Thursday, June 30, 2011

Confident Cascade, Bangalore: A fun filled day Guaranteed

The fight was between Confident Cascade and Guhanthara both of which had good day packages for a good gettogether. We could hear our siblings discussing on the pros and cons of these places as they were hell bound on entertaining us. We had made a visit to Bangalore with no previous planning. It was the last weekend of the summer vacation, my better half and myself wanted to see the new little kid in the family, my brother's cute little gem who just makes anyone drool over him, my son badly needed atleast one visit to Bangy in every vacation, thanks to the numerous malls with umpteen game options for him, something which is badly missed in Thiruvananthapuram our dwelling place.

An added incentive of the bangalore visit is the 750 km drive through the highways. This time we had come through the Wayanad route eventhough the fastest is the Nagercoil, Madurai, Salem, Hosur, Bangalore route (To know why this is fastest Click here). The drive had almost all the ingredients and we could taste all kinds of roads, the beautiful NH 47 till Thrissur, (now the four lane work between Ernakulam and Thrissur is almost complete, so driving times have drastically reduced), the fun to drive NH 17 stretch upto Calicut, the beautiful ghat section at Wayanad (Watch the twisty trails of Wayanad here) with some bad roads but spellbinding scenary, the plain but twisty roads through Bandipur which is a class of its own and the fast highway from Mysore to Bangalore with horrible speed breakers at every town intersection.

After calling these resorts a number of times, to know the options available both of them came to us for a final decision. Guhanthara is a cave resort and their website shows some interesting 3D views of the ambience inside the cave with pools and artificial waterfalls around. But their outdoor space doesn't seem truly inviting. The confident cascade had almost all kinds of sport activity at their perusal. Finally the matter was put to vote and based on the count of hands the final decision was confident cascade and it was easy on pocket too when compared with Guhanthara @ Rs 550 per pax.

The 18 km drive from Domlur to Bannarghata took around 90 minutes. This is the beauty of Bangalore where at times we feel as if pedestrians tend to reach faster than the motorists whose main job is to make his vehicle kiss the vehicle in front and wait endlessly at the not so tasty jams - the traffic jams.

We were a gang of 10 adults and 4 kids in two cars and it seemed a pretty long drive. It was almost noon when we entered the parking lot of Confident Cascade.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Rediscovering Ooty (Part 3): Woodbrook Lake

(This is part 3 of multipart Ooty travelogue. Click here to read Part 1 or Part 2)

Dark clouds began engulfing the area and it felt as if rains will come pouring down any time from now on. But the sight of woodbrook lake during our journey up here in the morning was still afresh in our minds.

A little earlier, we had a glimpse of this lake from another perspective too, when we had a magnificient view of the panorama from the top of the hill during our trekking episode (Watch the trekking experience here).

Rain or no rain we are going to the lake. Instead of walking down we decide to go in car, just in case it rains we have some cover available. The beautiful exit path from the resort once again is right in front of us. The path is very steep, and their is one hair pin bend too, but the exemplary scenery on both sides is spellbinding.

Dark clouds seem to accept defeat against our determination to have a face off with them as they were seen running for cover behind the mountains. The wide open area is right in front of us and the vehicle comes to a halt amidst one of the exquisite ambience it has ever been.

This is not a regular picnic spot. It is one of the sleepy villages of Ooty which has the charm of not being commercialized. If this place was devoid of any activity in the morning, now it is not so. The local lads are having a good game of volleyball in their traditional attires.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rediscovering Ooty (Part 2): Brookdale Resorts - In a league of its own !!

"Sir, two types of cottages are made ready for you, Please come and choose one !!" The guy who came near us told this atleast two - three times. But none of us were giving any part of our ear to him.

Who will, when gazing with awe the wonderland we are in.

