How long it is before the sun sets? She asked as we kept walking through the tea gardens of Nilgiris. We went out to catch the sun setting behind the mountain.
We have to look out for colors in the sky, that’s what can tell us the sunset timings better in these mountains, I replied while looking out for the way towards the lights.
Just before the turn that took us behind the mountain, the sky painted itself with bright colors flowing across the horizons. The silhouettes turned into paintings with the beautiful backdrop of colors fading into the dusk. We spent our entire dusk watching the last rays of sun before we realized that the way down to the mountain is dark and wild.
It was the end of April 2018. A typical Indian summer, when you drink lemonades and plan for your monsoon trips. While the mercury was touching new heights every day, we planned to look out for mountains. And Ooty was the easiest mountain getaway from Bangalore but I was skeptical about the over-attention that Ooty gets, which has now led to witnessing traffic jams on the hill station. We had other option to go to Coonoor or Kotagiri, the lesser known towns of Nilgiris. But the search for that perfect place; landed us in a place we never heard or planned to visit.
We were in Kattabettu, a small Badaga village in the heart of Nilgiris. Around 21kms from the overcrowded Ooty, and 10kms from both Coonoor and Kotagiri, Kattabetu is not so untouched but an immaculate mountain village. With very few options to stay, we were fortunate enough to find an Airbnb on the slope of a mountain. The Airbnb was set overlooking to the tea gardens and forest spread across the mountains and valley in between. It is where you can see the sunrise right from your bed and sunset from the living room sofa. Surrounded by trees and tea gardens, we frequently sighted birds and rabbits in the verandah.
When we started towards Kattabettu from Coonoor, the auto guy took us through a beautiful stretch of road going through the forest and tea gardens of Nilgiris. The road had scenic views with trees full of spring blossoms, tea gardens spread over the mountains and small Badaga villages en route Kattabettu. As we went closer, there was a kind of smile on our faces, the smile you get when you feel happy with the random choices made, the smile when your plan is looking better than what you expected. The beautiful frames all along the journey made us keep our cameras in pockets and capture what we can with our naked eyes.
There are many moments that teach us something or other when we travel, many times we even learn to unlearn the wrong lessons we lived till that moment. After spending a few hours in Kattabettu, many of the travel plans I had for the next few days completely changed. We decided not to visit any of the Coonoor or Ooty cities while we are there. Our complete focus got shifted to spending time on hill-tops and watching the clouds flowing above us. We walked a total of almost 30kms around the place in every direction and found places more beautiful than what we had on the list for Nilgiris.
I was absolutely in love with the place called Kattabettu, and I am still in love with the memories of that place. It was one of the trips that changed how I traveled after that and how I started looking out for other places in my next journey.
Go for an extra mile! yes! that’s what I made sure when I traveled after the Nilgiris. Whether you are looking for a room with the best view of the place, whether you want to see the place from the top of the highest place around or you want to find your own place for sunsets and sunrises, always go for that extra mile in the journey. Remember, there is more joy in missing out what’s fancy and finding out new things which others never would have found yet. But these things are usually placed an extra file long from where everyone stops the journey.
For those going an extra mile in their journey, remember, there will be beautiful things waiting for you even in the back of beyond your dreams.
The beauty of everything that you do always gets revealed after going that extra mile.