Celebrating Life : Our Team Outing at Vagamon Heights
One fine day, we decided we should organize a weekend getaway with our team at Mindcurv. The discussions lasted for weeks and months. Everyone agreed that it's time for a getaway from our daily chores and away from the city. However, since our project requires a 24x7 support we were finding it difficult to get everyone on board for this trip. Few were concerned about the locations and activities they wanted to do. Different places came again and again as we discussed, few of them wanted a place very close to Cochin since in case of any emergency it would be easier to get back home. Wayanad was one of the places everyone first agreed to. However, since everyone preferred a hill station, calm with great food, with adventure options and not more than 2 to 3 hours away from Cochin. I knew a place where all these options would be checked. Vagamon Heights, Vagamon,I had been there before too with my family. You can read about family & kids adventure at Vagamon heights here @ VAGAMON : A FAMILY ADVENTURE OFF ROAD TRIP. Vagamon Heights is situated amongst 250 acres of farmland that was developed out of an old abandoned plantation. Though the old plantation is retained, the open space has been turned into a tourist destination. Around 100 acre of virgin forest has been retained, which still treasures the exotic flora and fauna as it did probably centuries back.
Around a century back, English introduced tea plantations in Kerala. Once you reach Vagamon the experience is mesmerizing. The air is rich with the fragrance of tea / coffee, and spice plantations. Once you enter Vagamon Heights, we can feel the fresh air and feel the landscape which is left untouched by humans or machines :-) . You can also find flower beds, landscapes with rare plants and trees and two lakes too. They offer special off-road jeep safari experience, cycling, pedal boating, fishing, trekking, etc. Barbeque and campfire are also on offer. Stay is also set across the resort and each one is special. They have very unique names too like The Wind shadows Guest House, The woodside, Woodpecker, Nestling and House of four gables, and they also provide Tent Accommodation options ( tent options have proper restrooms in the vicinity for kids and family ). Each one gives us a different perspective and experience.
Everyone agreed and I called up to book for our team of 14 confirmed members for a weekend. We requested Nestling and House of four gables. All thanks to two members ( Jishnu and Gokuldeep ) of our team who are supporting us from Germany. And the wait for the day began.
Our pleasure trip
On the planned day, we all met near McDonalds Infopark, Kakkanad. We had a quick tea and a small breakfast. Started towards Piravom where we had to pick Sibin, one of our colleagues. We bought snacks and water to take along from Piravom. While on the move again, someone remembered that we had forgotten to take balls for playing cricket. Even though everything is provided at Vagamon Heights, we decided to buy a few more balls, just in case someone hits the ball too far into the woods. At last after walking over to a few stores in Piravom town we managed to find one which sold such balls. We got it and then called up our 14th guy Hafeez, he was going to join us on the way. Let me introduce this cool fellow, he is one who is into bikes and anything which runs fast. We call him ghost rider. Jaison is the one who coined this name for him, as he is afraid to ride with Hafeez, and it has nothing to do with the movie. We started to roll again to Idukki district and we started to feel the sense of nature. The closer we got to Vagamon, we felt the warm hug of nature. We made a few stops in between and we finally reached Vagamon. We assembled and decided to go directly to Vagamon Heights.
Vagamon Heights unfolds
We reached Vagamon Heights, and to our surprise JEEP India was hosting a two day JEEP experience there. The front gate was totally occupied by JEEP employees and we were not able to reach out to the reception. There were JEEPs all over there. A quick call and the Vagamon Heights contact person answered and asked us to wait for them right at the entrance. While waiting there I noticed Abu Abraham, Motographer, was there to cover the JEEP event. He is very good at photographing vehicles, and his instagram handle is @abu.abraham, do follow him and never miss his amazing creations. As he was busy, we decided to meet after we settled down. Ashim, the owner of the resort, was also there helping in organizing the JEEP event. He noticed my Isuzu (definitely because of our last off road experience at Vagamon Heights) and came by to greet and welcome us to the resort. It had been a long time since our last Off Road Adventure, and had a lot to catch up with. We agreed to meet again along with Abu later in the day.
