Monday, August 21, 2006

a trek to wilderness...

There are some things in life that you wouldn’t ever want to forget in your slightest of dreams. I also have one latest addition to my list of un-forgetful memories. Not because it was an awesome trip to a place which I never had visited earlier, but because of the hospitality of the people who were our hosts on those two days and due to the serene nature that refreshed my mind and body on those days. I had fresh air and lots of new friends.

I went to the wilderness of our God’s own country, to the beauty called Kollangode and Parambikulam – a few hours from Palakkad, Kerala’s Rice Bowl on the last weekend of July 2006.

All were setup by Abhi and his friends and I and PP were just to join the gang. Trip, stay and food were all arranged Ajith, Vipin and his brother Nipin and behind them where Vipin and Nipin’s father and mom.


We (I, Abhi and PP) assembled at the Dairy Circle KSRTC bus stop in Bangalore and waited for the bus. We were joined by Vipin and Vinod who were not known to me before. I got introduced to them and another guy called Sarath, who is Vinod’s colleague. It was strange; we all were meeting for the first time except Vinod and Abhi, who were classmates. The bus came an hour late, and we soon settled into our own seats. Abhi was cracking jokes, Vinod busy selling the extra ticket we had to a ‘girl’ and things soon settled in and we had a tough ride ahead and bad roads. At Krishna Giri we had our dinner, in the form of Thick Porottas and Egg Curry. It was HORRIBLE. I almost had an upset tummy.


It was early dawn when we reached Palakkad KSRTC Bus Stand. We were joined by a small gang from Chennai – Binoy, Sumod and Lajiraj. The dawn so beautiful. I never had a chance to see the dawn with my camera, and I didn’t waste any time clicking a few. After a morning tea, Vipin guided us to his house. The half an hour journey to Kollangode was refreshing and thrilling due to the bus. From Rajahamsa to a local Kerala private bus I was a big change. The one like moving from a PG to a bigger rented house. That journey provided me everything. Rains and early morning cold winds to refresh my mind and soul from hectic time I had the days before (I moved in with Abhi and PP a day before). I could also see the place where Ravi, the protagonist in O.V Vijayan’s Khasakhinte Ithihasam, got down to walk up to Khasak.

At Kollangode Vipin’s father came and picked us in his Jeep. That ride reminded me about the numerous jeep rides I had from my house to my father’s house in Vadakara. Jeep Taxi’s are one good mode of transportation in Vadakara and I always enjoyed them, especially hanging behind.

And as we reached his place, boy it was beauty all over. I haven’t scene nature at its best any where else. A small, but spacious house on the road side, with paddy fields behind it touching almost the horizon. And in the back drop the Sahyadri’s guarding you from almost anything. With those small and big waterfalls adorning her, she looked like a princess with the diamond necklaces around her neck. That was awesome and on the road in the rain, a two bullock carts passed against the back drop of those hills. It was really nice atmosphere.

After a good tea made by Vipin’s mom we were off to the Ambalakkulam (Temple Pond) which was a kilometer away from his house and oh boy the water was so cold and the place was so divine and peaceful. I took a few pics and then jumped into the pond. Even though I don’t know swimming, I am good enough to have an effect of swimming by pseudo swimming. That means I will hold my hands on the steps of the pond and move my legs :) .. Great isn’t it !!.. The bath was so refreshing and it was followed by a rain. Luckily we could enter into the Oottupura and watch the rain and the hills in the backdrop. The temple elephant and the mahout were there with us for a company. When rain stopped we started walking back, enjoying the scenery around and through the rain lashed road, I felt I am back to my school days. The people were looking at me like something from the another world, with a big camera bag and walking through the water streams, they might have felt .. Evidunnu Vanneda Yevan. On our way back, we met Ajith, Nipin and Retina who came by 10 AM bus. After a sumptuous breakfast that includes Idli and Sambhar we were off to Parambikulam that was 2 to 3 hours drive from Kollangode. Vipin’s father had already made the arrangements for the van and that guy was on time, but we left by quarter past 12 only.

In the initial part of the journey I slept and woke up only when we reached the Tamilnadu Border. Interesting part of the forest is that, even though it is in Keral, to enter it we have to go through Tamilnadu there by paying tax for them for seeing our forest. But after all we are all Indians right? At Kerala Check post it was raining and from there Saravanan, a Kerala Forest Dept Official came as guide with us.
They are trained to show us all around the Forest and tt is the department’s duty to provide a guide to accompany every visitor who comes to Parambikulam. So guys who go next time, make sure you have a vacant seat for him.

The ride after that was full of enthusiasm and interest as we could spot any wild animals any time and luck bought us a wild elephant group. As I sat on the wrong side of the van I couldn’t get any close up views. We spotted a few deer also. We had our lunch at around 4PM on the way near the lake side. Vipin’s Mom had packed us rice, Sambhar and chicken curry and that was great. I ate around four small plates of rice, which Pophabhi might say is not a big thing. I have become an eating specialist (aka akkranthan) these days. Hmmm.

