7/9 – Tamhini Ghat

In my earlier post I had mentioned about the desire to go to Tamhini Ghat in near future in monsoon season. But at that time it didn’t seem to be happening this year, time constraints you know ;). But suddenly this Sunday, we didn’t had much to do and the weather was also good; cloudy but not raining, so I suggested if we can go to Tamhini Ghat. It was on the fly plan, Baba wanted to take rest and Aai was not feeling well, so I, G and Ar decided to go. My plan was to start early so that we can enjoy some time there and be back before dark. But we got delayed and could start only by 2:30 pm.

We were quite late and I was worried a bit, of getting stranded in traffic jam on the way back and also if it would be dark on the way back. The drive was good, great weather, bit cold outside, it was perfect time to go. The road to take is the same as for Mulshi, through Chandani chowk, continue on Paud road and then take semicircular roundabout of Mulshi backwaters. It was all green this time compared to last time we visited as the rains had just started then. Also at that time Mulshi backwaters was quite empty, but now it was almost full and overflowing at some places. Such a great sight and refreshing for us all. We could also see clouds descending low and I was enjoying the drive.

The road to Mulshi is fairly good, but after that the roads are really bad, especially in small ghat sections. At many places roads had been washed away due to heavy rains which happen in this part. We reached the Tamhini village by 4:30 pm. The name of the ghat has been given from this base village. Then we started the ghat ascent. The ghat is one of the most beautiful I have seen. It passes through dense jungle where hardly any sun rays were reaching. Due to clouded weather it was even more darker. There are so many waterfalls on the way, many of them falling from very top of hills. Sounds of so many waterfalls, enchanted our ears.

We then stopped at one of the view spot, from where you could see total of 4 waterfalls. One of them bit far, but big and falling from quite a height. Also we could see many peaks of Sahyadri hills. It was such a great sight. We could have been there whole day. Ar also had cheered up by then. Actually, she was having cough and cold since last few days and only because it had receded a bit that day, we had decided to go out. But she was still recovering from it and was bit subdued overall. We would have liked to go bit further and explore this area more, but as we were getting late, we decided to start the return journey.

On the way we had spotted many small waterfalls as well for us to go, but had decided to be there and enjoy on return. At one such place, where there was no one, we pulled up. We then got into the waterfall. The water was so cold and pristine clear. We had a great time there. Earlier Ar was not getting into the water, which was bit strange, but understandable, considering she was still recovering from cold, but finally she also could not resist getting into gar gar papa . We were there for 15- 20 minutes and then we moved on.

We wanted to have some snacks on the way and G suggested having kanis, at stalls which we had seen on our way here. We pulled up at one such place, but there was a big crowd there and as we were already bit late, we decided to head on. We reached home by 6:30 pm, encountering bit of heavy rain on our return journey. With this short trip, we were rejuvenated for the week to come, though unfortunately Ar didn’t enjoy it that much 😦

Ooty – Coonoor – Mysore : Day 5: 18 – August – 2014

Again woke up early and got ready. Today’s plan was to cover Zoo and then head for Bangalore airport as early as possible. Our flight was at 8:30 pm. We wanted to take no chances and were willing to reach early and wait there rather than later rushing through to catch the flight. We packed everything and went down for breakfast. It was ok. We had wanted to leave hotel by 8:45 am as we had heard that the zoo opens by 9:00 am, but driver called and told us that it opens by 10:00 am, so we took it easy. We left for the zoo by 9:30 am. On the way we had decided to buy Mysore pak for family, which we bought on the main road at Mahalakshmi store.

We reached the zoo just in time at 10:15 am and bought tickets and went in. We were thinking of covering as much as possible on foot, before heading back. But we saw electric bus inside, which takes you through the complete zoo and drops you back at the entrance gate. The whole ride is for 1 hour, this is very good option. The bus was almost full and there was one group in front of us. So it seemed we might not get it and we will have to walk instead. But that group had more members than available seats and so we got lucky and got the 2 seats for us.

