Sunday, March 30, 2014

Get together at Pakuthipalam - 3

Standing there on the dam, we could see for quite a distance, with the freshly harvested fields in front and the Nelliyampathy Hills, with the winding road, behind. Presented a pretty sight - the only problem being that the sun was now coming up quite high behind the hills, causing a few problems for my camera, shooting into the sun. Quite visible flares in the shots. But then, my models did not seem to care. Vysakh, Kavitha, Deepa, Arun and the others - for them, the process of taking the shot was more important than the end result itself !! We spent a lot of time on the dam itself, before moving over to the other end, for more photography. The best part was that we had the whole place to ourselves, being so early. No crowds, no hassles. A tree cut down on the side of the dam, just behind the gazebo, seemed to excite the simian instincts in all of us, with almost everyone trying to climb on, of course, to model for my snaps. Various poses, angles and numbers tried, I decided to pack up. 

Moving up the hills, we passed more view points and we stopped at one, for more snaps. The guys, Vysakh and Arun, seem to have developed a knack for striking a pose,with Anuvind's glasses as a prop. Kavitha was acting as the Creative Director, giving instructions on how and where the models should pose, including a couple sitting on the road. it took quite an effort to move them on.

We reached Kaikatty junction in no time. From there, going forward was the road to Nelliympathy proper. We took the right to Noorady and a few kilometres down the road at Kunnampalam, we found our onward transport waiting for us. Our tempo would not be able to take the rough and tumble of the road to Pakuthipalam and after asking the driver to park it at the nearby Forest Office (we would realise how near, only the day after !), we boarded our jeeps, on the rough track to the KFDC resort. The road was ok,with the stretch beyond Victoria - the last bus station, serviced by the KSRTC - just a make shift affair, with only a jeep being able to make it. I could well imagine the condition after the rains, when the whole place would be slippery, requiring the use of a four wheel drive. Driving through the planted coffee, amidst thick forest, we soon reached the KFDC office at Pakuthipalam. We were received by Sri. Radhakrishnan TK, the Manager of the Unit and the Field Officer, Sri. Suneer. They showed us to the place, which seemed quite nice and went out of the way to make us feel comfortable. We received a few instructions, chiefly concerning our safety, as this was a place bang in the middle of the forest, habited by all the big animals. it just would not do to wander out of the place on our own, to find ourselves facing an elephant or bison or two !  We were soon preparing ourselves for the most important activity - lunch, which was to be served in the open place, slightly further up, near the office. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Get together at Pakuthipalam - 2

As soon as the bus took off - thankfully, Anuvind's house was on the highway and we did not have to go into town - and people settled down, Vysakh - who else ?! - started talking about breakfast. I was planning on having it somewhere on the ghat section but I realised that these chaps would not wait that long. So I decided to compromise on having it at Pothundy dam, which in any case had been planned as the first halt.  We were passing through brown paddy fields, testifying to the increasing summer heat as well as to the fact that the harvest had just been completed - I am not sure if such an expansive view can be seen anywhere else in the state, except maybe in the Kuttanad region. Paddy fields for was far as the eye can see, broken by the occasional thatched / tiled hut or a pump house. I can never get enough of this sight - brings back memories of times spending roaming around the green fields in Cheruvannur, splashing around in the streams, screaming our hearts out and stuffing ourselves silly, with the fruits of the season - mangoes, jackfruits, chikoo and the like !

The nearer we reached Pothundy, the stronger the clamour for food - I wondered at the capacity of these chaps ! We reached the dam site by 0730 hrs but entry was permitted only from 0800hrs. So we decided to have our breakfast right there by the roadside - Anuvind brought out the idlies, vadas and chutney and everyone focussed on the task, as if they had been starving. Food - even something as simple as an idli - tastes so much better when travelling, or so I have always thought. The photo sessions began even before breakfast was served and continued during and after. That sort of set / declared the theme of this trip - photos, photos and more photos !  Breakfast out of the way - and surprise, surprise, there were some idlis left over !! - we purchased the tickets for entry to the dam site,  climbing up a long series of steps to reach the top. There is a nice garden on either side of the walkway, with some realistic looking statues, which formed the backdrop of some of the snaps. Unfortunately, there was quite a bit of litter in the form of discarded bottles, biscuit and chocolate wrappers and the like, but the site at the top more than made up for all that. The light shimmering on the water with the Nelliyampathy hills in the background made for a very pretty sight. The water level in the dam was very low - and summer was yet to reach its peak.

