It was a surprise call from my friend Prasanna.
His enthusiasm was clear in his voice "Hi Kent, get ready we are going to Thekkady tomorrow".
"Tomorrow"? I was shocked.
"No time to argue. I had already booked room in Club Mahindra. We are going in my Bullet. I will pick you at 3pm" reasoned Prasanna and hung up.
I finished my pending work and delegated some other and went to his house at 2.30. He was, as usual, busy still with his factory work.
"When are we going"? I asked.
That 15 minutes stretched to more than a hour and we left Bangalore at 3.45pm.
The meter reading showed "17634"
Not a bad time really to hit the ever busy Hosur Road since the Saturday afternoon traffic is 75% less than usual. We filled the tank to the brim at the Shell Petrol Bunk at the Hosur Road and off we went.
Prasanna was clear before hand itself. "We will going at a leisurely pace. Let us enjoy the journey than just zooming to our destination". The exact words I too wanted to hear.
FIRST HALT :
After crossing Hosur, I suggested we stop for coffee.
Prasanna said "Wait, I have discovered a better place last week while coming back from Chennai". And the place was BPCL Petrol Bunk before Krishnagiri (meter 17704). As with most petrol bunks this too housed Amenities and had Adyar Anand Bhavan. Since the time was 5.30 we decided to have a Vada(Rs.30) and coffee (20). Quite tasty, as expected. The break lasted for more than half an hour.
Since the twilight started its effect, the speed was reduced further and the views became less clearer. Another 76 kms and we made yet another stop at just after Dharmapuri for coffee.
NIGHT HALT :
Salem was about 55kms and as we approached Salem, we released we had not booked any hotel which I normally prefer to (whichever place it may be). We decided to look around the New Bus Stand and after weighing options of choosing between City View and Hotel Selvam, we went for the latter. The rooms cost about Rs.660 and was just about okay. The rooms were well maintained but slightly noisy (which is understood since the hotel is bang opposite the Bus Stand).
We wanted a light dinner and went to next door Saravana Bhavan. We ordered Rotis and Mix Veg Curry. The taste was nothing to write about and the quantity was shockingly less. But, the bill was more shocking. The Roti was Rs.40 and the half bowl Mix Veg Curry was priced at Rs.80. We paid the bill and did not thank the Hotel staff. We lazed around the Main Street for about a hour and hit the bed as we had to leave early the next day.
FRESH DAY...........ON TO THEKKADY.
We woke up to the fresh day with a bad news. The Hotel would provide Hot Water only after 6.30am. "What a lazy people" I cursed and settled for Cold Bath. The Cold Bath instantly recharged me and after a lightening check out, we left Salem at 6.30am with the meter reading 17834.
The cool morning breeze, with the Sun playing hide and seek with clouds along with the Excellent roads, made the journey a memorable one. We crossed several Water Bridges on the way.
Namakkal was passed by in a flash and we decided to have breakfast at Karur.
Karur is a big city and we zeroed in HOTEL PADMA for breakfast. It was a good choice as the Pongal, Vada and Idly were all deliciously done.
We had light breakfast and the bill was light too.
We filled our petrol to the brim at the Indian Oil, karur. The meter read 17927.
From Karur the road to Dindigul is very well maintained. But, as soon you cross Dindigul towards Theni, the roads change their shape but not very drastically, but change they do. So, the speed came down a bit and we reached Theni at around 12.30pm.
Prasanna reasoned "from here, the roads are not so good and also we will not find any big city/village, it is better we have Early Lunch". The stomach was not ready but our mind forced the stomach to fill up. The lunch at Annapurna Hotel, Theni was heavy (probably we did not have that much appetite) and the taste was so so............though Prasanna liked the taste here too. And just as Prasanna guessed, the road from Theni was not only less good, it was awful in some stretches. To add further to our woes, the roads were being dug up to make it a 4 lane or something and in some places, there was virtually NO ROADS.
