Noon: When the jeep headed down at 50 degree angle I thought we would topple over making a clean swipe of the film crew gathered on the banks of the lake. We didn’t. Somehow the jeep regained balance at the foot of the hillock and the crew continued with their shooting of the Tamil version of the popular Malayalam film, ‘Ordinary.’
“This is a regular location for many Malayalam and Tamil films,” the driver says.
“I thought we were going to have an accident,” I said, with the screams of my family sitting on the back seat still tinning on my ears.
The safari inside the sprawling 250 acre ‘Vagamon Heights’, a popular resort at Vagamon had only begun.
Evening: Divya thought it was an earthquake rolling in her way when the ground shook behind her in the form of horse-trots. She swung around and saw a coffee-coloured horse, huge and greedy breathing on her face. Point blank.
She turned in one sweep, dashed off carrying her daughter, leaving her coffee, banana fry and her husband behind her on the shade. Of them the one blessed with limbs, that bold and brave travel writer, her husband was not the one who would spend time studying a bloody crisis. He was already leaping across the field to the opposite side leaving his coffee mug, banana fry and his family on the shade without ever looking back to check what made his wife scream and run.
When the initial shock subsided, I turned around.
Gobles, the cool horse was calmly sipping the coffee served for us under the shade of the tree. It had already polished off our banana fry. Could he next pull out a beedi and light it, I wondered.
When the resort people finally ran in to shoo Gobles away from our evening bites he was licking his lips and profusely thanking me with a couple of violent head-flicks in my direction.
We laughed our head off the rest of the evening.
“What did you do acha when Gobles charged at us?” Ammu asked as the horse picked the carrots off her soft palm with his tongue tickling her, an hour later (She is now a friend to Gobles).
“Oh, my girl! Your father was hurrying to the office to check whether the horse was a domesticated one.”
Spend time with Gobles when you are in Vagamon Heights. You will never grow tired of his antics. Many years back, he had a companion in the resort, a white horse named Tsar, who ran off a nearby cliff into the dark valleys hundreds of feet deep below. Since then Gobels had only the customers as his playmates.
“We don’t know why he couldn’t tolerate lungi-clad people,” the manager told me.
“Was this the location for that Malayalam movie, ‘Thilakkam?’ I couldn’t help asking. The charm of Dileep ripping off the ‘mundus’ of those villagers could have struck a chord with poor Kaisar.
Night: If you have 250 acres of real estate, it won’t hurt you if I pee in the open, I justified myself, pulling down the zipper facing the dark woods that screened away the moon. Ah! Ecstasy! It had been a long time since I broke this taboo, did it in the open with the night air cooling down and refreshing my system. I drew a long breath.
The night we spent at Vagamon Heights smelled overpoweringly of cowdung and moonlight. The Nestling, the cottage where we stayed was bathed in silver at about 11pm. I got back and sat on the veranda to appraise the meditative beauty around me with senses drawn taut like cobwebs to catch those tiny flecks of luminescence drifting down from the heavens wet with the dew. My family was asleep.
A few minutes later, I woke up in a crowd. My cottage was besieged by a horde of cattle, their bells tingling from the thick darkness that enveloped me. There were eyes as big as saucers reflecting the heavens. Even without the moon the eyes of cows always carry a kindness that disturbs our souls. Now with the light they bore deeper and deeper.
Half an hour later, they broke their cabal, gathered up unhurriedly and drifted back into the darkness from where they came. The tingling had faded away into distance. Silence once again. Except for the high moon crooning softly to the valleys huddled together under the white blanket.
The niggling details
Vagamon is a hill station located in Kottayam-Idukki border in Kerala. A day at ‘the Nestling’ in the Vagamon Heights will set you back by 4500 plus taxes. Windshadows, Four Gables, Tree House etc are higher-end options. The rent includes food, fishing, jeep safari and camp fire. Here’s my reading. Their food was excellent. Nature (The greenery and the lakes) excellent. Customer relations, ok. There is still room for improvement as far as sophistications are concerned. Need to work a lot if they want to attract foreigners.
Still recommended for those wonderful experiences with raw nature. I will go back again.
Contact: +91 9847197150. Ask for Hareesh, Asst Manager.