Of Mountains, Beaches, and Stars!

An architect by profession and a traveller by passion, Raveena Aitharaju feels like she’s been living her life on wheels. “I grew up moving around a lot. I’ve studied in eight different schools and lived in three different cities. As a result, I’ve experienced various cultures and developed a taste for exploring and learning about new places!”

At this time of year, who doesn’t want to visit a few hill stations? She went on a road trip to Wayanad, Calicut, Chikmagalur, and Mullayanagiri. Raveena and her group of friends had planned their trip perfectly, but little did they know that they were in for some adventure!

The road trip started with Wayanad in Kerala, where they explored the streets and met with the locals to get a feel for the essence of the place. They then went to the town of Sultan Bathery and visited the ancient Bathery Jain Temple and the Wayanad Heritage Museum. “We followed a road into a forest, just to be close to nature. On our way, however, we came across a wild elephant!” Raveena recalls. “The locals were trying to tackle it and asked us to turn off our engines and keep silent. It was thrilling to watch that huge, unpredictable animal run around so close to us. It was dangerous but I can’t deny the adrenaline rush!”

The group stayed a little longer at Wayanad and then went on to Calicut to watch the sunset on the beach and set off on their way. However, what they weren’t prepared for were the narrow ghat roads with hairpin bends. The journey took them much longer than expected and as they were racing against time, they found themselves caught at a signal while the sun was setting. “We took a deep breath as we watched that huge, red sun set before us. We realised what it means when people say that sometimes the journey can be more beautiful than the destination,” Raveena tells us. “We ended up spending that evening at the beach, though, before we headed to our next destination. Through dense forests with absolutely no light but our own headlights and the sound of wild animals everytime we listened too keenly, we had a horrific, yet an exhilarating journey that night!”

Having reached Chikmagalur, the group had planned on trekking the Kuduremukha mountain range, but unfortunately it was closed to due to weather. “We were quite disheartened when the sudden changes in climate did not allow us to complete the trek. However, we climbed three hills and went for a even better trek to Mullayanagiri.” She explains, “It’s the highest peak in Karnataka and while we were at the top, just absorbing the breath-taking views, there was a short spell of cool rain that made the moment that much more beautiful!”

The group stayed at a forest homestay in the outskirts, “The beauty of nature enveloped us, and I could honestly just laze around all day on those hammocks tied between trees and admire the beauty that surrounded us!” she goes on. “On the last night of our trip, we set out at 10 pm to the middle of a field in the estate, and on the count of three, turned off all our torches and looked up. Oh, the view! The most beautiful skies I’ve ever seen, with stars that seemed so close!”

The group just lay there on the rocks for hours, stargazing as they talked in low voices and tried to find all the constellations they knew. “The entire trip was overwhelming and very close to my heart,” Raveena concluded.

 –   as told to Tanya