Eyes closed, phones kept away,
Forgot those blinking yellow mails on the tray.
Every little moment that chilly wind kissed,
We said it loud in hearts – Our friendship is still greater!
We have got little lucky this year, finding our destination wasn’t that cumbersome. Kubhi had suggested Vagamon earlier for our new year escapade. While on a serious date with Google for the destination, Vagamon fitted all we wanted. It had almost “nothing” but the beauty spoke for itself. We couldn’t ask for more. I tried to workout plan A, B and C as the number of families agreed to the trip was almost full-house and kids are big enough to demand their own seats. I prayed for these days in our bachelor days. A trip with the families and all the kids. I hoped that the kids would enjoy and I can call my work done!.
Almost Nth year in a row, I whine that the costs for the stay hit sky high and almost pierce the atmosphere during this Christmas and New Year period. Everyone started to go out, thanks for the awareness created by the social and entertainment media – its us no longer bachelors who could rent a worn out forest bungalow for pennies and spend the night hearing wolves (just like we did with Paddy House in Coorg).
Either my search gave me expensive (I don’t mind to add ‘filthy’ before expensive) or something that we won’t consider even for a pitstop even if its free.
Little out of our way, we found this Adrak’s summer Sand resort. I had my doubts as it serves too many where we generally get the whole homestay/resort for ourselves. However, their reviews and the location gave me little hope and the access to the road is never a question. It fitted all the requirements of Plan ABCs. Then the countdown started. Our Whatsapp group that got created this year(2014), helped us to think loud about the trip and we decided to have a photoshoot. “That” was the last thing we (guys) knew before a wildfire shopping spree by the ladies. To make it more interesting, we decided to have a gift exchange programme and requested every family to turn with couple of gift items (I had to remind them N number of times though.. :-P). Last, its a 4-day trip, unlike all the 3 day trips we had (It was agreed at the trip that every 5 years we would increase a day!)
30th Dec 2014
We got a 24 seater (a mini bus itself?!) to accommodate the happy crowd. To dampen our excitement a little, Bus got delayed (half past 10). Vinoth got picked first that followed Arun’s and Vijay’s. While I had my worries about the need to touch the plan ABCs even before the trip, our guys used a fuel station stop for munching fries at McDonalds added 30 minutes more minutes to the night. Like a night owl, I waited till 1:30 am to get picked. Luckily I escaped the wrath of the other 2 guys who got picked in the early hours of next morning. Guess they were too tired to throw some punches.
31st Dec 2014
Unlike our overnight destinations, this ate pretty much of the day to get to our destination. We promptly had enough stops for Tea breaks, breakfast and fuel refill and for finding local delicacies such as Tender Coconuts, pickled mangoes and pineapples. We reached Tamil Nadu- Kerala border by 2 in the afternoon and our dilemma for lunch scared the very reachability of the resort before the dusk. Somehow restaurants turned us down as they were closed for lunch.
Just like a proof of the sentence, “Journey to the destination is half the happiness”, this road gives away the beauty of the nature as much as possible. Almost every hair-pin bend had a breathtakingly huge view. Somehow, the lush green looked exactly as if it was just after monsoon.
After Vandiperiyar, town limits get over and the rest of the notable places until Vagamon (Azutha, elappara) are more of confusion between a village and sleepy small towns. Entire drive towards Vagamon looked like a drive on the ridges and those mounts on the long hills were mostly bald with green grass. It was little eerie as the farthest view failed to bring any views habitation.
After hours of green postures, a sign board to Pine Valley welcomed us. I took a lung (and stomach) full of air and advised to pull over to the small road and in less than a minute, we were at the entrance of what looked like an abandoned fort. I knew, its just the exterior; needless to say, we went directly to the restaurant to hog food. While my tongue enjoyed the taste, our guys (with seasoned tongue :-P) murmured of the poor taste. They continued to do so until the end and I overheard the food is expensive as well. Looks I lost all those expectations after what and all I ate during my treks. :-s
By the time we refreshed, it was dinner time. Sometime back, I decide to skip writing about eating – as it almost exceeds what we do there. 😀
1st Jan 2015
Our new year eves generally would have a camp fire, a round of discussion and cake-cutting. This time, there was a common campfire, a semi party-size speaker blared hit item songs in possible languages and a restaurant helper assumed that he was DJ. I had an urge to grab the remote from his hand but got called for dinner. Post that, we guys settled in a room with a couple of beers (with majority teetotalers). We were up until the midnight and exchanged wishes and called it a night as the 16-hour bus journey asked(cried) for a long snooze.
New year morning was so special(?!) and we had to dug everyone out of their bed. Every time I knocked a room, I was assured that they will be in reception in 10 minutes but by the time we were out of the restaurant post breakfast, it was almost noon. I was mocking myself that I thought too much about the 4 day trip and too little places to cover. Now, even if we try our best, it looked like we won’t be able to cover the important ones.
