visit: kodaikanal (diary entry #1)

So, the whole of upper elementary, erdkinder and seniors of lower elementary – along with a few adults from nammashaale, did Kodaikanal. By and large it was an eventful, satisfying, interesting and therefore an endlessly tiring 4nights+4daze trip. In fact, I took two full days to recover from the fatigue. But most of the children seem to have recovered completely, in less than half-a-day after getting back! Surprise, surprise!

I am rather proud of the fact that we did NOT do the obligatory tickmark- touristy visits to the Dolphin’s nose, Pillar rocks, Suicide point(lessness), Coakers walk, Bear shola falls, Kurinji andavar temple, Bryant Park, etc etc – not to mention the horrendous places where random Hindi / Tamil / Telegu / Kannada / Malayalam stupidities masquerading as films were shot – primarily involving couples running around trees and swarms of jerks making lewd movements in the name of dancing, wearing ghastly costumes…

Nor did we do the sad (and tired) horse riding, eating in random ‘specialty’ hotels serving SouthIndian, Chettinad, Andhra, NorthIndian, Chinese, Tandoori items – all specializations (!) at the same time. What a relief!!

And, our children did NOT miss any of the above!

I am again, rather proud that we did the following: (our children loved them!)

  • A visit to a 100% organic (um, not merely organic, but Bio Dynamic – I have a lot of complaints about these blanket/inane terms like ‘organic’ and ‘green’ – but then, it is another story) coffee plantation (and processing plant) that won many an international award for incredible quality in the past. (sad that I have been off that elixir of life, Coffee – for a while now)
  • A couple of treks thru the shola forests and other natural vegetation on the hills – with a great sighting of a herd of robust bisons, with a cute calf to boot. (I suppose we must have trekked around 11 KMs in toto, in the undulating hills)
  • A fantastic visit to the Kodaikanal Solar Obsevatory.
  • A visit to a very nice Bakery (operating on an unbelievably humane scale, the basic ingredient of this ‘Daily Bread’ being NOT wheat, but bottomless love, really)
  • Hands on pottery for our children at a very earthly pottery studio
  • Nice cooking and eating at a friend’s place located on an impossibly beautiful mountainside, well away from the touristy kodaikanal town.

For want of time and prior planning, we could not visit the Zen Bodhi Zendo (of Arul Maria Arockiasamy aka AMA Samy) and Ichor Estate (of David Hogg). Next time, next time…

Every night post dinner, we had a grand bonfire at the guest house where we stayed rather happily – and had some inspired and impromptu theatrical performances and acrobatics by the school children. We also went for a row boating on the final day (I must admit that I was rather reluctant to do this, because I think it was/is a pointless thing, but the children demanded and loved it, so…).

On the final day, the children also did quite a bit of shopping – of no, not those ‘memorablia’ or the ‘souvenir’ types, but some real good handmade stuff, functional items, dark chocolates etc.

The Cheese available from Aavin at Kodaikanal is the best one that can be, fresh, fluffy, aromatic etc etc – and no wonder, a cheese hoarding person (from nammashaale) bought the entire stock from the Kodai outlet. Unbelievable! But I am not going to divulge the name of this deliciously despicable hoarder, because I was given for free, a splendid half-a-kilo of this hoard, in return for the services of keeping my mouth shut. I have been bribed, in other words. Sorry.

It was indeed a memorable trip – and the detailed reports on various interesting things will take sometime for me to post. But I would be remiss, if I didn’t acknowledge the great help from the following lovely people.

  • Prasanna & Meenakshi of that splendid ‘Daily Bread’ or ‘Pastry Shop’ – serving the best (and healthy) baked items possible. Also their vision of ‘sustainability in practice’ and ‘all pervasive spirituality of attending to minute details’ have to be experienced to be believed!
  • Vinod Hegde of Nandanvan Estate, whose passion for Coffee, Herbs and preserving mother nature – that has to be seen to be believed!
  • Veerabadhran – our trek guide, whose relentless wars against the environment-degraders and poachers and love for all things sustainable, that need to be documented…
  • Selvendran, Hariharan and Sundar raman – all fine and learned astrophysicists, who are passionate about their subject – and are willing to share their love of solar physics…
  • Dayalan and Uma Krishnan of the Sri Vignesh Guesthouse where we stayed, eating the great, tasty and simple food prepared by Dayalan
  • Our dear pal Amaresh Deshpande – who actually made the whole visit happen, with his relentless meticulousness, attention to fractal details, boundless energy and enthusiasm… (but for Amaresh’s help and guidance, we would not have met the above beautiful people, thanks chum)

In fact, one common thread that is running through all the above folks is the set of  great qualities: endless love, attention to details, unbelievable professionalism, walking their talk, and integrity. And, I am not even talking about their hospitality & courtesy…

It is/was such a pleasure to deal with these incredible folks! Thanks a tonne, all of you!

More later…
(as and when I get hold of some photos / links, I would post them, if I feel upto it, that is!)

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  • Vijay  On November 2, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Hi there,

    I am writing here to find out if you have any contact information for Sri Vignesh Guest House. I stayed there last time when I went and I want that place this time too but I don’t have any contact info, so that I can book rooms in advance.

    Please email me if you can

    Thank you very much,

    • Ramjee Swaminathan  On November 3, 2011 at 1:21 am

      Vijay – I got hold of their tel no on the web. Google macht frei.

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