As with every other tour initiation, this too started with a mail and then continued with the endless Reply All. Flood of mails included everything from zeroing of the location, checking the accommodation, short listing places to visit, route to take, maps to use… Something like requirement analysis (who is available, what time, interested in trek?, can a leave be taken?) to the (hourly) schedule(itinerary). This is by far most planned tour. Even then, I as usual do not believe the tour would happen until I sit in the car (or until I finish the tour … last time we planned to Munnar and till we reached Munnar we were not sure whether we would go there). There are many reasons to remain so skeptical…you see the world is so unpredictable. The number of times the tours got cancelled or didn’t go well are almost 4 times the number of those that did go well. More importantly, to this particular spot, the tour was planned around 6 times and each time resulting in either total cancellation or change of destination. The name of the city had thus become more familiar than the tourist spots to which I have visited.

So started my thoughts even before we started. Meanwhile, due to some requirements I could not leave the office early and that left me with the option of taking the already booked Bangalore Express. Wow..what a misnomer. The train, I am sure, was reluctant to travel to Bangalore. The surname of Express is totally misleading. And to my (and other participants of the tour) ill fortune, the train showed no movements even 90 minutes after its scheduled departure time. Our itinerary dictated us to start latest by 8 (that too only because of me!) but this additional 2 hours meant the whole plan is going to go for a toss. I could no longer keep my eyes open and feel bad about it, regret and think of 101 ways in which things could have been better or differently managed. It always happens. Experience is the best teacher. To my further agony, whenever I broke from my sleep and opened my eyes, I would find the train motionless. It happened so many times that I felt I would still be in Chennai even at 8 AM, the time of scheduled departure to Wayanad from Bangalore. And I let “my minutest hope that the tour would happen” sink and felt sorry for other 3 guys who were all set. Worse, they would keep waiting, in hope, for me to arrive.

Finally around 10 AM after a quick brush and breakfast, we started our tour, keeping in mind the inevitable changes that were to happen to much planned time table. I really thank these guys for not to cancel the trip in which case I would have been heart broken for the nth time and exhausted to think of Waynad tour again!

Around 12 we reached Kadumane and had another round of breakfast. Reached Mysore around 3 and searched for a Paradise to have lunch. (Notes to self – hereafter NTS- An experience to keep in mind. Never search for hotels while on tour. Barge in to the decent hotel and get on with the tour. Tour and time is more important) Then cruised through the jungle to Kalpetta. Sunset and other evening spots were missed out (especially lake. After Hyderabad lake visit in the hot afternoon, I am very averse to the idea of visiting a lake in the afternoon and wished [against odds] to cover the lake in the beautiful evening. But as you would see, I failed again). The lovely roads coupled with views of inviting jungles, wonderful brand new car drive what with noted music directors entertaining us through out the tour, with the company of some nice friends and snacks, the purpose of tour was almost accomplished. I have often observed that the company and the journey is almost as important as the places to be visited to make it a complete nice tour. Ever since I had seen DCH with SK, I had wished to go on a tour with him in a car, like this. And plans for a tour with Nbk and RS are in the making ever since RS has bought a car!

Reached Kalpetta so late that we could not do anything but to search for resort (NTS – as above) but we had already booked rooms at a reasonably good place and we checked in there. We walked around the city and SK noted the time when most of the people get their hair cut in this place. We had dinner at Hotel Harithagiri. Here more than the dinner we observed and noted the design and raw materials used for everything – bamboo. We also hatched our plan, design and name for our own restaurant that we are going to start in another 6-8 years in Bangalore (which could possibly expand to chain of restaurants – speciality being – good vegetable dishes served along with drinks). The name would be Udupi Jungle.

Lots of shoots happened with each one turning as creative and artistic as possible either in photographing or in posing.
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Being all boys group, not to mention, matter talk happened along with other many discussions ranging from blogs, politics, movies, gossips, tennis, car races. Interestingly not once did we speak about cricket -Indian cricket. Then it was time to rest after the re-plan of the itinerary for the next day, along with finalizing on the routes to take – with the help of the map. Re-plan and route finalizing kept happening through out next day.

