The day before was a day of camaraderie with four riders whirling around the quaint town of Munnar in perfect harmony and discipline, but it wasn’t the same anymore.
The day started by bidding adieu to two of our co riders who decided to head back to Bangalore and get back to their cubicles. From now on, it will be just two of us left on this uncharted wander. We didn’t have a plan and we didn’t want to go back, our sick leaves at office were already exhausted, but this sickness was showing no signs of recovering, the sickness called wanderlust. Thekkady was the only destination we had in mind and so be it, we thought.
After a scrumptious breakfast with idiyappam (rice noodles, a Kerala delicacy) and Munnar’s special masala tea, we slowly lazed out of the town and commenced our journey to Thekkady, only to end up in a territory of fog and mist.
There was absolutely nothing that could be seen. The visibility was not even five feet and the clouds were playing their touch and go games with us. Our visors accumulated droplets of water and the jackets went wet soon, but it wasn’t raining! We kept on screaming, as we didn’t know any other way to express what we were experiencing. The sound of the engine was the only one we could hear, no birds, no animals, no humans! It felt as if we were caught in a magical land where time has stopped rolling and we have no way to go. This continued for around twenty minutes after which we finally spotted a car! We stopped at the Periyakanal waterfalls and saw many vehicles halted there because of the dense fog. After the falls, we rode on the other side of the hill and the fog vanished. We regretted to have missed some of the sceneries in between, but the experience we had was extremely special.
The road to Kumily improved dramatically and became a twisty highway without much of an elevation. Thekkady was only 3 kms from Kumily and the gateway to the Periyar Tiger Reserve. We were lucky to have reached there on time to find a place at the Tourism Dept’s last ferry at 4:30 pm. Sighting wildlife was supposed to be rare considering the rainy season, but we still spotted a large number of deer, elephants, buffaloes and wild boars, not to forget the kingfishers, eagles and herons. After two hours of boat ride on the Periyar Lake, we came back to the main gate of the reserve.
Finding a hotel was a challenge considering there weren’t too many near the gate. We opted for the best looking one and rode into its parking area. The owner, who had just switched off his car’s ignition walked up to us. His initial reaction looking at two motorcyclists was like a little child who had suddenly discovered a few aliens in his backyard! He was surprised to the core to know that we had ridden all the way from Bangalore in this rainy season. He offered us an unbelievable discount and requested us to stay for as long as desired. But before he left we did let him know of our plans of being without plans!
The hotel was the only one in the area, which had a balcony opening into the reserve. The glitter in the eyes of the animals across the catchment area kept us hooked onto the balcony for a long time. The cloud-shrouded moon was creating an enchanting scene with the visibility across the forest being extremely high even at midnight. After discussions on Forestry Management and Animal Psychology we finally came down to the million dollar question “Where do we head next morning?”
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