The zoo is very good and there are so many animals in it. Ar liked it very much, especially tiger and hippo. When we were near the hippo’s place, he was being fed and he was opening its big mouth, seeing that Ar also started doing the same and every time I use to say what does hippo do and she would show me her stretched open mouth :). You can see many animals while sitting in the bus only which moves along slowly. For the zones, which are bit off road, the bus stops close by and then you cover that zone by foot. The zoo is very well maintained and many of the animals are kept in open, with only ditches separating the visitors, not barbed fences or steel cage etc. We enjoyed it a lot and were back to entrance. We then started for Bangalore airport by 12:00 pm. Before leaving I bought naral pani, which G was waiting to have since last 4 days.

On the way we took break for lunch at a food mall. We ordered South Indian thali and it had very good rasam and other delicacies. I bought a counting and reading toy for Ar and we left. When we entered the village of toys (don’t know the name of the village, but it is famous for wooden and other kinds of toys) and G bought few toys there. We reached near Bangalore by 3:45 pm and were welcomed by heavy traffic . We reached the airport by 6:00 pm. We settled the cab fare(he had added an extra day, which I got cleared from agency and paid accordingly).

We decided to have dinner at airport itself. From the point we entered the airport gates lobby, we saw a food chain called Malgudi Days, which was serving Kerala food and linking the name we thought that it would have good, so ordered, podi idli, medur vada and coffee etc. The food was very bad and I am never going to have those items again :(. Medur vada was has hard as steel . The flight was on time and we headed back to Pune. Ar again enjoyed the plane ride, though at the flag end of flight journey, she cried a bit. We reached Pune by 10:15 pm. Our cab was waiting for us and we started back towards home and reached by 11:00 pm.

It was such a great 5 days trip and we covered so much in this time. Ar also enjoyed a lot and it was her first plane and railway ride. Memories for lifetime 🙂

Ooty – Coonoor – Mysore : Day 4 (14/8 – 18/8)

We had decided to start early today as we had to reach Mysore and do some sightseeing there, plus we had to do checkout formalities in the morning. We woke up early, go ready quickly. I had packed most of things yesterday evening itself. Remaining things we packed up and were ready to go for breakfast. The breakfast was regular only, but what was different was over courteousness of head chef. He personally served us many items and even served us his signature Dosa . It was Ok. Once we were done, we went to complete the checkout formalities and then we started for our next destination: Mysore, it was around 9:45 am. We had had great 3 days here in Ooty and were taking back sweet memories.

While coming to Ooty, we were not able to see the true beauty of Nilgiris. Now we were able to. The ghat section is quite big and we were passing through dense forests having many Nilgiri trees. The trees are very tall and they lend a unique dimension to the surroundings. The air was cool and we were enjoying the drive. On the way we took a stopover at a place which is called Shooting Point. This is a very scenic place and is called shooting point as many movie scenes have been shot here. The place is bit up hill and you have to climb to the top. From there you see hills all over with lush green forests. Great view indeed. We didn’t stop much as we had to reach Mysore early. The plan was to reach there by 2:00 pm, so that we can have lunch, take some rest and move for sightseeing.

On the way we again passed through Bandipura/Mudumalai forest reserve. In the day the jungle looked less creepy and this time we had morning jungle safari. We spotted a bear and also herd of deer’s. There may have been 50+ deer’s there and it was a great sight. We reached Mysore city by 2:30 pm and due to misadventures of driver we could reach to hotel by 3:00 pm only. He was not much well versed with the place, but he was not willing to admit it. So he went round and round and then finally we had to ask for directions to reach our destination. Our itinerary in Mysore had Palace, Brindavan gardens and Zoo, to be covered today and tomorrow. But as we had reached late, it looked that Palace would have to be skipped. We had pre ordered food as we had done in course of our journey to Ooty. We had food in our room itself, punjabi dishes for us and khichadi for Ar.. again.