The shot of the cottages seems like a perfect lift from the shots of foreign countries, we have seen in the songs of million dollar budget tollywood movie songs where the hero and heroine indulge in a vigourous body shaking spree, to the tune of fast numbers whose lyrics are seldom understood even by the person who wrote them.

This place is quite unlike the present day Ooty which is cramped to the core by the hotels and resorts which sprang up with nanometer gaps between them. It was just by pure luck that I stumbled upon the link of this resort's website while shopping online for a place to stay in Ooty. Never in my wildest imagination did I think that this place will be so picturesque, calm, vast, green clad and so attractive.

The question is again raised by the poor guy on the cottage options. Seems like occupancy rate is less today.

"There are twenty cottages here sir, three types of them, single storied double bedroom, double storied double bedroom, double storied double bedroom delux. You can chose from the single storied one in the lower tier or the double storied one in the middle tier". I am now almost back to my normal senses and can see that the cottages are in three levels. So I have no doubt in mind on which one to chose, coz the double storied one in the middle tier ought to give a more wide angle of vision.

This view resembled that of a villa project in an exquisite ambience as we are moving towards our cottage. My little one already dashed towards the entrance.

The construction for sure is ecofriendly, the bricks used are interlocking, something which is completely of my liking as I also had chose the same one while I constructed my home 7 years back. This brick itself has good finishing and gives good color, if it is made from good colored soil something which rules out painting of the exteriors. A cost cutting measure without losing out on the finishing. Infact I had written a full blown article on interlocking bricks here (click to read).

Isn't this looking lovely? The color completely jells with the greenery around.

The door opens to a small lounge and nearby there is a bedroom with a family cot and an attached bathroom. Upstairs also it is not different. The only difference in the rooms being the view of the valley outside.

The view from ground floor

The view from first floor naturally ought to cover more area.

The panoramic view of the mountains at a distance, the beautiful sky deep blue in color with those milky white clouds is simply awesome. Here is a panorama shot of the set up, but frankly speaking I couldn't do justice what it looked in reality.

It has been a while since I started gazing out through the window. Now let us just get out of the cottage and browse the surroundings before having lunch, coz it is already half past one in the afternoon.

Walking down I can see the winding road to Ooty.

There is an open air restaurant just beside the road. Wonder how I missed this place, last time when I
zoomed past those roads on two wheels on my way back from "Rider Mania" - the annual meet of Royal Enfield Bullet riders.

There are some gadgets for the little ones and the little ones at heart. Some beautiful swings and a slider is on view. Naturally my kids quickly perched on top of that.

Roaming around I could see lot of flowers all them competing each other for the most beautiful crown and it is a real visual treat.

Why should kids have all the fun, off goes my camera into the hands of my better half and I found myself on top of the tree like slider.

The cool winds blowing across makes it really pleasant even though sun is at its scorching best. A light work out is ensuing with all the climbing and the cool climate sure has raised the metabolic levels and stomachs are making a hue and cry for some fuel.

The restaurant is another cottage and is a simple and neat one.

The staff, most of them malayalam speaking fellows are really courteous and food is turning out to be really good too. This place is truely unleashing its positives one by one. By the time lunch is over all of us unanimously decided that we are not going to the regular picnic spots of Ooty today, but going to trek around in the resort's vast property and if time permits venture out in the nearby places.

Not a single person is in the mood to take rest and we all are walking towards to the trekking board which we earlier saw between the top tier of the resorts. The delux resorts of the upper tier was looking really marvellous and it seems like whenever I am passing by I am clicking atleast 2 to 3 shots of the same place.

The aim of the trek is to climb the top of the mountain in the backdrop of the resorts and the trekking path starts here

Some 50 steps already behind and we are into a complete forest like ambience. The concrete steps gave way to natural rocky steps and occasional slippery soil. But there was no dearth of greenery.

The black color boulders, the greenery provided by the tea plantations, occasional big trees all seemed to be placed to perfection. The aim of reaching the top aided by the cool climate meant that we are not sweating at all.