Get together at Pakuthipalam - 1

Well, what better way to re-activate my blog than with this post on the get together with the MTech (BME) batch of 2013, at Pakuthipalam, over the last weekend !! 

The trip had been a long time in the making, with one attempt in February, which failed to take off, as it was next to impossible to co-ordinate the various requirements / constraints of 14 different people. It was finally decided that March 15/16 would be the D-day, with anyone not finding it convenient on those days, having to take a walk ! I was tasked with organising it - deciding on the place, transport as well as accommodation and if necessary, the entertainment too ! Did some digging around, dredging up some old memories as well as did some reading / research on places close to Coimbatore, maybe within a couple of hours' drive - we did not want to tire ourselves out travelling - and I came up with Pakuthipalam, a forgotten little place near its more famous neighbour, Nelliymapathy. Luckily, the latest edition of the Yathra magazine carried a piece on it. I got hold of some contact numbers - the only decent place of accommodation is an ecotourism resort, run by the Kerala Forest Development Corporation. The numbers of the Manager - Sri. Radhakrishnan TK - and the Asst. Manager - Suneer - were provided, which made things very easy. I called up the former, who confirmed that accommodation would be available for the period and that was it - the trip was on ! The manager was more than courteous - he did not want an advance or any other form of assurance that we would indeed be making it to the place. The price is Rs. 1500/- per person per night, inclusive of all three meals (vegetarian). For non-vegeterian food, you need to pay extra - sounded reasonable enough to me. My only query was whether it would be safe to bring girls on the trip because going by my past experience in Kerala, it was not. Radhakrishnan assured me that there would be absolutely no problems and that was that ! Now came the hard part - getting the chaps to actually fork out the money for the trip - accommodation and transport. Deepa and Arya took care of that while Anoop helped out with the transport, calling up his friend to book the bus / tempo that would take us to Nelliyampathy.
On Friday (March 14), we had eleven confirmed participants, including Anusha and myself. Anu was not on this trip as she had planned much earlier to go home to Malappuram. We decided to meet up at Anuvind's place in Manapullykave at around 0600hrs in the morning, as I wanted to get away from Palakkad town before it got really hot - reach the place as early as possible, so that we would have more time to see and enjoy it. By the time I reached Palakkad, with a KSRTC bus providing me an escort right up to the place, it was around 0615, only to find that the others were yet to get ready. Anusha was already there and so were Sana, Arya, Deepa, Kavitha, Arathy, Jeethu, Arun and Vysakh, completing the team. We left after tea, having armed ourselves with our breakfast of idlies and vadas.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Mango Tree Revisited - 2

So, when the question of deciding where to go for our anniversary came up, I did not have to think twice - Devashola and Mango tree cottage, it was. The only disappointment was that the train service from Mettupalayam to Ooty had been suspended due to the recent landslides in the Nilgiris and even the direct road from the plains to Coonoor had been washed away. We were informed that we would have to go via Kotagiri, adding another twenty to thirty kms to the journey. But that is putting the cart before the horse. 
I rang up Renukaradhya who is listed as the contact for the Devashola Estates. He is based in Bangalore and has set up a pretty impressive website for the place, complete with photographs and details. To tell you the truth, I was a bit sceptical about the place, going by the way it had been hyped on the website. Especially the accompanying photos of the bison grazing peacefully in the tea gardens, looking like domestic animals.  The options available were the Palaniappa Cottage, which is the Manager's Bungalow located right at the entrance to the estate, the Sultana Cottage near the Estate office, at the lower most level of the place, Bison Valley which was a dormitory kind of accommodation and finally, Mango Tree Cottage which was the erstwhile Director's Bungalow, strategically located at the highest accessible part of the estate. The tiled cottage that you see in the middle of the photo below is the Mango tree Cottage and the barren looking area just below it is where tea has just been re-planted.
The Mango tree Cottage is listed as one of the oldest in the Nilgiris - about 150 years old. It has two bedrooms, both of which have their bathrooms and toilets. THere is a spacious double bed in one of the rooms while the other has has a queen/king sized bed and two other normal sized beds in an alcove by the side. It can comfortably accommodate six to eight people and is ideal for two families. They charge you Rs.2500/- per couple per night or Rs.5000/- for the whole cottage. This is inclusive of all meals and tea / coffee, prepared by the caretaker, Murugan.  The Palaniappa and Sultana Cottages are slightly cheaper but then, the view from the Mango Tree alone makes it worth the money spent !  So, there we were having fixed the deal and having transferred the money to the account specified by them and I was left with the fear that perhaps, I was being taken for a royal ride !  We boarded the Nilgiri express from Chennai and reached Mettupalayam after a comfortable night, at around six in the morning. We could see steam rising from the nearby shed of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway but unfortunately the service was not on and they were not sure when it would be restarted with the tracks and bridges having suffered extensively. 
Our taxi was waiting - you just need to cross the tracks to reach the car park and we were off.  Mettupalayam was quiet and peaceful in the early morning light but it had changed totally from the one-horse town that I remembered from my childhood. It was then known only for being the gateway to the Nilgiris but I suppose it has picked up since. We quickly took the road to Kotagiri and I could see the changes that uncontrolled tourism was having on the place - I am pretty sure that it is only a matter of time before it goes the way that Ooty has. I was last here in the early nineties when it was hardly more than a village and it came as a bit of a shock to see the commercial establishments on either side of the road, most of them being lodges or hotels. 

