Monday, October 03, 2011

Deccan Trails – A versatile getaway

This is a gear headed post written by a hapless romantic. Read on to be confused.
The leviathan roared. As a grin spread across my face from ear to ear, I felt this white beast getting ready to chomp the 68 km meandering stretch to Deccan Trails. Jaggu was kind enough to loan me his Safari for the day’s trip that we had planned.

I pushed in the key and gleefully felt the engine rumbling to life. Having stocked enough food and water to last a small war, the 8 of us were ready to make the little trip. My better half sat next to me in the front and vanished inside the huge bucket seat. The rest were bundled behind. A nudge of the throttle and the beast grunted slowly out onto the main roads unwillingly. The traffic was stifling and city roads were clearly not for the Safari. Autos shifted chaotically like blobs of cholesterol blocking other traffic and RTC buses regurgitated venom from their horns to dissipate everything out of the way. I was getting irritated and my calves were cursing me for working them dry on the clutch.

But once we reached Langar House, the traffic thinned out and I had all my freedom to ride as I pleased. The grin reappeared on my face and I stepped on the gas. The double CAMS and 16 valves synched to pull the 2 ton monster away. A second later, the turbo charger kicked in and the needle touched a 100. I was reliving the Fast and the Furious. Sweaty palms and brows, mind and body is perfect unison as I veered past the other lowly 4 wheeled contraptions. The kids were overjoyed at flying so low over potholes but alas! It was not to be

A chatter that started slowly grew louder by the minute. It turned out to be frightened Uncle’s teeth who was also white knuckled as he held on tight for dear life and saw the roads and some of his life go by. My better half’s hot glare bore a hole in my temple and the message was clear. Decelerate or suffer the consequences. I looked mournfully at the beast who grunted his approval and settled down to a more sedate purr. Sigh.

The route was beautiful as greenery presented itself on both sides of the road. Pattering drizzles lent a warm, romantic welcome to our presence. We slowed down on the way to admire a small trough full of fields with the clouds and sun above showing off their preserved beauty. Even the beast quietened down in the face of nature and enjoyed the ride.

As we entered the Deccan Trails gate, the mood swung from boisterous to mellow. The canopy of trees welcomed us and the sunlight through the brush tickled our eyes. Our breathing slowed down as we looked forward to the next 24 hours in the hope of something magical happening. And it did for me.

I hugged and thanked the beast (when no one was looking) for getting us safe and turned the engine off. With a sigh, the pistons burped to sleep and all was quiet.

We embarked slowly and made our way to the swings to settle down. The children began playing and as my thoughts drew me within, the voices seemed far away as nostalgia kicked in. Smiling within, I knew this experience was going to be different. The staff then served their famous hot pakodas and tea. Not wanting to stuff ourselves, my better half and I ate for the sake of tasting and a little while later, we made our way to the tents. Dusk was falling and I did not want to miss mother nature’s life reminders for anything.

On the little hill, the maidan welcomed us to enjoy nature. Settling into our tents took only 5 minutes as we could not miss the setting sun. We were soon out for a walk and later sat on the maidan to greet nature. The grandeur of all that was around warmed our hearts. The gentle breeze caressing our faces, the green carpet of flora all around, the chirping of birds as they went home made for a melancholy feel.

The clouds ambled along like pachyderms on the serengeti and the skies opened up for one last time before the sun went down. They say the sun is the brightest just before sunset. The sun and the sky complemented each other with beautiful shades of slate grey and orange as only nature can to show off the last collage of the evening. The setting sun here could fill a heart sensitive to the daily mysteries of life. If sunsets make you cry, this atmosphere is a perfect setting.

As we watched the sky turn from grey to black, the night came alive as we had long forgotten. The solitary bulb in the maidan came to life and insects attracted by the light kept dancing around with some occasionally burning themselves to death. All that we take for granted or frivolous has so much meaning on this great grid of life. Watching those insects accept their fate for just wanting to see the light pulled me deeper within myself. As if on cue, the rain began falling with a consoling touch. As the drops wandered and fell on our faces, the wind gently spoke and  reminded that all was happening as it should. There was a solitary creeper climbing on the support rod with its leaves swaying and giving in to the power of rain. No offending stance, just giving in to the rain, accepting its form.

I was shaken back to reality by a rumble of thunder. The rain stopped and fireflies roved in the dark as if to offer other life their precious light. Crickets and other insects voiced their love calls till they reached a crescendo which was music to the ears. The fragrance of earth and freshly cleaned leaves gave us the much needed reminder to slow down and search for our purpose in life by taking steps one at a time.

Dinner was served shortly. The staff and services are excellent for a place like this. Food was served in the dhaba style under the thatched huts. Phulkas, ghee, 2 sabzis, curd, a rice dish, papads and a sweet, all very well made and served with pride. The food was very tasty to say the least and in the dim lighting, our thoughts drifted away and we relished what we had in front of us. Dinner was over and we made our way back to the tents to see what nature had to offer us next.

