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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Patiyaar the Paradise

Kerala my native place located in south India is called Gods own country because of its scenic beauty ,its under the 50 places to be visited in the world  according to National Geographic magazine ,it has a long coastline with some good beaches ,rivers ,hills and hill stations ,plenty of thick forests .
the western ghats which border the states inner parts  is a fertile Greenland and known for its flora and fauna .
We had visited most of Kerala but this time we went to an exotic place rarely seen as it was inside a core forest .
The Agali ranges of hillocks border the state of tamil nadu and the Siruvani river and lake have been blocked by a dam of the same name and this water reaches the people living in Coimbatore .

Right on the banks of this pristine lake there was a lovely bungalow which was built by the British for stay by officials in their work or  for leisure ,but over the years disuse had damaged the place and it needed a lot of repairs ,the former forest minister and cine actor Ganesh once visited this place once and gave orders for its renovation .
Paatiyar bungalow is reached from Palghat town via Mannarkhad area
it took us more than two hours to drive into the beginning of the forest ,we stopped our vehicle in a gaurds room ,where after scrutinising our documents and asking us to pay the tariff for our stay we were allowed to proceed with a friendly warning to be on the lookout for a lone elephant said to frequent the road nearing the dam .
My co brother Pramodh a senior Airline executive has been visiting core forests for decades as it was his passion and it was pramodh who brought us this plan of this exotic trip .

We were in two cars ,one being driven by Pramodh and the other by our niece and his daughter as I had been abroad for long I was vetoed down to be the driver as I may lack the reflexes needed for a driver in india !
Pramodh told us in the event of a sighting of an elephant ( the lonely ones are more dangerous ) or a bear or a bull or a a rare tiger ,not to panic just put  off the car ignition  and  keep quiet ,generally the wild animal wants to avoid humans as much as we want to avoid them ,so they just find a clearing into the forest and slink away ,the problem happens when they find no gap to get away that could be a reason for an attack ,
So pramodh told us if I start reversing the other car  please do so too without any panic or horns and if the animal comes very near or tries to hit the car just open the  door and run for your life ,

that was a scary advise indeed and I had sordid imaginations of us running with a furious elephant on our heels !!
on way through the forest it slowly became darker as the trees were closer together there was an eerie silence with an occasional catcall of a deer or a peacock or a friendly monkey we found fresh dungs on the road which sherlock holmes pramodh observed with great professionalism and declared its yes him ,he just passed through as if he knew him whoever it was for years as a close friend !!

I was the one person smitten with anxiety while the rest of the family seemed to enjoy the fun and shortly I was labelled as  an alarmist .
The way was scenic and as we climbed it became cooler and more pleasant ,suddenly we were on the dam ,its gates were closed and we could not enter it ,we took some photographs from the spot and later continued our way 
we had to make a detour of around ten km to reach the cottage , if only the dam was a public thoroughfare we cold have avoided that ,
the roads became more narrower and the forests thicker and dungs more frequent .
 we were wary of the rogue elephant as he was said to be in this area ,
we did reach the cottage safely ,it had a huge moat around it
we drove in and parked in the back yard as a huge peacock flew into the roof in welcome ,it had started drizzling a bit we walked into the front of the nice bungalow and we were stunned by its beauty it overlooked the mountains and the dam and was perched in an excellent location after its recent refurbi it looked neat and nice ,

Reggie the man friday of the place came around to welcome us with a broad smile and brought us red hot chai which we had sitting in the open verandah enjoying the breeze and rain .
He told us the electric  current would be there only  for some time in the early evening as it was from solar powers ,there was no mobile network or TV hence we were free of all civilisational trappings to enjoy nature in totality .
we had brought all provisions as we came including some fish and meat ,as there was no shops nearby ,
Reggie got these from the cars and went into the kitchen to do his job
Some went for a walk in the evening which I avoided but spent my time gazing at he scene I saw a flying squirrel but could not click it in time .

later over candle light we had an excellent dinner cooked by Reggie post cocktails and were in a mellow mood to go to sleep which was fitful
Early next morning we took a small tour of nearby places ,

again we found very fresh dung and for once my alarms were heeded by others and we decided to move back to safer areas ,
We had a lazy lunch and later we started our return drive back

a few km on our way we stopped as a huge bison stood in the road in front of us staring at us ,we were quiet ,the bison looked at us for some time then slowly came towards us but veered off into the trees on our side and disappeared from sight ,we quietly moved off and as we did so we could see a pair of burning ember like eyes peeping at us behind the bushes ,well that was a fitting send off from an inmate of the jungle who just wanted us humans to get away from their land
 Patiyar was a real spell of relaxation and exotic too .

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