Hilltop drives with actress Varada

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Varada’s was a dream start when the actress debuted in Malayalam cinema 12 years ago. Filmgoers first got to see her in 'Vaasthavam' that also made actor Prithviraj’s Balachandran Adiga a cult hero through the 2006 flick. The young Thrissurian, whose original name is Emimol, then went on to shine as the heroine and supporting actress in a string of movies. Equally defining her career, the actress also branched out into television serials; her role as Amala in a popular sop invited major attention of families in Kerala.

Then, Varada had receded a bit from the tinsel field, marrying (co-actor Jishin Mohan) in the summer of 2014 and becoming a mother three years thence. Today, at the age of 30, Varada is making a comeback to Mollywood. The reason, she avers, is the love for acting. But beyond the world of histrionics, Varada has a parallel passion: travel. It’s one subject she would reel out several stories. The actress, who took an acting break and delivered a child, shares with Manorama Online her experiences as a traveller.

“It won’t bother me much where a trip is going to take me. I'm that crazy about travel; I love every moment of it. Nothing can make me happier,” she says. “You go around, tension-free. With people who you like giving you company, seeing sights that literally rush back to the past. I can never forget those trips.”

Honeymoon trip

Varada’s has curtailed her long-distance travels ever since having become a mother (of cute little Jian) early last year. The ones she does today are well planned, unlike the impulsive trips she used to undertake in her salad days. It used to be so even initially after her marriage, when she would, with her husband Jishin, just take out their car and drive it to wherever. Winding back to those times, Varada, when asked, doesn’t require a second thought to answer which has been her fondest trip: “Honeymoon”.

The Kerala couple had fixed Bangalore as their honeymoon city. Ahead of that trip, they got a warm invitation from a family of relatives at Chikmagalur down the foothills of Mullayanagari hills in south-central Karnataka. She had only a sketchy impression of the place, having heard the name randomly. Thus, Varada wasn’t sure if Chikmagalur should be part of the itinerary. “My mind was all about Bangalore, the garden city,” she says. “But then we ended up going to Chikmagalur. That presented us with sights much much more beautiful than we expected.”

For the record, Chikmagalur is known as the birthplace of coffee in India. It’s only on getting to actually see the coffee estates that she knew how beautiful the place could be. Monsoons had just set in, and it would rain frequently. The scent of fresh earth was exhilarating. It gives you a new idea about how each life comes afresh when the earth goes wet. It was a novel pleasure I felt at the cool-climate place, 150 km north of Mangalore, just across the Kerala border and 250 km away from the Karnataka capital of Bangalore.

The whole air in Chikmagalur smelt of coffee flowers. “It has since gifted me the unmistakable impression of the fragrance of love. When coffee seeds get mixed with boiled milk and water, I still relive the memories of my honeymoon days. The decoction there had a special taste, which I relished no end,” Varada trails off. The place also had several vintage temples. Raised in stones and chiselled with masterly hands, each of those shrines was a festival of heavenly architecture. Four such days went off in bliss.

Kulu Manali

Varada has been to hills upcountry before she got married. It was to Kulu and Manali in Himachal Pradesh for the shoot of a film. Varada had just a brief scene to act; that gave her plenty of time to roam around the Himalayan land. Those outings gave her a chance to take in the beauty of the misty air, which is not common in tropical Kerala by the coast.

“I was reminded of the (old Malayalam) song, Swargam thaanirangi vannatho,” she trails off to its opening lines that mean “Is this heaven having descended to earth?”

So enticing were the sights that all in the team forgot to even click photos, she adds. So much for the charm of Kulu-Manali.Down along the Gangetic plains, the famed Taj Mahal along the Yamuna too has captured Varada’s imagination, filling her heart with feeling romance.

Beloved Munnar

Varada enjoys the cool weather in Munnar. She also likes the greenness of the rolling tea plantations there. Together, they keep calling her to this hill station in Idukki. The mornings here are particularly thrilling when it rains and is served with a cup or two of strong tea made out of the leaves around. The actress has lost count of the times she has visited Munnar.

If there is one person Varada knows is more travel-crazy than herself, it is her husband Jishin. “That is why we desire to drive to places when we get a bit of free time,” she reveals. All the same, the arrival of the baby has made the couple careful about the weather conditions in the places they visit. “We have to take special care of the little one’s health.”

All the same, Varada is planning for a long journey. Kashmir has been a long-pending dream. “We are yet to decide whether we should go soon go for that trip with the kid, or leave him with his grandmother,” the actress says with a naughty smirk.

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