Recent Trip to Kodaikanal - Summer Vacation 2010
When we asked Mridula her choice of place to visit – she said, twice we visited Puri; hence, this time let us programme to Kodaikanal. We visited Kodaikanal some 7 years ago.
Mridula arrived in Kolkata on 14th May after completing her 4th semester BPharm. Our ticketing was done for Kodaikanal trip. Stay in Kodai was arranged by dear friend ARamakrishnan (ARK) of my Chennai office through FCM Travels, Chennai.
On 4th June Friday night we three left by Chennai Mail at 1145 PM. Thank God. We managed to get berths in the same 3AC bay of 8 berths. We had a good company of Shri NS Aluwalia and family members. Reached Chennai on 6th Morning. We arranged the day stay at Egmore Surya Inn, near the station. Rs600/- we paid for 2+1 beds; small 8x6 room with toilet. Just okay. Rested for a while. Refreshed and checked out to Egmore station.
Boarded the Vaigai Express at 12.40 pm for Madurai. We are scheduled to reach Kodai Road by 8.30 and Madurai by 9 pm. After dinner, we had plans to take a comfortable car drive to Kodaikanal to reach by 11 or to stay in a hotel near Madurai Junction. But, the train was running very much behind schedule.
Little tensed about night stay/travel at that late hours; a fellow passenger, a saastrigal, who had a high-end Nokia mobile – checked by GPS where we were and how much time it might take to reach Kodai Road/Madurai et al - suggested that we get down at Dindugal Station, take a bus to Vathalagundu; from there to take a share-car to uphills. Sincere Thanks to him.
We got down at Dindugal Station. A new place to us. We walked and walked through the platform – it was like Kharagpur Platform (the then No. 1 long platform in Asia). Came out of the station – hired an auto at Rs 100/- (possibly seeing our face with tension, tired of hunger, seeing around like a stranger, he demanded hell) to reach the bus stand; took the next bus to Vathalagundu; We reached Vathalagundu Bus stand by 10 pm. Had Dosas! (whatever was available) for dinner. Mridula and I were concerned about her mother’s food timings. Really, a late dinner for her. Enquired for buses to uphill – past 10, no buses; next bus (if arrives) might leave by 12 mid night!
We stood outside – waiting with our luggage; Two ladies with one man – night 10.30 – new place – what to do and how to be safe at that strange place. I had a wavering mind, whether to take night shelter in any nearby hotel in Vathalagundu itself.
I saw an 8-seater Qualis, a passenger sitting in the front seat, calling me; before he asked anything I enquired, is it going uphills. He said, 300; I again asked how I should pay – is it only 300/- for 3 persons. He said YES. I did not utter a single word. I picked up the luggage and took my family – got seated in the middle facing the uphill (This information I got from the net – one tourist had written not to sit in the side seats or facing the downhill; one may vomit). Thanked God. While chanting Mahamantram, I prayed that we three get to the hotel comfortably.
Other passengers (two in the front and one at the back) got down on the way. We three were reached to our Hotel JC Grand, just opposite Kodai Bus stand. It was past 1 am. Somehow, I liked our travel uphills; and felt holding the driver-V. PRABHU, even after reaching the hotel. Woke up the Durwan to open the gate. Released the car and driver – exchanged our mobile nos. and told him to meet us next day after 10 am.
VGP Tours & Travels
5/60, Naidupuram, Kodaikanal 624 101
Mob: 98426-87402, 96005-05272
[The room showed to us was horrible – with cockroaches, cobwebs; no bed sheets. Typical Kolkatan way, shouted at him and demand a room immediately for staying the wee hours. We were given a suite. Disturbed travel, late food, traveling to uphills, fighting for a comfortable room etc. Finally, all ended well. We retired in that wee hours. Thanks to HIM. We 3 reached our destination safely.]
"2-day sight-seeing in Kodaikanal"
7th June 2010 Monday
Had Coffee/Tea from nearby shop; Changed our room and settled comfortably. Prabhu arrived in front of the hotel and discussed. He gave his printed pamphlet of different tour packages. Prabhu said Rs800/- to be paid for the day and he was to take us to the following places. Somehow we got so impressed with Prabhu’s positive attitude, his manners interacting with us etc. We started at 10 am. Just near the bus stand, flower sellers were sitting. A 6” long jasmine maalai was sold at Rs20/-. The flowers are coming from nearby Madurai but so costly.