Early start was mandatory next day. Alas everyone was in deep sleep. Thanks to SK who woke up and tried to wake us up, we began [albeit half an hour later than the plan]. We went in search of Sun rise valley. By the time, we reached some point which we only decided our destination, the Sun has already come up but was hidden in clouds. With constant fear of running out of petrol we took best possible routes [and in this confusion missed & lost the Soochipara falls] and covered a picturesque tea estate, a waterfalls [Kanthanpara] (only sight seeing), had breakfast and went to lake[Pookot].
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Lake was wonderful surrounded by the trademark beauty of Kerala- God’s own land (NTS- I have to visit the interiors of Kerala and experience long cruise through backwaters, the wish pending from 3-4 years). The sailor was more than happy to let me do the job.Waynad/Wayanad_174.jpg Now that I am more than an amateur, he too appreciated and promised to get me a license next time I go there. He also was more interested in taking photos himself that I had to snatch my own camera from him few times.

We noted one prominent thing in Wayanad, the places are not as well marked as in website. There are no directions mentioned, no sign boards and worst of all the local people have no clue as to what “tourist” spot we are looking for. The falls was present as if in someone’s backyard.

After checking out we proceeded towards the dam. It is being renovated or being constructed. And to mention that as tourist spot in the website is surprising for us who have seen absolutely marvelous KRS dam. This visit, we realized later, was a waste of time. Especially walk to the dam and back.
Then we headed in search of Phantom rock and by this time we were convinced that it is going to be some rock for which we have to assume some shape and visualize it as Phantom Rock. Also that we would see it from the windows of our car and we can not get there. We were right. But still we went in search of it and returned.
Finally it was Edakkal Caves. A govt jeep shall take us through the steep hill to the caves. The best part of the tour (next to the journey, of course) is indisputably these caves. In around 4000BC tribal people lived here and their carvings of tribal head, man, woman and dog etc can be seen on the walls. Carvings in dravidian script could also be found. The rocks have been split by an earthquake. From the first point we could get good views and good photos. Waynad/Wayanad_236.jpg

We saw many other points through a telescope. Including Phantom rock.
We could not get to second point which involved some trekking and we had absolutely run out of time (we were still hoping to reach Blore by end of day). This is where we looked back where exactly we could have saved some time. We would get absolutely wonderful views from the top of all the 3 states Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. I am sure the effort would be more than worth if we get to the top.

Again wonderful drive through the jungle. Both our drives were in the evening and I just love that. Add to that short drizzles make it more wonderful. (Though we had rains following us the day before). RS and BK were skeptical that the lorry we saw the previous day was the victim of football playing by elephant and wanted to rush through the jungle. Also, finally thankfully we could see 2 elephants and few deers otherwise we should have been satisfied with the views of only wild dogs.

We reached Mysore, early enough to do something , late enough not to continue our travel. Due to the program of last day of Janmastami and because it was Sunday, the palace was lightedWaynad/Wayanad_279.jpg. Few more clicks, search for hotel, dinner and sleep. Two days were over.

Get up early morning, stop at Coffee day for a short break, cruise towards Bangalore, hoping that RS and SK would be able to reach office.

Nbk constantly planned, re-planned, routed and re-routed (sometimes with the help of the knowledge of Kilometers obtained from the locals). He constantly renamed the places too! Nbk Waynad/Wayanad_116.jpgalso managed Djing. RSWaynad/Wayanad_117.jpg posed for photos most of the time and deleted the photo for which he did not pose (that is not being sporty and RS, I will never forgive you for this). RS also drove superbly enjoying himself as much as we did. SKWaynad/Wayanad_105.jpg, along with directing and re-directing the routes, planned for the future restaurant, cut cool jokes, talked about his job and kept his cool despite the changing schedules (which would affect most to only him). I, enjoyed most of it, (along with making NTS), feeling bad for my contribution to upset the schedule, maintaining accounts and calculations, and experimenting Waynad/40f7.jpg with camera and clicking away the picsWaynad/Wayanad_167.jpg.

Thanks guys for hanging on with the tour. Where next and when ?
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