We finally left by 4:15 pm for sightseeing. The plan was to go to Brindavan gardens. But I thought why not give Palace a try. The closing time was 5:30 pm, so there was some room there and also we would not wait there much and rush to Brindavan gardens. We were not sure about the timings for musical fountain there, but reaching there by max 6:30 pm was a good bet, but we wanted to reach bit early to see the garden and other fountains in day light. The garden was around 1 hour drive from our hotel. So I told our driver about the change in plan and we headed toward the Palace, which was around 10 minutes drive from our place. We got the ticket and entered the palace. The Palace is very large and intimidating. Its architecture is combination of Gothic and Indian. It’s very beautiful. Our plan was to see it from outside only and leave, but the urge to see it from inside was too much to control and so we decided to allocate 15 mins and have a peek inside. It’s spell bounding to say the list, large portraits, paintings, sculptures, the grand central dome, everything reminded us of the glory gone by. It would take hours to give justice to this palace, but we had only 15 minutes. So we moved on quickly and covered most of it. We then realized we had been there for more than half an hour:) Then we headed back, with heavy heart. We really wanted to explore it more. For some other trip 😉 .

Then we left for Brindavan. The road to it is good in patches. While going there we saw a lot of Mysore and I really liked the city. I would even think of settling there some day :), don’t know what G would think of this 😉 . The weather and city is quite like Pune, but its more planned and it’s more like Pune of 90’s. It took around an hour to reach the garden. After crossing the bridge over river Kavery, we reached the garden. This was set up by British after the construction of the dam there. On the other side of dam, the garden has been sculpted and many fountains have been created all throughout, using the waters of the canal from the dam. The garden was instant hit with Ar. Some much gar gar pa pa, she could have been there all day. We covered most of the garden and water fountains. There are many type of them, some small, some big, they have crafted few waterfalls also on the way. Indeed beautiful and refreshing. We all enjoyed that a lot. Then we headed for the musical fountain, which is on the other side. We had to cross the bridge over Kavery backwaters to reach the other side. Here Ar threw over mau, we had purchased on Dodabetta peak. Then she started crying .

By the time we reached near the musical fountain she was alright again. There is a big fountain at the center surrounded by amphi theatre like seating arrangements. By the time we reached there the stands were full. So we took a seat on the ground, near to the fountain. It was a perfect timing. We would have been there only 5 minutes and the show started at 7:00 pm. The fountain is set on local and Bollywood songs. It was getting dark now and the musical fountain was great place to sit and enjoy the show. They have synchronized the music to the fountain very well, water; rising, falling, spinning, shooting out as pert he beats. Ar liked it very much. We were there for 4-5 songs and then we decided to leave. On the way back, we took break for coffee. We were expecting very good South Indian style coffee, but it was not great. Still in the cold night we enjoyed it. Then we started back. Our trip was almost coming to an end, tomorrow we were heading back home. As always, feeling crossed our mind, if we could have few more days .. 🙂

On the way I booked the cab for tomorrow from Pune airport to our home. We decided on our plans for tomorrow as well. On the way back, we asked the driver to pass by the Palace to see it illuminated. It was raining that evening and due to that power was shut off in Mysore and so no lighting :(. But we had already watched the illuminated Palace on our way to Mysore on the first day. So no issues . We reached the hotel by 8:30 pm. We were quite tired, so ordered the food in room only. It was ok and we packed the bags and went to sleep.

Ooty – Coonor – Mysore : Day 3(14/8 – 18/8)

We woke up late in the morning. It was very cold. We got ready quickly and went for breakfast. It was usual and we took our time as we were not in hurry. Today’s plan was to cover Coonoor . It is another famous hill station in Nilgiris, around 18 km from Ooty. It was bit lower in altitude, but is equally beautiful. One of the main reasons for selecting Coonor for our trip was to travel on the world famous Nilgiri Mountain Railway, which we were going to take from Ooty to Coonoor. It is part of World heritage site and it runs from the plains to the its last destination Ooty, but were only going to board the Ooty-Coonoor route. The day before, I had inquired at the resorts reception about the timings and all and came to know the first train starts at 9:00 am, which was too early for us and the next scheduled time was 12:15 pm. The Ooty station was around 1.5 km from the resort. The plan was to go to Coonoor from Ooty by train, in the meantime our driver would reach Coonoor station by road and then pick us at the station, then we would do sightseeing in Coonoor and will return to Ooty by cab only.

