Thursday, September 27, 2012

Why this Kotagiri di?

Okay, the title may sound funny and mislead you, but nothing seems apt after visiting the Nilgiris again after 4 years (The Nilgiris Revisited sounds a tad too commonplace).  My college life has been full of industrial visits (IVs) to different places. All of them have been like picnics for socializing rather than going to visit industries. But it doesn't matter for a student who has to complete 26 credits(8 subjects). Some classes in the morning and others in the afternoon, apart from seminars, assignments, quizzes and reviews-Aargh!! Give me a break from this hectic routine! When my (I'll use 'our' from now)class representative, Samuel announced about the confirmation of the trip to Kotagiri, many students were thrilled. Barring the IV to Pasteur Institute, Coonoor in 2008 (we were freshers then), all others were one-day trips from Vellore. Moreover, the IVs to Pondicherry(2010) and Yercaud (2011) lacked the charm of the first IV to Coonoor. It's probably because we were younger and got to know each other pretty well during those 3-4 days of fun and frolic in October 2008. Ahh, nostalgic memories keep haunting us, but we sadly decided to move on and be less adventurous, settling for one day trips instead. There were other formalities like getting permission letters from professors (ask any VITian, it's a Herculean task!)

Anyway, it came as a pleasant surprise when Samuel announced about our trip to Kotagiri. It was at the right time-we MSItes were bogged down by the academic workload as I had mentioned earlier. Kotagiri, nestled in the Nilgiris at an elevation of 1793m, could offer respite from the sweltering heat of Vellore as well.
The 3-day IV is described as follows:

September 20, 2012: Two buses were booked for the IV, as train tickets weren't available. We were told to assemble at VIT's All Mart gate at 7 pm. Getting a seat was initially a problem, but it was sorted out. We departed at around 8:30 pm. We crossed the outskirts of Vellore, and the music player was turned on. The experience of frenetic dancing to several Bollywood numbers cannot be described in words. We stopped at a roadside shack somewhere near Krishnagiri for a late dinner at around 11 pm. We fell asleep shortly after midnight, with those melodious tunes reverberating in our ears.

September 21, 2012:  We woke up near Mettupalayam at around 6 am. We were at the foothills of the Nilgiris. After a break for refreshments, we began our ascent up the winding roads of the Nilgiris. After 3 hours, we reached Kotagiri and checked into to Bel Air Cottages. The cottages were well-furnished and comfortable. After the long, tiring bus journey from Vellore, we decided to rest for a few hours there. In the afternoon, we decided to visit a tea estate. It was nice to see how tea leaves were picked and processed. The transition from green to brown was interesting to note and other processes like sorting and packaging were clearly explained. Though the main purpose of the IV had been fulfilled, there was more to look forward to.  We had a very light lunch at Kodanadu View Point. We could see the entire stretch of hills around Kotagiri from there. Not very impressed, we clicked pics and decided to return to Bel Air. As it was dark by then, we kept ourselves occupied by playing Frisbee and Dumb Charades in the garden. At dinnertime, we enjoyed playing 'Passing the Parcel' around the campfire. Prior to hitting the sack, we had a session of 'Truth or Dare' . It was fun getting to know one's deepest desires with no offence, or the expression on one's face after having performed an arduous yet hilarious task.

September 22, 2012:  After a good night's slumber, we had breakfast at Bel Air and decided to visit Doddabetta, the highest peak in the Nilgiri range at 2637 m. We had to change from buses to jeeps in the vicinity of the peak (to handle the narrow, winding roads with steep gradients well). The coniferous trees and the mist made the location seem picturesque. Lots of pictures were clicked, while we munched on carrots and purchased souvenirs. We had lunch at a restaurant in Ooty. After a while, we went to Pykara Lake . The place was water-starved despite the clouds and rainfall, but verdant and picturesque. Those clad in green seemed to blend in with the surroundings. After the visit to the tea estate, we could see shades of green and brown in action again! It seemed like an exotic locale in Europe ! Lots of pictures were clicked, amidst logs, bogs and meadows. I feel Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, or Twilight could have been filmed at Pykara, rather than Europe or North America. No castle or mansion could be seen though! We went back to Ooty after sunset and had dinner at a Dominos Pizza outlet. We purchased home-made chocolates (Ooty is famous for them) and reached Kotagiri at around 9 pm. Dinner was served for those who didn't have anything in Ooty. As we were tired, we went to bed a little earlier than the previous night.

September 23, 2012: Most of us woke up after 8 am. After breakfast, we packed our bags and decided to bid adieu to Kotagiri. We left in the afternoon at around 1 pm, when it started raining cats and dogs . A picture of our group was clicked, amidst the downpour. We reached Mettupalayam at around 4 pm and had a light lunch. The eateries didn't appeal to us much-most of them were tea-stalls or roadside cafes (dhabas). After a while, we proceeded towards Vellore, halting at Bhavani Sagar Dam on the way. There was a park in the vicinity, where we played games like kabbadi and lock-and-key. We left Bhavani Sagar at around 6:30 pm. We decided to have dinner at an Adyar Ananda Bhavan outlet near Dharmapuri. We departed at around 11pm and finally reached VIT Vellore at 2:45 am ( September 24, 2012). We were exhausted after the 13 hour journey, so we feel asleep after reaching our respective hostel blocks. We probably missed some classes in the morning, but some were cancelled too! :)

We were back to the routine of Continuous Assessment Tests, quizzes, assignments, reviews and seminars, but rejuvenated after the trip to the Nilgiris! I have visited Himalayan hill resorts like Dhanolti (Uttarakhand), Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir), Gangtok (Sikkim) and Darjeeling (West Bengal) with my family. But visiting a quaint town like Kotagiri with my friends in VIT is an experience in itself! It's an unforgettable trip, etched in the sands of time. After all a thing (or a place) of beauty is a joy for ever. :)


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