This is the second Diwali in a row that i havent been ‘home’. Last year it was Pondicherry, this year it was at a place called Wild Valley Farm.

With Cognizant declaring a holiday on Thursday for Diwali( instead of Friday) we decided to make the most of a ‘long’ weekend by going to Wild Valley farm.

Wild valley farm is actually a farm run by Daniel(the owner/manager) literally in the wild, 220 kms from Bangalore near the Sathyamangalam forests.

Spread over almost 80 acres of forest land in the middle of nowhere with No cellphone signals, no emails, no electricity (atleast in our tents), its a great place to detoxify…from work πŸ™‚

And we had good fun doing absolutely nothing for 2 days( Am not so sure about Vijay and his car πŸ˜‰ )

We left Bangalore on Friday morning at about 8:30…the orignal plan was to leave at 7:00 but…what is a vacation if your plans dont go out of schedule.

Traffic was bad as usual in Bangalore but it was smooth sailing once we hit the Mysore highway…Stopped at Cafe Coffee Day on the way for breakfast after 2 hours…

The road was good till Maddur but started deteorirating after that and the ride was quite bumpy till Kollegal…However, the green vistas along the way more than made up for the bad roads….

After Kollegal, we turned off the highway and thats when the fun began. The ‘Real’ india started off in earnest, and at times we only had gravel flattened with mud to call a road. In short, it was as typical as rural India can get with one notable exception.

The locals actually smiled. On more than one occassion when we stopped to ask for directions, the locals actually smiled in earnest before flagging us off in the right direction. Caroline was pleasantly surprised( what with having travelled almost all over india encountering all sorts of Indians)

Our first point of reference after getting off the highway was OderyaPalya. Its a tibetan settlement from where, Wild Valley farm was approximately 10 kms away. Its a beautiful place with mountains towering in the back ground and rolling fields of ragi in the valley. On spotting the monasteries, we were actually wondering how the hell did the Tibetans find this place to
build a monastery.

After almost 5 hours in the car, we were starting to get restless when we reached the Karnataka border checkpost. The road significantly improved once we entered Tamil Nadu and surprisingly stayed that way till we reach WVF( It ofcourse triggerd a debate about how things are better in TN than in Karnataka)…

Anyways, after 6 long hours in the car,we were beginning to wonder if it was worth it coming this far to ‘Light a fire’ ( as one of friends put it when we told him about the bonfire that we built at WVF )

But it was totally worth it when we reached the farm πŸ™‚ The ducks ‘greeted’ us loudly when we parked the car, but apart from that, the serenity and greenery of the place was instantly calming…yes, we temporarily forgot our back aches.

After a quick wash, we finally had lunch at 3:00 pm. I somehow had the impression that since we were at a very remote farm, we would be eating organic food. However, the chicken wasnt reared on the farm and half the stuff wasnt even grown on the farm(save the tomatoes and carrots)..Also, its amazing to what corners of our country, pesticides have reached πŸ™

Having had only 3 hours of sleep the previous night, Caro promptly went off to nap. I had also had only 3 hours of sleep but i wanted to catch the sunset (for some reason i thought the sunset here would also be special..haha ) so off the rest of us went to explore and find a Sunset point.

While we did not exactly find a sunset point, we did find a point on the farms boundary wall from where we could watch the sun set…it did seem like a fried egg but thats besides the point…

After that, it was a wait of another couple of hours before it got dark and we started the bonfire…The helpers on the farm used kerosene to kickstart the fire …Vijay took on after that to keep the fire burning steadly till late in the night…

Since it started to get slightly chilly, we got the beers and rum out…Daniel joined us for a while and told us jungle stories…we wanted to get scared but i guess Hollywood has done a good job of taking the sense of adventure away from our lives :((

Last call for dinner was at 9:30 and we got another ‘tasty’ dose of inorganic fare…the best part was the fruit salad with pieces of dates thrown in…never tasted better…

After dinner, it was back to some more star gazing and pondering over questions like, “What is the purpose of your existence?”…also by this time, mist had fallen over the grass so it was nice and cool and the bonfire was nice and toasty…

Didnt feel like budging and heading to our ‘cold’ tents but exhaustion finally won and we all crashed by around 11:00…i woke up in the middle of the night thinking i had heard a tiger roar, but it was only somebody snoring in one of the tents…so much of adventure, though i did sleep most of the time like a baby….

Next morning, after a late breakfast and some minor explorations around the tree house, we headed off to Bangalore.

On the way back, we stopped at the monastery in Oderya palya. Compared to the ones i had seen in Bhutan, this one was very small and not very well maintained, so we decided to skip the others and head back home…

Surprisingly, the drive seemed shorter on the way back. I also realised the potential of internet on our mobile phones and how they are going to play a very significant part in the near future…However, i still could not check my mail…on my phone the GPRS wasnt working, on another the GPRS was working but the browser did not support Frames…and on the third
phone, where the GPRS worked and the browser supported Frames, my company’s mail server was down…haha..so much for technology πŸ™‚

Finally reached Bangalore at 7:30 pm, bone weary and dog tired, but mentally refreshed and ready to hit office on Monday…On hindsight, we realised that it was a good idea to come back on Saturday so we could ‘heal’ on Sunday…which is exactly what i did…

Overall, a very nice place to go for the weekend…trying going in a group of 4-6 good friends without any set agenda…and

yes, dont take any cards / games with you…Will be a nice change to discover the increasingly lost art of conversations with friends.

For more information, check out www.wildvalleyfarm.com

For pictures, check out http://picasaweb.google.com/abhikprasad/wildvalleyfarm