So we had enough time on our hand. We went around the resort a bit to have a look. Also took many pics with Ar. Just outside our room, there was a small garden. Ar played there a lot. Then we decided to move on. There was still lot of time for the train departure, so we had decided to use the time for quick shopping. We wanted to buy few things for family and relatives and so asked the driver to take us to some good shopping place. He took us to a super market for the tourist and there we got most of things we wanted. I even bought a good picture book of Ooty and surroundings, which while leaving the resort, forgot in the room only 😦 .

It was almost 11:20 am now and we decided to go to the station to book the tickets. I had thought that we were reaching well in advance for the booking. But when we reached there we saw a very long queue. This was due to the long weekend crowd, which had descended on Ooty. There we came to know that the tickets are almost sold out. We were not aware that these tickets are also available for booking online, else we would have booked them well in advance. The counter was still closed as it opens just half an hour before the scheduled time of train and looking at the queue it seemed almost impossible that we would get tickets. There was a guy hanging out there, telling people that just opposite the station you can get the tickets from some agent. So I asked G to have a look, while I stand in the queue, but by the time she went the 12:15 pm tickets were sold out. By this time the counter had opened and within few minutes, the tickets got sold out here too 😦 . We cursed our luck and felt very bad. This was the last train for us, the next one would be very late, also it looked difficult to get the return train from Coonoor, one due to low availability of tickets and also we would hardly have any time to see Coonoor. The last train from Coonoor to Ooty was at 4:30pm.

As we had no other option but to travel to Coonoor by cab, we called up the driver and he picked us up. We were still feeling sad about missing the train journey, which incidentally would have been Ar’s first train travel, but the road route is still very good, the ghat section passes through jungle of Nilgiri trees. The weather was great, it was raining a bit. Ar had gone to sleep, but we enjoyed the ride. We did lot of video shooting of the route. We reached Coonoor in 30 minutes and first went to look out for hotel, to get something for Ar’s lunch. We packed Dosa for Ar and then decided to go to Coonoor station to check for availability of tickets for train going to Ooty at 4:30 pm. Actually it was already 1:00 pm when we reached Coonoor and it would have given us very little time to see Coonoor if we have to catch 4:30 pm train, but my mind was not resting to know that we would be missing one of the main attractions of the trip. At the station we came to know that we might get the tickets, but the counter opens only 30 mins before the train schedule. So we decided to leave this to luck and went ahead to see Coonoor .

Our first point was Kim’s park , which was established during British times. The park is a botanical garden and has many different species of trees. It’s a great experience to move around the park with so much to see. One thing I liked about this park is that it has been developed on the natural slope of the mountain. Then we went to see another tea garden and estate. After we reached top of the hill, where the garden was, we could see many tea gardens far across, overlooking the mountains. What a sight. There is a small , but very good garden on the top, but it was closed the time we were there. But we were able to have glimpses of it from outside. Then we decided to visit other attractions like Dolphin point etc. By this time thought of taking the train was out of our mind. Now we were on the road to reach these points and we saw some traffic there on route. We had been in traffic at many places at Ooty and Coonoor sue to narrow roads and ever increasing vehicles cause the bottle necks. But usually it got cleared in some time. It had been 15 minutes and we were still on the same spot. Then few guys who were coming from the other side told that there is heavy traffic jam and you may take 2+ hours to reach the points. We thought this is the day, nothing is going to go right for us :(. Reluctantly we decided to take U turn.

