My First Solo Travel
Why Solo Travelling?
Having read a lot about how travelling has changed so many peoples perspective of life I also decided to travel to some places with friends and family. Well, nothing actually changed I was the same guy while coming back to the city with same constant nags along with it. So, for a change I decided to take a solo trip to a place I have already been to.But felt somewhat unexplored. Above all these I wanted to travel and not just go sight seeing somewhere which most of us do nowadays. People nowadays book a cosy place, a comfy travel and go some sight seeing until lights go out and call that a travel without understanding why that place is special, how the local lives revolve around that place, or why in the first place they chose to go that place apart from some google search. So I went to the place apart from the season time just so I can talk and understand why that place is special and how life works there. That's the reason I decided to go Solo and 'boy o boy' what a decision it has been. I hope every body does this at least once in their life.
Why Kodaikanal? and how Kodaikanal?
Answering this should be easy. I will be lying if I said I wasn't scared to go alone. I was bit scared about what all could go wrong and that's why I chose a place which is in my own state and where I could have no language barriers. And Kodaikanal was that place for me which was calling me to see it from my gut. So that Tuesday morning when I was hearing a podcast from "How to make money" the host stated something like this "Time is not money" You could make money anytime but you can't get the time you lost. It hit me where it has to. Just like that I stopped my ride got out and booked my bus tickets for the next day night to Kodaikanal. No Plans, No preparations, Nothing. Just like that I decided to go.
I got down at 7th road at 7.30 am and damn, it was so cold I could see my breath. Post talking to some people from there I got to know that they don't provide rooms for a single person alone because people come there to do some illegal things(hunting,marijuana, magic mushrooms,etc) or get themselves killed which might land the hotel in trouble. So I had to persuade a guide there to get me a room stating that I had all the proofs required including "Aadhar". That guy was kind enough to find me a room within my budget (Rs. 700) . Got to the room, dropped my bag ,got freshen up and then went for a walk as the climate got more pleasant as morning was unwinding itself. My hunger woke me up from the walk. As I had my breakfast in roadside shop, the owner was stating what all I could the whole day till 5.00 Pm as post 5.00 pm it will get more cold and dark. He hooked me up with a driver who took me for some sight seeing the whole day from 10.30 am - 4.00 pm for Rs.300. Off all the places I saw that day(around 12 places) one place completely blew me off "Coakers Walk". This is the place where it felt like "I was walking among the floating Clouds" the way the clouds were dancing too and from the mountains will be cherished for a life time to come. Apart from the romance of clouds and the mountains I met a "Retired English Couple - Jack and Jill" They are literally the life goals to live by. They both(55 years and 53 years old) sold their house back in Birmingham, England so that they could travel across the world and do the service works wherever they can. They had already seen half of Europe, South east Asia and then planning for North America this year. If that's not how we would retire nothing else is.
Post sight seeing at 5.00 pm I decided to walk around Kodaikanal Lake, there I went to ask around the directions for the lake to the group of people playing carom board. Then 3 hours later I didn't make it to the lake because those people got more interested after hearing that I came alone and asked me to join them for playing. I ended up playing Carom Board with random strangers for 3 hours while talking life and laughing. This could have never happened if it was a group trip or something.
Post talking with my new found friends on the previous day evening I found out that walking is the only way to truly experience the mountain and the vibes it gives. Even though they were all drivers and travel guides they didn't make an offer or suggest someone else they all asked me to walk and explore and see things which I won't see if I take a cab. That's what happens when people genuinely likes you "they say the truest things even if it's difficult to make it". So I decided to walk around. Getting up early in that climate is one of the most hardest things I have ever done. Had my breakfast around 8 and I started my hike to "Vattkanal" which is 7 Kilometers from Kodai town. Trust me this is one of those walks which you will never regret. Most of this walk is down hill and along the journey you will meet so many people and "Kutty" the dog which never lets you to cross that street if you don't pet him. If you ask around the locals they will tell you a short cut some 1 km inside the forest which is seriously scary when you see the way.But you can walk along with the monkeys,see some snakes around varieties of exotic flowers and hear the the stream sound along the way. Even though it was scary as hell you will not regret the walk. Vattakanal is a bio-diversity spot and you will understand that why it is.
Vattakanal - The land where you would want to get lost and never come back.
There are literally no words to experience Vattakanal and it's landscapes unless and until you see that for yourself. First things first as you reach this place you will know that it's just a fragment of 3 places but a life time of memory and moments it will give to cherish them. No more words. Please find the Photos below.
As hike down from the spot the first thing you will find is this spot. Where you will lose everything you have, your memories, your possessions, your family and friends as time completely freezes here.
You should be careful as the bench (newly installed) is almost at the edge of the ridge and if you slip you would miss two more beautiful things more down to see.
You would need a ton of courage to go and sit there just to feel the world below you. I actually and sat there with shaking legs for 10 minutes but the amount of adrenaline high it gives is worth the risk. (Didn't have perfect stand for setting my camera on timer mode there to take a portrait)
Again there are literally no safety measures to reach here. If you slip a moment then that's it you would be found only after 3 days (that's what the local people says) .Pursue at your own risk.
Though you have mountains that echos whatever you say at, the echo point as the most beautiful view in the entire region. But to just reach there you would need lot more of courage to sit there and enjoy the view. In the end "Nothing in life comes easily".
The final day, I loved the trail so much that I chose to walk again from Vattakanal to Kodaikanal where there were still few more things to explore. Along the way you would find a shop (Single Shop) selling two fruits "Tree Tomato" and "Green fruit (I don't remember the name). Tree Tomato - a fruit which was sweet and sour at the same time which you just have to suck and eat. Green Fruit - ahh, one of the most tastiest fruits I had, It was crispy and sweet along with it's seeds. Post tasting this fruit the shop owner was asking me about my travel and asked me to check out the falls and lion caves that you have to walk across. I got down the path almost 50 feet to go down to the falls. It was completely worthy as there were literally no one in the falls and I had all the time to take a bath in icy cold water all alone.(only later I read the sign that you shouldn't take a bath there)
After returning to Kodaikanal after a long walk from Vattakanal don't forget to check out "Imran Biriyani" near the Kodaikanal bus stand. These guys serve some delicious non-vegetarian foods in the town. Had a Chicken biriyani tummy full, post which I decided to roam around the Kodaikanal lake (doing that mandatory shopping for Kodaikanal special chocolates) before boarding the bus. Even though you can drive around the lake by cycle or ride a horse trust me a walk around the lake with the love of your life would be a memory to cherish. It's a that kind of place. Post which I boarded the bus on the place where it all began at 7th road.
What I Understood from this journey?
Travelling is completely different from Sight Seeing. I learnt a lot of things about Kodaikanal for example "They don't have that much caste differences as much as the other parts of the state, Love marriages are very casual here, They have a pretty strong christian community and Tibetian Community, a 115 years old International school and so much." I couldn't have experienced all I did if it was a pre-planned sight seeing. In the It was all about meeting new people and hearing more stories than seeing new places. I would like to end this with my own quote.
"If you want to see what no one else saw, you have to go where no one else went"
Meet new people, Make friends, Make memories and Travel a lot.