We reached the main forest office area at 5 in the evening. Hard luck turned out as we missed the Erumadam (Hut on Roof Tops) by an hour. The Erumadam is a bit far away from the main land and one has to travel one and half our in the boat to the island and that too with food and water. There the food can be cooked after collecting fire wood. It would have been one hell of adventure in the wilderness. Stay on the trees for a night. Huh and we missed it since we were late, it would be even late by the time we reached there and it is not at all encouraged to reach there late.

So we wandered around, went to a small Tunnel Project and then came back and ordered the food. We also went out for a walk in the night. With a good road and ample lighting it was easy to walk but the atmosphere had the sounds of crickets. That irritating sound of the wild night.

After a good chappathi-chicken curry dinner, we retired into our lodge which was big spacious 3 bedroom house. The Bison Valley Lodge. Me, Abhi, PP, Ajith and Laji sat and talked philosophy in night. The philosophy of Oolans.


We had already planned for a trek the day before with the Guide. We had chosen the ‘soft’ trek from the various treks that were offered. It cost us Rs 50/- per head. The trek was 7 km long and will start from the base forest camp and reach the Kannimara Teak, which is considered to be the oldest teak in Asia.

The start of the trek was boring as we mostly walked through the tarred road, but a kilometer into it we were truly surrounded by jungle with us following the way the Safari Jeeps used to go. That was our only direction, and that was the needed one. A few minutes into the walk we saw bison’s and deer at a distance. There was also an Earumaadam setup on the walkway. We all got a better view of it from there. We then walked, walked and walked and kept waking with only the sound of crickets, the bites of leeches and the wilderness of the evergreen rain forests in company. It was tough, but it was exciting – following the trail. The three hour long trek came to an end at the Kannimara Teak. By that time our van reached there. Some of us went and had a wash at the near by river and then we were back to the base station.

We missed the boat ride there as the boats were already gone for a ride with some people. So we decided to have the breakfast and push it off from Parambikulam. The breakfast was dosa, idli, chutney and fish fry. And after some time the hoteliers ran out of dosa and informed us with a great difficulty that the whole of the Dosa Mix is now finished. And after that at around 11 we bid adieu to Parambikulam, before making it possible to visit the Parambikulam Dam.
The Dam was awesome, with wonderful scenery behind.

Next target was Seetharkkundu a place close to Kollangode. It’s a small area where water falls from the high Sahyadri’s and have formed a pool with a small waterfall. It is believed that Seetha, wife of Lord Rama, had taken a dip here during their Vanavasa. To reach Seetharkkundu we had to walk for 15 minutes from the place where our van could go.

That walk was like we were walking into the mountains as we were going towards the mountains just below it. We could see numerous small waterfalls at the distance.

And finally we reached Seetharkkundu. The bath in Seetharkkundu was very refreshing. The water was so cold and it took some time for me to get into the water. Till that time I was capturing the beauty and the boyz. Ajith almost drowned and PP had a fall, but still we were enjoying. We had some fun for around 45 minutes there and then pushed off to Chinganchira.

Chinganchira is a place near to Kollangode where there are lots of big banyan trees and there is a temple also here which is inside a banyan tree. Couples who doesn’t have a kid, come here and offer wooden cradles to the deity. These cradles are then hung on the tree. When we were there, there was a group of people who had finished their offerings and returning back. It was here the few scenes from the film Kaliyattam was shot. We returned from there soon and at Kollangode had a great evening snacks (we didn’t have lunch) at a local thattukada. People had Porottas, Beef, Chicken, Egg and an occasional Biriyani and good high tea. Yea Snacks they were !! And our stomachs were full, we were happy. Because we are happy when we have a sumptuous food isn’t it ?

Finally we reached Vipin and Nipin’s house. By that time the sun was setting and the paddy fields behind were giving a great treat to the eye, with colors of red, orange, blue and grayish black all playing their roles in giving us he perfect blend of nature. It was just amazing. We had our usual photo posing and enjoyed the evening out there on the bunds that separated the paddy fields. It was a once in a life time feeling that I was having.

And then the Chennai Kings were getting ready to go. They left soon and after that we visited Vipin’s paternal house which was a bit far from his house. Had another round of eateries there, with achchappams and neyyappams again filling our stomachs.

We came back and while we were getting ready Vipin’s mom packed us the dinner. God only knew where we are going to fill it. We took the last bus to Palakkad. Got down and got another bus to Olavakkode Junction, from where we were to board the Yeshwantpur Express to Bangalore.

It was just that break we all needed after a lot of idle weekends in Bangalore. Some where far from the city, where there is no one to bother you, no pollution, no traffic, no telephone network. Just you own your own. It was a nice time me, PP and Abhi had since it happened just before Abhi going out of his comfort zone. It was a time that we could be altogether just to crack our jokes and enjoy even though we missed a few of them.

This trip definitely is going to be with me for such a long time. And we may keep visiting that place, may be on our birds. Because that place offers you a lot, a lot that even you cannot think off and you will just end up sitting admiring its beauty.

