India – Kerala, Tamil Nadu & Mumbai (5 – Kumily/Thekkady to Kodaikanal)

Day 04 – Kumily (Thekkady) to Kodaikanal

This is a shot of Periyar Lake taken from a KTDC boat. To get to this boat was an experience to be told. At 530am, I reached the entrance of Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary only to find hordes of vehicles behind the closed gate. I squeezed my Enfield to the front, parked it and joined the human queue for park entry tickets. In front of me was Hiren, an Indian from Australia. He told me that he was here yesterday as well but couldn’t get any boat tickets for him and his wife. Looking at the long queues, I could see how that can happen and I was not too confident about catching the 7am KTDC boat today either. Hiren then asked if I could pillion him on my motorcycle from the park entrance to the KTDC boat office by the lake as his car was way behind the other vehicles. I readily agreed but not before informing him of my incompetency with the bike. We soon bought our park entrance tickets, started our engines and readied ourselves on the motorcycle while giving fierce looks to our competitors. At 610am, the gates of hell opened and the world’s most dangerous rally race flagged off. As vehicles sped and jostled for space, I gradually fell out the top 10 positions. It’s definitely not helped by the dark. There were also humps along the way. Every time we spotted a hump, it’s too late and we went “Wooooooaaaaaaahhh” as we flew through the air, half-expecting ourselves to fall off our bike. Realising that our bike remained on solid ground and our continual survival in the 3km race, we laughed hysterically. It’s really crazy. Near the KTDC boat office, we quickly abandoned the bike and sprinted to the ticket queue. We made it!

Hiren and his wife

The sanctuary is 777 sq km and consists of a 26 sq km lake. In the morning, the boat ride is very peaceful with great scenery. The guides on the boat highlighted the various wildlife.

There is the Lake Palace Hotel in the middle of the Periyar reserve on a tiny island. It is very expensive but imagine the exclusivity and tranquility. Perfect for a honeymoon. No, it’s not shown in the photo. I am not going to spoil it for you. 🙂

Wild boars. We also spotted deers and bisons.

The wildlife office is now very particular about safety especially since the 2009 Thekkady Boat Disaster. Not sure if the boat in the photo is the capsized boat.

Next, I visited Highrange Spice Gardens for an educational tour on Indian spices.

Stopped by a view point, en route to Kodaikanal. The roads out of Kumily were flat and straight but as I neared Kodaikanal, the roads turned winding. It’s always scarier to ride on the side the mountain roads where a mistake will see you at the bottom of mountains.

We can read the distance to the next destination from these Kilometer stones. Just kidding, most of the kilometer stones I spotted had English spelling of the destinations. If kilometer stones are not available, there should be obvious signs near every junctions.

Kodaikanal is a compact and misty town situated 2100m above sea level. Click for bigger image.

Dinner was Paneer Pulav with Masala Tea.

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