Carrying on our journey into Vattakanal, we bring you details of our observations and random musings.
Vattakanal is perched on top of a hill, barely 5kms away from Kodaikanal; but almost hidden away from the sloping ups and downs of the town’s alleys. Covered in greenery, omnipresent clouds and bits of sun, the landscape offers enchanting sights of floating trees and houses in the clouds. It might just rain in your bedroom!
That’s just the start. Nature/fate or the people themselves decided to take a toothbrush and spray paint the green background of the slopes with their colorful houses. They seem to add color to nature’s creation.
Streets We Loved
If you flattened Vatta out on a map, the stairs that stagger up the slope would be the crooked-in-character but parallel-in-intent streets of the village. The first one we’ve named Papa Street, the next ones are Midnight Party Alley and Into-the-Woods Lane.
Pretty, self explanatory, right? These are all a huff-n-puff to climb, but they wander among the house yards, orchards, bushes, happen upon open flats with overlooking views and lead up to the forest lines encircling the village.
Papa and Mango
At Vatta, there’s a lady called Papa. She has a dainty house, the color of which is purple. If you walk up her lane, which in actuality is a steep, slimy set of stairs, you’d hear her hollering down to you from her tiny yard. She’d gladly rent you out a portion of her house, which turns out to be an apartment with three double sized beds, a spacious kitchen, a functioning bathroom and a dining room with chairs, a table and a rug in front of the fireplace.
She has a dog named Mango, Who we assumed would tango,
‘Coz he has such a fun name, But is in truth quite a lazy dame.
The Silent Party Zone
Midnight Party Alley was characterized by the constant drumming of boots trampling the trail at all times of the day and night. This was where a 50-strong band of kids from Israel had established a multilevel festivity district by renting out the houses on different parts of the slope. A morning party-launch zone would cajole the whole valley and people would trudge in with sleepy eyes and wake up to the tune of the Beatles and Bob Dylan. For lunch the get-together would move to a different home and from there to the sundown lounge, which would typically be somebody’s rooftop.
And this was everyday! Very energetic lot indeed and we are not complaining.
To find solace we needed only to walk up one of these streets and go a little further. They lead up to the ring of nature’s abundant green which welcomes all with open arms. One needs to feel it personally, so the description is left to the readers’ imagination; till the time you travel this way.
The fireplace is a standard in every residence here and verily so the need for fire. It gets cold here and damp. It is rare to see a centrally heated house in rural India. Bundles of wood every evening are the norm of the day. The most expensive commodity in Vatta hence, is firewood. It sells 300 bucks a pop (pop = bundle). Nonetheless, a crackling fire on a frosty night is a heart-warmer in more ways than one.
The lush green hills of Dindigul district are blessed with fertile soil and plentiful rain. This had made it a haven for organic and exotic crop farming. Passion fruit, Cherimoya and Avocado can be bought from the vegetable stalls. Of course they have local names; for e.g. Cherimoya is called Hanuman Phal.
Street carts in the Kodaikanal-Vattakanal area will offer up a delectable Eggs & Avocado sandwich, which can be done with or without cheese. The cheese is also made in the Kodaikanal area and you’d be surprised to sample the spread: Cheddar, Black Pepper, Jalapeño, Parmesan, Blue Cheese and many more options. Milkshakes are the norm of the day, and very deliciously so.
Another revelation is the homemade chocolates sourced from local produce, which can be bought by the kilo at rock bottom prices. One of the homestay owners we met made them fresh every morning right here in Vatta. Some of the varieties we sampled were Hazelnut, Butter Caramel, Cashew Dark, Milky Pistachio and White chocolate with cornflakes and almonds.
A curiously recurring affair is that of wicker baskets full of mushrooms being propositioned in a surreptitious manner. We hear the technical term for these is Psilocybin Mushrooms, the uses for which we’ll leave you to find out at your own convenience. These are abundant amongst the magical forests around us and hence readily available.
Well to summarize, if that is the right word, Vattakanal offers one serene nature kissed locale with amazing people and great food fresh from the mountains. As one clocks days here, we are sure, the memories of city life becomes dreams of distant past. Such is the spell of Vattakanal. We leave you with another glimpse.