It felt great to have all stars aligned in the Coorg way for me.
The bus journey which started at 11:30 pm itself was exciting. Fancy colourful lights and a movie to watch, snacks, water and a cosy blanket, what more could one want? Sleep took over excitement and I needed it badly as well. A misty and cold morning at Bangalore was the perfect setting for the amazing road trip with friends and family. We took a ZoomCar, a cosy little SUV for a journey of rejuvenation. We wriggled our way out of traffic before it started creeping the roads of Bangalore. It was a national holiday and our escape route was smooth and easy.
We hit the Mysore highway and an hour and a half later we stopped at the Best Hotel on Mysore Road, ‘Kamat’. The restaurant was pretty much a packed ecosystem within itself. Apart from the dinning, there were amazing sweet stalls selling hot jilabi, souvenir shops and a toy store. The contrast added vibrancy and liveliness to the breakfast we had. The restaurant had this rustic look which gave a lot of flavour to the entire experience. This was the first time for me to have Neeru Dosa and Mude Idly. After the 8 hour journey that started from the previous day night, I was not shy at the quantity and it tasted awesome!
The journey resumed and the next stop was COORG. Having visited hill-stations like the Nilgiris, Munnar, Kodaikanal and Yercaud, Coorg was standing a little away from the preset image I had in mind. Didn’t have steep climbs but the scenery was beginning to transform as we progressed towards the hill station. The journey uphill did drag a bit of time, but we finally reached our destination in Kabinnakad Junction. Quickly unloaded our SUV and got on to the ride that took us to Chingaara, the resort we stayed in. That 5 minute ride from the car park to the resort is something not to be missed. With the 4 wheel drive gear activated, the jeep ascended the mountain like a hot knife cutting butter. It was quick, bumpy and fun!
There was laughter and shouts of excitement till we reached our rooms. Silence crept in and we all were in a trans because of the mountains, trees and the lushness of the whole place. The mountains subdued our emotions and got us all in a relaxed mentally and physically. Simple food, a warm camp fire and amazing people around you to share the warmth gives you more than just happiness. That night I had the best sleep after a long time.
The next sun rise was with hot Coorg coffee and a heavy breakfast. We set out to scale the highest peak of Coorg, and that happens to be the second highest in the state of Karnataka; Thadaiyanamol. The trek uphill was 2 hours and 15 minutes. The 135 minutes were up and down hills, across flatlands, through thick forest and over boulders and rocks. The peak was there, the National flag flying high and proud on the top gave a sense of pride and at the same time, speechlessness as well. We did pack lunch and that definitely gave us the energy to come back down. As we were having lunch at the peak, we were suddenly enveloped with mist and it started raining. Make sure you carry enough water and simple food to give you the needed sugar. You will have to take at least 3 breaks to reach the top. Biscuits, fruits and water is a life saver. The five of us huddled under two umbrellas and we just sat there, on the peak, zero visibility and rain pounding us. We had to wait it out, and our trek downhill started with a slight drizzle that did not pause. That took us approximately an hour and that was the end of our trip scaling the peak. A hot shower and coffee at the resort to warm us up got us all relaxed.
If you are not a regular trekker or someone who jogs regularly, you better stretch every muscle before the warm shower. Relaxing your muscles will ensure that you enjoy the trip to the fullest.
The next day we vacated and it was a 1 hour drive to Madikkeri from the resort we stayed in. We camped at a coffee plantation, which was 8 kilometres from the heart of the town. The camp site, amongst a coffee plantation, was set up and we dumped our bags that had the essentials to last the night. We did some adventure sports before lunch; jeep off-roading and zip lining. Post that we hogged lunch and had exactly an hour of rest before our second trek of the trip. Approximately 4 kilometres uphill took us 1.5 hours. This trek was part of the stay at the camp and the experience was more arduous and fun than the Thadaiyanomol trek. We had to crawl, jump over fallen logs, slide at the edge and find ourselves the way out through thick foliage to reach the peak. From the top we had this splendid view of the range and the village below us. The view was scenic that even the best artist painting it can do no justice.
Seeing the sky change its colour, with the sun setting at the backdrop is something we, as humans trapped in the never ending race, forget to do. Hell, city dwellers forget that such things exist, let alone take the time to observe. We took a shorter route downhill and we were exhausted, tired and dirty after the whole day of adventure sports and trek. The stars were aligned too well as there was a stream of crystal clear water. I just got in the ice cold water and there has been no massage that has got me revived to the extent of the stream. Dinner filled the emptiness the physical exercise created and we got in our tents for the night.
Pitch dark outside, huddled in our tents, we looked up to find the sky “star studded”. You would understand the quoted text when you see it. Never have I seen so many stars and our stare felt like more stars were revealing and coming out to showcase their true self. Such amazement and we are unconsciously forgetting to look. Our cities are polluted and it is an irony to move away from where we live to enjoy “nature”.
Our journey back to civilisation started off after yummy Coorgi lunch on the next day. Pande curry and pork chops with rice and neeru dosa cannot be described with words as the ‘hmmmmmmmm’ feel it gave us when it melted in our mouths, stayed on till the end of the day. The food, made in the traditional style is a must-have for every person who travels to Coorg. Our trip downhill had a halt at the Tibetan Monastery in the Coorg Mysore highway. That was a pit stop for the trip we had to tread back to Bangalore. With memories deeply etched in our hearts our trip back was sober. Well, it has to end someday or the other. Thoughts still amongst the hills, I write this, to save memory that may fade away.
It was more than just a 4 day trip to the hills over the long weekend. People who came with me were amazing for I had so much to learn from them. It becomes far more easy and exciting when you associate yourself with others to learn and share your time with them while travelling.
It was amazing to step aside from the clock that never stops.
The MAK Tips I want you all to take away from this trip of mine are
Move yourself away to learn. Trips are meant for purpose, experience and learning. Not for escaping the routines that are slowly killing you.
Travel to bond. Travelling does create a bond with a fellow traveller that otherwise may not happen in your daily life. You will know the person for this true self, when you travel with him/her.
Success is never a destination, so is life’s purpose. There is never a destination for that will always change over the course of time. Success similarly will change if you consider it as a destination. Success should neither end nor change. A journey to cherish and enjoy could be a purpose as well.