Friday, July 26, 2013

Vagamon Heights... mystical... meadows... mists...

House boats - CHECK

Next stop - Vagamon! After breakfast on the houseboat, we hit the road again. The plan was to reach Vagamon for lunch. Never heard about this place? Now that is the reason why this place is so beautiful, so pristine and a real feast to your eyes.

"Life is not about the destination, but about the journey."  
This is so apt for our travel too to Vagamon. As you drive through the Rubber plantations and estates, Rubber trees hovering over us, not too many cars on the road, a couple of men talking and walking unhurriedly, sun light fights its way in between the trees, you realize that life is good! 
As you start climbing up, you can see the scenery changing right in front of your eyes. Tall trees slowly start to disappear and area becomes more mountainous and hilly. Roads become narrow with sharper curves and you can smell the mist in the air. 
You will find a number of small water falls as you drive further up towards Vagamon. The weather is as dynamic as it gets, clear skies one minute and all of a sudden clouds set in making the entire scene gloomy and misty.

Google's navigator was of great help here. We were able to find "Vagamon Heights" without much of a hassle. Vagamon Heights has great reviews on Tripadvisor, when we are checking out places to stay in vagamon this was one of the top finds.
The people at VH are extremely efficient, whether it was replying to my query through email or confirming booking. We had booked the Woodside cottage which comes with 2 bedrooms and its a little away from the main office and kitchen. A true hideout if you want to escape from your crazy hectic life and reconnect with nature (including leech attack... so come prepared). 

But the catch here is that to get to the cottage you need to drive down in a Jeep (yup, Toyota Etios won't be able to make it in there). So you park your car near the office and then climb into one of their "Go-Over-All-Terrain" vehicle (basically a jeep, a very old one). A good ride if you like amusement parks, not so good for people having back problems. But then the ride feels worth while, when you get down and you see the cottage placed amidst the dense estate.
Path leading to the cottage from the main entrance
Took this photograph as we rattled our way towards the cottage in the old jeep!
So typically you are cut off from civilization, the cottage is nestled amidst thick forest-like vegetation. They did mention that there weren't any wild animals around but then the place as such can give you the creeps. The cottage as such was a very cozy place. With 2 bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, a small kitchenette and a small terrace and a sit out. Kitchenette which is more like a counter, is stocked with an electric kettle and everything required to make tea and coffee (at least for a week). Breakfast/Lunch and Dinner has to be brought in from the main kitchen which is near the main office. The catch is, there is no telephone connection in the cottage. So the way it works is that you tell them the time you want your next meal and the meal would be delivered at that time. 

The cottage is furnished with comfortable couches and a dining table, bathrooms also comes with modern fixtures and yup you don't have to worry about hot water. The cottage also comes with candles and matches and this you would need a lot in the night, as electricity is not your best friend. And if you are going here, don't forget to take a few things with you:
  • Odomos - to save yourself from mosquitoes
  • Rock salt/matches - to save yourself from leeches
  • Torchlight - to save yourself from darkness ;)
Once we settled down, we took time to take it all in and started exploring the place. Absolute greenery all around, the chill breeze, extremely pure air, as you breathe it in you feel so fresh and energetic. You feel the oxygen content in your body going up and you start feeling "ALIVE"!

The best part of this place is the climate, the way it changes from one minute to another. At one moment, it might be extremely clear and bright and then just in a flash of a second, it could become all misty and the clouds would float in and you wouldn't even be able to see in front of you.

Sudden onset of rain and mist
What better way to enjoy a weather like this one, than having hot pakoras with hot tea! That was exactly what we did, sitting outside on the patio and watching the rain and the scenery we hogged on some very nice pakoras. Once the rains stopped, I wanted to go and take some photographs and that is how I invited some leeches onto me. Thankfully my jeans saved me from getting my blood sucked!
I love this photograph, even though its not very sharp... its an handheld shot and had to keep a slow shutter speed since the light wasn't enough with the rains and the trees hovering over!
The night was the most interesting part of our stay, most of the time we were in darkness with absolutely no sound other than our voices, and ofcourse that of insects. Looking outside you would see pitch darkness except for the light from the cottage and the ghostly shadows of the swaying trees. Beyond the first few trees all you can see is darkness. If your imagination can go wild, please don't listen to ghost stories in this place. I am telling you from experience. I was told a very small ghost story, the story had exactly 5 sentences, but my imagination was good enough to bring it to life. That is when I completely realized "Your eyes sees what you want to see" concept could be true. A small movement of a curtain or the hanging light fixture in the bedroom was enough to spook me. I was awake the entire night making up more stories from the base story that I had heard. I can laugh about it right now but it was totally scary then!

The next morning after breakfast we decided to explore the place for sometime and then check out. There was a small hillock close by that you can trek up and you would find yourself at a vantage point, a place from which you can get 360 degree view of Vagamon. 
Path leading the way up the hillock
The scenery from the View point on top of the hillock
With the photo session complete at the view point, we decided to check out and get on back to civilization. Overall the experience in Vagamon was very very unique, even getting scared at night was an experience I would cherish. They say that "Green color cools you down" and that was exactly our state of mind when we left this place.

Near the main office
An in-house lake where you can go fishing and boating if you are not scared of leeches :)
Once we got back onto the road, we backtracked and headed towards Kottayyam. The ride back into civilization was also equally picturesque and beautiful.

Again a hand-held shot with slow shutter speed in order to capture the flowing water

On reaching Kottayyam we stopped for lunch and then started to think what to do! Decided we had one more day and thought this time we should splurge and do something luxurious. And thus, our next stop - Kumarakom!

Vagamon - mystical... meadows... mists...