Monday, March 01, 2010

Mango Tree Revisited -1

 It is not often that we travel to a place so quickly again - I can't remember any other that I have gone back to so fast, except maybe Kappad and even that I am not sure if it was twice in less than two months. That just goes to show how smitten we - Anu and myself - were by Devashola and the Mango Tree cottage ! We were there in January for our anniversary and again this weekend, in the company of Biju, Anu and Saachi. To say that we like the place is an understatement - as Anu put it, of the places in India that we have visited, we would rate it next to Bison Wells in Kodaikanal. Perhaps even higher ! The place is totally removed from the crowds and accompanying noise, the views are glorious, you are the only visitors in around 700 acres of space, Murugan cooks up some fantastic meals and you have the entire place to yourself - what more could you ask for ? We are talking about the homestay at the Palaniappa and Sultana Estates of the Devashola Plantations, which is about 25kms away from Coonoor in the Nilgiris.
 I read about this place first when we were looking for a place to visit with KC and family, last October, when we were planning our regular trip together. I had almost decided on the place when we had to change our plans due to the fact that Swathi would not be able to stand the strain of the car journey from Bangalore over the winding Sigur ghats. We settled on a homestay in Iruppu on that occasion but Devashola had been on my mind since then and I was just waiting for an opportunity to go to the place.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Trip to Kodai - Day 2

Well, day 2 actually begins around eleven in the morning when we left George's place in Kodai for the camp, which is in Kookkal Village about 35kms away. The Alamo is George's idea of catering to the yuppie crowd, with money to burn. Stables, log cabins, Mexican food, the works. I am not sure how successful it would be though George feels it holds a lot of promise. We piled into the front of the old vintage army truck along with George and his handyman at the back, to take care of the various gates on the way. All our provisions for the three day trip were in the back. Surprisingly, the vehicle started and rolled off without any trouble.

We took some time to get out of the town - the crowd had started streaming by then and the roads up to the observatory and beyond were blocked. All the vehicles were parked haphazardly on the road and it was total chaos as everyone was playing a game of one-upmanship, being in a hurry. The result being utter confusion on the road, especially at the picnic spots - it made me really sad to see the litter of plastic plates, cups and bottles and God knows what else strewn all over the place. Luckily we got out of the place and it got more and more beautiful as we went further away from town. The final few kms to Kookkal (that is the end of the road !) were really lovely, with breathtaking curves and green meadows - i guess we arrived at the correct time.

Pretty soon, we were passing through thickly wooded areas and George announced that we were almost there - the truck was behaving beautifully though I half expected it to give up its ghost at any moment. A milestone indicated 6kms to Kookkal (or was it 4kms?!) and George cut across the road to park the vehicle. We were greeted by the chatter of birds and animals that we could not identify. George had his handymen take our bags to the camp which is around a 100ms from where the vehicle was parked.