We were thinking of returning to Ooty, but decided to just have a look at the Coonoor station to see if we can get the train. We were not hopeful, but decided to give it a shot anyway. When we reached the station, there was already a medium sized queue on ticket counter. G was not very hopeful, but I thought that anyways this day is almost a washout, so why not just wait in the queue and see what happens. The counter was still closed, so G and Ar were still sitting in the cab. At 4:00 pm the counter opened and I called G to check if someone ahead in the queue can buy 2 tickets for us, in case by the time I reach the counter they are sold out. After much persuasion, G was able to convince one girl ,who was in a group to buy tickets for us. They were mid-way in the queue , from where I was standing. She got the tickets for us and I left the queue. Finally luck shined on us that day and we were all set for the ride 🙂 . The tickets which we had got were for general compartment and that too for standing. But we didn’t mind much as at least we go the tickets and we were on our way on this historic train.

We then boarded the train and were standing in the aisle of the compartment. The girl who had got tickets for us had got a seat somehow, but then she offered it to G seeing that she was carrying Ar. It was really a nice gesture. The train was yet to start and people were still boarding it. There was hardly any place now in train, still people kept coming. As G was seating next to door, the place near the door soon got crowded. People standing like me had hardly any place to keep our foot. Then the train started, first it goes back few meters and then it moves forward. The train passes through middle of the mountain, along narrow ridges, over many bridges, through various tunnels and stops at few small stations mid-way. The route is scenic and the ride is great. The ride quite comfortable. G and Ar were not much comfortable due to crowd, I though standing enjoyed the ride very much. I shot almost the whole journey. We reached Ooty station at around 5:45 pm. Train ride to
remember forever.

Our driver was waiting outside the station for us. We started back to resort and were there by 6:00 pm. Today was a mix day for us, we had few misses, but we also got what we wanted. We were also bit tired, so didn’t dwell out much. We had early dinner and went to sleep. After yesterday’s experience, even though I wanted to lite the fire place, I avoided that urge :).

Ooty – Coonor – Mysore : Day 2(14/8 – 18/8)

I woke up at 8:30 am. I was still feeling sleepy, but we were here on trip and not for sleeping :). Got ready quickly and then woke up G and then Ar as well. It was quite cold in the morning as was in night. Heater was our savior, without which we would have been frozen, at least I if not G and Ar .

We all got ready and then went to dinner room for breakfast at 10:20 am. The breakfast was server till 10:30 am only, so we were just in time. If I hadn’t pushed everyone so much, we would have missed it :). For Ar there was not much choice , so she had to have idli and some South India dishes. For us it was quite good.

Before leaving for sightseeing, I went to the reception to check on the booking status. Actually for 3 days we had bookings for 3 separate rooms, that’s the reason we had got the bookings. We were not getting 3 days continuous bookings online. I went over to check if we can keep the same room for all the 3 days, but he informed me that 2 bookings were for executive rooms and one which was for that day was for standard room, so I will have to switch rooms and requested me to keep my luggage packed, before going out, so that can shift us to the other room. I again requested him to give us the same room and I am willing to pay the upgrade. He told me he would try and I went back to room to get everything packed up. That took time for us and so we were able to start for the outside by 11:00 am only.

Our driver was already ready and we started immediately. Today’s plan was to cover Ooty sights. We first went to the botanical garden. It’s the garden set up by British and then expanded and maintained by the local government now. It’s very beautiful, with lots of species of trees. The garden has maintained the contour of the hills, so looks very good. There are few water bodies which Ar as always wanted to get into, which I was able to stop her with much efforts. They have also created various murals using plants; like geographical map of India, Mickey mouse, Mermaid etc. It was such pleasant site to roam around. Ar liked it a lot. On the entrance gate, there were many monkeys and Ar was after them. She was being too brave 🙂

Once done, we started for our next point Dodabetta peak. This is the highest point of Nilgiris and 3rd highest in western ghats at the height of 8500 feet above MSI. It’s up hill from Ooty and the route to this place is also very scenic. When we reached closer to the peak, we got stuck in traffic. It seemed that this would be jammed for a long time, so we got done in the middle only and decided to cover the remaining distance on foot. The whole area was covered in mist and we were walking in it. After walking around 15-20 minutes we reached the top. Such a great sight. You can see far across all the hills, greenery all covered in mist. It was quite cold and it was raining a bit and then it started drizzling. We took shelter and got hot coffee. It was a memorable moment, just life few years back I and G sipping coffee on snow clad mountain of Kufri. After some time the rain subsided a bit and we started the descent. On the way G got mau for Ar, which is her favorite toy, which she lost also in few days, the events which led to that would follow in 4th blog .

