Saturday, June 03, 2006
Travelogue - The bumpy ride to Ooty
The bumpy ride to Ooty wasn’t short of thrills and excitement. When we were tired of laughing at my uncle’s jokes we would look outside to see all the patterns the clouds would make in the blue sky. In the distance, the blue hills of Nilgiri gradually began to dominate the landscape giving us a foretaste of what was to come. The average ordinary trees began to be replaced by tall conifers and eucalyptus trees. Lurking in the greenery a pair of shiny eyes would suddenly manifest itself in the form of deer and nilgais. The odd wild elephant might also be found brushing its tusk against the tree bark as though this action were prescribed by a dentist! The big cats chose to stay hidden. The Bangalore-Ooty highway passes through the Bandipur and Mudumalai forest reserves. Although both boast of a decent tiger population there aren’t many who can claim to have seen any. One begins to wonder if this is all a hoax especially when one reads the rather suspicious message on the forest department website that cautions “Wild cat sightings are rare as they are masters of camouflage and prefer to stay hidden”.
The road crept into the mountain and silently curled round it like a woolen muffler. As if on cue, the weather began to feel nippy. And it was peak summer! Spells of light rain lashed against the car windshield but did little to deter us from our quest for a good holiday. Miles and miles of forest are an album of beautiful images, enough to content the photographer in our minds. Every now and then at forest checkposts and state borders, human settlements mushroom awkwardly like patches of weed in a little homely garden. This is where we stopped for tea, grown amply in the slopes of the Nilgiri hills.
At Gudalur two roads leave for Ooty. One of them passes through the sleepy hill station of Coonoor, the other through the unending grasslands of Pykara that carpet the hilly slopes of Nilgiri. We chose the latter. Standing on the slopes at Pykara, one unselfconsciously looks for golf clubs and 18th holes. The view is an endless array of blue-green mountains punctuated by lakes and hilly streams. As our car trundled along the grassy slopes of Pykara, clouds and darkness finally got the better of the sun. Silence, darkness and chilly mountain air put me to sleep until the spluttering engine woke me up finally. It was 10 pm and we were finally in Ooty.
(Update: Found time and added to my short story)