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  • Roshan Begum

Kodaikanal – Like you have never seen

Updated: Jul 25

Ever since that trip. I couldn’t stay put. Working 5 days in the four-sided cubicle became claustrophobic. Waiting for the weekend to come to breathe in more air.

That is when I started exploring this new found ecstacy. And I was not disappointed. There are so many nomads just like me waiting to explore the unexplored.

As always when I was scrolling down my timeline looking for nothing in particular, I happened to stumble upon a event that switched off my Scrolling mode and turned On my Stalking mode.

The event was scheduled by TentNTrek the name itself was enough to attract me. When I finished reading the details I already have decided to go for sure.

I asked few of my friends to accompany in the trip. They didn’t disappoint me in saying NO. So I decided to take this trip solo. I booked at once through the whatsapp number they provided in the event details.

I couldn’t contain my excitement of travelling solo for the first time ever. Counting days were gone and finally came the trip day. I reached kodaikanal bus stand from chennai through Private Bus.

I was greeted and welcomed by Manoj Surya from TentNTrek. After refreshing in the hotel arranged by the team I had ample amount of time to myself before the actual trip starts. So I decided to take a stroll around the picturesque Kodaikanal Lake.

Instead I hired a bicycle and went on exploring around the lake on my own. I had the road mostly to myself since it was early morning. And the tourist were mostly sound asleep in their hotels.

I stopped then and there to fill myself with some roadside snacks and indulged in souveniur shopping. After around an hour or so I returned the cycle and walked on to the assemble point to meet rest of the team.

By the time I reached, the transport was ready to take us to the camp spot. We started our drive to Mannavanur which is around 40kms from main kodaikanal.

As we travel along, it was clearly visible that we were leaving all the hustle bustle tourist spots and the crowd behind and heading towards somewhere remote.

Everyone in the van either came as family or friends. None of them were solo travellers. Eventhough I tried initiating a conversation it was one way. So I stopped trying after awhile.

Later on I noticed that the seat next to driver was unoccupied so I filled it and started doing what I know the best.. Talk! Driver, who might be around the age of 50+ was also interested to fill in me with the details.

He pointed out to me the village where the movie “Kumki” was shot when we were crossing it. Thoughtout the way we noticed women carrying woods for cooking.

When enquired about the same to him, he said “These women can go on with the day even without food, but they can never be without going out to collect woods because that is where they get to meet other women from the village and gossip”

I was confused if he is being sarcastic or telling the truth. But I believed him nevertheless. When others were almost drowsy with the wind on their face I spent the rest of the journey talking with driver.

More than an hour travel came to an end in Mannavanur village. We got down from the van and walked rest of the way leading to the reserved forest.

The camp spot itself was sight to behold. Covered all sides by hills and trees, once inside, we didn’t feel like we are somewhere around kodaikanal anymore. It is whole different world here.

After the brief introduction, the TentNTrek team taught us to pitch our tent. I never knew pitching our own tent would be this much fun.

Since I traveled alone. I shared my tent with one of the girl from the camp. We shared the connection immediately and didn’t waste time in pleasantries. Having pitched our tent and selfies taken in and around it, we moved on to give hands to others. Every tents were in place in short span of time.

Our actual ice-breaking session happened when we all started playing frisbee, archery, volley ball and very soon we got acquainted.

After evening tea and snacks we went on for a walk around, only to find ourselves in the middle of lush green valley with lake at the center to complete the post card picture!

Watching the sunset between the mountain as you sail in a coracle can be as magical as it sound. And we are blessed to have one such a ride!

With the last rays of sun setting in for the day, we returned back to camp. The real fun started after the dark.

Campfire! The place where you can really connect with your fellow travellers or showcase the hidden talents or share the untold tales.

One of the guy from the organizing team had guitar with him. We made him to play quite few songs and sang along. No guitar session would be complete without tuning into “en iniya ponn nilave” (good old tamil song) and we did that too.

All the singing and laughing had made us hungry and were eagerly waiting for dinner. And there came the barbecue chicken to treat our tastebuds

Eventhough our hunger for food is quenched, hunger for travel and adventures soon grasped us in its hold as all the travel tales from nomads unfolds in front of us.

With all the tales hanging heavily in the air and eyes pulling to shut, finally we all went out in the dark searching for the long forgotten tents to tuck in for the day! The night came upon us real soon and so as the sleep.

The best thing to experience in a camping is waking up to the scenary you never woke up to in all these years of life. You may need a moment or two to come out of the trance.

When the morning rituals and breakfast were done, we headed off to much awaited trekking around the hills. The trek was moderate with lots and lots of selfie spots!

We came across almost all type of landscapes from barren land to pine forest, dense trees, flowering plants, streams and swamps. Helped ourselves with the gift of nature (pine cones, rare mushrooms, etc) Washed our soul out in a ice cold stream. And again in a private waterfall.

As we return from the trek, Our team was waiting for us in the basecamp with transport and hot lunch (a much needed one after all the adrenaline rush!). We had our stomach full and started our journey back to Kodaikanal. Met as strangers and left as buddies with all these memories to carry for lifelong!

Few More Pics!

#Mannavanur #camping #Solo #WomenTraveller #coracle #Kodaikanal #trekking #campfire #offbeat #First

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