Bala, our cook for the next three days had arrived earlier and was waiting for us with a piping hot lunch, which was served on the sitout. ( Have a look at the photo). And man, even though the lunch consisted of just rice, a curry, with thoran, corned beef and pappad, it was simply delicious. The rice was of the brown organic variety, which George buys from Kodai. Both of us enjoyed it very much and hogged like mad, as if we had not eaten for days altogether. It was topped off with a carrot cake that Ivy - George's wife - had made. Man, that was a cake to kill for !! So delicious that it just melted in your mouth. The heavy lunch plus the beating that our bodies had taken in the bus the previous night, all combined to make us drowsy and we decided to take a nap.

The room inside was basic but neat and clean, with a bathroom/toilet attached. Another door from the bedroom leads into Bala's territory - the kitchen. The bathroom is pretty basic with no running water but don't worry - you are not going to run out of water at any time. George and Bala take care of it for you - there are a couple of wells on the property and they supply you with all the water that you want. In fact, they even go to the extent of heating up water for your bath - what more could you ask for ? No electricity in the place either; no TVs ; no telephones !! What bliss !!

We crashed out and when we woke up, it was slowly getting dark and there was a chill in the air. We had our baths and decided to walk down to the Kookkal Lake which was featured so prominently in the photographs that George had hung about the place. (All his own !) It was a downhill stroll all the way for about a km or so.

When we reached the place, we were in for a disappointment - not much of water and we could see some construction going on - apparently they were building a bund to prevent the kind of havoc caused the previous year. There was a settlement a little further away which we took to be Kookkal village, where we could see a few lights and hear the strains of some music being played - they were having themselves a good time down there. We spent some time there by the lakeside, trying our hands at photography but then gave up and decided to get back.

But getting back was easier said than done - it was a pretty steep uphill climb all the way and by the time we got back to the camp, we were really glad to see that George had a good campfire going. We settled down by its side and brought out our bottle of Australian wine that we had so carefully bought all the way from Bangalore, via Chennai! George took out a bottle of his own home-made pineapple wine and we were all set.

We spent a lovely time by the fireside listening to stories and to the harmonica that George played so beautifully.Since there is no other activity possible around the place, we decided to have an early dinner and go to bed. Dinner was a candlelit one, with the table laid out in the bedroom itself as the outside had become quite cool by now. Started off with a soup, followed by chappathis and chicken curry. I am sure both George and Bala were disappointed with the quantity that we ate - however much we hogged, we could not finish off everything. If this is the way it is going to be, I think I can stay here for quite a long time. The table was cleared and the bed made and it was time to say Good night. The only sounds that we could hear were the ones made by some insects/animals in the forest outside and the occasional creak of the trees.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Trip to Kodai - Day 1

Once it was decided that we were going to Bison Wells, then came the job of arranging the logistics. How should we get to Kodai ? The place being accessible only by road, we had to decide if we would travel all the way there from Chennai by bus or if we should take a train to kodai road (the nearest rail head) and then proceed to Kodai by bus or jeep/car. In the event, we plumped for the former, for reasons of economy and convenience (so we thought!). Bison Wells was some 35kms away from town and we would definitely need to hire a vehicle from town to reach the place - about Rs.1000/ for a one-way trip. So, it made sense that we try to ensure that we reach Kodai in the simplest manner possible with the least number of changes. We booked ourselves on Parveen Travels (they provide online ticketing) about a couple of weeks before our intended journey, with each ticket costing about Rs.450/- Both KPN Travels as well as the State Express Transport Corporation were offering services but like a fool, I remained unaware of it until circumstances forced me to open my eyes.

Anu was working till the date of departure - in fact, she was on night duty the day previous to it. We decided to take a cab to the Koyambedu bus stand and in my usual style started off from home at about 1815hrs for the bus scheduled to leave at 1900hrs. Almost immediately we were swallowed by the traffic, crawling past. We were lucky to get there when we did - just in time. Only to find that the bus would not leave for quite sometime more !!! Confirming our tickets at the counter, imagine my surprise to find that there was already somebody else in the seats allotted to us. And this after I had telephonically confirmed our reservations twice !!! If this were the fate of online ticketing, i should not have been surprised by what followed. The chap in the office casually allotted us different seats and appeared surprised when I told him that we were not accustomed to travel sitting in the laps of strangers, as those seats were also full !!! He came to the bus, made an inspection, swore at the system (the computerised reservation system, that is) and at his subordinates and promptly asked us to occupy the two front seats - just behind the driver, the place that I normally dread travelling in !! He promised us that we would not have any trouble - apparently the misunderstanding was due to the fact that their server had crashed taking all its data with it - and left us to our fate !! Little did I know what was in store.

