Clouds and Gardens
There was darkness everywhere where ever I walked ,though it wasn’t my worst nightmare but no doubt “The Indian power cut”rituals from the state electricity board. Soon my vacation turned out to be a wild mountain chase .That very night I found out that I was not alone in the darkness ,actually I lost my way from my family members far away shopping in the market place. The chase began immediately after I lost my way in the darkness, it wasn’t one or two competitors but the whole canine unit of dozen were ready and where gaining on me every second that I ran. I ran like a bunny afraid from hunting hounds in the darkness with no idea about where I am running towards. But the more I ran the more they gathered in speed ,there was no sign of any human burrow any human at all which could have stopped my living nightmare in darkness.Eventually I won the chase and finally lost sight of my chasers nor heard their losing howls in the darkness, yes victory in darkness now I can smile and say but definitely not at the very moment. This was decades back in the mountain of Kodaikanal.
here I am sitting in the passenger seat of my friends car waiting for “GOD” to clear traffic after a decade I out maneuvered the “DOG” s in the same mountain. The traffic snarl was caused by the very own “God” they were celebrating Ganesh puja looked as though we took a wrong detour to Karol bagh (New Delhi).Because for me Ganesh puja was already a finished affair back down in my city below the mountains in the far southern part of India.(Ganesh Chaturthi is a one day festivity in South Tamilnadu) I was amused at the possession and their hindutva clan doing the rounds with “GOD”. well that’s that ! We later took a real detour to cross a mere 50 so meters. Including my friends and me ,we where visiting the mountain after a gap of decade, it was altogether a very different “Kodaikanal”.With its improved infrastructure and new retail outlets both international as well as local chains. The town resembled a mini metro with its packed vehicle moments and exploited environments. And they said it was off-season we didn’t have to imagine about the most preferred season by the tourists. At every turn we were up against the tourists from our friendly neighboring states which refuses to give river water to ours, we where venting our anger through war of words at every opportunity in the traffic congestion, saying at least give way for us (instead of water)to move on swiftly. Comparatively more shops all over the town and shrinking space for livelihood for the locals heard from one my friend residing there the recent hype by real estate ventures(lot of real estate ads) has sky rocketed prices even beyond the heights of the mountain resulting in huge sale of lands and properties for commercial activities in the name of tourism. Every space out there has been grown into some kind of shop or mountain resorts and private inns. Off course the main income is through tourism but not at the cost of exploiting the very natural wealth that attracts tourism in the first place. Apart from the restaurant s and the regular market shops you can find here, there are many shops lookalike that have landed from the gulf selling multiple merchandise s .they are actually from the neighboring Kerala with their fonts in their regional language as well as middle east(bang on you can spot them),what kind of target audience would they be aiming for? I wonder. I find these developments in a period of a decade as very consumer oriented and less towards a decent spot for recreation and leisure for the tourist community.Moreover the clean environment there has been completely dumped like a lost love. There used to be days you can walk around with mist and the lush green tree s around it. Now the mis(sed)t is substituted by combusted co2 from automobile emissions ,you miss the spot by cough. I don’t know whether they have any control on the vehicle moments ,it was my first visit here via a car! Though some of the inner parts of the mountain are still intact as they were in the past clean and natural. They have an organized Bus terminus which caters the common commuters of the town. Minus the encroaching shops ,there is lot of things that remain the same way as they where a decade ago. you can find better places to stay according to your requirements and affordability. But it still needs a proper plan for commercial establishments in the town. You can find quite lot of everything from the fake Chinese tooth brushes to the anti Chinese Tibetean restaurants with Indian flags on them. The Kodaikanal refurbished as a new established town poses as a liberalized settlement with multi ethnic and multi religious globalised (I am out of words) mountain range for every tourist who climbs the mountain to witness this beauty atop touching clouds and gardens .
Note : Clouds and Gardens is the name of the place I stayed. and watch out for the big Private resort when you enter the mountain at downhill spot.
Forget the hilltops and their cuisine there do please check out the Tibetean Momos (The Royal Tibetean) and Home Made Chocolates near the bus terminus (Farrukh s I think).
And most importantly walk your way through the beautiful mountain areas to get the true feel of the place. And do visit Dolphin Nose.