It is a lovely clear morning when I set off for Mannavannur Lake. I am grateful for this. I love mist but it can make for a soggy picnic. The lake is charming, I’ve heard, removed from the bustling crowds and serene. Our first stop is Kundar Falls, a place where water bubbles up at ground level to form what is known as ‘Neptune’s Pool’. The car stops on the main road and I make my way into the forest on foot. There is the familiar hush of trees and then the growing awareness of animal sounds. I turn a bend and on the ground, a host of blue and yellow butterflies pose, flapping their wings gently. Deeper, the trees grow wild. Rains have felled some of them and they lie in my path like sleeping giants. The pool is overhung with pine branches and leaves, glinting in the meagre sunlight. There is nobody else.
I sit here for a while. It is faintly overwhelming to find such quiet so close to civilisation. On my way back, the butterflies are in the same spot, as if waiting to be photographed. After this, the drive reveals other beckoning spots. Some of the pine forests in these parts have been marked as official tourist spots but for every such, there is another grove a little further that is deserted, magical. The road winds up to where we can stop for panoramic views of Poomparai village. It looks sleepy from afar but the neat farms of onions and carrots are a patchwork quilt, proof that people here work hard and long.