Pine Forest (Cine Shooting Point) - 500 Yrs Old Pine Tree
Kodaikanal Solar Observatory
Upper Lake View
Green Valley View
Kodaikanal Silent Valley View
LA SALETTE CHURCH - St Mary Church
Kodai Herbs/Oil/Spices/HomemadeChocolates from the renowned shop
We got dropped in the hotel back around 6.30 pm. Though we had heavy breakfast, since not having had a good lunch, except some titbits, snacks and tea, we were tired but having moved out in very good climatic conditions, the thrill was still in the mind and the body was co-operating with that. We released Prabhu for the day; told him to report next day at 9 am.
8th June 2010 Tuesday
On our getting ready and having had a heavier breakfast, dot at 9, Prabhu called on us. We did not talk on the money matter. We just hopped in the vehicle and commenced our tour.
Pambar Falls known as Grand Cascade
The Sacred Heart College
Silver Cascade (Falls)
Bear Shola Falls
(When we visited there was absolutely no water)
We returned by 6 pm. Prabhu said 800 for that day too. Though we said, charge is a bit more compared to the previous day outing, heart of heart we wanted to give him 800. We were enquiring with him during the trip, about his taking us Kodai-Palani-Pollachi-Coimbatore on 9/6 Wednesday. He said his car is not okay; he can depute someone else etc. So, instead of giving 800, we gave only 300/- to him; saying that the balance 500 will be given, when he takes us to coimbatore next day.
"Journey downhill (Palani-Pollachi-Coimbatore)"
9th June Wednesday
Morning we got ready and checked out at 9 am. We were waiting for Prabhu. We had plans that if he does not turn up, we would take a bus to coimbatore straight from kodai. Thanks to HIM – Prabhu phoned that he would report at 10 and did so.
Praying Vetrivel Muruganukku Arohara, we commenced our journey. There are totally 27 sharp bends down the hill. What a panoramic view, landscape – Oh God what a nature. It was an enjoyable trip down to plains.
Closer and Closer, the Palani hills were visible. Oh What a beauty of Banala leaves. Both sides everywhere Banana leaves.
Mridula was feeling a bit sick – possibly she did not take adequate food last night and no good breakfast too. She had acidity and uncontrollably vomited on the car door. Prabhu did not even rise his eyebrows. He stopped the car in the nearby water outlet. Both Mridula and Prabhu cleaned the car. Mridula felt very weak and tired.
We reached Palani around 11.30 AM. Prabhu parked the car and stayed in. We three proceeded to the temple gate. The touts near the temple pressurized us to buy this and that for taking up the hill. We purchased cable car tickets and moved up. Purchased Rs100 Special Dharshan tickets. We had to move in the queue. Thanks God. We were allowed to sit near the sanctum Sanctorum. Had a good dharshan of Sri Sri VelMurugan.
When we came out, purchased Panchamritham and moved in for CableCar, it was closed for lunch. They opened only at 2.15 PM. It was a monkey menace while sitting in the queue. We reached downhill through cable car at 3 pm. Rushed in the car to a hotel for lunch.
After having a good lunch, we proceeded to Coimbatore via Pollachi. I wanted Mridula to view the array of windmills in the industrial belt. Such giant blades and windmills, mridula was so excited, she started clicking snapshots and recorded videos, as if there is no tomorrow. Prabhu was so accommodative and understanding, he moved the car very slowly whenever we asked for, parked the car at good locations for taking photos.
We entered Coimbatore City by 5 pm. On the way enquired at every now and then (to avoid getting into a wrong route and returning) and we reached Ganapathy. We phoned Mrs Geetha and got the direction to reach her place.
At 6 PM, Prabhu, comfortably reached us in front of my dear friend Kelath Srinivasan Nair’s house ‘SHREYAS’. We paid Prabhu 500+2800 (normal rate for kodai to coimbatore). He was happy on our keeping up our words – paid him in full without any bargaining. Of course, he deserves that treatment. He is a good pilot, good guide and a good humanbeing too. We would be happy if anyone engages Prabhu during his/family trip to Kodai and makes the trip a memorable one.
Kodaikanal is unique place. Rows and rows of silky pine trees sloping down to clear, cold streams, spectacular views which suddenly disappear in foamy mist, people bundled up in sweaters and overcoats. We seek peace quiet in a hill station, not the noise and fume of factories. Hopefully the powers-that-be will not allow Kodaikanal to become spoilt.