The Vagamon Heights resort manager greeted us at the front gate and gave another route which we could take to reach the resort parking area. We have to leave our cars there and they would pick us from there to our rooms in their 4x4 vehicle. The experience we get from the reception area to the common area and to the room is quite good. With the onset of summer it was humid and the temperature was higher than we expected. However that didn't stop us from playing cricket. Few balls did disappear. Thanks to our new cricket rules, a single bounce catch is out and if the ball disappears, then you will be declared out. However it didn't stop few of us from hitting the balls harder. While few others were relaxing under the trees admiring the beautiful nature and flowers around. Few did play badminton and Darts. In the meantime the third tennis ball too disappeared, and Vijay was last found running down hill along the direction which the ball went. I went downhill to help and pick him up back to the playground. We were not lucky enough to find that ball in the thick bushes. After a few minutes we decided to go back and stop playing anyways. We got our room keys, but was informed that we will have to wait until sometime to get to our room as the resort jeep was busy picking other guests. Meantime, we were invited to have our lunch. Everyone enjoyed the special nadan preparation, it gave us the homely feel. We had meals with veggies and tuna fish curry. After lunch we had a delicious, creamy, rice and milk pudding with cashews and raisins. We call it paal payasam, which is a famous south Indian dessert. Everybody had a smile on their faces, but the wonderful homely lunch made them feel tired and sleepy. A few enjoyed sleeping in the hammock while we got our rooms ready. The resort’s 4x4 was back and took us to our cottage which was close to the lake.
House of Four Gables
Even though the ride was a bit bumpy due to the off road tracks which we had to conquer we enjoyed it. The House of Four Gables is located near the lake. The stay gave us a relaxed and peaceful feeling too, off from the city hustles and bustles, very close to nature. It was about to rain too. We all settled into our rooms and then relaxed for an hour or so. After that we decided to walk to the nearest lake where we could go kayaking and boating. The view was pretty amazing and the cool breeze was energizing. Liphin was all set for kayaking and the rain started. He was quite disappointed as the guards were suggesting not to go while it was raining. We all then decided to take a drive uphill while it was drizzling, as I loved to see the rain and clouds from the top. It's a breathtaking view from the top of that hill, inside the resort itself. Few of them hesitated to come as they said it was a bit risky, yes it was. However I was quite sure about the off road routes and there wasn't any lightning or thunder to be scared off. Liphin, Abhinand, Shrinath, and Deepu jumped in. As we started, the terrain was so rough, and untouched. I switched to Low Drive 4x4. Everyone started to get the feel of being offroad, my Isuzu Dmax started crawling slowly uphill. The pathway was so narrow with rocks and bushes everywhere. It was a bit hard to maneuver tight spots as Isuzu was quite long when compared to Suzuki Gypsy, Mahindra Thar, or a Jeep Compass. That didn't stop us, we crawled slowly. Birds chirping, and the cold breeze, loving every moment we could smell the earth, petrichor. Earthy scent produced when the first rain falls on dry soil made us go crazy woozy and we enjoyed it very well on our drive to the top.
As we were reaching the top view point, we started to see mountains covered in the clouds which were about to rain. However the 360 degree view blew us away, and we were enjoying every bit of it. I wondered, if our humourist Vijay was there he would have started cracking jokes and even singing. Mostly he would have made this moment even better with his quick pranks too. We stood there for a few minutes until one of them said, he needs a hot cup of tea now in this climate. While we moved forward, it was a 30 degree incline, I suppose. We crawled down that hill slowly, at the end there was a small place where we could sit and relax. We all stopped by and admired the view from the top. While we were there, we cracked few jokes and the topic was suddenly switched to film making and movies. This reminded me of movies, which were shot in this resort, few movies like 'Ramante Edenthottam', ‘Ordinary’, etc. As it was getting darker, we decided to move on.
We drove back to the adventure park inside Vagamon Heights resort. They host a lot of activities there, like paintball, ATV ride, rock climbing, trampoline, the zip line over the lake, etc. Last time, when I went, I did enter the adventure area and loved riding the ATV around the offroad track. Unfortunately they were also winding up. We got a call from the reception informing us that our planned off road adventure inside the resort was to be shifted to the next day morning, as the weather was not good enough and if it rains heavily we may need to cancel in between. We confirmed it was totally fine. In the meantime, few of them went boating (pedal boats), in batches and were enjoying it. Gokul was enjoying dipping his feet in the water while others were pedalling hard to take it around the lake. Meanwhile, Deepu and Liphin were talking about the experience we just had and were asking others to definitely go to all the viewpoints. Sibin was enjoying kayaking, handed over the kayak and row to Liphin. The resort guy delivered our evening tea / coffee and snacks (hot banana fry) near the lake so we could enjoy the lake as well as do kayaking and boating. We did spend our evening there enjoying and having a chit chat.
