"When I have the camera in my hand, I know no fear. Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road."
Such is the feeling when you hit the open road carrying no baggage of the past, no tension or worries of future, just living the present moment doing what you love to do.
After a lot of lazy evenings passed experimenting with ink and paper, finally I am able to pen the memories of an incredible journey which I took back in July and August this year. This was not my first road trip but certainly the most enriching, memorable and the longest journeys I've ever done. Although I am calling it a journey it wasn't a single trip, what I am going to share are a group of journeys which I underwent one after the other within a span of two months across different states and with different companions. Also the most exciting part was that I had taken a much awaited long break from work so this so called Vacation was not limited to an end point. I only decided how and from where I'll start and let course of events decide as to where I am going to end. I am a kind of person who cherishes good company, so I made sure that all along my travel I have the pleasure of the company of people dear to me.
First part of the journey began with a week long bike ride to one of my all time favourite holiday destination, Kerala - God's own country. I've been to this place on numerous occasions before but there is something about the beauty of this place which keeps me coming back for more. Apart from all the biking, hiking and excitement there was something very special which made all the difference - Photography. I carry a camera along where ever I go but it was trip where I decided to take my photography seriously and even learned about various aspects of photography watching different tutorials before setting sail on this journey. The perfect icing on the cake was the Tripod which my team gave me as a parting gift. Capturing majestic waterfalls of south India in monsoons was definitely one of the things which I wanted to cross off my to do list.
Our journey began when I along with two of my friends left Bangalore on 10th July to cover the southern peninsular India and our initial itinerary looked something like this Bangalore – Salem – Valparai – Athirapally Waterfalls – Vagamon – Varkala – Alleppey – Kasargod – Gokarna – Goa. Although there were few changes along the way.
All said and done it was time for action now, filled with enthusiasm and anticipation our actual trip started when we headed towards Valparai from Pollachi having covered the highway journey on previous night. The 40kms of stretch has 40 hairpin bends, truly a bikers paradise. Serenity of Aliyar Dam provided us our first pit stop during the ascent.
They say a pic is worth a thousand words, so rather than describing each and every moment, I'll share most of the pics which will aptly showcase the scenic beauty which we came across.
The 40km ascent till Valparai is filled with ample spots to capture the unwinding road across the vast stretch of forest land. One is simply blown away by the grandeur of whole scenery. Little that I know that we'll be presented with the opportunity to witness our very own Lonely Mountain...:) Who knows the gold of Erebor might still be within our grasp. (never mind my obsession with the LOTR series)
I however had my eyes set on another jewel of the nature, Athirapally Waterfalls. Monsoons are truly a blessing as nature comes to life and you encounter a number of seasonal waterfalls all along the road, luckily I didn't have to wait too long before I got a chance to brush up my photography skills before the final face off with the mighty falls.
(Adjust the ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture...keep the Tripod steady...:)....Click and boom , the first shot was not a bad one at all. This ain't no rocket science.
Finally after a few hours of absolutely magical journey, we reached the town of Valparai. Nothing much to do just grabbed a quick lunch and left towards the dreamland Kerala. Its another 70km of dense but absolutely majestic rain forest which will lead us to Athirapally. The guards at the inter state checkpost told us about the high density of elephant population en route to the falls. Thrilled by the fact we anticipated having a safe encounter with a herd of wild elephants but as it turned out we weren't lucky enough. It was very wet, quiet but a thought provoking ride giving us plenty of time to soak in the greenery around us. By the time we reached the falls it was already dark so we just looked for a place to stay and luckily found one wooden cottage just next to the falls.
Opened my eyes the next morning to guzzling sound of the waterfall, quickly packed all my accessories and the next minute we were on our way to the mighty falls. It was rejuvenating ride as the surroundings were still very fresh and clean after an early morning shower. To our surprise we witnessed a beautiful waterfall just next to the road of which we were completely unaware of, and believe me when I say even the road side waterfalls in Kerala can give other well known falls an easy run for their money.
Its time for the final showdown now, reached the much awaited Athirapally Waterfalls. Just a mere glimpse of the falls is enough to leave you spellbound and speechless. All the videos, blogs and weeks of preparations finally has come down to this when your dreams turn to reality. Lets see how it goes....
Thank you Lord for this day, those were the only words I could utter that day.
Done with roar of the waterfalls, its time now to ride up above the mountains to the land of flushing meadows "Vagamon".
The journey to Vagamon with majestic mountains and deep ravines on your side is an overwhelming experience. Stopovers on the route provide magnificent views of the deep valleys and the rolling plains below, the pine trees capped mountains and the mystical mountain streams.
Vagamon has everything a nature lover or a nature photographer seeks. The undulating hills, the green meadows , the mystical pine forest, the tea and spice gardens adorning the landscape, the mellowed mountain streams and the cascading waterfalls in the rocky terrain, the misty breezes veiling the mountains - it's the perfect dream.
Though our stay in Vagamon was a brief one but enough to witness different facets of the extreme scenic beauty which this place has on offer. While leaving from Vagamon one just can't be content and only wishes for this dream to continue and promises to return back, I was no different.So after all these promises, its time to experience the other side of Kerala, the tranquility of pristine backwaters and sprawling beaches.
Varkala, the next stop, will certainly be on the top of the list now that we are talking about beaches.This place offers innumerable incentives, whether it be a leisurely walk on the "cliff" overlooking the Arabian Sea, the perfect blend of Indo-western culture or the 'Hippie' crowd. There is touch of calmness about this place during the day and one can lazily sulk in the picturesque beauty but night offers a completely different touch as the whole place come to life with shacks all along the cliff. Munchies, booze, psy trans with sound of the waves, shacks provide just the perfect laid back finish to your day.
Our next destination needs no introduction, famously known as the "Venice of the east". Alleppey or Allapuzza is just the place to end your sojurn. Loose track of time, sit back, relax and experience a different kind of high when your houseboat ventures, almost at snail speed through the pristine backwaters of Kerala.
No matter how many times you have visited Kerala and seen the entire beauty of this place, it leaves a deep imprint on you each and every time you step foot on this land. After covering the length and breadth of Kerala and already running behind schedule, it was high time for us to kick start our bikes again and get back on the road to meet the rest of the gang in Goa and unfold the Vacation Part 2 - South Goan Affair!!