Cascade

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One of many . Igatpuri , Maharashtra .

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Malshej Ghat

Spent three quiet days away from the city . A mountain pass in the Western ghats , Malshej is nestled in the rugged Sahyadri ,130 km away from Mumbai. Known for its waterfalls  and mist , there’s more to the ghats . A few pictures from my early morning walks .

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Emerald lake , Ooty

The closest I might ever get to the Emerald city in the Wizard of OZ – the emerald lake , Ooty !

In the silent valley surrounded by tea gardens , emerald lake is another pristine place in the Nilgiris. It is an extension  of the Avalanche lake , I was told .

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This is as close as we could get. The access to the lake had been shut for a few days owing to some maintenance work near the dam.

A glimpse of Toda architecture – Ooty

The Toda tribe of the Nilgiris in South India is a pastoral community . With dwindling numbers , modernization and the loss of land , they have received attention and the Toda lands are now declared a part of the UNESCO world heritage site.

The Todas live in munds in uniquely shaped huts called dogles. These huts are built with bamboo , cane and rattan and thatched with dry grass . They have really small doors , about 3 feet and members have to crawl inside the hut. These small entrances serve as protection from wild animals and extreme weather .

The Buffalo is considered sacred and the temples have art form on the exterior walls that pay obeisance to the sacred animal . Women are not allowed even within the compound of the temple and I understood how fiercely they protect their customs and traditions when I visited the Toda village near Stepehen’s church in Ooty. The Toda lady was very apprehensive of me going anywhere near the temple and kept telling the driver to tell me that I must not touch even the compound wall.

There is a model Toda temple built  right at the top of the Botanical garden , a little outside one of its rusted and almost falling apart turnstile gates. There is only one sign board to indicate that something like this exists and no directions so you’re left to find it yourself. On the day that I visited , there must have been thousands of people in the garden but not a soul on the way to the Toda temple and I almost gave up finding it . A government officer on the way to a construction site near the Toda temple showed me the way and was kind of enough to accompany me to the top . Once on top , it felt like another world .

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Model Hut in the Toda Village – Botanical garden

 

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Wall art adorning the exteriors . The art above the little entrance resembles a buffalo head
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Close up of the thatched roof
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The really small entrance
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closer look at the arch

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A couple of smooth boulders outside the Toda hut caught my attention . Since there was no one there to explain the significance , nor was there any board with information about the same , I read it up online and found out these are used by men to prove their strength at the time of wooing women for marriage.  Interesting !

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Stones in front of the temple for the show of strength
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Toda village near St Stephen church
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Am not sure what that little thatched hut in the background is used for
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This , I was told , is a modern day home of a Toda family , built in the shapeof dogel . It was just outside the Toda village

I wish there was more information about their lifestyle and culture available near the model village, however , am happy I got a glimpse of this beautiful and rustic architecture.