Ah…the joy of travelling cannot be rivalled.
I was fortunate to be able to visit Kodaikanal “The Princess of Hills” this week.
I have to say that the wind was chilly, the roadsides were green and brown, the sun was too bright and I loved every single second. It doesn’t matter that I have gone there before.
Every place no matter how familiar it is will always show you something new every time. That’s perhaps why I get this craving to just pack up my bags and go somewhere, anywhere.
For those who have never felt wanderlust, it must be hard to imagine. But, every few months, I become restless. My feet and my heart itch to just tread new grounds.
I’ve tried explaining to my friends but they just looked at me and laughed and asked “You a Gypsy or what?”
Maybe in a previous life…who knows??? 😀 😉
Well, back to Kodai.
January to May is indeed the right time to visit Kodai, mainly because of the views of the distant lush valleys and towns. During monsoon, the roads become dangerous sinews with landslides and slippery slopes and of course leeches as well. The winter season is a great time to visit too, according to me, because you’ll have thick fog blanketing the world around you. You can see ice forming on your breath, the whole world wakes up at 10 AM and goes to bed by 5 PM. You can pile on mountains of sweaters, you can put off taking bath and when you do you get to spend hours in a hot shower. You can curl up to a roaring fire and a cup of hot something. A lazy life…ah so blissful.
So…here I am…in Kodai at the peak of tourist season. I had just read a news article on how there were traffic jams in Kodai and I dismissed them as a one-time occurrence. Ah. I was proven wrong.
I had plotted out the places to visit in a very systematic manner. I know the place a bit and knowing the best timings to visit those places helped me prepare more.
Alas, all my planning went to waste!
All the tourist spots are situated in a 10 km circumference from town. And even as I travelled the highway more than 100 kms away itself the traffic began. There were always 2 vehicles behind me at all times and since the road led only to Kodai, we were all headed to the same destination. On the way, we had a tourist bus break down in the middle of the road, preventing vehicles from moving on either side. And let me tell you that this road is narrow. Two cars can go in opposite directions, barely brushing the sides!
So imagine if a bus is parked in the middle of this road!
There was a gap on the right side of the bus which could allow small cars. I was not sure if my car would go through so we waited, not knowing how long we’ll be stuck. Then, some guys motioned to us that we would fit. And with great trepidation we reached the other side with no scratches.
Once we reached the town, we were shocked and amazed. Not in a good way. The small roads were packed with tourist buses, lots of cars, walking tourists…it was a nightmare!
The distance to our hotel was to be covered in 15 mins but the traffic jam and crazy motorists made us cover that distance in less than an hour!
We ventured out after lunch, thinking everyone would be busy sleeping/eating. We took our car to the first tourist spot as planned and we could see minivans and tempos and cars and buses lining up for parking space a mile away from the tourist spot.
Over the trip, we spent more time waiting in jams and for parking space than we had at the places we intended to visit. We even skipped going inside after seeing the crowd at a few places.
Granted, we had seen them before, but the views are truly breathtaking!
It was a side of Kodai that I hadn’t seen before. All the roads were filled with people from many countries and states. Various kinds of vehicles queued up everywhere. All the eateries filled up with hungry tourists and all the hotels (from lodges to 5-star) were filled to capacity. Many tourists were seen searching for rooms in town and then moved to the outskirts where even the smaller and less comfortable ones were filled.
We saw shops doing their business like nothing else. For us, we travelled around the town dismissing all the throngs of eager sightseers, opted to take long rides through the forest roads to enjoy the less crowded places, but even in the middle of the reserve forest, we could find crowds taking selfies.
And by crowds, I mean it in every sense. Throngs, masses of people, a sea of humanity.
This is how the Pine Forest usually is.
And this time, when we visited, this was how it was. Now you can understand!