A passage to Pachibale

Trip Start Dec 17, 2011
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Trip End Jan 03, 2012


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Where I stayed
Home Stay - Pachi Bale

Flag of India  , Karnātaka,
Sunday, December 25, 2011





A PASSAGE TO PACHIBALE


 
 coorg aka kodagu: under azure skies     








On 25 December 2011, in the fresh air of dawn we drive to Hyderabad airport to board the morning flight to Bangalore. The plane takes to wings as scheduled, climbs steeply piercing through layers of clouds, enters into the serene, clear zone, high in the sky. Here we float atop and between mountains of cotton-like white clouds, the brilliant shining river of the morning sun below us, and the unalloyed azure sky above. I fancy as though I am roaming in the land of angels. There is no turbulence. The aircraft is sparkling in the sunshine. Packed with over 250 passengers in its belly, it happily drones on and cruises steadily in tranquil space, softly touching down Bangalore at 10 a.m. The city is still 40 km away from the airport.



Our taxi driver, a smart young local man, meets us at the exit of the airport and drives straight to the city where we stop over at Akshay, my nephew's flat for about an hour, for a delicious breakfast of aalo and paneer paranthas, and to pick up Sanjay who joins us here from Delhi. Our group of seven is now complete.



We leave in the afternoon. The ceaseless soft murmur of the car engine, is soporific, but I keep wide-awake to witness the ever-changing display of the landscape. It unfurls like a scroll of canvas splattered with a myriad of colourful scenes, opening before me for a fleeting moment and then being replaced with another soon after.



It is all refreshingly new. The delicate tall palm trees with their straight and slender ash-coloured boles, and the shining bottle-green fronds on umbrella-shaped crowns, in isolation or in groups, are part of each frame of the landscape. They swing and sway, flutter and whisper in the wind as though intoxicated with joy. The clear sky, pleasant weather, and smooth drive make the travel pleasant and enjoyable.





Having crossed the heavy traffic between Bangalore and Mysore, passed through many small and big towns and settlements, we are presently in the plains of Karnataka, southwest of Mysore, beyond Hunsur. Here the landscape is an extensive expanse of flat land, dotted with villages and paddy field, occasional dark hills in the background. We drive furiously for we have still 50 kilometers to go and sun is about to set.





The brilliance of bright sunshine wanes and fades into faint slanting rays, signaling approaching sunset.



The gilded avenue at sunset opens into a theatre. It charms us with its splendour. The polka dots of sunbeams pierce through gaps in the tree canopy, they appear and disappear as though playing hide and seek. The tree shadows begin to lengthen and twilight engulfs the land, the dense avenue and the thicket beyond. Neither the sky, nor the stars are visible now as we drive through a heavily wooded area. Darkness is almost complete.



Today the curtain of nightfall seems to have been spread earlier then usual. The driving speed drops with the nightfall and also rough, worn out, uneven road surface. There are very few vehicles on the road. Only one brand-new metallic black shining car is ahead of us, struggling to negotiate the rough road. 


We have still a long way to go.




Softly I sing:



' Like the wind, I have a long way to go…'

The sun has gone down long time ago

Deprived me of the unfolding scenario

O dear, I have still a long way to go

In inky darkness on unfamiliar pathway.



This is Nagarhole National Park we are passing through. Nagarhole literary means snake-hole. I thought it is aptly named for presently we drive through an aisle of dark woods. I can hear the silence of the forest, punctuated at times by gaiety in small openings of settlements with twinkling bulbs and trembling circle of lights. I am concentrating intensely on the road in the hope that I will sight a wild animal jumping out from the bushes, onto the road to cross over to the other side, but no such luck. As is the common sight in night drives, nightjars too have shied away from hopping on the road, there is not even a sign of a rabbit leaping in front of the car to dodge the beam of light, or a jackal on sides roving about in search of food. I cannot hear cicadas or crickets, but they must be there, composing their symphony in the bushes.



Somewhere, across the road at the bend in front of a lonely house stands a Christmas tree with blinking lights. It invites children to come and sing a carol and collect gifts from Santa. There are tableaus as well, on the life of Christ at places, displayed and pleasantly decorated. 

Today is Christmas.




We reach Srimangala, a fairly crowded town. There is merrymaking on the streets as its Christmas. The driver checks his bearings with a local and turns right. We are now in pitch dark on mountainous road with a worn-out road surface, trying to reach our destination, in a completely new area about which we know nothing. We enter into an endless dark tunnel again. I can see only the headlight beams piercing through inky darkness.
  
And we drive on …




Today is amawasya, the moonless night.



We are somewhere near Pachebale, our destination. There are several link roads. We are at a loss to pick the right one. It is past nine pm, and the darkness has made the task difficult. We are the sole occupants of the road. We have established contact with the host on mobile phone, and though he gives us directions, it isn’t enough. The locals of the sparsely populated roadside cottages too are not of much help. At last, however, we hit the right dirt track and are delighted to find our host waiting for us in his jeep by the side of the road. He tells us that Pachebale is still four kilometers away. We follow his vehicle on a road that is narrow and hilly as though freshly made by cutting the hillside. The terrain is totally unfamiliar, heavily wooded and in complete darkness.



I am excited. The magic of adventure has just begun. The silence is complete. It is as though moving dreamily in an extremely soundless zone of some another age. Our host’s jeep leads the way.

 

It is an interesting and thrilling start of our holidays. I reckon bright prospect of our lively sojourn in the jungles of Western Ghats.



The hill road meanders bracing the hillside. It is not a motor road but only a cart track, winding down the slopes of a hillock. It seems to be a private road of the coffee estate owners.



Dumps of sandy red soil are stacked at many places with boulders and stones jutting out. The sky is clear but not visible. At times the stars can be seen, peeping through gaps. Nothing is visible beyond the headlight beam. Only darkness stares from the empty space. Our Tata Safari taxi finds difficulty in negotiating sharp bends, uneven and corrugated road surface. It takes us an age to reach our destination.  It is very late now. And the distance, I am told, was only four kilometers!





Our host, A S Thimmaiah alias Chimma, is the owner of a flourishing coffee estate, and has a beautiful house 5 km away in the middle of coffee plantations.



There is no electricity here. Hurricane lanterns are hanging in the verandahs of two cottages that are nearly 100 m apart, where we will be spending three memorable nights. Torch flashlight is streaming through the darkness, giving a faint glimpse of the valley below. It looks mysterious in the darkness. The huge bonfire, ablaze with huge logs in the dining room brightens our mood. There is a barbeque grill made of mud on one side of the room. We are treated to a cup of hot coffee and shown the accommodation and the facilities provided. Both the cottages are below the dark silhouette of Brahmagiri ranges on the edge of the forest. There is running hot and cold water in the taps, two beds in each room with tolerably acceptable comforters.



It is a beautiful night. The sky is clear and studded with millions of twinkling stars hanging from the celestial dome, shining bright. After dinner, I spent some time strolling outdoors, inhaling the scent of the night air, and looking up at the stars far away, with awe and wonder.


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Comments

Vishwajeetsapan on

Wow! Almost there in no time. I am in Pachebale, reaching in the night thinking when the journey is going to end, uncomfortable night and a beautiful morning. Everthing changed afterwards.
I hope to visit again.

Aradhana on

Someone said that once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the chambers of your mind. The mind can never break off from the journey... So it is as we read your blog... the voyage continueth...

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