By the time we started descending, we saw the traffic was now smooth and asked the driver to pick us uphill only. We then moved on. On the way we saw Tea garden and estate, where we took break. We bought some tea and coffee, which frankly didn’t turned out to be good enough, which we realized after the first cup of tea back home. The tea was quite pale in taste. On the estate counter we came to know that we could have a walk in the tea garden and ticket charge was Rs40. As we hadn’t been to any tea garden before and wanted to see one we booked the ticket and went into the gardens. It feels good, we took many pics, but the tea leaves don’t smell like tea as was my assumptions. Seems that they get there aroma after they are dried and processed.

It was almost 12:30 pm now and we decided to have lunch. We asked the driver to take us to some good South India place to eat. The place he took us, some tiffin house, I don’t recollect the exact name. we order the South India meal and it was not good at all. Dal Khicahdi to Ar, which I believe was fine. We then packed Dosa for driver Uthapa for Ar for afterwards and moved towards our next destination. It was the Rose garden.

Rose garden in Ooty is spread across large area and it had hundreds of variety of Roses. All colors, sizes, shades. It was such a pleasant sight to watch. Ar was running all the across it. Aai would have liked to see this place. We took many pics and really liked this place. we also saw Green rose here, which looked quite unique. When we got back, came to know that driver had eaten Ar’s lunch as well . So on the way, went to same place gain to order another one for her.

It was now almost 4:00 pm and we decided to head for the last stop for today, the Ooty boat house. Its located across the Ooty lake and they have developed it as a garden, amusement park and food court. Various types of boats are available here. We chose the rowing boat and went boating. We thought the rates were quite reasonable. The lake is awesome and we had a great 45 minutes ride. Ar enjoyed the water. After that we decided to go for some rides for Ar. We went to the Dragon train ride, which runs across an oval shaped track and at very fast speed. Ar enjoyed the ride. I had read about the mini train ride in this garden and thought may be this was it :(. Once we were done with the ride, we started back. On the way I saw the board for Mini train pointing towards left of us. I quickly went over to the mini station they had built, to inquire if there is any trains still running. He replied in affirmative and I booked the tickets. After a wait of 20 minutes the train arrived and we got in. The train was good and the compartments were nice and cozy. The train passes through tunnels, hooting once a while, it takes a semicircular round of the Ooty lake and then starts backwards. It was fun ride, reminiscent of our mini train rides in Satara garden during my childhood. Ar enjoyed a lot and we took good video of the ride.

After having great time, we headed back. On the way there were couple of food stalls. We decided to have mirchi bhaji and tea. They were ok. We were back to resort by 6:30 pm. The resort had fireplace in the room and I always wanted to sit in front of one. Impact of movies I believe :). So I enquired to the hotel staff, they told me you just let us know once you are back from dinner as they don’t start the fireplace without someone being around. We then went to lunch at 8:00 pm, The diner was good. Once we were back, I called the room service to lit the fire place. He came with rockel and matches to lit the fire place. What an experience it was, something which I wanted to experience one day or night rather. I lay in the chair in front of it for long time. Actually I wanted to a read a book besides it, but that didn’t happen . Then we all were feeling sleepy, so decided to hit the bed. After very good start to the Ooty trip, Coonoor was our next stop for tomorrow. So after a tiring day we were hoping for a good night sleep, but then there was …

Fire….