Little later, the first sight-seeing place of the trip, Pine Valley that is 5 minute walk from the resort was chosen as the place to be explored and lunch was properly ordered at the resort before we left. Our minibus driver who got the bus to the reception to pick us looked at us and got the vehicle back to the parking place. I still remember his look. 😛
Pine trees (almost all of the 150 different types of them) can grow up to 80 meters tall. Here, Pine forest looks like a properly cultivated on the slope of a hill. Place is neat as of now, even though rubbish found here and there. This place is quiet and ideal for a picnic with friends. Couple of hours would pass easily and the memories can last forever. Its all downwards (slope) from the start and many would underestimate the return. Our cameras and the kids made the return extra tiring. When we went back, resort sofas were filled with our guys and were too tired to speak. Pickled pineapples and lunch refreshed us a bit and I really had tough time to push them to the bus for the next destination.
Near Thangal Parai
Right when we all settled in, rain literally started playing peekaboo with us. Thangal parai was nearby (hardly couple of KMs from the resort), so we ignored the drizzling. As it was rainy and foggy, our driver mistook the Thangal Parai entrance to a Muslim worship place – as the gate looks like. After a kilometer on the same road, two small bald mounts offer some nice views. I half-heartedly accepted that it as Thangal parai and spent some time there. sprinkles of rain didn’t manage to shoo us off. For the next 30 minutes, we tried to take as many pictures as possible.
Just before the dusk we managed to get to the resort. We got the conference hall, continued our photo shoots, exchanged gift all while resort staff were chasing us for the dinner. Finally, they gave up and served dinner in the conference hall itself. Needless to say, we continued taking photos after dinner too.. :-P. Arun is fully equipped with portrait accessories and no wonder I have lesser photos of nature here. 😀
2nd Jan 2015
I was a clear sky day and we got proper information from a tea stall outside resort. Cross verified with my notes and referenced with the reception about the day’s itinerary. Now nobody can say whats, not as something. Grrrr..
Our first stop was at the ‘real’ Thangal Parai. What looked like a foggy cloud in 10 feet yesterday looked gigantic bald rocky hill (on a hill). We knew, if conquering that hill is the plan, that would be all for the day. We went until 1/3rd of the hill and settled on rocks for few minutes. We decided that should be it – its definitely not safe to go up with the kids. For a person who is fit, it may take roughly 25~30 minutes to find himself on the top. I bet it would offer most beautiful views from there. This is a Muslim pilgrimage place and the photography is restricted for the first 1KM stretch.
Vagamon Meadows/Green Meadows/ Motta Gundu
Our Next stop was Green meadows locally called as Motta gundu situated at 1100 meters from the sea level. Its a set of grass hills with a small lake at the end. Visit to the lake is a small walk, I read. We reached this place at noon and the Sun was balancing between warming and hot. This place was bit crowded as this is one of the notable attractions in Vagamon.
Our next stop was at Kurisumala base. Kurisumala has 14 Kurisu (cross) and a Christ statue at the end and it takes a hike for little more than 30 minutes.
If one decide to go to Ashram (right hand side from the parking) leads to a beautiful road with the nice views. A further walk on the same road ends up in a cattle farm which is also a Dairy farm. Pocketed milk production can be seen until 3pm. Right in the vicinity, a small, beautiful ashram preaches bible verses. We respected that silence and prayed for the year to be better than the last and returned. On a sunny day, this walk would be really fruitful. We retreated to the resort for the late lunch and decided to view Suicide point as the last destination for the day.
This is on the other side of the resort (hardly 2KMs). The name is odd enough, but the place is sure a diamond on a Tiara. Just as it should be, it asks one to be fit enough to walk 2 grass hills at least. This would be a lot tiring if one is not fit enough. Don’t ask us, we were driven by passion, we can do 4 hills at a time but I have to convince my guys its only one hill at the start. Same happened here too, at the entrance, a long road and a full climb to the hill can be seen. Few may take it as the end line but its hardly a start. When we were there, we saw some paragliders were practicing at a distant hill. That sunset time was projecting them with the silhouettes and I hoped for a decent picture. While few gave up, someone told us its not that far but half way to the Suicide Point. Shortly after myself and Praveen headed to the place, everyone followed. Right after the first hill, a steep rocky and slight slippery slope has to be conquered. Shortly after at an unexpected place, valley which looks it has been carved by a shovel comes to us. It has no safety rails but that’s the beauty of it. The distant sunset was gorgeous and the word won’t justify the view at all. As the day was clear were able to see the far away towns and other green pastures.
3nd Jan 2015
We checked out early and the plan was to go to Paruthumpara before heading back home. After Peermedu, Paruthumpara is 4 KMs on the right (from Vagamon) and has a longest viewpoint. Even a wide angle lens would cry to cover everything. A Pano shot in the mobile phone came in handy and managed to get a glimpse of it. Its definitely a worthy stopover on the way.
On our way back right next to Theni Bus stand, we had our lunch at Saraswathi Bhavan, which was one the best meals we had only next to the home mess’s in Madurai. Later we opened a time capsule we prepared in 2012 and discussed the past year and the current.
4th Jan 2015
It continued!!.. Our guys finally got dropped in Bangalore around 5 in the morning which marked the longest journey we ever took for a new year trip. But memories recorded here would make that long journey a smile in the future, I hope. 😉
Adrak summer sand resort VagamonPine Forest VagamonVagamon Meadows (Motta Gundu)Near Thangal ParaiSuicide point, VagamonSuicide point, VagamonGift exchange and gamesview from Thangal ParaiKurisumala ChurchView from Paruthumpara