Monday, January 5, 2009

Meghamalai Trip

Place: Meghamalai
Date : 28-12-2008

Its has been almost 6months since the Valparai trip, and I was again desperate to explore a new place.
Also there was a year end shutdown in our office(was free for almost 10 days). 
After lot of brainstorming I finalised to visit a place called "Meghamalai". Meghamalai is a place in Tamilnadu, India. I visited this exotic place and started off my New Year beautifully. I think i will remember this meghamalai trip for ever.

Again no one was free except shiva. But he had to go home that weekend near chennai. So
 we decided that on sunday night, I will start from  bangalore and he will start from chennnai and we both meet at dindugal.

I headed to Majestic arround 7PM on sunday evening, after reaching there I came to know that all the tamilnadu busses have been moved to the new "satelite bustand" on mysore road and there is a shuttle service from mejestic to the satelite bustand. 
 One of the auto driver told that, the shuttle service has been cancelled long back and he can take me by auto which costs Rs 100. 
I was about to board the auto and happend to see the shuttle arround. Just out of curiosity I went there and enquired and came to know that the shuttle service is avalible 24/7......very happily borded the shuttle which just cost me Rs 6:-). 

Now the the scene was no different when i reached the new satelite bustand, they told that tamil nadu busses which go only till salem will be available from here, if I have to go further (dindugal or far), I had to go to another new bustand which is at Shanthinagar(double road). Best part is there is no shuttle b/w these 2 new bustands.
So I came out of the satelite bustand and boarded a BMTC bus which was go
ing towards KR market, the driver and conducter were very friendly and said that I dont have to go all the way till market, they can drop me near some signal from where I can board a bus to the new bustand at shanthinagar and they dropped me at that signal.

 I had no idea in which part of bangalore I was at that point of time. So I asked sombody, should I go to the left or right to reach double road(shanthinagar), he told this way and pointed to the opposite direction of what i was thinking to go :-).

I saw 3 busses belonging to private travels(SRS travels) almost ready to leave....just out of curiosity I asked one of the driver whether this bus goes to dindugal, he said yes the first bus goes, and when I went to the first bus, he asked me whether I have the the ticket, i said know and he pointed to me to the SRS travels office right opposite to the bus.

When I enquired, I was told that there is only one ticket available to dindugal. So I called up shiva and told that 
I will be bording the dindigal bus so that he can also board the bus at chennai since the distance is same from both bangalore and chennai. 
I took the ticket for which he quoted Rs 350, I know it  would have costed much lesser but since I had no time to waste I just boarded the bus. 

The last seat in the bus (seat number 30) was waiting for me all this time. Although it was a last seat it was pretty comfortable, since it was a 2+2 and i was able to push the sea back completely. After talking to the fellow passengers, I cam to know that that bus was for the package trip to Madurai, kanyakumari and rameshwaram. So I think the leftover seat was sold to me:-).  bus started arround 10PM on sunday.

I reached dindugal arround 5.30 AM on Monday, infact the bus din't go to the bustand, it dropped me at palani bypass and was told that I can take an auto to bustand which is arround 2 kms from there.
 I just crossed the road and there comes the best part of tamilnadu, the frequent bus service.............I boarded the local bus and reached the dindugal bustand(Just Rs2). 
I called up shiva, but he was still on his way and told that hes arround 80 kms far. I was hovering arround the bustand and was really surprised to see that all the shops were up and running even at 5.30 AM.....the shops were so colorful....thats something unique about tamil nadu, you get to see some bright colors like yellow, pink etc all the way...morning news paperguys distributing the lot.....and the hotel guys had already build a wall of vadas which was 
just prepared......and again amazed with the bus service........i could see may be 5 busses in 10 mins to the same direction. 