No, no fire to room, but fire in fireplace. Now that’s obvious you may say, but tell that to G . The fireplace was still burning and we were still hearing the cracking sounds. But I was too tired to bother about this and had gone to sleep. But G was not getting sleep due to the thought that the fireplace is still active and even waked me up. I put in water on the fire, pulled out woods which had still not cached fire and it seemed that it’s over now and went to sleep. G woke me up again that fireplace has again started. It had now become bigger than before :(. I gain put in lot of water, but it again started in some time . Finally went to bed. It finally extinguished when it had consumed all the wood and our sleep 😉

Ooty – Coonoor – Mysore : Day 1(14/8 – 18/8)

The day finally came, for which we all were waiting (including Ar I think :)) since 1 month. We had Independence day long weekend of 3 days and we were thinking of adding 2 days leave to make it a 5 days’ vacation. I and G were thinking about the places to go during that time. The choices were limited due to monsoon period. Rajasthan, Gujrat were considered, but we finally zeroed in on Bangalore zone. We had in fact wanted to go to Bangalore to see R, his office and some places in and nearby the city. But R came back to Pune early and his next plans were not yet sure, so we decided to go on our own to nearby places of Bangalore for now and we can go back to the city when he is around. We were thinking about many options near Bangalore, like Ooty, Kodaikanal, Mysore, Coorg, Coonoor etc, but considering less number of days we had and the distances to cover and Ar being part of the trip, we decided on Ooty-Coonoor-Mysore from 8/14 to 8/18.

Then we got down to decide upon the itinerary and travel details. This required lot of research and we finally decided upon 2 days Ooty, 1 day Coonoor, with Ooty as base and 1 day Mysore. It was going to be packed schedule, but that suits us well :). Travel plans were then finalized, Pune to Bangalore by air and then on taxi for 5 days to all places and back to airport. This was going to be Ar’s 1st plane travel and I was excited for her. I had my first when I was 5 and half and Ar would have just turned 1 and half. Surely, every generation is moving ahead faster than the ones before them. Hotel booking was the iconic Savoy hotel at Ooty, which is almost 200 years old colonial era resort and Jade garden in middle of Mysore. So we were all set for the wonderful vacation

We had booked Indigo flight which was departing Pune at 11:10 am. I wanted to book an early flight, but G was like Ar would not be ready by then :). Actually one leg of the journey was going to be long one as distance from Bangalore airport to Ooty was 8 hours, Ooty to Mysore 4.5 hours and Mysore to Bangalore 3.5 hours. So we had decided to make our first day the loner day, so that we just go to Ooty and take rest and then the remaining days would not be much hectic.

We reached Pune airport through cab and we had enough time at hand. Ar was in good mood. Then finally the announcements were made and we boarded the flight. Ar was very excited and she enjoyed the take-off and landing quite a bit. In the flight also she was jolly and was looking outside the window once a while. We clicked quite a few pics in and outside the aircraft. The flight had come in late and so we reached late than expected to Bangalore at 1:00 pm. Luckily we got the luggage quickly, which was surprising as we normally get it very late(like during journey back to Pune :).

We collected the luggage and were out quickly. We called the driver and he informed us that he is nearby only and would be there to pick us in some time. But he was nowhere to be seen in the arrival lobby. We spotted Subway outlet, just we few feet away and as we were already bit late, we decided to take out sub for lunch. So I went there to pick the order and G and Ar waited in the lobby. I was back and still there was no trace of our cab. I called him again and he kept saying he is nearby blah blah and also he was not able to speak proper Hindi, so I was not able to get things clearly. Then called him few times, but still I was not sure what was happening. A time came when we were thinking of calling the agency through which we had booked the cab and then he just arrived. Due to all this lose in time, we were able to start only by 2:00 pm.

