In the press and media

Sunday Herald, Bangalore – 21st May 2006

The mist and magic of Vythiri

by Bala Chauhan

Vythiri, a small hill station in the Wyanad district of Kerala, is lush with nature’s bounties. Known for its coffee and tea plantations, the mountain region is covered with thick tropical rain forests and is a must for nature lovers, writes Bala Chauhan

It’s a little before three in the morning. The bus halts and we alight, into pitch darkness that envelopes us from all around. The dim bulbs at the police station are little solace as they are covered with a thick blanket of mist. The stillness is broken every second minute a vehicle zips past the road at an easy 120 kmph. The crickets and the jungle insects keep company with their cacophony. The early morning sky is studded with stars, veneered with a fresh patina. From a foggy distance, a Maruti Gypsy speeds up on the National Highway till it breaks near us. We board it and it plunges into the darkness and rides firm on the mountain road. The chill in the air is pleasant and the darkness lit by the fireflies that light up for a split second and move on, on the notes of a symphony, as if.

We reach Annapara Home Stay – Zafar Salim’s estate, small but very neat and beautiful, nestled in the lap of the mountain ranges. The rooms are spacious with a bedroom, kitchenette-cum-dining area and washroom with a small dressing area. The look is colonial, with vignettes of Kerala style of architecture. Sloping wooden ceilings with skylights and a verandah that over looks the rolling valleys and the Western ghats. Early morning at 7, the man comes with the tea, white crockery and serviettes. The serenity of the place is quite something for an urbanite to get used to. There’s no contact with the urban chaos – no newspapers, no TV, no phone, other than that with Pravin – the manager of Annapara.

Vythiri – a small hill station in the Wyanad district of Kerala is lush with nature’s bounties. Known for its coffee and tea plantations, the mountain region is covered with thick tropical rain forests and is a must for nature lovers.

After breakfast we leave for a long trek, into the hills. The path is rugged, strewn with fallen leaves of the surrounding trees. The sun is hot, but not scorching. The air is unsullied and fresh and there’s an obsession to inhale it more and more. After a certain height, the clouds drift past and we walk into the mist that touches and goes leaving a certain moistness behind.

In the plantations, women pick the leaves and fill their baskets. Life carries on in its versatility. We descend into the valley for a swim in the natural stream cupped by rocks all around. The water is crystal clear. Initially, there’s a chill but soon, nature takes over and all we experience is unlimited freshness, with the sound of the water gently gushing down the mountains, in a perennial carnival of life.

Towards evening, we are waiting for the sunset and, once again the clouds take over. Suddenly the valley gets misty hiding behind the clouds a helplessly feeble sun. The silver oaks, the eucalyptus and the other mountain trees touch the cloudy canopy and disappear. What remains is the mist and the trek down.

Back at Annapara, there’s fresh lime juice in waiting and by the time we finish washing up, there’s tea with hot bhajjis and cookies. The estate has no electricity. In the evenings, they switch on the generator to provide the basic lighting facility. We sit down in the open garden facing the ranges. The gazebo is a good place to chill out after a long day’s trek, with a drink and choice of music; from classical to lounge, world and rock.

For dinner, there’s salad, fish fry and mutton curry, aviyal, pachari and sambhar to go with rotis and rice. Hot adde payasam with dryfruits is very well made. The ambience is homely and service is warm. After dinner, we sit around the campfire and chat, hours into the night.

Annapara is leagues away from some other resorts in the region. It is simple with no frills. What you get is extreme cleanliness, basic facilities and to the point of perfection.

FACT FILE

Getting There

Vythiri is 300 km from Bangalore. There are regular buses from Kalasiplayam.

Nearby places to visit: From Annapara one can go trekking into thick jungles with the help of guided tour. One can also visit the ancient Eddakal caves famous world over for their pre-historic carvings and paintings.

n For details and reservation: contact 919443023320.

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