And that’s why we call her “God’s Own Country.”

PS: I was yearning for a break and a trip all these days, and ever since this trip I have been travelling all the weekends to K-Gudi, Mysore, Home and recently Kochin and Kollam. And thats why this post was late.

PPS: All pictures (c) Dhanush Gopinath 2006 :)


pophabhi said...

Really da Dhanu - This has been so well written. It actually took me back to that wonderful trip. If a place can make you think to gather the money you have and buy some land where you can peacefully spend your weekends at, then its Palakkad. The greenery, the background, the air we breath....Everything has a tinge of fresh nostaglia, memories...I hope to dwell there..sometime...We all will..alleda?

Seema said...

Almost saw the place through your amazing pictures n narration !
The paddy fields n those manmade paths in the midst of lush greens, the waterfalls with the back-drop of mountains leaves me with wishes of just wanting to be THERE !
Almost got me planning at pre -pre-retirement heheee...
Next time around if you dont mind intruders into yr group on such a wilderness trip...i promise to be good!!!
Just re-affirms one more time - ENCHANTING n MESMERIZING WONDERS OF NATURE !
PS - Those cricket sounds on nights in wilderness is somethin i love to hear though !

silverine said...

I am so envious!!! The place looks like heaven!!! Really great pictures too.

Lekshmi said...

Dhanush, beautiful post. It was like travelling through all those beautiful places, except that I could not have all those sumptous breakfasts, lunch, and dinners.

I think you should avoid writing foody stuff considering a 'Theetta pranthi' like me.

Jiby said...

man...this was amazing...what beautful pictures you have snapped...i am just back from a travelling and thought i had enough...but reading your blog has snapped something in me again. wonderful...just wonderful!

myself said...

Dhanush,you actually took me through all the locations. Your writing is so vivid and catchy. Truly amazing. I'll be visiting B'lore and kerala soon. Hope I run into you and i can take a few tips on putting down experiences so well.

Dhanush | ധനുഷ് said...

#abhi - Thanks da. mm venom, ennittu bird il aa valavokke thirinju marinju keri.. padangalkidayiloode.. ho...kidilamaayirikkum alle ...
#alexis - Thanks Alexis. Surely we had.
#seema- Thanks. You are most welcome, if you can bear our "chalus". Beware these chalus are not what you can imagine.
#cna-mani - Thanks da.
#silverine - I dont know if you have ever visited heaven ;) . But that was place was amazing. Thanks.
#lekshmi - -Thanks yaar. Foody stuff is hard to avoid, because it is for that ppl like me live :). So sorry :)
#jiby - Pictures came up good coz the nature was at her best. I have just clicked them with the correct meters. I saw abt you travels in the blog. So having "Bharatha Paryadanam" instead of civil services eh ?
#kavya - Thanks girl. I am not sure if you can run to abhi because he is back in his hometown. His chalus had reached a high limit, that we had to packhi bags and sent him off recently. Now he is Out of his comfort zone.

silverine said...

You asked for directions to V'kanni. It is Salem, Trichy, Thanjavur, Nagpattinnam and Vailankanni. The roads are good like all TN Roads. You will have to ask for the by pass to V'kanni from Trichy or the drive will be too long. In fact take the bypass in Salem and Trichy too to make the drive shorter. People are helpful and will show you the bypass.You could Google for more info.

yetanother.softwarejunk said...

Machane Kollam...thakarthu alle!!!

>>>All pictures (c) Dhanush Gopinath 2006 :)
Objection your owner. I'll copy, edit, paste whatever and wherever I want ;-)
ninakkathil abhimaanikkameda!!!:-)

Dhanush | ധനുഷ് said...

~silverine - Thanks a lot.
~joju - I am missing you in the sphere. Neeyenganum athu cheyyu.. Ammachiyaane.. Njan Onnum cheyyilla !!

Krishnan said...

orikkal njanum valithavaum, chettane pole brittania milk bikis thanne thinnum

Suji said...

Boo boo boo........i want to go to all these places. :( Lucky you! I am jealous.
Great photographs and vivid write up.

Laji said...

Can u please let me know, who is that "Lajiraj" you mentioned in your blog. I thought I am the only Lajiraj alive.


Pradeep said...

i love the pics....makes me wnt to go bak to kerala :)

click awayyy...cheers

Kusum said...

That was a good narration. Reading your trip experience got all my memories back ...

I had been to Silent Valley, Munnar, Pakshipathalam near Thirunelli, Bramhagiri and so on ... for hiking. Most of the times we had dinner in one of the small dhabhas on the way to these places. I remember one thought which makes me laugh even now.

After finishing dinner in one dhabha my stomach was making several types of noises. I was really feeling restless and sat on a bench there. I saw some cowdung splattered nearby. In that uneasiness of suffering stomach-ache a thought passed my mind ... "may be that cow too had malabaar parotha and tomato masala in this dhabha" :)

Good pics ...