From here whe had to take this route

dindugal-> theni -> chinnamanur -> meghamalai
Since I was seeing a lot of busses to THENI from here I thought we will catch that bus.
At the same time I got a call from shiva that the bus is entering the bustand and the same bus will go to THENI and he asked me if im able to spot the yellow bus entering.......well I said he got down from that bus ...... but now I said Im able to see that bus....and the bus just got past me......after which i was able to see Siva.

So we went to the other side of the bustand, and that bus was waiting there and we boarded the same bus......and again out of curiosity we asked fellow passengers that we want to go to THENI now and whether we can get busses from theni to CHINNAMANNUR, they said the same bus would go to chinnammannur as well.........we were delighted and took a ticket to chinnammanur.  

We landed in chinnammanur at 9.30 AM and enquired about the bus to meghamalai. One person told that it would be nice if we could walk back half a kilometer and board the bus at the main bustand just to avaoid the crowd.
When we reached that bustand we saw one 1947 bus with threads tied allarround to just make sure that the parts of the bus wont be dropped o
n the bumpy roads. 

We were also told that if we buy "tokens"(like the reservation) we get the seat numbers. we bought tokens(Rs5 each) and got the last seat. The bus was getting full from time to time, but there was no driver. We were told by the fellow passengers that the driver has gone for a marriage and will come back soon. 

we waited from 10 AM to 12 noon and finally the super hero(the driver) arrived. The bus started immediately and started getting over crowded(by then we realised the importance of those tokens). 
And now the other super hero (the conductor arrived) and asked "ticket ticket", I immidiately showed the tokens, he said thats ok, where is the money, I said money for what? I already paid and bought these tokens!. 

The passengers told that the money I paid was for tokens, but now I need to pay for the actual ticket!!!!! ok ...... I paid Rs9.50 each to meghamalai......after crossing the ghat section for almost 2 hrs it reached Meghamalai.

The conductor said this is MEGHAMALAI get down here.....we hardly saw any tea estates.....and were totally disappointed and almost thought that we chose a wrong place. Since the bus was going futher to some other villages.......I told to shiva that lets get down at the last stop...he agreed....and told the conductor the same....the conductor said you are welcome......and gave us one more ticket which was Rs9.50 worth. The bus started and we slowly started seeing lush green tea estates......and a waterbodies(infact a dam).....the spirits went up again!!!!!!!!!!!!. 

The bus stopped at a place called "senthil kadai" (means senthil's shop/store in tamil) for a lunch break......we were told that this is the place were we get food to eat and there are some IBs where we can stay(should get in touch with senthil). We took some picrues here.........the scenaries were very good with water everywhere.....(so far so good).

The bus started again.........and now, the best part........ As the bus moved slowly via the manalur village passing through the lush g
reen teaestates........with water bodies in between the tea estates.......well this was the most beautiful place I have ever seen and I should say that it is to be experinced than told.....this 
is when  
we said that the objective of this trip was NOT met but EXCEEEEEEEED. 

We noted down this beutiful spot(manalur) and continued till the last stop....the bus stopped there for 10 mins. 

There where lot of kids there, i just took a photo of one and when i showed it to him(thats the
 beauty of a digital camera), he was so amazed that he alled all his friends and suddenly 
arround 5 of them arrived and asked me to take their photo, it was real fun taking photos and showing it to them. The bus started...and they were runing behind the bus. 

This time we got down at manalur(which we had previosly noted down as scenic spot). We walked from there to
 (almost 2kms).........enjoyed the scenic beauty took lots of pictures, talked to the tea estate workers on the way......also saw them weighing the tea leves they have plucked to get their daily wages........

the 2 kms walk was fantastic and I will remember that for a long time. 
We finally reached the senthil kadai at arround 4.PM. We had nice food there(rice and sambar - charged Rs 20 perhead) was home made....just fantastic....we heard the bus hanking somewhere in the we gulped fast just managed to finish the lunch(late lunch rather). We boarded the bus to get back since that was the last bus to get down the hill. Again since the bus was crowded we sat on the baunet and finally reached down the 
hill (chinnamannur) by arround 6PM. 

