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Down South with Nagesh Kukunoor: Ford India - National Geographic Episode Round-Up


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I personally love exploring places for writing about them - but prefer doing so without too many preconceived ideas and notions. It is best to allow places to unfold for themselves, and bring with them the many surprises in store.

And when Nagesh Kukunoor decided to undertake a road journey down south in India with the same line of thinking, I knew I was with the right kind of a traveller. I got to travel with Nagesh when he was shooting for the MyEndeavour alterrain series being produced by Ford India and the National Geographic channel; he was on a personal quest to complete an unfinished road trip he had undertaken in 1995, and seek out any possible settings and stories for his future films.

Nagesh Kukunoor, the filmmaker and actor, has highly acclaimed movies like Hyderabad Blues, Iqbal and Dor to his credit. He chose to drive the Ford Endeavour alterrain edition ( from Munnar in Kerala to Coorg in Karnataka via Palakkad in Kerala and Coonoor in Tamil Nadu. And what a journey it turned out to be. We drove through a highly varied landscape - mountains, tea estates, rough roads, forests, water bodies - we covered it all.

Of course, you may have seen it all on the National Geographic channel in India on June 30, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. Did you watch the show? Whether you did or not, join me on the journey from another vantage point - through images.

You can also view more images at You can also catch a glimpse of what awaits on YouTube at

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Down South with Nagesh Kukunoor: Ford India - National Geographic Episode Round-Up

  1. 1. Down South with Nagesh Kukunoor THE EPISODE ROUND-UP The show was telecast on June 30, 2013 at 7:00 p.m., India Standard Time All photographs and text by Ajay Jain / Sunday 30 June 13
  2. 2. The journey started in the dark on a rough, dirt track in Munnar in Kerala - we just checked into our tents and treehouses with hardly an inkling of our surroundings. Sunday 30 June 13
  3. 3. And what a glorious sunrise served as a wake-up call for us - giving the valleys of Munnar a glow Sunday 30 June 13
  4. 4. Nagesh Kukunoor in a pensive mood - thinking about the agenda for the day Sunday 30 June 13
  5. 5. The landscape of the camp we stayed in Munnar - the building in the woods is the dining area. Great setting for a meal, right? Sunday 30 June 13
  6. 6. Nagesh and a part of the team got to stay in these beautiful tree houses. Jealous? Sunday 30 June 13
  7. 7. A treehouse can barely be called one till you don’t have a real tree growing through it   Sunday 30 June 13
  8. 8. Who are these people? No, they are not starry-eyed hopefuls waiting for an audition with Nagesh; they are the workers in the tea gardens of Munnar - they have taken a tea break themselves. Sunday 30 June 13
  9. 9. Hold your breath! What do you think of these tea gardens in Munnar? Sunday 30 June 13
  10. 10. When in spice country, Nagesh could not go back without exploring the spice plantations. And with local expert and buddy like George Abraham, Nagesh sure came back enlightened. Sunday 30 June 13
  11. 11. A worker at the spice plantations. He not only acts as a caretaker, but also watches out for elephants who often cross from here - without even ringing the bell and seeking permission to come into a private estate. Sunday 30 June 13
  12. 12. Check out the best quality spices in the world - all ready to be sent to the market in these bags. No, Nagesh did not pick these. But he sure used some of these to prepare a meal on a cliff. Sunday 30 June 13
  13. 13. Where has Nagesh brought the car? To a traditional homestay in Palakkad in Kerala with its own mango orchards and boasting a wonderful building going back generations. Sunday 30 June 13
  14. 14. What are these ladies doing? Preparing mango pickle in the homestay in Palakkad; courtyards like these are a common feature in houses down south.   Sunday 30 June 13
  15. 15. The ingredients that went into the making of the mango pickle for Nagesh Sunday 30 June 13
  16. 16. After yet another drive in the dark, we reached Coonoor in Tamil Nadu - and this is where some of us stayed. Sunday 30 June 13
  17. 17. And here is a higher view of the place we stayed in Coonoor - are you packing your bags to rush to Coonoor yourself? Sunday 30 June 13
  18. 18. Where is Nagesh now? At the Acres Wild Farm - run by noted filmmaker Mansoor Khan and his wife Tina. Besides other things, they make their own cheese here - and prepared some afresh with Nagesh. After many hours in the kitchen, they all took a break for a well deserved treat. Sunday 30 June 13
  19. 19. That’s the Ford Endeavour alterrain edition driving out of Mansoor Khan’s property, and heading to Coorg in Karnataka; that would make it the third state for us within four days. Sunday 30 June 13
  20. 20. Good morning Coorg - we all fell in love with the landscape here Sunday 30 June 13
  21. 21. Nagesh, the protagonist of the show, decided to go behind the camera himself for a change in Coorg; and he sure enjoyed taking pictures himself. Sunday 30 June 13
  22. 22.   There was no water in Nagesh’s hotel in Coorg so he decided to book an elephant shower for himself. I am kidding. He took a Coracle ride at the Dubare Elephant Camp - only to be drenched by these playful animals. Sunday 30 June 13
  23. 23. There can be no endings without a feast. Nagesh got invited to the home of the Coorgs, known as the warriors of the region. Traditionally, they have sent many a soldier and an officer to the armed forces. But they also know how to live life to the full - including preparing exotic dishes as seen here. Sunday 30 June 13
  24. 24. That’s the Coorg family who hosted Nagesh and also took him around coffee plantations in the area. Check out their traditional dresses brought out on occasions like these. A fitting end to Nagesh’s journey. Sunday 30 June 13