In search of the sunflower fields in Sundarapandiapuram
Each journey has its own purpose. But the one behind this was simple, to catch a glimpse of the beautiful sunflower fields and to pose next to them for a few photos. Yes, they were our celebrities for the day. Almost as if knowing this, they seemed to exude a sense of vanity. But we can’t blame them because that’s how beautiful they are, capable of enticing anyone’s attention.
Like any other travel enthusiast, I also like to cash in on my holidays and go on a quick trip. But this one was special in a way. Most of my trips with my friend are impromptu in nature. This time around, we were accompanied by two women on a Honda Activa. Initially, I was worried about how they would catch up with our Royal Enfield. Yet, they surprised me and made me realise the intensity of their desire to travel around the world.
We started out at 6 in the morning in our respective vehicles, carrying our own cameras. The initial plan was to reach Sundarapandiapuram by 9. But much to our dismay, the 12 km Madathara - Thenmala stretch was undergoing road-widening works. I was reminded of the disastrous trip to Thenmala last year as we almost crawled our way there, taking about 45 minutes to cover the distance. On the way, we managed to click some pictures on the banks of the languid Kallada river, which seemed to flow carrying the memories of its majestic past. We resumed our journey after having some chocolates and almonds that we carried with us.
As we entered Tamil Nadu and crossed the forest division, we found the Western Ghats, behind us, shaped like a curved bow. After taking a selfie, we then moved towards Sengottai. On the way, though we got a puncture scare we went ahead with our journey to Sundarapandiapuram, fearing the delay it might cause. There were dry fields on both sides of the road, filled with onions, chillies and corns, prompting me to think that they would have turned the entire village into a garden if they had easy access to water. The roads were empty but roadsides were filled with neem and banyans acting as shade trees.
In Surandai Village, all kinds of vegetables were being cultivated on both sides of the road. Amongst them was the sunflower field. Just the sight of it made us forget the drowsiness caused by the 150 km bike ride. We spent about an hour and half relishing in its beauty. We didn’t know what was next. We remembered that we had not eaten anything till then, making us realise how an intense desire or purpose can make us forget everything else. We went towards Sundarapandiapuram, in search of a hotel and ended up in a way side tea shop, having black tea as we couldn’t find any hotels.
On our way back we decided to visit Sengottai upon the insistence of my friend Ameen. One has to take a right turn 4 km prior to red fort, in order to reach Thirumalai, a temple devoted to lord Muruga. It is believed that salvation can be attained if we seek his blessings, climbing up the 600 stairs situated on top of a hill. After having lunch at Panapoli, we reached Thirumalai at around 2 pm. We couldn’t climb up the stairs due to health reasons, so we reached the hill top via road. We understood why they didn’t have any hotels around when we spotted people eating food they brought from home, on the wayside. After offering our prayers, spending some time on the hill top and enjoying the breeze, we embarked on the return journey.