Jomon was not feeling well, he was having a minor cold and fever. As the climate started to shift, and the temperature dropped, we all decided to walk back to the cottage. Everyone got refreshed, and was ready for the campfire and dinner. One of our colleagues, Sibin, has brought his guitar to entertain us during the campfire and dinner. Sibin was well prepared and he was sure that we would request him to sing songs from different genres. And time was flying, we reached the main area where the campfire was organized. Shrinath is good to take initiatives and energize our team to do things. As the campfire started, Shrinath made others gather around the campfire, and started to dance. He encouraged everyone to be part of the dance. And then the floor mood was changing, it was engaging and everyone hit the floor. Jaison was around with his special moves, and others joined immediately. It was such a great time, everyone enjoyed it. Akhil was someone who loved singing, and we never knew. He started to sing songs, especially a few from the classics. Sibin joined with his guitar and the whole crowd went mad. Liphin came up with an idea of singing a female and a male voice together, and he did it well. Meanwhile, our special barbeque was prepared and delivered. Followed by a delicious and hearty dinner.
Meantime, Ashim and Abu came by the reception area. We did catch up, and discussed our previous off road experiences at the resort. Ashim was so excited to see Sibin and my friends playing around with guitar. Ashim did try a few chords and we enjoyed it well. Time flew by. Bid good night to Ashim and Abu and we called it a day. It was almost 11:30 PM IST, we decided to assemble back at our cottage. All were tired, still we spent a few more hours together with all of them, and slowly one by one went to bed.
It was 07:00 AM IST, and the alarms were ringing in every room. We agreed to wake up and be ready for our off road adventure trip at 7:30 AM. Everyone was running around and was ready when the resort jeep arrived. Few of them came with me, and others were in the resort jeep. We drove around different viewpoints, and stopped at the place where the tent accomodation was being provided. We decided, next time we would come to experience that for sure. There next to that was a tree top which everyone of us climbed. It's a nice view from up there too. The tree was huge and steps were made of metal so that you can climb safely to the top. Finally we drove back to the reception area to have our breakfast. As we approached the reception area, we were amused to see two green tents. It was Ashim and Abu who enjoyed staying in the tent near the open playground area. We waved at each other and did catch up before breakfast. Ashim knew that we were interested in the tents, so he invited us for a tent accomodation next time. After sometime, we did bid goodbye and agreed to meet sometime soon.
Everyone had breakfast and went back to the cottage. Packed our bags, and sadly we had to say adieu to Vagamon Heights resort. We all agreed to visit again in the near future. Special thanks to every member of the Vagamon Heights resort for giving us a wonderful stay, great food, very friendly Staff including the Jeep drivers and Cooking Staff.
How to reach Vagamon:
By Road: Erattupetta is the closest town, ~ 25 km from Vagamon. You could easily reach Erattupetta from Kottayam or Kochi. Vagamon, is the ideal holiday destination, is easily accessible by road from Kottayam, Munnar, Kochi and Madurai.
By Train: Kottayam would be the nearest railway station. The Kottayam railway station is located at a distance of 44 km from Vagamon. Frequent trains are available to reach Kottayam from all the major cities of India. As you reach Kottayam, board a taxi to reach Vagamon. You could make use of https://www.irctc.co.in/ to check the connections from your city.
By Air: The nearest airport to reach Vagamon is Cochin International airport that lies at a distance of approximately 110 Km. On reaching the Cochin International airport, one can hire a private taxi to reach the heart of Vagamon. The Cochin International airport receives frequent flight from all the major cities of India and is also well-connected with some of the prominent international cities.
Few places to visit:
- Vagamon Pine Forest - Something for those who love nature, feels like walking through the woods. Reminds me of a song ( പാടം പൂത്തകാലം - padam poothakalam from the Movie Chitram. ).
- Barren Hills or Motta kunnu - It's the Green Meadows which makes us fall in love with this place but the view varies across climate and seasons.
- Kurisumala - A Sacred, calm and pristine place to be.Windy mountains, however you will have to climb a little.
- Thangal Para - a trek up a Spiritual Place. This place is more known among worshipers however you could explore this place.
- Vagamon Meadows Lake - A Gorgeous Lake, peaceful and wonderful views.
- Idukki Dam - A Gorgeous Marvel
- Marmala Waterfall - An Unspoiled Spot, however it's a few kms (~ 40kms ) away from Vagamon.
- Murugan Mala - Is Known For Rock Cut Temple, of Lord Murugan.
Stay around for a few days, and enjoy Vagamon and nearby attractions. You can get a lot of budget stays as well as premium resorts. We do recommend Vagamon Heights. You can get the tariff details from here.
You can read about family & kids adventure at Vagamon heights here @ VAGAMON : A FAMILY ADVENTURE OFF ROAD TRIP.
*All the pictures were taken using Sony A7M3, ZEISS Batis 25mm f/2 lens.
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