Skip to main content

Featured Post

The Vaishnodevi Experience 2023

My first trip to Vaishnodevi was unimpressive. Climbing was hard, and it only served to highlight how badly out of shape I was, while my in-laws managed to cope so much better. Further, I hadn’t quite realized that the cave experience wouldn’t be the same as I had imagined, since the original cave was only opened at certain times a year, and that we only entered a newly created tunnel, one far easier to access, and hence more manageable with the crowds that thronged the mountain shrine. The resulting experience at the shrine, for barely a fraction of a second, hardly compared to what I had expected / imagined / heard about. So, for me, Vaishnodevi was like any other temple, nothing to write home about, something that was reflected (though not explicitly mentioned) in the blog post I wrote then.

On the River at Wayanad

Walking in a tea plantation, surrounded by the aromatic leaves, we watch women pluck them. Not one of them turns as we stroll by, such is their concentration. Or maybe they are simply used to visitors like us! We have walked in tea plantations before, but I have been promised that there is something different awaiting me.

We are at Wayanad, and for two days we have wandered over the district, unearthing its charms. Traversing the usual tourist circuit, we have had a glimpse of our ancestors at Edakkal caves, a brush with spirituality at Thirunelli Temple, and a tryst with wildlife at Muthanga forest reserve. This is our last day at Wayanad, and we are looking forward to what it brings. 

The tea estate is our first halt. We leave the roads and walk along mud paths deeper into the estate, and catch the first glimpse of the forest which lurks behind. This is a protected area, so we will not be entering the reserve, is what we are told. However, in the midst of towering teaks and dense foliage, the line blurs somewhere. It feels like we are inside the jungle, not somewhere at its periphery.

As we tread over leaves fallen on the rough path, bird songs are the only sound we can hear. Out of range of human noises, even my son is strangely quiet. We can hear a gurgle of water, and our guide smiles. “We have almost reached” he says. A sharp turn, and there it is - a narrow stream passing through the jungle, hidden from prying human eyes. Basking in its shallow pools, we are barely aware of the passage of time, but it is getting late, so we pick ourselves up unwillingly and head on. There is more to experience!

We head uphill to another plantation, this time within a resort. The river flows here too, and, between two trees on either side is tied a rope. My son’s eyes gleam at the prospect of ziplining, and I watch with bated breath as he slides over the rope with ease, reassured only by the security of the safety harness he has been told to wear. Running back from the other side over a bridge, he excitedly screams “This is awesome! I want to do it again!” and so he does.... again.. and again... and again!!

We have been travelling along the river the whole day, but we haven’t had enough of her yet. “Wait, Madam” says my guide, when I ask him if we can go to the riverside again. Our impatience is obvious, and his smile tells me that he has something interesting lined up for me!

Leaving our car by the side of a hut, we walk, once again amidst bushes taller than me, and suddenly, there she is – the river, in all her glory! On the bank are two boys, each by the side of what appears to be a raft made of a single layer of bamboo. “I can’t ride on that!” I exclaim, and smiles break out at once. “Don’t worry Madam!” they reassure me. “You won’t fall off. Besides, we have life jackets too.” While my son enthusiastically boards the raft, I climb aboard grudgingly, handing over my camera and mobile to my guide for safekeeping.. ‘just in case’! And we float down the river, our raft guided by a pole handled adroitly by the young boy.

“I am doing my MBA” the boy rowing our raft says, and we talk about education as we wind our way amidst the mangroves. My son is bored by our conversation. He doesn’t want to sit on the raft. He wants to swim. “Swim along with the raft” says the boy, and my son is thrilled! He jumps into the water and swims along, screaming for us to slow down when he tires, sometimes holding on to the iron rod which holds the raft together, and floating along. It is incredibly peaceful down there, on the river. There are people bathing or washing clothes, but they seem to blend into the landscape. It is we who stand out, with our city dweller’s excitement, which makes them smile. 

This article was originally published in The Hindu Traveller on the 21st of July, 2013. Click here to read the original article. 


  1. Oh! This is beautifully written Anu!! The nature all around, greenery and the river all make for a wonderful holiday! And I love that makeshift raft, it looks adventurous :)

    1. Thanks Arti!!! that raft was such a wonderful experience! so completely unexpected for me!

  2. Sounds like an amazing experience!

  3. That is a lovely experience. :)

  4. Looks a lot enjoyable and interesting trip with happy family. such a beautiful and cool place to visit. please give your few seconds at my blog.
    thanks for sharing.

  5. wonderful...
    you both look so happy...

  6. Great pictures...look so breadth taking and the readers can feel the excitement and thrill which you both would have felt...seems like you had much fun....Thanks for sharing and giving us a glimpse the beautiful place...


  7. The nature all around, greenery and the river all make for a wonderful holiday..........

  8. Amazing pictures. Thank for the sharing your experience..

  9. I couldn't go beyond the first picture for the longest time; the green was so soothing. I loved the kattamaram raft and would love to travel on one. You didn't want to cross the river the way Samhith did?


Post a Comment

Thanks so much for stopping by. Please leave a comment for me so that I will know you have been here....

Popular posts from this blog

Gokarna Part II – The Five Lingams

We continued our Gokarna trip by visiting four other Shiva temples in the vicinity, all connected to the same story of Gokarna. The story of Gokarna mentions the Mahabaleshwara Lingam as the one brought from Kailas by Ravana, and kept at this place on the ground by Ganesha. (See my earlier post- Gokarna – Pilgrimage and Pleasure). However, the story does not end here. It is believed that, in his anger, Ravana flung aside the materials which covered the lingam- the casket, its lid, the string around the lingam, and the cloth covering it. All these items became lingams as soon as they touched the ground. These four lingams, along with the main Mahabaleshwara lingam are collectively called the ‘ Panchalingams’ . These are: Mahabaleshwara – the main lingam Sajjeshwar – the casket carrying the lingam. This temple is about 35 Kms from Karwar, and is a 2 hour drive from Gokarna. Dhareshwar – the string covering the lingam. This temple is on NH17, about 45 Kms south of Gokarna. Gunavanteshw

The Power of 8 - The Ashta Dikpalas and Ashta Vasus at Khajuraho

The four cardinal directions form the axis on which a temple is built, and are thus the basis of temple architecture. Leading from them are the eight directions, which are believed to be guarded by the eight guardians, or Ashta Dikpalas . In the temples of Khajuraho, great care has been taken by the sculptors to carve the Ashta Dikpalas on the walls, both inside and outside. They not only guard the temple, but also look over us as we circumambulate the shrine, protecting us by their presence. They are augmented by the Ashta Vasus , celestial beings which represent natural phenomena. Together, they enhance the idea of the temple as cosmos, enfolding within it, all the aspects of nature, both, on earth, as well in space.

The Havelis of Bikaner - A Photo Post

The lanes are narrow , twisting and turning amidst buildings old and new. Crumbling old structures with intricate workmanship stand side by side with art deco buildings, and more modern constructions, which follow no particular style. Autos, bicycles, motorcycles and vans rush past, blowing their horns as loudly as possible, while cows saunter past peacefully, completely unaffected by the noise. In the midst of all this chaos, children play by the side, and women go about their chores, as we explore these by-lanes of Bikaner, and its beautiful Havelis. Facade of one of the Rampuria Havelis