We have been on many road trips, an inevitable part of being married to an Olive Green. With a shoe-string budget,it was our good old Maruti 800 and accomodations at Army Guest Rooms that made it possilble. Every trip had its own charm but the one that has to be shared, is the trip from Nasik to DSSC (Defence Services Staff College) in Wellington, Nilgiri hills. I still go ga-ga over it for two reasons. One, the men were back after six months at the border after the Parliament attack alert. Two, the troad trip was a dream stretch along the Western Ghats and the coastal areas.
We started with two suitcases wedged between the front and the back seat, a bucket and a mug (you never know what you maybe up against during halts), a potty (our daughter was a year and a half ), a bagful of footwear, odd ends and bits that couldn't go in the truck but had to reach DSSC. And Oh! a folded cotton mattress was thrown in that covered the back seat and the suitcases to make a bed for Pahi, our daughter.
And so we started, a convoy of three families ,off to the salubrious Nilgiris. Our first halt was at NDA Pune after almost four hours drive. We spent our time going through the campus and gaped at normal routines like a cadet carrying his cycle over his head. Another was standing at attention under a tree as he isn't supposed to move alone unless he is in a squad of four.We were shown the hostels and rooms of our husbands, proudly with sheepish grins( probably they went back to their 'antics' and 'punishments'). Then there was the huge dining hall that fed hot sumptuous meals to around 1500 ravenous cadets in one sitting, without any noise and chaos!
I was taken in by a nearby verdant hillock "Singhgarh" and expressed my desire to explore it. However, the men didn't seem keen on it. They had too many painful memories of that lovely place...of running cross-country with heavy backpacks to the top and back, as punishments. After two days in Pune gorging on the farsans and sizzlers, we continued our journey through the vast rolling greenery of Western Maharashtra skirting many quaint towns like Kolhapur. Well! We just had to buy the famed Kolhapuri chappals and also picked up a tiny pair for the rear-view mirror! Here I've to mention that monsoon IS the time to explore the Western Ghats! What lush vegetation with the grey sky stooping low showering with the rains! After a long drive of 335 kms we reached Belgaum in the evening for a night halt. We were excited in the morning since our next stop was Goa...
We were just not prepared for what was ahead...As we climbed the last of the Ghats, suddenly a wall of thick mist stoically greeted us...with a board beside it that hazily said "Welcome to Amboli". Visibility was barely 1metre! We slowly rolled into the mist, awed by its beauty. Objects on the roadside were hazy outlines. There was a thunderous roar that kept getting closer. It was a waterfall closeby...Although I badly wanted to stop and savour each moment, we continued. We had a schedule to adhere to. Amboli is the last hill station as the Ghats meet the coastal plains. The mist released us gently, on our way down the slope. As we reached the plains the sun sparkled unveiling stretches of green fields. Amboli has remained an enigma for me to this day.
With the Ghats behind, we drove down the coastal plains eagerly into the much sought after Goa like a bunch of teenagers on an escapade. With the beaches just within reach, our convoy zipped over a bridge that heralded our arrival. Barely did we get in, we found a couple of Goa policemen eagerly waiting for us at the other end of the bridge. We had over stepped the pedal way beyond the speed limit! Even being admonished like truant juvenile and the fine paid, did not dampen our spirits. Now I can say, "been there, done that". It was beaches, Bom church, beaches, cruise on Mandovi, beaches and beaches...Here I shall not indulge in the details, for much has been said about the place.
Then it was time to move ahead. After all we had more to discover in the journey that would take us to Mangalore, Kannanur and finally Coonoor in the Nilgiris. But more of that in the next post. Someone rightly said, it is the journey that matters not the destination...
Some More Posts:
Summer Camps At Grandmother's Home Hidden Treasure