Monday, April 25, 2011

A Weekend In The Blue Mountains

I have been travelling with Get Off Ur Ass for 4 years now. And I have never regretted signing up for any of the Get Off experiences…not one. Starting with the Barapole Rafting Trip, where I travelled with 25 strangers, to the Tusker Trail Trek, the Jenukal New Year Getaway, the Getoff Bus Roadhawk Adventure or the phenomenal Getoff Traveller’s Meet 2010. There have been smaller review trips as well but I haven’t travelled with them as much as I would have liked to. So it’s not a surprise that a Get Off trip was my first choice when it came to deciding how to spend the extended Easter weekend. My only choice really.

It was the Nilgiris again this time. A remote campsite tucked away in the Blue Mountains near Sholur. A place I had seen before but hadn’t been able to spend enough time in. A quaint British house on a small plateau on the slopes of the Nilgiris and the prospect of camping in paradise. It was an invitation that was hard to turn down.

So we headed out early on Friday from Koshy’s, the meeting point for the travellers…some old, some new. After initial introductions and paperwork, we all settled down in one of the two Tempo Travellers that were waiting to whisk us away from the city and headed out in the light Friday morning drizzle on Mysore Road. 

The first stop was Kamat Upachar on Mysore Road. After a round of filling South Indian breakfast and good old filter coffee, we resumed the journey towards Sholur. The Sun and the rain played hide and seek but the weather largely remained agreeable. Conversations flowed and ebbed in our vehicle but I was in dreamland with the cool breeze fanning me to sleep. I only woke up at the next stop – the Dreamcatcher Café.

The Dreamcatcher Café is a new travel café that has opened up a little before Gundlupet right on the highway. The place has a very different feel and character among a string of retail coffee shops that have sprung up along the way. Dreamcatcher is an experience. It’s a well-deserved break for the traveller. Do stop by the next time you are on the way to Bandipur or beyond. You won’t regret it.

After taking in the ambiance of the café well and treating ourselves to some beverages, we moved on through Bandipur and Mudumalai national parks. The RTO check post stop in Thorapalli took about an hour with all the weekend traffic and set us back in our schedule a fair bit. Negotiating the tricky turns of the ghats from that point on slowed us down even further. It helped that the landscape was either the blue-green slopes of the mountains or sheets of stark green tea leaves. My glazed out eyes from all the urban architecture (read glass and steel) welcomed the change and took it all in…when I wasn't sleeping because of the gentle swaying of the vehicle and the cold breeze of course! We reached our destination only around 4 PM, feeling slightly famished.

The view of the property, the campsite and the simple hot meals served in the cottage refreshed everyone enough to be able to pitch their own tents on the plateau. We all chose to have our tents open towards the valley and the breathtaking views of the mountains. And we spent the next two days watching these views change dramatically – sometimes by the minute, walking in and out of clouds, sleeping to the sound of raindrops falling on our tent vestibules, playing with the resident dogs and cats of the estate, trekking and walking in the mountains, exploring new trek routes, watching the many varieties of birds around, and talking/playing rummy/playing dumb charades around the fireplace or in the verandah of the erstwhile office. A regular supply of tea kept us happy even when the sky turned grey. A treat of pakoras or fruit salad now and then was the icing on the cake.

The return from Sholur was draining. It was the same road and the same distance we had covered two days earlier but the physical strain of the two days combined with the feeling of leaving pristine nature behind and returning to the daily grind weighed at least me down a little. A late lunch at the Dreamcatcher café helped a little but then the rush of the crowds returning home via Mysore Road and the 10 hours of travel got to me. I had started missing the place already as the twists of the mountain roads got replaced by the straight line that was the road to Bangalore. 

Nevertheless, I was glad to have been part of another Getoff experience and with the mountain air clearing my head. Until the next Getoff trip, I will have to make do with memories of this one.

3 Thinkers Pondered:

Nirupama said...

Great picture that is! I wish to travel with Get Off soon :) Keep writing D! :)

popsie said...

Sounds like another rocking Getoff experience. Ditto Nirupama (Wish to travel with Get Off soon). Fab pic btw!

Atanu Dey said...

Excellent writing Anupama. Make the trip and its experiences come alive.
Seems this Get Off Your Ass is a kind of adventure trip organiser. Any idea if they have anything in or around delhi?