What’s it like to walk on a pathway flanked by trees of varying stages of growth? It’s like walking down the aisle, just not as binding in the end.
That’s how it was when we walked down the Periyar Tiger Reserve. It’s a part of Thekkady’s 1388 sq.ft of forest cover which has about 900 sq.ft of wildlife.
But the reserve has only about 40 surviving tigers. Pity, huh?
There’s also the Periyar lake inside the forest. It’s one of the largest tourist attractions in Thekkady with full boating schedules at all times.
We took the untrodden path; we skipped the boats and drove through the forest. We weren’t allowed to stop for sightseeing or photographing anywhere on the way. And beyond a certain point, vehicles aren’t allowed, and we walked the rest of the way to the lake.
It was about 300 metres to the lake, and it was the best walk I had ever had. It had rained the previous day, and most plants retained moisture. So the air wasn’t too dry, but it wasn’t too wet either. A chilly breeze rustled through the trees, and the sun made a valiant attempt to peek through dense cover. It was the perfect scene for a perfect walk.
Not to mention the large jackfruits hanging from looming heights, and much smaller fruits strewn on the path, some fresh and some decaying. I could see the real meaning of beauty beyond ugliness.
We walked on, and I stopped here and there to peer at moss or leer at odd-shaped branches weighing ten times more than I.
Looking at it all, I understood how wrong it is to restrain trees to a single colour. Every stage of a tree is a different green, and when all of those shades hurl at you, all at once, you know quiz books got it wrong saying humans comprehend limited colours.
I felt puny, staring at the bigness of everything around me. I was immaterial in a world of beauty and natural calm. And the best part of this walk: There were no other tourists in the vicinity.
We reached the lake. I hadn’t even dreamt of such a sight anywhere in India. I hadn’t known that Kerala hid so much beauty. I have gawked at scenes like that in Hollywood movies. Even local film directors fly all the way to Europe and Greenland and Iceland for scenes like this. If they’d only walk into our very own backwaters, instead.
There was an information centre near the lake, and we went inside for a vantage lake view. We stood there for a while, looking at boats hitting docks, trees grazing the skies while blue waters lapped their roots.
I closed my eyes to capture the image in my head. And out of nowhere, something as hard as rocks fell on the asbestos roof. Along with fresh air came a whiff of ripe jackfruit. The next moment, monkeys came running about us, racing for the scattered fruits.
And I realised monkeys are better companions than people.