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A travel Diary- Chapter 4- Tada falls

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tada

tada

 After a gruelling semester, it’s finally winter holidays! Seven of us planned to go on a trek to Tada falls, otherwise called Ubbalamadugu falls. Located at about 80 kms from Chennai, this place seems to be lesser known tourist attraction, but doesn’t fall behind any other nature-lovers’ or trekking destinations.

We boarded a local(sub-urban) train that goes to Sullurpeta from Chennai central station at about 7:30 in the morning. It took about an hour and a half to reach Tada, after which we took an auto to the falls.  We stopped in between for breakfast at a local eatery- the food wasn’t very good. But, we couldn’t help but fill our tummies there as there is no other source of food once we start the trek.

It takes about an hour to reach the falls check post by an auto and then we went through what seemed to be a never ending bumpy ride (I wouldn’t even call it a road) till we reached a bridge. From this point on, we walked. I would divide the track into three parts. One- till we reached the first stream of water, after crossing the bridge; two- till we reached the Shiva temple; three- the trek after that.

the bridge

the bridge

  The bridge was itself a beautiful spot with the pleasant stream of water running under it. At a distance, upstream, you can see the water spilling out smoothly over the rocks – it’s a beautiful view, good news – it’s just the first, there are lots more of those. We started walking in the only path. The place was deserted when we started. After walking a few meters distance, we arrived at a path branching out to the royal tub or the mango pool and took a few pictures there; we were all excited as this was the first place where we got to put our feet into the water. The rest of the first phase was through a path laid with pebbles and sharp pieces of rock and rubble till we reached a small stream of water peacefully flowing over rocks covered with moss. Watch out for the slippery rocks!

mango pool or the royal tub

mango pool or the royal tub

crossing the first stream was a circus stunt!

crossing the first stream was a circus stunt!

The second phase was quite simple. It leads to a Shiva temple by a stream of water. This is where many tourists stop and this is where the path ends. After this, there is no well-laid path and we just followed the stream, in a hope that it would ultimately take us to the falls. On the other hand, after this lies the real adventure.

We crossed the stream and the Shiva temple and decided to follow the stream. At some places, we could follow it on the banks- climbing onto rocks. At other places, we had to walk through the middle of the stream or cross it. The whole path is such an amazing one- the sunlight streams through the trees from above while swarms of yellow butterflies greet you every now and then. You may want to watch out for the monkeys though. After a few minutes of trekking, we arrived at this place- water parts into two small streams gushing from between the boulders, it appeared so breath-taking!

The whole place reminds me of one thing – Bridge to Terabithia!

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We continued to trek, for about an hour or so before we came to a small stream of water forcing its way between two huge rocks into a silent pool of clear water. The place was heavenly. The water was crystal clear and small, skinny black fish swam underneath the surface. We had a dip in the pool – the water was freezing! We stayed here for about an hour before we headed back. On our way back, we saw three more groups of people like ours trekking to the falls. In no time, we were back at the Shiva temple, and the rest of the path seemed to be very well-paved after trekking through the wilderness.

We relaxed near the bridge for 5-10 minutes before heading to the bumpy ride back to the check post. It was 3o’clock and we figured out that we would miss the 3:20 sub-urban train back to Chennai. The next train wasn’t until 6:30. So, we took a bus from Tada to Gummidipundi, and headed back home in a local train from there.

Well, is it worth it? I’d say ‘ofcourse! Totally worth it! ’ For a first-time trekker like me, it’s not very usual to walk through uneven rocks barefoot or to pave way through the wilderness, so, the trip was very adventurous. If you want to go on an economy trip and want to have a good time, Tada falls is an awesome plan! How much did it cost us? About 200 bucks per person, yes, that is all we spent on the trip! Here are some tips from my side.

  1. There may not be any network on your mobile once you start the trek, so inform people about that, if you don’t want them to be worried.
  2. Start early and return back early. It’s not very safe to stay inside the woods after dark.
  3. Do carry a med-kit. We didn’t, but it’s advisable to carry one with you. There are no sources of food once you start the trek, so carry some snacks and water if you need. (Do not litter around!).
  4. If you decide to travel by train, check the train schedule beforehand, plan it out in such a way that you get to stay at the highest point you reach for quite a while, that’s the best part of it all.

Here are some pictures of the place! Photo courtesy – Sanjay Subrahmanyam

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Eclipse!

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January 15, 2010

There is nothing that can beat the view of an annular solar eclipse. Today was the first time I had experienced an annular eclipse – a very rare celestial treat. Well, if you are not aware, as the moon’s diameter is smaller than that of the sun’s, a fascinating annular ring is formed out of the sun, as seen from the earth, and thus the name annular eclipse. The sun radiation has its color more on the orange part of the spectrum and easily creates a head-ache. The shadows are blurred.The sun light, beaming through the gaps between the neem leaves, projects itself as spectacular crescents on the ground.

We had a chance to see the sun through the eclipse-glasses. Some enthusiastic minds of the college put together a telescope and we could also catch a view of the eclipse on a tile. Though I missed the annular ring, here are some pictures that I captured.

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solar eclipse

down from the sky, through the telescope, onto the tile

the light through the gaps between the neem leaves appears as a crescent on the ground

shadows

a rare celestial treat

A Travel Diary Chapter 1.2 – Udagamandalam Day2

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10:00 pm,17th December 2011

behind the guest house

behind the guest house

Dear diary,

We weren’t expecting the sun till 9. But, we had the dawn greeting us at about 7. It   was still cold outside; the woods behind the guest house were beautiful. The creepers bearing orange, red and white flowers at the entrance were very welcoming. We hired a taxi to go around the city and visit some site-seeing places in three hours. We had to take the train back to metupalayam at 2pm.Everything in Ooty opens at 9. We had breakfast at the Ooty Saravana bhavan at 8:30am and then set off to the botanical garden.

