Disclaimer: The following post is dedicated to all my branch mates and is a little more on the personal side. Additionally, the post is too long and may not be of any relevance for those who seek to attain any bit of technical nirvana from this blog. So, you may happily TLDR this post.
Many have asked me why I decided to go for branch tour when almost none of the northies were ready to go. The reasons were many - the most prominent being I wanted to know my branch mates, to connect with them, share some laughs, joys together (the whole first year, the shy, not-into-cultural-activities Kartik in me had tried to stay away (read: not actively participated) from events like Sangam, Spectrum, Debutante which are meant for bringing the whole branch together - for this Rama (happy now?) had always cursed me). The other reason was that even after being here in Calicut for over a year and a half I had not tried to visit any places (Bangalore being an exception - which I visited 2 times last year for non-fun conferences). The northies not going for tour was not much of a problem for me as I thought over and realized I have had more and better Malayali friends compared to northies at least in my branch (yeah, I did try to get them involved too, but one by one everyone except Mamde backed out).
Day 1 - Visit to Meenmutty Waterfalls and Pookot Lake, Wayanad
The first day started by waking up at 4:30 and packing up my bag in a hurry. I had packed up everything in my laptop bag and realized just minutes before boarding the bus that I will need warm clothes too. Ran back to my room and packed up a few additional clothes in another bag (phew, this saved me from freezing at Ooty 3 days later).
The two buses for about 70 of us left the campus at 6. I just knew that we were going towards Wayanad. After having breakfast and a few photo shoots, we traveled to Meenmutty waterfalls.
Hiking for 2 kms followed to the falls and I can say the trekking was fun! I was reminded of good old days of childhood when me and my siblings used to play at our shop jumping and climbing on stocks of plywood and logs of wood. I found a new energy flowing in me. On the way were green, serene tea plantations which still behold my eyes. We visited 2 waterfalls for which we had to take different ways - first one was not that impressive, being so far from the viewpoint but the second one was what I call a real waterfall - many of the boys just jumped into the water (and many unwilling ones were either pulled in or slipped in!). It was a blissful sight, we just wanted to stay there forever. I started to discover the people of my branch during all this - the always lively (and ready with her handycam) Varsha, helping and caring Sachin, Delbin and Jaseem, the wild ones Bhasi and Pinki, the ever talking MG among others. On the way back we were served a cool drink of lime water in a shanty which was so relieving after all this climbing over the hillocks.
Fish Curry Meals (lunch) was served in a Dhaba-like restaurant (which again reminded me of home place) where I (the veggie) had to do with the rice only. Me, Mamde, Syam and many more concluded in an after lunch discussion that this trekking was a perfect starting for the 4-day tour.
Next up was Pookot Lake, where me and Mamde decided to go for boating recalling that it was such a long time since each of us did that earlier (I don’t even remember what age I was when I went for boating with my parents, probably in Electra World). It was 20-minutes fun well spent with many more boaters - Dipin, Jose, Nithin, Vineeth, Hashir, Aravind, Assim, Boban, Delbin, and Thridev - in the lake. After this followed a visit to a dam, where a lot of photographs were taken including those of the most remarkable (and much tagged on fb) body-show by Najih. It was quite a lovely place with the rising moon, and setting sun and the blue water.
We left for Mysore. Stay at Comfort-Inn at night was, well, what else to say, a comfort. I had not stayed in such a good hotel ever (our room even had a working AC!). The first day was par our expectations of the tour.
Day 2 - St. Philomena’s Church, Chamundi Hills, Zoo, Brindavan Gardens, Mysore
The first place we visited after leaving Comfort Inn was the church. As I had never visited a church before (my closest was going to church, on insistence of my best friend Hitesh, the night before my 10th class results were declared only to find it closed, we were apparently too late), it was a new experience for me. I was reminded of all those Dan Brown novels and movies I had read and watched noticing the general attributes of the church. I had to do some pondering over my being an atheist when Nivetha asked about it. Some more photo sessions were done before we left for Chamundi Hills.
Not until we had reached there I realized this too was a religious place - and far more like the typical ones compared to the church. Again flashes of my first visit to South India (just less than 2 years ago) and pilgrimage sites like Thirupathi-Thirumala and Meenakshi temples started coming to my mind. Thankfully we didn’t have to visit the temple and wait in the seemingly unending line here. We just roamed around taking more photos here and there. Girls seemed to find the place pretty amusing with all those shops selling artifacts and what I termed as girl-stuff. We did visit a small side-temple, which to my dismay didn’t even have a source of water anywhere nearby so I could at least wash my hands after removing socks and shoes. Another funny thing happened after I came out of temple, some priest just started tying a thread with rudrakhsha on my arm, which for some reason I didn’t object to. He kept on saying it’s for good luck and after finishing his job asked for 10 bucks, which I couldn’t refuse. The poor thread survived a mere 10 minutes on my arm. And I forgot to mention the time we (group of over 10 people) had waited for to get a glass of that ganne ka juice from the corner near the bus parking on the way towards temple. We observed how the juice-wallah kept on squeezing the canes again and again and again to extract the last drop of juice from them.
Next in our (ever-evolving) itinerary was the Mysore Zoo (which won over Mysore Palace in a small hands-up vote only because of the fact that it houses the only Gorilla of South Asia). I voted for it again for the fact that my last visit to a zoo was I-don’t-remember-when (I must be 10 or even less). The zoo visit was overall fun and I tried to know more about so many kinds of different creatures. I was specially eager to see (a real!) white tiger, gorilla, rhino, hippo, African elephants, flamingos and giraffe. This was here that I really felt I should have had a better camera. Nivetha, Monix, Navya (or Varsha?) and Susmitha deserve special mention for tolerating me and my boring gyaan all this time in the zoo. BTW I noticed later the name of the zoo was Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, phew!
Next we traveled to Brindavan Gardens which, I felt, had a lot of similarity to Akshardham Temple of Delhi because of the fort like walls and more because of the fountain show. As it was turning dark, I stopped taking pics with my good-old N72. We climbed over all those stairs to reach the fountain show area only to find no space left for us. Showing the branch spirit we all dropped down together to sit on the floor just a second before the show started. Somehow I felt, the fountain show could have been better if they had not included those Bollywood songs. Next one-two hours were spent roaming around the huge garden among sprinkles of water from so many fountains on all sides and more photo sessions in the grass lawns.
The night was spent traveling to our next destination - Hoganakkal.
So you managed to read all of the above? Congratulations! You deserve a special mention on this blog - get yourself one my posting a comment below :P. BTW there are some good and not-so-good photos I took during the tour available online, do take a look at my CSE Branch Tour - Picasa Web Album.
This part 1 just mentions half of all I have to say about our wonderful first branch tour. I am still in process of writing the part 2, expect to read it tonight.