For me it was only the mountains that lifted my spirit. They always had a deep impact on my persona. They touched me somewhere inside and even in the frugal guest houses or ashrams I felt fantastico from inside. The real feeling of happiness. So when a trip to Tamil Nadu was arranged I was not at all excited about it. I kept on lobbying for going to the hills in the north. But unfortunately I was in the minority and a trip to Meghamalai was arranged. I was to attend it reluctantly. Little did I know that it was going to change my life. It was going to have that kind of impact upon me.
Meghamalai surprised me. It told me that south India had its mountains too. It might not have the snow of the Himalayas. But there was cold air like the hills of the north.
We reached Meghamalai in the noon. We ate the delicious food cooked by our guest house cook. South Indian food had never tasted that good before. On enquiry he told me that he had cooked the food using the spices which were grown in the tea gardens. So South India too had tea gardens. I could wait to visit them. But it was already four in the noon. We decided to go to the tea gardens the next morning.
The temperature suddenly dropped in the night. The next morning when we woke up there was mist in the air. Sitting in the corridor of the guest house I sipped pipping hot tea which the care taker handed me over. Yes, I was right in guessing that this tea too hadn’t come from the packets purchased from the supermarkets but had come directly from the gardens. Soon the mist as well the clouds in the sky disappeared and the climate became sunny.
“You all mountains are like me – unpredictable. May be that is the reason I feel so close to you.” I said as I viewed the sun.
We visited the tea gardens. Many of us purchased spices in a false hope that we could replicate the culinary skills of the guest house cook once back home. Needless to say we purchased tea packets too, which we were told were unprocessed and hence free from any kind of chemicals.
In the noon we visited Vattapara. Vattapara is actually an open slope where tea plantations end and Periyar protected forest begins. “I want to go to the forest.” I said. “We want to go too.” Shouted the rest of the group. Soon we were into the forests. There were elephants, deers, gaurs and leopards. I really enjoyed visited this protected forest.
This trip had a great impact on me. Yes, of course I was rejuvenated. But it made me drop my prejudices. Yes the Himalayan mountain ranges are beautiful. But the south Indian mountains are mesmerizing and peppy too.
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