Looking down I could see that we have gained some good altitude and we have an exemplary feel of joy and happiness.

What is in such places which makes us just stand and gaze into them with fervent vigor. What ever it may be, all of us right from my 3 year old daughter to eldest member of the touring gang is enjoying the real life landscape portrayal.

Each point of the above panorama if zoomed up and shot will make a perfect painting. Watch the top of the resort buildings which looked like small toys stacked in between those neatly arranged trees

A farm land also appeared in the above panorama in a valley. Watch the vivid colors provided by the cultivation of cabbage, cauliflower and paddy fields.

Now a little shed can be seen a little ahead of where we are standing. It looks like a resting place for the trekkers. Even the thatched shed looks so beautiful here.

Let us just sit inside, not because we are tired or so, but just to enjoy that feeling of being in such august company of nature with the cool winds still blowing across. It is almost 4pm now and there was a chillness on air. Something which we enjoy thoroughly owing the high mercury levels in our homeland Kerala.

Some rain clouds are gathering and there ought to have doubts on our minds on whether to proceed with the trek or return back. See some of those clouds gently brushing part the top of this hill.

But surprisingly none of us wanted to go back. If there is rain let us get wet, we are not going back, we are going to climb up further to top through these tea plantations

through these beautiful pathway feeling the greenery

enjoying this kind of view downhill

This is just getting better and better as we are moving up. All the boulders made way to tea,  tea and more tea plantations. From a distance it looks like a beautifully laid green foam bed.

The little waiting shed also is now in the frame when looking down.

Another 15 mins leisurely trekk and peak is now in front of us. If trekking up this small hill gives this much satisfaction then what will be the mood of those who conquer Mount everest.

It felt great to watch my daughter, wife and sister in law trekk there path up through the green veil.

Soon all the members are on top and joy knew no bounds as we are matching other mountains in height. We are really dwarfed by this magnificient natural creations.

Profile pic clickings are going on portrait shots in this kind of settings makes one look more good in photo and the facebooks, orkuts etc have increased the demand for the same. A research program seems to be on to find that perfect pose.

My eyes got fixed on a lake at a distance and on zooming I could find that it is the same lake which we saw on our journey here, the Woodbrook lake.

Time now is half past four, so if we could trek down in another hour, ample time will be left for a quick visit to the woodbrook lake.
Meanwhile my wife's niece weilding my camera shot down a beautiful little creature curiously looking at the encroachers of his kingdom.

None of us were willing to leave this august company of nature, but if for some reason it got darker soon then it will be difficult to trek down. Soon we started our journey down eventhough the resort wallahs had told that three more hills belong to them and we can trekk over them too. But such a trek demands atleast a day's time.

My daughter who walked up all the way soon perched on my top as we precariously tread our way down. Trekking down is little bit more dangerous than going up may be due to the fact that we are facing downhill.

The trek down seems to be really fast as we passed the waiting shed, the tea plantations and approached the boulders really fast.

As we touched down the resort's property all of us were ready for one more outing and the destination was decided from the top of the hill itself - Woodbrook lake.

This day seem to be quite eventful. First the journey through one of the most beautiful motorable roads in Kerala - "the Nilambur - Gudaloor" route all the time curious about how this place will be and once we landed on this resort found that this is Ooty like we have never seen before. The trek added another dimension to the journey. Little did we expect when we embarked on our trip that we will spend the entire day in the resort itself without going out to the regular spots of Ooty.

And to know that our time in Ooty has just begun made it even more exciting. Let us now go for a visit to the woodbrook lake which showed lot of promise from the shot which we took during the onward journey.

Click to read other parts of this story

Part 1 - Driver's dream roads, Calicut to Ooty via Nilambur, Gudaloor

Part 2 - Brookdale Resort - In a league of its own
Part 3 - Woodbrook Lake
Part 4 - Ooty Kids Park, Film shooting point and a memorable camp fire


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