Sunday, March 29, 2015

Reminiscing Val Vil Ori Ultra - Getting to Nalla Thambi Resorts

Reminiscing Val Vil Ori Ultra - Getting to Nalla Thambi Resorts

As Krishna and team get ready for the second edition of Val Vil Ori ultra, I cannot not think about the first edition in which I participated.  The buzz around second edition kind of kindled me to do a few posts on the ultra.  Here is the second installment (Link to first post here). (They may be running as I click post button).

Like this year, Val Vil Ori Ultra started and ended at Nalla Thambi resorts.  It is a small resort on top, where the time moves slowly and employees of the resort move slower.

We took a train from Chennai to Salem and from there a car to Kolli Hills.  There are buses from Salem, but they are sparse and one may have to switch buses to get to Kolli Hills.

We took a brief pit stop at Rasipuram market enroute to Kolli Hills.  Not sure if it was a weekly or daily market, but the place was packed.  It was happening right on the main drag was hard to miss.  Farmers from the surrounding area were selling their farm and poultry produce.  Interestingly, the prices were comparable to what you would pay in Chennai.  Here is small video clip of the market scene.

This photo was taken near the entrance to Kolli Hills.  The climb up to top has about 70 'hairpin bends' as the road winds its way to the top which is about 22kms. Our initial plan for the Ultra was to run down till the arch and run back, but after some discussions that we partially changed it to run halfway down, climb up and a loop to Arapaleeswarar temple.  Here is a short video clip of the gateway to Kolli Hills.

Kolli Hills is still fairly untouched by commercial tourism and the accommodation options are limited.  Nalla Thambi Resort is one of the decent ones.  It has about 25 rooms and a restaurant.  But be prepared for things to move slowly.  From getting the room keys to food serving everything took time and at times tested our patience.. But then, there is no hurry, just sit back, relax and soak in on hills beauty.  Nalla Thambi is surrounded by thick vegetation and the greenery was a feast to our eyes if not to our stomach.

Nalla Thambi's only restaurant is in the open air and perhaps that's the way it ought to be.   They fare is limited but fair enough for vegetarians.  We chatted, chatted and chatted while waiting to be served.  While waiting, Krishna converted the restaurant to a mini Ultra expo and distributed our bibs.

With Bibs in hand, we are ready to run..

Val Vil Ori Ultra - Photo Collection

Friday, March 27, 2015

Reminiscing Val Vil Ori Ultra - Who is Val Vil Ori (வல் வில் ஓரி) ?

As Krishna and team get ready for the second edition of Val Vil Ori ultra, I cannot not think about the first edition in which I participated.  The buzz around second edition kind of kindled me to do couple of posts on the ultra.  Here is the first installment with the second one planned for tomorrow.

I signed up for Val Vil Ori ultra mainly as a precursor practice run for Comrades.  But the trip to Kolli hills was lot more than just about the run.  I got to enjoy the pristine forests and catch up a little bit on our rich history.  For starters with some basic knowledge who is Val Vil Ori?

For long, I didn't quite understand the name of the ultra and was actually was pronouncing it incorrectly.   I knew it was Tamil name, but didn't know the history or how to say it properly when all I saw was written in English. (yeah I right, I blame it on English..!!!).

So, I went digging and got to know a little bit about the famous 200 CE king.  Here is what I found..

According to wikepedia,  Ori (ஓரி) was a popular king in the Kolli hills region during 200 CE.  He was an excellent archer, hence the name Val Vil Ori (வல் வில் ஓரி - வில் வித்தையில் வல்லவன்).  His valour and archery are part of the folklore and he is said to have killed lion, bear and boar all with a single arrow.  He was also praised as one of the seven great philanthropists of ancient Tamil land.  He also built the famous temple in the region.

King Ori said to have built Arapaleswarar temple around 200 CE.  According to the legend, Siva ling of this temple was actually found by a farmer ploughing his land.  This temple is purported to have a secret passageway (tunnel) to another Siva temple in Rasipuram about 50 km away.  Just near the temple is Agaya Gangai falls.

 But, to get to the falls, one has to buy a ticket and walk down several steep steps.  We didn't venture down last year, but I do encourage runners to take time to go down and enjoy the falls.  A shower in the falls is supposedly very invigorating as the water runs forest herbs and they do good to your body and mind.

Paradoxically, Val Vil Ori is both revered and shunned. He is revered for his valour and philanthropic activities but shunned because of the belief that any association of any kind with his name brings bad luck.

There is statue of him in Kolli hills and Tamil Government even conducts a festival in his name every year.  But TN leaders shy away attending the function and even if some attend, refuse to garland his statue.

Val Vil Ori Ultra - Photo Collection

Next Post - Getting to Nalla Thambi Resorts

Monday, March 23, 2015

சென்னையின் மனிதர்கள் #13 - எங்கெல்பெர்க்

சென்னையின் மனிதர்கள் #13 - எங்கெல்பெர்க் (27)  

இடம் - ஆழ்வார்பேட்டை  / தொழில் - டெலி சேல்ஸ் (Tele Sales)

"எனக்கு முணு வயசுல ஜுரம் வந்தது.. அப்பலேந்து கொஞ்ச கொஞ்சமா கண் பார்வை போயிடுத்து.  நான் BA (English) படிச்சிருக்கேன், இப்ப டெலி சேல்ஸ் வேலை செய்றேன்.. ஒரு நாளைக்கு குறைஞ்சது 100 கால் செய்யனும்." 

ps: I see Engelberg at the Eldams Road, TTK Road intersection often.  He will be making his way against the unrelenting one way traffic on TTK Road around 9:00 AM.  Today, seeing him, I asked him to stop, parked my scooter, took his hand to walk him through the heavy oncoming traffic.  On earlier occasions, I used to walk with him only for about 100 meters till the left turn.  Engelberg used to stop me there and would walk on his own.  I assumed he worked in a place in that street.

But today, he revealed that his place of work is actually in Abhiramapuram third street and he chooses the side streets to avoid traffic.  He also told me the specific landmarks we have to pass to get to his office. (Sriram Nagar, Coconut vendor, Police Station, Narrow Lane.. )

I got talking to him and got to know a little bit about him.  That, his name is Engelberg and he commutes to work from Villivakkam.  He takes bus in the morning and takes train back home in the evening.  He leaves home at 7:30 AM to be in the office by 9:30 AM.  He leaves work at 5:30 PM and reaches home by 8:00 PM.

All thru 10 minutes of our walk together, I found Engelberg, cheery and upbeat.  Never once did he 'complain' about anything.

Thank You Engelberg for allowing me to walk with you, you made my day cheerful.. 

Tags - #HumansOfChennai, #Chennai

Thursday, March 19, 2015

சென்னையின் மனிதர்கள் #12

சென்னையின் மனிதர்கள் #12 - செந்தில்நாதன்(51)  

இடம் - எக்மோர்  / தொழில் - உபெர்(Uber) டிரைவர்

"முன்னாடி நான் கடவுள் இல்லைன்னு சொல்லிண்டு திரிஞ்சேன்  .. இப்ப கடவுள் இல்லாமல் இல்லவே இல்லைன்னு சொல்லறேன்.. முக்காவாசி திவ்யஷேத்ரம் போயிட்டேன்.. " 

Tags - #HumansOfChennai, #Chennai