A great secret about this place is the area above the rock climbing section. It is all of 3 stories high and sneaking in during the night to enjoy solitude is something which everyone has to experience. Be it solitude or with your lover in tow, the view from up there in the night gave us the tingles. Looking down, all I saw was the vastness of black and the sounds of the night so beautiful. Looking up, we saw the grandeur of the universe. All the stars winked from above and kept us engrossed for as long as we remembered. No words were needed. Only nature could fill our hearts with white flecks on a black canvas. We enjoyed this solitude of knowing that nature was always with us and returned to our tents hand in hand.

We put two chairs outside and began talking for over an hour. The atmosphere screamed with the wind whooshing in our ears and the tents flapping about. As the warm glow of the bulb radiated off my better half’s face, I was reminded of the first time we fell in love. Let me put it this way. If you believe in tickling your heart, this is as good a place as any so close by. I heard a little nightingale sing in my heart as I relived my first days of love. This is a beautiful place for lovers curling up together with a book to read and the wind reminding us of its presence on the flapping tent. Nothing to do, just be present and enjoy the company of your loved one. It was a blissful sleep later.

The glorious morning changed the mood entirely from romantic to energizer. Birds began chirping and it was time to capture the rising sun. Through the clouds, the sun played hide and seek. I managed to get a few snaps as below and it was then time for the easy trek.

The jungle paths chosen were easy and playful. Along the way, blossoms showed off their vibrant colors. Slush and mud hugged our shoes. Thorns grazed us all reminding us that we’re not alone in this world and that timely pokes and pricks are needed from time to time. Few more photos of some beautiful flowers below.

The trek was completed in about 40 minutes and returning triumphant, everyone made their way down to breakfast. The morning sun rays gave everything a nostalgic feel.

Post breakfast which consisted of idlis, poha, chutney, sambar, tea etc, it was time to move a little and get the rusting body parts oiled. There is plenty for the mild adventure enthusiast here to do. From playing cricket or just running to rope climbing, rock climbing, burma bridge etc, there is lots that can be done to relieve the everyday stress.

Monkeying around like children is a beautiful thing to do as you lose sight of your ego and mental barriers. With few people to see us acting like children, it is a joy to let go and do something fun. Climb the ropes, sit on the rope hammock under the trees and feel nature’s blessing.

As they say, every happy story has a sad theme in it somewhere. The huge turkey at Deccan Trails was found to be a tad rude. Although many of the visitors kept their distance, we couldn’t help but feel for it. It turns out that this turkey lost its mate a few years ago. Out of loneliness and sorrow, it turned harsh. The nicest portrayal of humanity is that the staff here have neither killed it nor do they abuse it. The turkey is left alone but gently kept at bay by them. The small expressions of emotions towards any living thing is a great indicator of the service levels of this place.

One point of note here is that in most other places, all the adventure activities are charged extra. But here at Deccan Trails, everything is covered in your day’s rate. Helmets and safety gear are all provided by the staff who are polite, courteous and willing to let us do any activity as many times as we pleased. They are also genuinely concerned for our safety.

The tents are comfortable, down to earth, with a rustic flair. The attached baths are interestingly constructed, again clean. There were no odors in the tents. The best experience is cuddling up at night with the wind whistling in our ears and the canvas flapping wildly. The staff also keep a can of water outside each tent for the occupants.

Yes, one should make a visit to this place during or after the rains. Summer time sees this place turn into a bale of straw, hot and tiring. But the monsoons and the winters make this place glow.
There is something for everyone here. The romantics can wile away their time shedding tears over the sunsets and the greens. The adventure seekers can run, play, climb. The elders can just sit and reminisce their fond memories. The solitude seekers can walk around doing nothing yet just being there.

In the end, Deccan Trails is a must visit for anyone. The great levels of service, quality of food and concern displayed by staff along with the down to earth environment and the overall hygiene are welcoming. The rates are still a steal and we will going there soon.

I wish I was 27 again to feel the rush of first love, the butterflies in the stomach and the outpouring of the heart as the feeling surges up the body. Deccan Trails makes for a good nostalgic reminder. Please note that this is not a hill station or a resort. It is a great getaway at a fantastic price and so close to the city but in pure nature.


Neeru's Corner said...

Beautiful- one of the best posts I have ever read....Keeping the grip of the reader at every step is the key to successful writing....


Keep writing and be blessed!!

Anonymous said...

Wow !! Great work.. really excited to visit this place after going through your post !! Quite a gripping one... Keep up the good work !! Cheers !!

Anonymous said...

What an enchanting acount of anouting! I am sure to visit this place now :).