Ahoy Amigos! Welcome to my Travel Epiphanies for A-Z Challenge 2017.
**Drum Rolls** please :-))
Woaah! The curtains have finally been drawn open to the much awaited A to Z challenge 2017. March 2017, has been a month of working on the theme, learning the processes with the help of my rock solid co-bloggers, downloading the badges, stumbling upon new fellow bloggers, a very grand opening with the theme reveal wherein so many bloggers from across the globe stopped by to read and graciously comment. I received one of the best views on my blog and about 45 + comments, since I started off in December 2016. Spending innumerable days wracking my brains and taking a trip down memory lane and writing the posts got me all nostalgic and boo-hoo-hoo at times. Sigh! And how can I forget the immeasurable task of finding the pictures and pre-scheduling the posts. And the d’day is upon us, finally.
The next 26 days I will take you on a journey that will be surreal, bizarre, refreshing, memorable, magical and nail-biting; as I dig into my treasure trove of Travel Epiphanies. These epiphanies are my intuitive perceptions and revelation on life, some spiritual and some surprising in their simplicity; epiphanies that struck me during the course of my travels. Come join me today as I take you on an Alluring Forest walk.
A is for Alluring Forest Walks
June, 2013, Madikeri, Coorg District, Karnataka State, India
Madikeri is a quaint little, charming town, nestled amongst the wild Western ghats; known for its lush coffee plantations, dense rainforests, the meandering Kabeni river and the cascading Abbey falls surrounded by spice plantations. We made an intensely memorable trip to Madikeri, in the summer of 2013. Madikeri is not the atypical tourist destination and that’s on our key agendas when we are travel. Who wants to take a break from the bustling city life to land up in an over crowded, touristy hub! We usually love travelling as a family, the DH and the two girls, now 8 and 18; in tow. We mostly like to skip the usual touristy and sight seeking activities, and savour the quiet, and the all-encompassing mysticism of nature.
The Taj Vivanta where we spent five blissful days, is a lush, sprawling 180 acre hilly estate in Madikeri with a rich and diverse populace of fascinating flora and fauna, thereby making it a truly enchanting getaway. Each misty, wet morning we were greeted by our new alarm clock; The Whistling Thrush that would nudge us awake with its melodious singing. I will talk about this symphonic, winged wonder in another of the A to Z posts.
One morning, after a delicious spread of local breakfast and copious cups of the local filter coffee, we armoured ourselves for a hike to Nishani Beta (beta in the local language translates to Heights) up the Nilgiri hills. I say armoured, as we donned leech socks and galoshes to avoid the unrelenting, blood sucking leeches. As we trudged down the forest tracks, we were greeted by a band of tree frogs, hornbills, parakeets and cicada that played a medley of mellifluous music. And the leeches, well they drew Oooohhhss and Ahhhhs from all the hikers, as they stealthily kept slithering up our galoshes.
Our forest walk was turning out to be more alluring than I had anticipated. The gorgeous bicoloured frog sat huddled among a bushy shrub, flaunting its beautiful colours. This brave guy, despite being in the wild was not averse to human touch. My younger one & I gently petted him and then we proceeded to walk through the misty hills. The breeze became stronger and stronger and a gust of wind blew, unabashedly flirting with us, and almost trying to topple us over. Head over heels yes! There were innumerable wild blue berries that we plucked and bit into; the juicy, tangy flavours merging with our taste buds. The Nilgiri Hills which literally mean Blue mountains get their name from the Kurunji shrubs that flower purplish blue flowers once in twelve years These shrubs lay scattered across the entire hilly terrain. The strikingly blue colour of the hills is attributed to this mass flowering species ‘Strobilanthes kunthiana” called Neela Kuruji locally. The pink and white varieties of kurunji shrubs that flower once is 3 or 8 years also cover the hill.
As we walked through the dense foliage we sighted a deadly bunch of Kodopokki ants that build nests that resemble bee hives. We were told they feed off dead snakes, insects and other fauna, and are completely disinterested in anything sweet or sugary. The forest fauna also included enchanting cobra lilies, orchids, cinnamon trees, pepper bushes etc. The Rufus woodpecker was busy gathering it’s lunch as it furiously pecked on the Kodopokkis nest. Since it was monsoon we did not sight any deer, bison, hog or leopard, but we were told that a pair of eyes were always watching us from behind the bushes. And chose to be afraid or not, those belonged to the leopard!
By the end of this alluring, tropical forest walk, through the awe-inspiring Nilgiris our hair was soaked by the mist and the intermittent showers. The thick lichens and moss, that looked more like a hippies dreadlocks, seemed to stare back at us, amused.
We made our way to the restaurant. I was ravenous and craving some lamb shanks, but totally satiated in spirit and mind.
Later in the evening as I sipped on my strawberry martini, watching the light drizzle, I began to ponder on the sheer brilliance with which the forests and it’s inhabitants co-exist. Blossoming on their own and sometimes symbiotically, never letting the other down and simply celebrating each others beauty and differences.That is a feat in itself. Nature always fills us with a sense of rapture and make this world a stunning place to live in. If all of us humans armed with an abundance of intelligence co-exist despite our differences, the world would be a better place. It’s our differences that make us unique. Nature doesn’t compare, or put the other down. It just flourishes on it’s own and sometimes with the help of other natural beings. Just like the Koronji shrubs and lichens, or the Kodopokki ants and the trees. Mankind can flourish too if we love and support each other inspite of our differences. That’s the message the alluring forest walk impressed upon me.
Disclaimer: A short account of this awe-inspiring experience was written by me way back in 2013, on my Facebook Notes, but this post captures my experience in a different format altogether.