Almost Tadiandamol peak and more

Tripoto
11th Jan 2019
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Day 1

This trip was supposed to give my old friend and me some time to catch up after almost a year. But since he dropped out at the last minute, I was suddenly staring at my first solo vacation in Coorg. I couldn’t contain my excitement while I hurriedly said my goodbyes to my colleagues while they gave me that “it’s only 4 PM” look. My flight was at 6:20.
While I was sitting in the Chennai metro on the way to the airport, I had mixed feelings. It was just yesterday that I was on a flight to Chennai from a meeting in Mumbai and now I am on a flight again. Part of me felt as if I was travelling for work and the other part knew that it was not true. My first solo trip had officially begun.
About 3 episodes of ‘The big bang theory’ later, I landed in Mysore via the only flight from Chennai, thanks to TruJet. Being someone who is used to the bustling airports of the metros, landing at Mysore’s charming little airport, where I literally got off the plane and walked 100 Mts to the airport building, gave me a peek into what was coming next.
I checked into my hotel and called it a night in anticipation of waking up to a fresh Mysore morning.

Day 2

The crisp morning air and foggy roads were quite a treat at 6 AM on the way to the KSRTC bus stand. On reaching the bus stand I approached the reservation counter to enquire about the tickets to Virajpet and behind the counter were these two lovely ladies who were absolutely oblivious of their surroundings or the time of the day and were yakking away to glory. It made me wonder if I would ever have the motivation to get up and sit at a counter at 6 :30 AM every morning in the cold. Anyway, once I interrupted them, they very sweetly sent me to the correct bus and told me to buy the ticket on the bus itself. The bus arrived in few minutes and I was giddy with excitement to get on with my adventure which involved me getting on to a government bus. It had been 20 years since I last did that.
2 hours and 30 minutes later, I was in Virajpet, I had to take an auto to the private bus stand as there were no buses from the KSRTC stand to Kabinakad. All through the 45 minute journey to Kabinakad the bus was swerving violently as the driver maneuvered through the narrow roads which dips in and out of  thick forests, suddenly opening up to large fields with grand views of the majestic hills. Another interesting thing about this bus ride was that I got to see how the Indian postal system works in these parts. Every stop, a postman was standing with a big brown jute bag of letters and parcels, which got flung into the open bus door and landed right under the seat of the conductor. He looked barely 17 but the conductor knew exactly when and where each of these bags were supposed to go. It was perfect. Before every stop he ran to the front collecting tickets and then ran to the back to usher in passengers while collecting and dispatching the mail.
As I got down from my bus in Kabinakad, I heard a voice shout out to me “You, Chingaara!” I said “Yes!” equally loudly. It was the driver from the resort where I would be staying for the next couple of day. He quickly pointed towards a jeep waiting for me on a small side road. I could see that this road had all the makings of a good village road that would take me to my destination – Chingaara estate house.  15 minutes of exchanging pleasantries with the driver in Malayalam (which by the way everyone speaks here), we arrived at this very steep road which opened into a clearing that had a small cottage on the right and on the left I could see mountain ranges in the distance through the trees.
My host Ajith got me settled in my room quickly where I took some rest after a good lunch. Later I started exploring the property which was as if right out of a movie set. There was a main building which had a restaurant on the ground floor and some rooms on the first floor. The ground floor was an open verandah type construction with lots of plants and picket fences surrounding the area, with a couple of friendly dogs and a pup scampering about. A few other guests included a couple of hens and a few donkeys that brayed every now and then. The property has one main building where the cooking happens adjacent to the restaurant, another building about 50 feet away that has a few rooms on the first floor and the cottage where I was put up. Wherever I stood, I could see the mountains in the distance. The weather had a crisp nip in the air. And mixed with the warmth of the mountain sun, it felt just heavenly. I couldn’t wait to get started.

After a few hours of rest, I walked up to their main property that was situated a little higher up on the hill called the Honey Valley Resort. The single, rocky path was surrounded by the thick forest and was full of bright red and yellow flowers, thick cobwebs on the floor with sounds of various birds calling out to each other, perhaps to indicate that there was someone from the city walking in their back yard. There was not a soul in sight for the entire one and a half kilometer stretch to the resort. This was perhaps a trailer for what came the next day.

Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Day 3

I had requested for a guide as there were many routes going up to Tadiandamol peak and I wanted to do the long one. As soon as the guide arrived at 9 am, he informed me that elephants had been sighted on the route that I was planning to go on, hence he suggested another equally long, but not as picturesque route that would take me up to the peak. I collected my packed lunch and a bottle of water that Santosh (the restaurant manager) gave me and off we went. The trail was winding up and down villages and farms, small rivers and streams and Raghu my guide, seemed like he was taking a walk in the park whereas I had to stop quite a few times to catch my breath. About 7 kms later we reached an old Maharaja’s palace called the Nalkand palace. Apparently a king took refuge here from the Britshers, back in the day. I followed suit and sat down to rest my aching legs. Just behind the palace was the vehicle parking area for trekkers climbing this peak. You can drive upto this point, post which you have to take one of the jeeps parked here that will take you up to the forest check point which is another 2 kms up the hill. In my mind, paying 400 bucks for just 2 kms didn’t seem quite right, so I started walking up. Little did I know. The walk started getting steeper as I went along. 30 minutes later, I reached the point where the jeeps came to a halt, when suddenly the view cleared up and I got the first glimpse of the mountains around me that made me realize how high up I had reached already. By this time I was not alone. A board said that it was 2.8 kms to the peak and a lot of enthusiastic trekkers were walking up the path and the forest started getting even thicker. Still, I had a majestic view of the whole mountain range all the way up. It was just one mountain after another as far as I could see. The cold breeze was hitting me while the hot morning sun beat on my skin at the same time. In the far distance I could see the trail begin to climb up and I could see trekkers lined up the trail like a snake coiling its way up the mountain. No respite from the sun, just some bushes and an occasional tree to take shelter in.
Just about 1 km from the peak is when it started getting real exciting. The trail got really rocky and steep and it was at this point when I cut my losses and decided to end my climb. My legs were shaking already  and I had to hike all the way back too. I found a small hillock nearby and rested there for an hour. After making all sorts of promises to myself of returning one day and conquering the peak and a wholesome lunch, I started my long trek back to Chingaara. It was 4 in the evening when I reached the guest house and I just crashed on the bed.

A walk in the park

Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon

Palace top

Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon

The path !!

Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon

The hillock

Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Day 4

My flight back home was scheduled for 8 PM from Mysore which means I had the morning to myself. I had to decide between the waterfall they had within the property or Kabe peak. Since I was desperate to taste some victory (however small it may be) I decided to go to Kabe peak. The resort organized a jeep for about Rs.1500 that would take me on this 1 hour drive to the peak. The route took us through the jungle and some coffee plantations and the driver of the brand new Mahindra Thar was waving to just about everyone we passed on the road. It seems in places like these everyone seems to know everyone else. He was telling me about how he drives everyone whenever there is a function in the area and he also transports the coffee beans from the farms. A fascinating fact that he told me was that there were many people living so deep in the mountains that they do not come down at all except to buy their weekly groceries. They walk everywhere and as a result are extremely fit even in old age. Everyone they know lives on that mountain. 
We reached another check post where we got off the jeep and the driver was kind enough to show me the way to this peak. It was a short but a steep 30 minute climb and I reached the summit, this time. The view just took my breath away. On one side, the mountain continued further towards a cliff and on the other it faced a whole range of mountains. Just wilderness below the clear skies. Each mountain was a different shade of blue and the grass under my feet changing from light brown to orange and back as I walked forward. The wind was bellowing and the sun beating down on me. Not a soul in sight, just me and an overwhelming feeling.
I sat down to try and grasp this view and take in the calmness of that moment. Looking at those far away peaks, I wondered if I could just jump and bounce off those peaks in one breath so that I may enjoy each of the mountains. Sure as hell beats the cubicle I sit in every day.

Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
Photo of Almost Tadiandamol peak and more by Manoj Menon
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