The botanical garden is a must-see for nature lovers. The green lawns are very

mom and dad at the botanical garden

refreshing. The trees, around, reach high to the sky. The serenity of nature can capture anyone’s heart. The photographers flock you for instant pics. It takes a whole day to enjoy the garden to the fullest. We skipped the major part of the garden as we didn’t have any such time. There are rock garden, sunken garden, conservatory, glass houses, top garden, picnic spots and many other attractions at the garden to enjoy. You can also buy seeds and plants at the nursery.

Italian garden at the botanical garden

Next in our list was Doddabeta.   It’s the highest point in Ooty and the second highest in South India. On the way, the taxi driver showed us small blue flowers – locally called ‘Neelikurinji’, these blue flowers bloom once in 12 years. The local tribes used to use these flowers to tell their age. These flowers are found only in Ooty, Coonoor and Munnar.   It is after these flowers that the hills are named ‘Nilgiris’. You can catch a telescopic view of movements in Ooty city and also Coimbatore (on a clear day). The view from the peak is like ‘heaven on earth’. The far-away hills seemed to be elegantly submerged in a sea of white clouds extending forever.  You can see the serene waters of the avalanche dam form the tower. We had some hot boiled groundnuts from a street vendor, a perfect food for the crisp weather.

a view from Doddabeta

tea estates

After Doddabeta, the taxi driver suggested going to the tea museum and the tea factory as mom was determined to do some tea shopping. You get to see the process of tea powder making in the factory.  Inbetween the lush green estates, the tea factory is one place where you can do quality tea purchases. You can get various kinds of flavors – chocolate-flavored tea, cardamom flavored tea, green tea and silver tea are the favorites. There are also Silver  tips that are hand-picked, sold

at the rose garden - the language of roses

here. Though a little costlier, silver tea is said to have many health benefits. They sure have a great business going on; none who visits this place leaves without making purchases. Besides tea, you can also find stalls selling chocolates, oils and balms, spices and leather. Then, we went to visit the rose garden. It is not the season for good rose blossom. That is one of the reasons why it seemed a waste of time. Once we have seen the botanical garden, the rose garden didn’t seem very exhilarating. Rows of rose plants of different colors- that is all there is. But, if you are a rose-lover, which I am not, you may be able to appreciate the beauty. If you happen to go there, do not miss the green rose, right next to the entrance. After the rose garden, we visited the lake and the thread garden which are next to each other and also near our guest house. The thread park can be visited to appreciate the hard work of 50 women over 12 years. The work involves making real-seeming plants or flowers without the use of machines, needles or colors. We didn’t have time to boat in the lake. We had to catch a train at 2 back to Mettupalayam. The taxi driver told us that the Ooty Lake is an artificial lake. There is another natural lake 30km away from the city known as the Pikara Lake, which has serene waters and scenic spots.

lush green tea estates- a view from the train

It was already past 1. We hurried back to the guest        house and packed up to leave. We had lunch at VRR canteen attached to the railway station. The Ooty train, popularly called the ‘Toy train’, is something no tourist should miss. The train goes on a narrow gauge line from Ooty to Mettupalayam through lush green tea gardens, dark tunnels and scenic valleys. The train has large windows; so stick your head out and experience the nature.

Every turn around a rock reveals pristine beauty of forested hill slopes and valleys filled with pine trees and here and there, a brook runs through the woods. The train ride is a three and a half hour breath-taking experience and something without which the trip to Ooty is never complete. We arrived at Mettupalayam at 5:30 pm and caught the Nilgiri Express to Chennai. This Ooty trip has been a very memorable tour and served as an excellent get-away from a mundane urban life. This is, indeed, a miracle of a God’s work of sublime beauty.

 

a view from the train- exquisite beauty

 

here and there, a brook runs through the woods

 

the toy train on narrow gauge

A Travel Diary Chapter 1.1 – Udagamandalam Day1

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A Travel Diary Chapter 1.1 – Udagamandalam Day1

 16th December 2011

Dear diary,

We arrived at Ooty today. We took a train from Coimbatore to Mettupalayam followed by a bus to Ooty. We were expecting a freezing zero degrees in Ooty according to yesterday’s meteorological reports. It was a better climate but was still freezing to me.

The bus stand was walk able from the Mettupalayam railway station. The frequency of buses was good. The buses were filled with locals as well as tourists. Mom says that the train journey to Ooty would be a better tourist attraction. But, unfortunately we could not get tickets for the train.

The bus journey (approx 2 hours) was a bridge to another world. The ghat road twists into the lovely woods. The sunset unwound the beauty of the hills. The outline of the hills merges into the calm blue sky. As the sun sets behind the brow of the distant hills, the opacity of the trees is highlighted in the orange sky. The breeze blew colder and the woods grew thicker. The radiance of the village lamps hugs you like a warm blanket in the icy weather. As we approached Coonoor, tea estates started to appear. The town glimmers with street lamps and car lights in the distance. The bus had a halt at Coonoor which is about 20 kilometers from Ooty. After Coonoor was the Wellington cantonment area. As we neared Ooty, the smell of eucalyptus filled the air. The two hours flew in no time. The lights of the shops glowed through the dark. We got down at the bus stand as it was nearer to our guest house.

The guest house was very comfortable, accommodated with a room heater, facility for hot water and warm blankets. If you ask me, it is more of a suite. We had dinner at hotel Gaylord. The food was delicious. We returned to the guest house by night after doing a little shopping. The shops in Ooty are open till 9p.m.

I am looking forward to tomorrow. Will update you soon. GN!