God's own colours

Posted on: 24 Jan 2010

Text&Photos: C.C. Dilip

The beautiful valley of kunjithanni, which is a down town, hardly 30 kms from Munnar is famous for colorful flowers, green pastures and lovely meadows. Travelling is my passion and I travel a lot in and around kerala, in search of a new world filled with wonderful colors of joy and happiness. I setout to kunchithanny with my four friends in the pleasant morning of 25th January 09. At the out set I could see the beautiful lilies and roses that spread around and the air is filled with the fragrance of the flowers.

I could see the blue mountains at a distance, with numerous waterfalls, milky streams flowing between the mountains like a big serpent.. Its really a heaven for the people who love nature. This land is indeed blessed with colors and joys .Green pastures, colorful flowers, beautiful temples, big dams etc are the attraction of this place and there are so many other exciting places, a travel bug would really love to travel. City has its wonderful climate as it is hemmed in by mountains on three sides.

The average temp remains around 20-300C throughout the year. Though it's not a big city, one can spend a whole day in this land without getting bored. The climate is very cool and ideal for the cultivation of different species of spices. Indeed it's a fascinating place. From dawn to dusk, we enjoyed and we were put up at a home stay that night.Erumadam built of bamboo was the main attraction.

Next morning before sunrise we set off to thekkady (Periyar wild life sanctuary) located near kumaly. (100 kms from kunchithanny). We could reach thekkadi in two hours since the condition of the road was good. The greenery on the road side was amazing; journey from kunchithanny to thekkady was really incredible. Kumaly other wise known as spice town is the gate way to thekkady. The place is an important spice trade and shopping center. Thekkady one of the world's most fascinating natural wild life reserves which is famous for breathtaking scenery and trekking place is hardly four km away from kumaly. Slight drizzling at the wee hours of morning made us uncomfortable.

Thekkady is the only sanctuary in India where one can have unique experience of viewing wild animals at close quarters from the safety of a boat on the lake. The Artificaial Lake is sandwithched between the mountains on three sides, and the lake was formed by the mullaperiyar dam across the Periyar River. The one and half hour boat cruise through Periyar Lake was exciting. There were seven boats on the lake ready for the cruise. Ours was Jalaraj operated by kerala tourism department. We boarded into the boat and made our self comfortable by occupying the side seat of the boat. Out side at the shore, still tourists were pouring in heavily to the site.

Almost all the boats were fully packed with tourists and there were more than 60 tourists in our boat. The boat started moving, both young as well as aged people were curiously waiting to see the wild animals roaming around the green meadows of the shore. The mist in the air, fragrance of flowers, the serene and tranquil ambiance of the nature really adds charm to our journey. I have never seen such a beautiful place like thekkady in my life. As we moved on, the first animal sited on the shore was flocks of wild pigs. Not that much far from these pigs, we could see a glimpse of the socks bison (wild buffalo) grazing at the meadows.

Our close proximity made them feel messy and went off into the bushes shrugging their head. It was really fabulous to see these socks bison, (looks like buffalo wearing socks on their legs.) tourist at the upper as well as lower deck of the boat seemed to be excited and thrilled. The calmness that prevails and the tranquility that spreads in and out, really helps to unwind ones tension and adds up the joy and happiness. Next on the scene were wild dogs (nirnaya). Couple of nirnayas were enjoying their bath, in the fine and pleasant morning. Seeing our boat getting closer to them, many escaped to their burrows. Tourists were busy taking snaps of the wild animals, scenic beauty and the birds that flew around. Boating in the reservoir was an unforgettable experience.

We were unfortunate as we missed out the elephants. The spot is surrounded by the evergreen forest and trekking trail. We can walk through the jungles for 3hours, for this special permission is required and they charge 100 rupees per person. Thekkady is one of the must see place on Gods own country. From kumaly, we went ahead to idukki dam, worlds second and Asia's first arch dam, constructed across the kuravan and kurathi hills. Due to security reasons, most time the entry into the dam is restricted. Arch dam is unique in its construction style; photography too is restricted on the dam premises. The dam is open for tourist with special permission during festival season and holidays. The area is known for the cultivation of spices, like Elam, Vanilla, Grambu etc in large amount.

The locals mainly depend on farming to earn their living. Panoramic views of peaks, forest and beautiful scenery makes idukki a splendid tourist spot. In between, we made a visit to Ramakalmedu, 42 kms from idukki, a local sight seeing place with abundant rolling grass hillocks and sloping meadows sandwithched between the border of tamilnadu and kerala. From the top one can have an aerial view of neighboring places. The cool mountain air and the kuravan and kurathi statue were the main attraction at the top.

We were thrilled and excited seeing thee panoramic view of the picturesque villages of cumbum and theni ( tamilnadu.)Village on the eastern slope of the western ghats. We spent some time at the top, eating, drinking, passing crude comments and merry making. Ramakalmedu is an excellent place for mountain climbers, but due to frequent visit of tourists, the mountain is in bad shape today and remains partially polluted. We came down to the area where our vehicle has been parked. The incessant flow of tourists to spot continued….. till dark. We were put up at idukki in a home stay, that night, totally exhausted, fell to bed, expecting good dreams to come by…..

Early morning next day, we set out to Marayoor, which is a local village and enroute to idukki. Marayoor is a natural sandal wood forest with enchanting panoramic view and the place is famous for jaggery production in its unique style from sugar cane. There were so many check posts on the way since it lies between kerala and Tamilnadu border. The area is well protected since it's a sandal reserve and unknowingly we trespassed into the forest and the forest guards fined us for the same. It was an embarrassing experience in my life because we have heard almost all sorts of abuses from the adivasi guards. Then after we made a visit to kanthallor, a local village to explore. Many corners of the land seems to be untouched and is famous for caves ( muniyara) with murals and relics of new stonage civilization.

Since it was jan 26th we celebrated the republic day with local village school boys and posed in different angles with the students for photo shoot. We felt proud, even in the remote corners, people celebrating the republic day, the day of freedom with great enthusiasm. The place is a famous shooting spot. My friend driving the car for past two days was upset with his stomachache. Infact it was a tough journey through the risky and bent roads. My self, & my friends, took rest for some time.

After enjoying the unique experience of village life, we headed back down to Trichur, via Thodupuzha to explore the wilderness of Athirapallly and Vazachal. By evening we reached Athirapally, a beautiful picnic spot 35 km from Trichur town. There were so many scenic spot in and around Athirapally, but the main attraction was the view of excellent waterfalls through the steep mountains. The area is enriched with the scenic beauty of western mountain region and lush green forests. Trip to this splendid water falls was an unforgettable experience. The place is ideal for trekking and rock climbing, but deadly dangerous too.

Water falls has taken 40 lives so far. We spent some time at Athirapally , took enough and more snaps and finally we had a stroll exploring new places. From there we went ahead to vazachal (panorama of water falls through rolling hills). Vazachal is hardly few kms from athirapally and this is the place where one can see the chain of water falls, surrounded by thick ever green forest. Vazachal is an excellent water fall cascades down in different steps/layers of rocks.

The journey through hill land was really wonderful and incredible, infact its land which would make come back again and again….. the scenic beauty, the mouthwatering recipes of hillside villagers, the authentic taste of homemade food made by one of my friend's mother especially for us, to name a few, mango mappas,egg thoran etc are still lingering in our taste buds ….. on the whole the hill side village is a heaven of tranquility.