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Tuesday, 26 Dec 2006: Adventure in the Kodai Forests January 12, 2007

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in India, Travel.
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Today was our last day in Kodai. Our efficient guide got me a bus ticket from Kodai to Madurai and then from there to Kollam by train. (Just for a charge of 10 Rs!) My friend was travelling from Kodai to Coimbatore and from there to Cannanore. We visited Sami’s stall for breakfast. It was vadas for me again. Took some snaps with Kodaikanal Lake and the Kodai Hills in background. Thank God for the feature called ‘auto click’ in cameras. I lost my jacket, while posing with a ‘monkey’. My buddy went back there in the evening and got it back, apparently the watchman had preserved it for us! Went for our Kodaikanal Forest Tour. Visited Coaker’s Walk and then saw the magnificent Kodai Lake at a height from a view point, quite naturally called, Lake View.

Passed by the Kodaikanal Golf Club. The guide told the tourists: We are passing by the Kodaikanal Golf Club. To which a tourist from Mumbai promptly replied: If we are not stopping here, why the hell are you telling us that this is the Golf club? To which the guide replied: The club is closed to tourists as they used to have lunch on the greens and litter it. India for you. Took a trek through the rows of pine trees and deciduous shola trees where playful monkeys flitted around as people were shrouded in clouds of mist. These forests have been a shooting location for many movies. Had a group of local village women, who were returning from the forest after gathering wood to pose for a snap with their bundles of twigs. Couldn’t catch a glimpse of the famed Pillar Rocks as fog played havoc. Saw the ‘in’famous Guna cave aka Devil’s Kitchen, which was a shooting location for the famous Tamil film ‘Guna’. Apparently the cave is off limits to tourists, as 12 people have fell into the depths of the cave and they haven’t yet discovered their bodies. I guess that’s where my buddy lost his mobile phone trying to perform acrobatics with monkeys. Also got to see the famous ‘suicide point’ which is now called Green Valley. Couldn’t see anything beyond the edge of the cliff, but managed to a few click amazing snaps.

Even saw a flower merchant selling flowers that are said to last at least 20 years without wilting. Visited the striking 133-year old blue and white Lady of La Salette Church built in gothic style, Kurinji Andavar temple and Chettiar Park before getting dropped at the bus stand to take my 4.30pm bus to Madurai. The drive to Madurai was fun. Watched the bus descend the hills covered by dense forests, through the very narrow, winding road. We occasionally stopped to give way to vehicles making the ascent to Kodai. Even captured a massive fight between some rowdies on the road on video. Once we reached the plains, the bus picked up speed and we soon cruised past Dindigul, overtaking luxury coaches as well as bullock carts.

Reached Madurai Railway Station around 8pm. Shopped for dhotis and was told that Sree Sabaris was the best veg joint in town. Managed to get a seat in the jam-packed eatery. Splurged on paneer omelette, and masala dosa? Deposited my backpack at the railway station cloak room. Got to a Satyam Broadband Internet shop. Got back to the station, gawked at the trains and babes. Drooled. Saw an MLA being escorted by his entourage to a waiting train. Watched at least four super fast trains enter and exit Madurai Junction’s platform no. 1, enjoyed watching the loco pilots do their custom checks and start off their trains. A particular senior driver named J. Periaswamy made a lasting impression. And so did the dozen odd mosquitoes that gave me unwanted attention.

The 727 Madurai – Kollam Passenger rolled into a very crowded platform no. 3 for departure. The station staff did not turn the lights on in the train. A Canadian couple led the way to passengers in my coach with a flashlight. Yours truly impressed himself by turning the lights on from the coach electrical switchboard. As the train slowly trundled out of Madurai, I plugged into my music player…

To view more snaps from Kodaikanal, click on http://new.photos.yahoo.com/schmoozeby/
Type ‘Kodaikanal’ in the ‘search tags’ field in the top right corner and click ‘Go’.

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