One of the co passenger had told us to stay at a place called "CUMBAM" so that it will be easier to see some other nearby places. so we boarded the bus and headed towards CUMBAM (we say atleast 10 busses in 15 mins to this direction). We reached CUMBAM arround 7.45 and started searching for a place to stay, we stayed at hotel Indra (Rs 200).

Got up in the morning  (Tuesday) and were ready to hit the next spot which was "Surulli Falls", the bus starts from a place called "Gandhi silai" (means Ghandi statue in tamil).....we were there at 8.15AM, and came to know that the bus starts at 8.45, so we had a quick breakfast (super idlis) and the bus started and we reached the spot in 30 mins time(5kms)......after which we had to walk for arround half a km to see the falls. 
This is where we saw lot of tourists, lot of shops, 
lot of plastic........unlike meghamali which was fresh and green....The falls was neither too big not too small it was Ok, we had a glance of it, took some photos and immediately returned from there. We came back to CUMBAM again.

Now out next destination was "KUMLI". we got an immediate bus to KUMLI (Rs4.50) and reached KUMLI arround 11AM (about an hour). We enquired the places to see in KUMLI at the tourist information center. 

Well KUMLI is the border, if you stand at one point, your one foot will be in Tamilnadu and the other in Kerala. We were told that we could visit the tea gardens/tea factory , spice garden (where you can see plants of cardamom, clove, cinamon etc) and Thekaddy which was 
just 4 km away. Since we had already seen the tea estates, we decided to visit Thekkkady. 

To get there you dont have any bus service, we took an Auto(Rs 50 one way)........on the way we need to take an entry ticket which cost Rs 25, and finally reached Thekkady after a 20 mins drive in auto. 
Well in thekkady there there is nothing except the boating in the lake forest(for 2hrs). We saw that there was huge queue for boating tickets. The boating starts at 11Am, 2PM 2and 4PM and the fares are Rs 75 for lower deck and Rs 150 for upper ticket. I was already told by the autodriver that, if i had to get the 2PM ticket I had to stand in the queue from 11AM. 
We stood in the queue for about 1 hour and managed to get the tickets. We got the upperdeck ticket since the lowerdeck tickets were sold off. 

It was 1PM so we still had 1 hour's time, so we had a quick lunch at the nearby restaurant......yes the kerala parotas and finally boarded the boat at 2 PM. It was a nice cruise. Basically its a long lake with forest on either side, we could spot some sambar deers, wild boar, wild buffaloes, 
king fisher and some birds..... 
Totally 4 boats had gone and the cruise was supposed to be for 2 hrs....but our boat returned within 1.5 hrs.....after reaching the shore I came to know that, this was because ANIL KUMBLE and family were waiting to board.....took a quick picture of anil kumble......

Since we had covered all the places, we decided to get back home, I was lucky enough to get a direct bus from kumli to bangalore and shiva departed to cumbam to catch a bus to chennai. The bus stared from kumli at 6.30PM on tuesday and reached bangalore by 8.AM Wednesday.......the SETC bus was teribly slow.

As I mentioned earlier all the tamilnadu buses via dindugal will board at shanthinagar bustand in bangalore. I took an auto from shanthi nagar to my home. After paying the auto charge...........the auto driver greeted me saying.......

"Happy new year sir!!!"........

I had totally forgot that it was 31st of December and that was the first new year wish I received..
...and this was the way I said good bye to 2008 and entered 2009......

I just prepared a rough map that would help you with the route. To summarise the route I took is Bangalore->dindugal->theni->chinnamanur->meghamalai->backto chinnamanur->cumbam->surilifalls->back to cumbam->kumli->thekkadi->back to kumli and direct bus from there to bangalore.

Hope to catch you soon with another unexplored place.......
Bye for now


I have been reciveing lot of queries about accomodation and food.
Please get in touch with +91 9442781748 (Mr. Murugan) who can arrange a goverment guest house and food.