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.