There are two different kinds of trips. one where people plan to go first and then choose the location, and two, where people plan to visit some location and think about how to get there, later.
I like to go on the second kind of trip; because there’s a heavily motivating element from the beginning, which excites one days before the trips begun.
So, the lot of ours’ trip to Ponmudi belonged to the second category. and, maybe thats why we missed our bus the first time, and the next one’s in….. about an hour and a half???
oops! forgot to tell. Ponmudi is a hill station located in the southern part of Kerala, in the district of Thiruvananthapuram. Its relatively very accessible, because theres a road winding from the city,all the way to the top :P.
We were at valiyamala @ that very moment. strictly speaking, pathinaaramkallu. So, we took a bus to the nearest major stop Vithura in hopes of getting a bus to Ponmudi from there. Hey, it’s better than standing around. But to our dismay we learned later that all buses to ponmudi came through pathinaaraamkallu, our previous stop. That’s when we heard from one of the people there about Kallaar, a mere 10 km from Vithura and we had a bus to that place in 10 minutes! Off to Kallaar then!!
Kallaar kept true to its name – a river of rocks. There were huge boulders everywhere, with water filling the gaps in between. Rains were off for a few weeks now. So the water level was low enough to allow the rocks to jut out of the water, so that we may explore every part of the river by hopping from rock to rock, and high enough for us to have some fun! of course, the rocks underneath the water were extremely slippery due to algae growth and one had to be very carefull where one was stepping. Up the river, there were large continuum of solid rock that reminded one of solidified lava, lava that was flowing down the hill, maybe a tribute to the volcanic past of the subcontinent.
The river led up to the Meenmutty waterfalls. But we couldn’t quite get there. we had a bus to catch, to Ponmudi! But we went half way and had lots of fun!
So aboard the Ponmudi bus! The bus was packed and this was a 1 hour journey. But we were doing it the old fashioned way. Nothing fancy, nothing funny. sheer ecstasy and determination. Someway up, I was thinking about kallaar. How a spot right off the itinerary would have been subjected to huge amounts of amounts of contemplation before approval if this were a family trip or organised tour. And i was thinking about the people who were with me, the people i was talking to right now. and they made my day!
Our bus stopped halfway up the hill. And we had to walk the rest of the climb. There was a lookout point, kind of an elevated cement platform, constructed obviously for visitors to enjoy the high view from the hillside. And boy it was beautiful. It made me wish I had a DSLR with me (and that cost’s abopt 50,000. what???), knowing very well that my modest little mobile camera couldn’t do justice to it. It’s the same for everything else, I believe, not just scenic spots. Our eyes are the best lenses and the brain is the best album. There’s so much dynamism in everything real that simply can’t be reproduced any other way. But that didn’t stop me from trying, and checking later, all of them turned out fine.
@ the check point, the entrance to the tourist destination, we were asked our identifications, and my heart skipped a beat. No one was expecting this and we had nothing of the sort with us. But, with some amount of negotiations, we got through. Past the “tresspassers will be prosecuted” sign put up on the fenced property that the IIST had aquired we climbed on. The Sun was oppressive except for when the occassional happy cloud decided to come in between us and the Sun. But the view simply got better. Nevertheless, after a while we had become so used to it , that we didn’t care. I decided to stop shooting while I was still in awe. The greed, to have all of it, was killing the fun.
The walk was long, and at some point all of us might have considered abandoning it and going back down. But i guess what kept us going were each other. we were walking and talking, trying to get on others nerves and having a lot of fun. things we would not be doing in the average classroom, humanly aspects of ourselves, stuff that I was beginning to forget after three years of 24×7 morbidness and prison-like life. We had even begun a fantasy role play, imagining ourselves as a tribe, with our own ‘mooppatthy’ (tribal cheiftess). and somehow, i don’t know about the others but, there came a point when i hoped the walk would not come to an end, hoped that i would not reach the destination, because everything ended there. ….
All along I was wondering why it came to be known as Ponmudi. I saw different hues, of green, yellow, grey, the blue of the sky and the hills, even the pale yellow of the dry grass that covered most of the hill. But no gold. Little did I know that I was to find out only days after, when I probe my grey matter of the memories formed then, and the tingle that it and the bonds forged left under my sternum.
At the end, when we reached the top, it was magical. Not the golden sheen of the hills, put forth by the sunshine dancing on the yellow grass over the hills, (only days after, when i was thinking again about the trip, thinking back to the time when we sat on the rocks at the top, thinking of writing about it, did i remember that the hills looked all gold all around us in the evening Sun! Did that become so unimportant to me at that time that it slipped my attention??) nor the cold that was setting in against the receding Sun. It was that all of us were there (we were missing a few people, who had to stay back. we missed them.), but more importantly, the road that brought us there. Maybe it was because our journey took up the greater part of the day. Or may because it was always the journey that matters more than the destination, whatever we had acquired being treasures that we stumbled upon the road.
And as we as comrades stood on the edge of that hillock beside that big boulder, with Sansel proudly perched on top, for that prizewinning final click, the glow about everyones faces, of battles fought and ultimate conquests made, shone forth brighter than the golden backdrop the hillocks offered. 🙂