Perks of marrying a wanderlust are, you get to be part of those travel stories, not just listen to them. Also, thanks to the same husband, who believes in being in the moment; my camera was shy of a lot of beauty which I missed to capture owing to 2 reasons. First of which I already mentioned and second of which was I was really being in the moment, this kind of thing rubs off easily.
I have been on road trips before, soaking in the sun and all the terrain sitting comfortably in the backseat and taking a couple of photos either on my digicam or mobile phone, whichever was at my disposal. Those images were often blurry, taken off of a speeding vehicle. Then came this guy, and the comfort of the backseat was no longer the norm.
Hail passenger seat!
Apart from the passenger seat another thing remained constant in my first 7 road trips (yes, 7 in the last 7 months): Starting point was Namma Bengaluru.
The first road trip was to Valparai fondly called the 7th heaven, a hill station with tea plantations tucked away in the western ghats in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. We started rather late assuming the trip to be 5 hours long including breaks. Something as basic as checking Google Maps for the approximate distance and travel time completely slipped our minds. The drive was laborious but a visual treat with acres of windmills and gulmohars lined along the stretch, and the stress of sitting for those long hours were worth every crammed muscle in my body. Crammed, also thanks to those 40 hairpin bends. Why would one complain of discomfort after they witness this, clicked somewhere on those bends..
|Maiden attempt to capture Valparai from a moving vehicle|
Yes, 40 hair pin bends, pro-tip: Don't gulp down your sodas or the hot cups of chai/coffee before hitting the hills. You may want to get off at Aliyar Dam/Park and take a stroll before you hit the hills to reach Valparai.
We reached Valparai while the sun was setting behind us, and I was stumped by the beauty - the lush green tea estates, those low hanging clouds that I forgot to capture them on my phone, and the vintage charm of the town itself. By the time I realized I had to freeze the moment, this was the end result. On the flip side, the road looks awesome, don't you think?
|Roads of Valparai|
We had booked our stay in a private tea estate, which we reached after sundown. This place had cabinets, tents and your regular cottages, being the adventurous kinds, we booked this:
|The Tent house|
Yes, the whole tent under that beautiful big tree with violet flowers in full bloom. My experience was a mixed bag, while I was excited about the whole tent experience in an almost pseudo-wilderness, my first; the constant chirping of birds, squeaking of the squirrels, barking of the dogs, and some other unknown noises kept me up all night. Thanks also to those playful squirrels crawling over the tent all night and gravity for the occasional leaves/fruit; for their service all night.
Since our planning went amiss right from the beginning, we had to leave the property early to reach Bengaluru before sundown. So half-heartedly we left the place, and headed to Nirar dam, the waters weren't swell, something to expect in the hot summer month of May, yet the river spread beautifully along the horizon. We were not allowed to venture or explore the dam at leisure, but at the end of our short dam trip, we wanted to enjoy a cup of freshly brewed tea from the local plantation. Totally oblivion of the fact that we had to go down those winding hairpin bends to head back home (hence, the pro-tip.)
Freshly brewed Valparai Chai at Nirar dam
Well, the tea had its toll, I felt extremely sick while driving down from the dam. The result of that little cup of tea served in authentic tamil style was a beautiful stroll into the tea gardens, again I blame the being in the moment - both absorbing the beauty and fighting sickness, for lack of photos.
The drive back was as beautiful as the drive towards Valparai, I left the place with a vibrant green spectrum of colors. The drive was full of beautiful vibrant gulmohars lined along the road.
Gulmohar picked off the road from the many trees that lined our road
What looked like a rather empty highway to Bengaluru
And since the beginning, this trip was ill-planned, while reaching Bengaluru we had company in the form of heavily loaded trucks, co-roadies and the inevitable traffic jam.Despite starting at 8:30 am from Valparai with a little detour at Nirar, we could reach Bengaluru only at 9:30 pm in the night. Thirteen hours long journey definitely helped us in planning our future trips better.
PS: 2 days including driving back and forth is the worst thing you can do. Go scout your calendars for those long weekends.