The bus took off at about 1945hrs - but then who was keeping time ? this is supposed to be a vacation, right ? - and pushed off through God knows which places. Try as I might, I could not identify the various roads through which he was taking us and finally I gave up trying !! We had a movie going and we had to stretch our necks gracefully like swans to catch a glimpse of the action. I don't remember what the movie was - and that must tell you a lot about what kind it was ! Anyway, the bus soon got onto the East Coast Road and the going was much smoother and pleasanter with a good sea-breeze blowing in. We stopped on the way at the Mamalla Annexe for dinner - pretty good it was too !! I must have dozed off after that, waking up only on the outskirts of Pondicherry around 2300hrs. We stopped at the offices of Praveen travels and that is when our nightmare started. Just imagine this situation - there you are, casually stretching yourself and your cramped muscles, generally reflecting on the fun you are going to have on this long-awaited holiday when in comes our hero, in the form of the local agent of Parveen travels, holding a checklist and pad in hand. He takes a look-around, taps you on the arm and asks you to step out - as you see in the old Westerns, just prior to a shootout at the OK Corral !! When you look askance at him, he informs that you are in the wrong seat and that you will have to vacate for the rightful owner. When you ask him to arrange for getting yours, he expresses his helplessness!!! He has his customers to please and we not his concern - not in the least. We have to look out for ourselves and I literally take him at his word, refusing to budge, unless my original seats are restored to me. He decides to help me out and orders the couple occupying our original seats to move out - and then all hell breaks loose !!! This new chap is a different kettle of fish altogether from me and the travel agent immediately finds himself in hot water, with solid abuse from all the passengers. His customers - a lady and her two small kids - are caught in the midst of it. The drivers add to confusion by saying that they needed to take off as they were already late and suddenly we find that the agent is nowhere to be found - he has done a neat disappearing trick, leaving his passengers to fend for themselves. With no other alternative, my chivalrous instincts kick in and I offer my seat to the lady - the driver's cabin it is going to be for me and the driver and cleaner are gracious enough to arrange a temporary seat there for the entire journey. I had a ringside view of the night transport on the road and suffice to say that if, like cats, humans also have nine lives, I have used my share and more, on that one single journey. If there was a single stretch of road where we were not on the wrong side, a single occasion when we dimmed our headlights for oncoming traffic, when we took a turn sticking to the correct side of the road or stuck to the traffic signals - I was not aware of it and that was not for lack of awareness,either !!! The driving was of such high quality that I sat petrified in my seat, as if screwed down there, with my heart, stomach and various other organs in my mouth, not even daring to breathe for fear of distracting the driver from the road as even a a fractional mistake on his part would have sent me to an early grave - I would have been the first to go !!! We had rest stops on the way with a change of driver at Trichy and this new guy was worse (if that were possible !!) than the first. We almost took on a lorry head-on at Trichy and after an eyeball to eyeball confrontation, continued on our merry way. Clearly, I am getting a bit too old for this kind of adrenaline rush !!!

Around 0530 hrs in the morning, we reached Dindigul and that was when I got a seat - on one of the last rows and that is the last I remember for the next couple of hours till Batalagundu on the Ghat Road when I woke up to find ourselves in the midst of a traffic block, with every Tom, Dick and Harry from the plains wanting to travel to Kodai on this day. I shifted seats back to Anu's side as the lady had dropped off somewhere in between - Anu tells me that she is the wife of the manager of one of Hindustan lever's estates. Too bad that we were not able to cadge an invitation from her !! - and that was the end of whatever sleep I had manged to get. Thankfully, the weather was noticeably cooler and less sticky - we were already climbing and I could see the long line of vehicles waiting to make the ascent. The roads were in pretty good condition and by about 9.30, we were in town, after a couple of blocks at the Silver Cascade and some other place, turning into Hotel Sivapriya where apparently these guys are allowed to park.

As soon as we got down, I took off for the Travels office as I did not want a repeat of last night's journey on the return. Managed to convince the long-haired, hippy manning the office that I had legitimately booked the return ticket that I was showing him and that he should not sell off those seats to anybody else !! That done, we could now think about more mundane matters like freshening up, breakfast and the like. Anu made use of the toilet facilities at the restaurant of Hotel Sivapriya while I - made of sterner stuff - decided to wait until we reached George's place. Feeling a bit guilty about it, we decided to honour the hotel with our custom, though the cost of a breakfast of idli, sambar and vada was announced to be Rs.75/-, but fortunately it was not to be - our transport was already on its way and there was no way that we could ask the jeep driver to wait for us until we finished a leisurely breakfast.

