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Hide 'n' seek

Catching a perfect sunset takes a lot of luck. You have to be at the right place at the right time

PHOTO: ANAND SANKAR

GRAND FINALE As the sun sank lower in a deeper shade of red, it appeared as if a glowing fruit was falling off, slowly, from one of the branches of the tree

There is something magical about sunrises and sunsets. Though they are a daily phenomenon, what makes them special is the fact that no two sunsets or sunrises are ever similar on any day or at any place. It is not anything supernatural but has to do with the composition of the air and the clouds in the atmosphere.

Among sunrises and sunset, the one that is very difficult to observe is the perfect sunset. More often than not the low-lying clouds will obscure the final part of the sunset when the sun disappears into the horizon as a bright vermilion disk.

So once while travelling through a small town called Saragur near Mysore, I was told that the sunsets from a plateau above the town are spectacular. Forests and the towering Western Ghats ring the town situated near the backwaters of the Kabini Reservoir. But as luck would have it in the middle of summer, grey clouds showed up from nowhere and by afternoon it was raining hard.

Just luck

By four p.m. I had lost all hope of watching the sunset. Then all of a sudden, a strip of sky parallel to the ground on the western horizon opened up. The sun was still behind the clouds but it was enough to light the strip a golden yellow. I quickly hopped on my bike to head to higher ground to get an uncluttered view.

I reached the plateau but still there was lots of time left for sunset. But as the sun sank lower, it started silhouetting the rain that was falling at a distance on the Western Ghats. The mountains were painted golden by the sun even as the black and grey waves of rain drenched them.

While I was busy clicking photographs of the distant rain, I noticed an audience of two: local villagers. Finally one of them couldn't take it anymore and asked: "Enu photo tegitha idhira?"

I replied that I was shooting the rain and waiting for the sunset. They watched me for some more time and finally ventured: "You will get a much better view if you go further up the road."

And one of them offered to come with me on my bike and show me the place. But halfway there the cunning fellow told me to stop, got off before what was clearly his house, and asked me to go for a couple of kilometres more with a warning: "Don't stay there after dark. Rogue elephants cross there. Just last week someone was trampled."

I reached the spot on top of a small hill and just as I parked my bike, the sun dropped down from the grey clouds. The scene was surreal. The sky was grey from the eastern horizon and suddenly stopped just short of meeting the western horizon, leaving a small strip for the sun to finish its show.

I started furiously clicking photographs with a lone tree providing an ideal prop to shoot the golden orb with. As the sun sank lower, in a deeper shade of red, it appeared as if a glowing fruit was falling off, slowly, from one of the branches of the tree.

Lost in watching the sunset, I didn't notice that it was getting pretty dark where I was standing, and just at that moment when the sun was at its lowest my luck ran out and the heavens opened up. It initially began as a steady drizzle but soon it was a torrent. I had to pack up and move fast. As I rode slowly back to the town, I saw the sun sink by fractions into the horizon. And just as it was about disappear fully, a last act of defiance, a brilliant rainbow.

TRAVEL TIPS

Saragur is about 47 kilometres from Mysore. Take the road to H.D. Kote and turn left at Handpost. Then 12 kilometres from Handpost to Saragur. The roads right through this stretch are absolutely awful. At some points, it is just gravel. To watch sunsets you have to go beyond Saragur town. One vantage point is the plateau above the town. To get there keep going for about five kilometres after the Sri Vivekananda Hospital. The other option is to go to Nugu Dam, which is about eight kilometres from Saragur. Both the plateau and Nugu Dam provide some awesome backdrops for sunsets.

Don't travel on these roads after dark, as attacks by elephants are frequent. Good accommodation and food can be found only at Mysore.

ANAND SANKAR

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