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TEAM 9 TRAVEL DIARIES: A BITE TO REMEMBER

“Be sure to pack a pair of long socks, You’re going to be needing them!” said, Sajeesh Gopalan, our Guru in Public Relations, before he drove his way out of the city. The following evening, the team of us ten Circuit 9er’s were amidst a crowd near a bus station that buzzed with a language that we knew we would be hearing from that time onward until our weekend would wrap up. To be specific – This was going to be Circuit 9’s first holiday in Palakkad, Kerala. And if you’re really curious about Palakkad and the must-see places that surround this town, here’s what you would want to know!

PALAKKAD & THE PADDY FIELDS

Have you ever peeped out through the window of a train and then imagined what it must be like to actually explore the fleeting view of lush green fields and breathtaking landscapes? Somehow, to me they always seemed more inviting and intriguing than the very destination itself. And being in Palakkad, we Circuit 9er’s found ourselves amidst those landscapes near vast paddy fields and in the middle of nowhere.

The less explored landscapes of Kerala

Before we set out for the city, Sajeesh, the birthday boy, offered us a truly relishing Kerala style treat at his farmhouse. One of the farmers walked up to his gate with a 10 liter can full of toddy, who was followed by a lady carrying two big baskets that contained Appam’s that tasted much like dosas and spicy egg curry. And the toddy? Well, before we could even begin having breakfast, we took a swig of that very, very refreshing alcoholic beverage on empty stomachs- It was lovely! I was later told that the locals there sell one liter of toddy for approximately Rs.50.

Man seen extracting toddy from a coconut tree

Palakkad- The City

Being creative folks, we observed that much of the billboard advertisements were those of jewelry, and some of those ads were endorsed by men alone- which I found to be quite absurd. It also seemed that the guys in Kerala were big fans of football as we saw large banner posters of football players almost at around every corner of the city. Unlike Bangalore, I recall getting stuck at just one traffic jam which even got me a bit excited yelling out “Whoohoo! Palakkad- paced Traffic!”

The Football Frenzy in Palakkad

Palakkad has also got some amazing restaurants. We visited one called Noor Jahan, where the twelve of us enjoyed hogging some yummy Biryani. But, if you’re also looking forward to picking up drinks from the local bar to guzzle it down at the comfort of your cozy cottage – Think Again!! The bars in the city, I’m told can literally attract queues of men that stretch up to about 3 kilometers! (Hilarious!!)

There was something that also seemed a bit perplexing- I came across quite a few posters of the popular communist figure, Che Guevara while we were in Palakkad. And if anybody out there can solve the mystery as to why his pictures are more aggressively used to influence the public than any other local communist figure of the state, please leave a comment below!

Che Guevara, a common sight in Kerala(left); Bar-queue(right)

Nelliyampathy- The Hill station that Screams Beauty & Adventure

With the Circuit 9er’s thirsting for some serious adventure, we travelled approximately 60 kilometers from Palakkad to Nelliyampathy, a hill station that’s surrounded by coffee, cardamom and pepper plantations. The 14 kilometer drive up the hill’s summit in Mahindra 4×4 jeeps was the most thrilling experience in my life yet! The jeeps literally rocked and rolled up narrow, bumpy and unpaved roads. Our driver’s skill on those roads that were riddled with ditches was truly commendable. As we were on our 2hour journey up the hill, our driver had narrated instances in which he had previously come across Tigers on those very roads.

Upon reaching the summit, we felt the chill of the mist that flooded the atmosphere. And soon after, lodged at a pretty cottage aptly named ‘Misty Valley Resort.’ The cottage comfortably accommodated the 12 of us Circuit 9’ers including Shashi (Sajeesh’s Keralite friend). That evening we had that party of our lives! With liquor flowing, happy colleagues dancing, and bon-fire keeping us warm in the open, we hoped that the night would never come to end.

Road leading to Nelliyampathy (left); 4×4 Mahindra jeeps (right))

The following morning, we decided to go out trekking before we left for Palakkad. Maniattan, the manager at Misty Valley, walked us through orange groves on a 914 acre estate called ‘Anamada estate’. As we had a long peaceful walk through long winding roads in our slippers, some of us began to smack wormy looking insects on our legs, and seeing those tiny creatures known to us as ‘leeches’, we remembered those words said to us even before the journey began “Be sure to pack a pair of long socks, You’re going to be needing them!”

See this bloodsucker in action? Now that’s something to remember!