Getting out with our luggage before the restaurant manager could get wise, we waited for a couple of minutes on the road outside. The place looks much cleaner than OOty - maybe it is too early in the day to comment !! For eighty bucks, the jeep took us to George's place - Camp George - on the road past the Observatory. The road was dug up for a bit and hence we had to take a diversion through somebody else's estate !! On reaching Camp George, we found our host waiting for us - his long beard and bald head as well as the grey attire made him stand out. He took us to his new guest house - the Alamo - which was a new concept that he was promoting, that of a Mexican Cantina with Tex-Mex cuisine, complete with riding stables and the works.
The building consists of two bedrooms with a separate dining room -all done with local wood. Looks out upon the stables and grasslands - felt really good. Had our bath and got ready to leave for Bison Wells in George's army truck - which is as much a part of the Bison Wells story as George himself.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Trip to Kodai

Well, this was a trip that was a long time in the making - if there is any sort of award for the trip that has been planned the longest and expectantly waited for, then this one to Kodaikanal would certainly win it hands down. Anu and myself started dreaming about it, then discussing about it and finally deciding on the place and time - all this was done about six months back in December during our last trip home. Once we had decided that we would be going, came the task of deciding on the kind of trip, which again was pretty easy - one which would allow us to test our hiking leg and also allow us to get up close with the wildlife.

Once we had fixed on Kodai - Ooty we rejected as being too commercialised and dirty and moreover, Kodai was a place that Anu had only vague memories of - came the task of getting the right kind of accommodation at the right place and at the right rate, the last being very important !! We were pretty clear in our minds that we did not want any place in town - as far away from the holidaying crowd the better, one which could give us ample opportunities for trekking and seeing wildlife and nature at its best and one which was also affordable. We went through various travel magazines and articles - the Outlook traveller Magazine as well as their handbook of 75 short breaks from Bangalore - as well as that ever-reliable source of modern-day information, the Net. We finally shortlisted it to the Cinnabar Farm , Elephant Valley and Bison Wells. Unfortunately, we had to scratch the first two as being way too far out of our financial range but then as it turned out, it was not so unfortunate after all. But that is like putting the cart before the horse - I am getting way ahead of my story.

We fixed on Bison Wells, not only because of the information that we got from their website and from the travel magazines but also from the photographs that Binu had put up on his Blog, from his honeymoon there. His photos helped clinch the decision - Bison wells, it was going to be. Since Anu had very few days of leave left, we had to club our vacation with one or more the rare holidays that she has and so we thought of the week of May 1st. We started off our correspondence with George Roshan, the proprietor of Bison Wells and were pleasantly surprised by the prompt and courteous response. He must have been shocked by the mail - somebody enquiring about availability and reservation in May, right at the beginning of the year !! Anyway, the offer sounded too good to be true and we did not want to lose it at any cost - we blocked the dates and George very graciously told us that he would hold it without payment until there was another enquiry for those dates. the procedure is to transfer the entire cost of the stay ( food is included in the tariff) as confirmation of your plans. You lose the entire amount if you cancel within five days of your proposed date of occupancy and 40% if it is before. Fair enough, I suppose, looking at the logistics involved. Having an account with SBI helped - a couple of clicks of the mouse and the deed was done. ha !! The comforts of modern day technology.

We traded e-mails about the travel from Kodai to Bison Wells - about 30km and 90minutes drive away from town - and finally decided that he would get a jeep to pick us up from the bus stand in the morning to his place in town and then on to Bison Wells by his truck ( and that is some vehicle, mind you !). We decided against going by train - in any case, we would have to get down at Kodai Road at some vague hour in the morning and catch a transport up the Ghats to reach the town. This was where I made my first mistake - I plumped for travelling from Chennai to Kodai on Parveen travels, thinking that they were the only operators with a direct service. I learnt to my cost later that SETC as well as KPN Travels operate on the same route and apparently with better service - which would not have been difficult at all. Booked our bus tickets also online - proudly congratulating myself on my tech-savvy aproach to the whole thing. Little did I realise then, that pride definitely goes before a fall and mine was pretty imminent !!!