A Pilgrimage Along the Kabini River

Published: 28th September 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th September 2014 06:04 AM   |  A+A-

SREEDHARAN.jpgAs we unify global cultures and lifestyles, the most obvious change has been the upsurge of sabbatical inclinations in people. Several countries celebrate success though tourism related endeavours and the world population travels across continents to enjoy, explore and educate themselves. There’s another group who never consider holidays or travel, they argue that consistent, unshakable daily routines make life unassumingly content.

With my guide and companion Sujith Chandran I set out on a revered trip to Wayand. We passed through the scenic city of Mysore, along forest areas around the borders, lush green fertile fields, waterways and small villages. Mealtime was round the corner and we were nosily looking for some exotic eatery in a rural neighbourhood, especially having heard so much about yummy food in this region.

All our ideas were crushed with the crackling sound of tyres hitting stones on a slip road as our KSRTC Volvo halted next to a hideous looking building with a somewhat busy restaurant. Pedestrian food or flavour didn’t surprise us when we glimpsed our driver furtively pocketing a thick envelope from the lady at the cash counter. Still feeling hungry, we continued chatting away happily as our eyes consumed the stunning natural beauty.

food.jpgBig bus left us behind and faded along the forest road and Dr Sanand received us in to his car to Ayurveda Yoga Villa, our destination point that was two hours drive into interior forest. We arrived at the resort in the evening amidst falling darkness and gentle drizzle, a splendid hospitality team received us and took care of us like a family. Like a dream, the entirety here fascinated us, the location, people and food.

It was suppertime when we entered the dining area as part of a guided tour of the property; we had subtly spiced delicious dinner with a small group of European visitors served by one of the two lady chefs. That meal accomplished a huge difference, we walked back to our cottage conversing with wonderful staff who explained activities of that successful health retreat.

Listening to the resonance of the musically flowing Kabini River and a million hissing voices of creatures reverberated in the woods, I slipped nicely into a comfy sleep. The melody of jungle birds and gentle gleam of morning sun wobbled me away from a lovely dream. I woke up with enthusiasm and inquisitiveness to see everything that takes place in this mystical institution, morning yoga, meditation around fire, martial arts and Ayurveda centre.

By the time I was all set and stepped out, Sujith emerged with a luminous smile, he had by now completed the first round of the locale. Our day began with a visit to their organic farm followed by cows’ home and riverbank. We gingerly ran through the monsoon-hit, muddy pathways and directly into the restaurant after the tour, amorously absorbed sweet aroma that filled the air around us.

Before long, shiny brass platters were in front of us full up with beautiful variety of dishes, idlis topped with shredded carrot and accompaniments, combination of five grains including bamboo seeds roasted and pounded with palm sugar, steamed plantain slices with an unusual flavour, glass of fresh milk and a flavoursome herbal drink with generous globules of forest honey. What taste and variety! This was one of the best morning meals in a long time.

Meeting Mr Ravi, a modest cook who influenced many Presidents and PMs with his divine creations, was another incredible fortune on this trip. We had a very thought-provoking conversation with him on thorny and unethical food practices these days in restaurants; he enlightened us on numerous easy methods to make sublime dishes.

A visit to a tribal village was too sweet and enriching, people we met in that community looked a bit bored in their newly-built homes. We could feel a silent rage in their body language, same as we saw in the velocity of the overflowing Kabini River.

The author is a London-based restaurateur who owns the Rasa chain of restaurants

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