The aromatic gum from the pine has romanticised the whole setting, bringing back memories of various Kollywood and Mollywood movies.
A ride on the curvy roads of Western Ghats can be both adventurous and comforting for a Chennaiite, who longs to escape the scorching heat and the never-ending traffic. The 45-kilometre road trip from Thekkady to Vagamon in Idukki district of Kerala was an enriching experience — a ride through zigzag roads adorned with the sky touching pine trees, tea plants in perfect rows and columns and the breathtaking valleys.
On the uphill ride, the landscape changed. A thick blanket of fog covered the mountains offering a mystical view that soothes frayed nerves. Fog may have caused poor visibility, but as water droplets trickle from the green leaves, you wouldn’t mind the trouble just to witness the scenic sight. It is a view that is awesome. It is a ride that makes you accept and respect the norms of nature.
I reached my destination at Madammakkulam hill top — a camp site by green tea hills and situated amid the cinnamon trees and tea plants, the camp is a perfect getaway for a lone traveller. It was a wise option to visit the camp on a week day, as I was the only guest. The melodious chirping of birds that echoes through the forest is the constant sound that greets you every morning. Lying on the tree swing and just listening to rudimental music, reading Manu Joseph novels and writing amateur poems. It was an experience to let go of time, work and many inhibitions.
Camping in the hills enables a true connection with nature: you can scrap cinnamon from the bark and use it for instant seasoning, dine by the woods and sleep in the lap of nature. Life gets pretty simple.
Who would not like to fly high and explore the beauty of Western Ghats? After an off road drive on the rocky roads, you reach the Fly Vagamon paragliding spot. The wind speed was conducive, thus facilitating my first paragliding experience. The 20-minute flight over the valley amid the clouds provided a panoramic view of the mysterious Western Ghats. The hills reverberated with the roars of tourists who shouted their hearts out, as they fly above the thick jungle.
What adds to the surreal experience are the pine trees in the valley, dotting the skyline at Kolahalamedu. The aromatic gum from the pine has romanticised the whole setting, bringing back memories of various Kollywood and Mollywood movies.
Every road at Vagamon takes you either to the pastoral lands or the deep valleys. Guided by the staff at the campsite Rajesh and Vijay, a two-kilometre trek takes you to a pond hidden in the cluster of mountains. Called as ‘Madam Pond’, this water body was discovered by Brits who had a monopoly over the tea estates in the colonial era.
“The pond was a private water body to the British and trespassers were prosecuted,” said Rajesh Kumar, a staff at Greentea hills campsite.
On our way back, we witnessed one of life’s peaceful sights as the beaming sun goes below the horizon. It was the best sunset to see. The next morning when the sun rose, I rode back to Thekkady bidding adieu to these mountains with a promise to visit again.