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"Kodaikanal,” is one of the famous hill stations, situated in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It’s a 5 hours journey from the cotton city, Coimbatore. This magnificent place is situated approximately at 7000ft above sea level, with the enchanting serenity with valleys, waterfall, migrating birds and much more. It’s called the “Princess” of the hill stations.

I am a writer, and my name is Sakshi Pandit. I pen thoughts for a leading travel company; and I often get engrossed between the woods for tranquillity and also to render a booster dose for my creativity in the genre of literature. Hence, I planned a solo trip to Kodaikanal from Coimbatore. I hired a taxi from the Coimbatore airport. When I got into the car, I noticed that people of this city are filled with warmth; their gestures towards strangers are very respectful. I understand few words of Tamil language as my childhood days were spent here, but unfortunately, only for few years due to my father’s transfer; as he worked in the Defence.

I commenced my journey at 6am in the morning by road. I travelled for two hours; finally, I halted at a restaurant for my breakfast. I fed my starving stomach with the staple food of south, ‘Idli, Sambar, and Chutney’ and ended my supper with a cup of steaming hot brewed ‘Filter Coffee.’ After paying the billing amount, the driver drove me to my destination.

An hour later we entered the world of serene beauty, with the cool breeze accompanying me; Though the hair pin bends were a headache, making me feel nausea, but I was fine after inhaling the fragrance of a lime. I encountered the monkeys seated at the pavements; scratching their body and glaring at me. Tall trees welcomed each visitor with their fine enchanting heights; steaming hot Maggie noodles, corn, fried delicacies and tea being served at the road sides, triggering my taste buds to it give a try.

The journey of the hair pin bends, did not stop; it loved making me go wild, as my head whirled on each unusual drive. Finally, I reached my place where I had booked my stay, with rough road making me jump so much, that it helped me digest my food.

“Wild Nest,” was the name of the resort. They welcomed me with a welcome drink and a bouquet. I checked in first, by sharing my Aadhar card photo copy, driving licence photo copy, digitally. A housekeeper assisted me to my cottage. Once he left, I placed my luggage and got refreshed. I made a cup of hot tea for myself with the help of the kettle, sugar packet, milk powder, and tea bags kept for every guest in their respectful rooms; and sat in my balcony which gave the best view of the lush greens which was spread all over the place. The visionary treat had bestowed me a tranquil mind too. The birds were twittering, butterfly fluttering, monkey’s jumping from one branch to the other, was the added bliss. I could encounter a water fall from a distant. The sound of the water fall was the proof of the tranquillity and serenity in the ambience. The visuals of the water falling was like a milk flowing down as if the mother is feeding her child a holy drink.

Soon, the sun had bid adieu for the day; I ordered my dinner early, as driving made my bones tired. I ordered mouth-smacking delicacy, which was Pasta with a glass of wine. I ended my meal with a scope of an ice-cream and laid off to bed.

The next day, I woke up early; had my morning beverage and planned to go for a long walk to cherish the beauty around me. So, I wore my track suit, and put on my Nike hiking shoe and left with my small bag, with a few belongings like: torch, binoculars, phone, water bottle, and an umbrella; as the weather could be unpredictable.

I walked for 30 minutes and halted for a water break. I heard varied sounds of birds chirping, the weather was too much cold, as I was between the laps of the tall trees. I was bitten by a wild insect, but luckily, I had a medicine box with me in my bag. I applied an antiseptic cream and proceeded on my mission- getting lost in the woods with nature being my encyclopaedia. I walked a few miles, when I encountered two routes.

One way, had a narrow route, on my left and the other had a bit broader route on my right. I am an adventurous person, so I preferred moving towards the narrow route. I walked between the bushes, plucked wild flowers, snaped many pictures and landed in an unknown place, where I could encounter some people from a distance. They belonged to mankind species but partially. The men had draped leaves around their waist; and the women and the girl children had draped the dresses made of leaves covering their whole body. They were cooking flesh of a meat on the fire. There were no gas or cylinder, instead, logs of wood and bio waste with which they created the fire and the meat was placed in the mid of the thick stick, getting cooked. There was an elderly lady, who wore a crown on her head, and her dress was made of the flowers. From her personality, she seems to be the leader of the tribal family. I hid behind a tall tree, to stay away from their vision. I was not able to watch the activities carried by the people, so I took out my binoculars from my bag.

To my surprise, I had encountered an unusual ritual which was taking place at one end, which I could not understand. I also noticed that all the ladies and the girl children were bald; and then my eye fell on a teenage girl whose hair was being tonsured. The girl cried silently, depicting that the ceremony was carried out against her wish. I recorded all the incidents on my phone and left the place at once.

I reached my cottage safely. I got refreshed and proceeded towards the reception to speak to the manager, but the manager was busy. I had my evening snacks and tea; and requested the receptionist to give a word to the manager that I wanted to meet him, ASAP! After an hour the manager visited me in the cafeteria, while I was busy sipping on my tea and reading my book.

“Good evening, mam! How can I help you?” he said.

“Oh…. Mr. Roy! Good evening! I want to show you something.” I greeted him while playing the video on my phone.

The manager was dumbstruck on seeing the video. He informed me that I had landed to the most dangerous place which the locals avoid.

“Mam, why did you go there? This place is the most dangerous one. If anyone from the tribals had encountered you, you wouldn’t have returned,” said the manager anxiously.

“Is it? Ok, I will not. But what’s this function about?” I asked in curiosity.

“Mam, this ritual are tribal’s myth. You would have noticed that, all the women including the girl children were bald; it’s their belief that if the females are bald, their tribal community will flourish, making their God happy.”

“What!” I burst out laughing, as I really felt that myth had been misunderstood with the word, ‘blind belief.’

The manager requested me not to spread this video in the social media, as it would create a ruckus in everyone’s life. I deleted the video immediately, to render assurance to the manager. But on my way back, to my home, I kept solving the maze in my mind between the myth and the blind belief; as the urban people would consider it as a blind belief, but on the contrary, the tribals worshiped their God, by sacrificing their happiness, in the name of myth.

I reached my place and penned an article in my blog entitled, “Myth or A Blind Belief” where I narrated the incident with a few edits in the name of the place, and a few more to hide the identity. I also penned a thought to my audience that - If Blind belief is taken as Myth and being followed then there wouldn’t be progress or development in the society; and asked them to comment their response in the comment section. To my surprise the majority of the response was an anti- blind faith category. Myth shouldn’t be misunderstood with blind faith commented few, and some messaged that Myth should not be misused to punish any living creatures. Thus, my awareness program to enlighten my society was successful. Though, I couldn’t stop the incident what I had encountered but was able to bring this incident as an insightful article in the minds of million.

The next day, at my office, I updated the information about the beauty of the Kodaikanal hills in my travel company’s blog; places to visit during the stay; tagged the resort’s name “Wild Nest” as the best stay and food and my best experience between the woods and the activities carried forward during my stay, but my personal experience was a secret, and wasn't shared with the travellers of my company.

Pratima Raj

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