Slowly we passed Periyukulam, Cumbum and reached Kumily. Kumily and Thekkady are 2 kms apart but are in two different states. Kumily is on the Tamil Nadu side and Thekkady on the Kerala side.
The weather changed drastically. Cool breeze hit us and the greenery gave way to more greenery. We were welcomed warmly at Club Mahindra Resorts with Pudina Juice. The check in was quick and we were escorted to our Room. The room are tastefully decorated and well stocked with refreshements in form of coffee, tea, dairy powder and sugar. It also stocked Microwave Oven.
The meter reading was 19146 which meant we had covered 510kms from Bangalore. The Club Mahindra Resort at Thekkady is amidst lush greenery with good amenities. It has 49 rooms, swimming pool and good views from its Terrace.
Thekkady is not a small place. It seems to be a small place but it boasts of a good number of restaurants, lodges, resorts and shops. The Tourist attraction is limited. But, don't get fooled by that. The attractions are pretty breath taking and unspoilt and hence soaks you in its fold.
THE PERIYAR TIGER RESERVE is maintained very well and stunningly bewitching.
The Lake is tinged with greenery and the Boating exploration helps you in capturing a glimpse of Elephants (definite), variety of birds (definite), tigers (if you are very lucky). I had a great time exploring the Tiger Reserve.
Evening the Club Mahindra people arranged a Karoke singing and I pitched in with my favourite CHALTE CHALTE (Kishore Kumar). The Screen showed a score of "96". Pretty good, isn't it???
The entry to Thekkady is from Kumily and boasts of variety of plantations. Greenery abound as far as your vision extends.
I had good meals at Lords Annapurna Restaurant. The Roti was crisp and the Paneer Butter Masala was nicely done and tasted good.
The Ariya Bhavan, however, was a disappointment. The Meals was nothing to write about. The serving was poor and your stomach would not be 'full' even after having the meal here!!
The Arya Bhavan, was a surpise, though. The idly was soft and fluffy. The sambar tasted yummy and I had a second, third helping.
STAYING AT THEKKADY:
I stayed at Club Mahindra. The location is spot on and the resort boasts of natural greenery and is maintained very well. The Fun Manager ensures you are not bored, even though I doubt how anyone can get bored in such a place like this.
I also went to some lodges and collected details which I have updated on my website www.goodhoteladvisors.blogspot.com
Being a Sterling Resorts member, I had to visit the same and I should say I was impressed with this too. However, sadly, the resort rooms do not have kitchen unlike Club Mahindra.
THE RETURN JOURNEY:
The return journey part was a harried one. We decided we will not halt anywhere and cover the entire 510kms on the same day.
We checked out of Club Mahindra at 6.30am and after having a cup of hot piping coffee, left Thekkady at 7am.
Stopped by enroute as we spotted Grape Wineyards. Decided to get one packed for the home. Again stopped briefly at Theni for Tea.
Met a Kannada guy who was thrilled to see that we had come on Bike. He refused to take the Tea Bill, forced him........but he was adamant on not taking the amount. We thanked him and left with the lingering Boiler Tea taste.
Upon reaching Dindigul at around 10.30, we were hungry and spotted Hotel Archana on the Highway. The waiter directly told that the Idly is not hot but Sambar is...... We were too hungry to look at all those hot-cold factor and ordered 2 plates of Idly, Vada, Pongal. Surprise, inspire of not being hot, the Idly tasted heavenly.
Upon reaching Salem, Prasanna wanted to buy something for his family and we went to SKC. The store is huge and houses thousands of sarees, clothes,etc. The price range is wide and you are definite to find something to match your budget.
We had lunch at Saravana Bhavan opp the New Bus Stand and here again, the Manager of the restaurant "forcefully" served us extra helping of roti with love. He had seen us a couple of days back on bike and on seeing again enquired about our journey and was pleasantly surpised and happy that we were having lunch at his hotel.
As we hit the Bangalore City roads by late evening, it was a surprise that there was no back pain which I was warned of while leaving Bangalore.
And the Bragging rights having been acquired, started with you..........................................
Srikanth Shankar Matrubai
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