The day’s destination was Kodai Kanal. This was added to the itinerary at the last moment, looking at Google maps. As Munnar was 100 kilometers from Periyar as well as from Kodaikanal, we thought of going to Kodaikanal and then take the route shown by Google map to go to Munnar. We learnt a valuable lesson by this: never trust technology blindly. The tale would appear in a later chapter, but for now, it should suffice to know that Kodaikanal is NOT a part of Periyar-Munnar circuit.
So we left Periyar at 10.00 embarking towards our destination. We had to climb down a ghaat that had a terrible road going through, with a steep decline.
Waterfall en route.
When you get down, the road quality improves significantly. Initially we passes through a lot of towns, but later the number of towns got sparse, and a good empty highway ensured that we took up good speed. We pass through Theni, and then left to Kodaikanal road. The road starts from far away from actual Kodai kanal. It might as well named as Kashmir road if it finally leads there.
Lunch was a quick affair. Firstly the hotels were very rare, and luckily we saw a hotel with a tourist bus halted for lunch. So many people couldn’t be wrong, we thought, and went in.
Then started the Kodaikanal ghaat. This is really a steep ghaat, where a beginner may turn to pro at the end. Roads are in fair condition, but the twists and turns are too many. On a bike though, we were enjoying each and every one of them. However I could sympathize with the poor souls in the tourist bus that was following us, who just had a spicy heavy lunch, and now were forced to play this roller coaster. I thanked God that I was not behind that bus, as overtaking a huge vehicle is trouble in ghaats, and accelerated away from them.
Near Kodai kanal, about 8 kilometers prior, you see this Silver Cascade waterfall. The month being march, the waterfall was very thin, but yet, there it was.
Here we saw that God too has fitted an HID!
We landed in Kodai kanal at about 5.00 P.M.
Our past experience of hotels told us to hunt for hotels ourselves, and not pay attention to agents shouting at us ‘Saar, hotel?’ But Kodaikanal proved to be an exception to this rule. Firstly the roads were confusing. We couldn’t judge where we were or how we ended up on a particular road at all. Though we had the map of Kodai, as the roads go in multiple levels in same direction, it was very hard for a first timer to find his way around. Another thing was, all the good hotels had only one day availability, and we were running out of hotel options real fast. Finally we decided to give chance to an agent. He took us to such a horrible hotel, I still ache thinking about it. The road to the hotel was 45 degrees, and this is absolutely no exaggeration. A loaded bike with luggage, and two tired individuals, the incline was not welcoming at all. Besides calling that thing a hotel would be a joke. Nandinee climbed down by foot from the ‘hotel’, as I rolled Vesta down in first gear with utmost caution.
Again we tried in vein for hotels, but no avail. The sun was beginning to bid us good bye, and yet we were searching frantically for a good place to stay. The situation was fast becoming tense, and I certainly did not wish to be roaming around for hotels in night. So we caught hold of another agent. Luckily he turned out to be one of the better ones. We checked a few hotels, and finalized on one named ‘Sun Rise hotel’. Value for money wise, this was the worst deal in hotel. The charges were of normal hotels, but the service sucked to the core. The towels were so dirty, I suspected their previous lives would involve role of a door rag. The lesser said about the bathroom, the better. We hoped for a cover on our head for the night, and the room barely qualified for that. After a hurried dinner, we were glad to throw ourselves on bed after the exhausting search for stay.
Kodaikanal was pretty cold. As we were moving up from the lands to the hills, we felt it was too cold for summer, and wondered the brevity of souls who come here in winters. At night, we felt this was a proper, textbook hill station. Not some pseudo hill station which is in reality a part of town converted for tourists, but a proper hill station that they show in movies, with happy faces of multi national tourists loitering around, and whole India’s shops, from Kashmir silks to Kerala saris, located on one street. We were eager to explore this place that we had heard so much of.