Monday, December 04, 2006

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Grass Hills Trip, Oct 29-30, 2006

Grass Hills, this was one place I wanted to visit desperately. I had heard about the place the last 3 times I visited Valpari. Luckily, my colleague Ramanan had worked in Valparai for 20 years and had enough connections to make the trip happen. And like that we started on Oct 29th morning by bus.

To say about Grass Hills, this is one outstanding place and still a virgin territory. Very few people go there except the occasional trekkers and forest guards (I hope it remains that way). Words fail if one were to describe the beauty of the place, Mother Nature has been very generous with Grass Hills. There is a small hut in Grass Hills where you can stay overnight, but be ready as there is no electricity there. Food and other necessary items have to be carried there. But the best part is the travel to Grass Hills, which is possible either by trekking or by a Sumo. In case you are opting for a Sumo, better be prepared to push the vehicle as in some parts the ground is so muddy that it is impossible for the vehicle to move without pushing from behind (which is what we were doing for the most part). And, of course, you can expect lots and lots of leeches there.

Staying was at a place called Mudis Club, of which Ramanan was a member - a very nice and cosy place. The trip culminated with a visit to a tea factory the next day. All in all, it was a very memorable trip.

Route: Coimbatore = Pollachi = Valparai = Grass Hills.

You can catch buses from Coimbatore to Valparai via Pollachi. From Valparai, Grass Hills can be accessed by a Sumo (rent will come around Rs.1800/= for a round trip). It is a 5-hour trip.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Athirapally Trip - Sep 17-18, 2006

Abdul, my friend, heard about the famed girls of Kerala and was pestering me for a trip there and Lakshmi (my bike) too was dying to go for a trip, it's been more than 2 months since I went on a bike trip, so thought it would be a good idea to go to Kerala. We planned we will start on Sunday (Sep 17) morning, but the day started off with a heavy rain, but we felt we should stick on to our plans and so we started with the rains. This is my first trip where I started off drenched and came back dry (by the way, my wallet too was dry by the end of trip :-)).

Going to Athirapally via Palghat and returning via Valparai in Tamil Nadu side will be a good idea as the route from Athirapally to Valparai is simply an outstanding one. For nearly 60 km, you drive through thick forests and the greatest artist of all times, Nature.

Going to Kerala in rainy season has its own advantages, everything seems fresh and green, especially the forests look beautiful in rains.

Athirapally consists of 3 falls - Athirapally, Charpa, and Vazhachal. Each one is around 2 km from each other.

As with all trips, some interesting things happened in this trip too. The first one, we were looking out for a place to stay in Athirapally and what all resorts and names we could see. They had names like Oakvalley, Riverview, Hillview, Greenvalley, Lakeview, etc. And captions too like "You stay with us once, we stay with you always." I was seriously doubting whether they give complimentary HIV which stays with us always. We were terrified on seeing those as we were doubtful of the rates, but it turned out only the names were hi-fi, most of the resorts turned out to be shabby ones. In fact, one resort was behind a grocery store and one was a single room in a house, which they call a resort. And none of those places had power. Finally we ended up staying in Hotel Araam, which is run by KTDC, which turned out to be good with excellent food.

Statutory warning to drinkers: You won't get any liquuor in Athirapally - you have to drive back 30 km to Chalakudy or drink country arrack or stay sober. I decided on the third option even though the hotel guy told the arrack is good.

My camera suddenly started behaving funnily, that is, it stopped working and I missed out capturing the beauty of the forest from Athirapally to Valparai (Oh God!, how beautiful it is). And the most interesting part was there was a shooting going on in Charpa falls and my heartthrob of 2002, Sherin, was acting in it. No need to say that it was for a song sequence in the waterfalls. Abdul and I literally had to drag ourselves out of the place.

Except the road from Athirapally to Sholayar, all the roads are good, but beware of the mist in Valparai. Visibility is hardly 5 feet.

Route (400 km approx): Coimbatore = Palghat = Chalakudy = Athirapally = Sholayar = Valparai = Pollachi = Coimbatore.

Expenses = Rs.500 per person including food, staying, and petrol for 2 days.

Abdul on the road to Thrissur

Thinking of Whom?

Me in my natural setting

Athirapally in her Full Glory

The beautiful road from Athirapally to Vazhachal

Chalakudy River

Athirapally Falls

Chalakudy Road

Athirapally Falls

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tanjore Trip - Sep 2-3, 2006

Being afraid of the sins I made in the last 1 year, I decided I should go on a pilgrimage to wash those away. Yamanoor had a come down from US with a camera half the size of him and desperate to capture India in his camera, Prabhu wanted to see the temples before he comes up with any other blog, and I wanted after a long time to have a trip minus non-veg, drinks, etc., etc., so off we went. We started on Sep 2 morning and returned by Sep 4 afternoon.

Route: Coimbatore = Tanjore = Kumbakonam = Darasuram = Keezha Pazhayarai = Gangaikondacholapuram = Coimbatore.

Total distance: 750 km approx.

Tanjore can be covered in day 1 from Coimbatore.

Rest of the places can be covered on day 2. Staying in Kumbakonam on day 1 and Trichy day 2 should suffice.

Expenses: Rs. 1300 approx per person.

Coming back to the point, there is a lot we can do for our temples. Some of our great temples are in desolate condition, especially the one in Keezha Pazhayarai which has such a rich history. It is now left with only one lady who takes care of it voluntarily.

There is one excellent blog,, which gives good ideas on what to do about this.

Tanjore Countryside

Ganesh Temple at Gangaikondacholapuram


Ruined Gopuram at Keezha Pazhayarai


Tanjore Trip - Sep 2-3, 2006

Iravadeeshwarar Temple at Darasuram


A few of the 108 pillars at Darasuram

Raja Gopuram at Brahadeeshwarar Temple

Stone Chariot at Darasuram

Brahadeeshwarar Temple by Sunset

Gopurams of Sarangapani Temple at Kumbakonam

Brahadeeshwarar Temple by Night

Nandi Mantapam at Brahadeeshwarar Temple

Front view of Brahadeeshwarar Temple