So, we were finally on our way to Ooty. Ar had her lunch in cab only. She was having a good time. The driver did lot of time pass, he even went to his home to get his clothes etc. and it took us a long time to be on track. On the way we saw Bangalore Metro, Bangalore university, etc and we then finally were on Mysore highway. The contour of down south is different. There are lots of hills like in Pune and surroundings, but the hills are more like a big rock patch, with very little vegetation’s, but they are of various shapes and look unique. The weather was also quite cool and we were enjoying our drive. The only concern I had was we were running late, quite late in fact. It was already 4:30 pm and we were still quite a distance from Mysore. We took a break for tea and some rest for driver. Then we were up again. It started raining heavily, really heavily and again it gave me bit of concern. The whole premise of this trip was that there won’t be much rains in Ooty and surroundings this time of the year and we would have no issues heading outdoors. But is its raining cats and dogs like this, then our trip is done :(. Luckily this was the first and last heavy spell of rains we experienced which we were very thank full of.

We were already running late and the rains reduced our progress significantly. We finally reached Mysore at 7:00 pm. Mysore looked like a great city and luckily we had a great view of palace in the night all lighted up. Would be in our memories for ever. Ar was taking intermittent sleeps. But all the beauty of Mysore was clouded with one concern that we were late, very late. We should have been here by max 5:00- 5:30 pm. One thought crossed our mind to take a halt for the night here only, but I still thought we would still make it by say 9:30-10:00 pm and also it would have been cumbersome, to find a place here now. So we continued.

On the way driver dropped a bomb on us. He informed us we had to pass through Bandipura wild life reserve and the gates to which closes at 8:30 pm. This is for safety of animals, who come and roam out in open. I think it was still 50+ km further and I could see we were in trouble. What if we don’t reach there by 8:30 pm we asked, to which he replied we will have to stay in forest reserve resort for the night. Now that was creepy. G gave the driver peace of her mind, which I had avoided to. This made the driver go at above average speed. This is not a good idea and I told G so. Then on the way he got some updated info that sometimes the gate is opened even till 9:00 pm and we were already past 8:30 pm. Finally we reached and passed the gate at 8:45pm and we very extremely lucky and thanked god for it.

Now after one adventure to another. We were passing through one of the largest and dense jungles of India. It was creepy and bit fearful to say the least. There was good amount of vehicles on the road, so that was comforting. We were experiencing the impromptu Jungle Safari. Looking back it was fun and real experience, but it was not so at that time. As per the instructions, we had rolled up the windows, like if tiger or elephant comes it would be deterred by that :). But Ar was scared for sure during that patch. Finally we crossed into TN side of the reserve, which is called Mudumalai. This is as creepy as the earlier one. Finally we reached the end gate of the reserve and entered the check point of TN, where we had to pay entry fee of Rs 250. We crossed the check point by 10:00 pm. We were still 50+ Km away from the destination and by this time, we had stopped forecasting when we would reached. We were very late 😦 . Meanwhile, earlier only, realizing that we would be quite late, G had informed the resort guys of our late arrival and when we realized we would be late for dinner as well, she ordered the dinner beforehand only. Parathas for us and Dal Khichadi for Ar.

Then we started on the Ooty ghat, we had reached the Nilgiris. In the night we were not able to see the beauty of Nilgiris. It was pitch dark and very few vehicles on road. we were only seeing the ghat section. The ghat is quite big and it takes you to almost 8500 feet above sea level. We were now so impatient and were thinking only of reaching the resort somehow by magic. Our families were also quite concerned. On the way we spotted a Sambar, in the middle of the Jungle, also at many places we were passing through dense clouds ,with very little visibility. This was one of the longest 2 hour period in our life. We finally reached Ooty by 11:45 pm. Few phone calls to resort and helping locals later we had reached the resort at 12:00 am. Took us 10 hours journey from Bangalore and 15 hours from our home in Pune

It was very hectic for all of us, especially Ar. Dinner was served in the room; paratha, dal khichadi and dal rice. Ar had hers and then we had ours. It was ok. we were not in mood of having dinner, but we didn’t wanted to sleep empty stomachs. Then Ar went to sleep, followed by us at 2:00am. What a day!