It was five months back in September that I went to Bonacaud after my expedition at Vazhvanthol water falls. The trip was along with Syam. After visiting the falls we had a ride to Bonacaud. Though it is not open for all, we were allowed as we took prior permission from the forest office earlier. The ride was pleasant and adventurous through the thickets of Thodayar forest range. The road ends at the picket station in Bonacaud. Bonacaud was one among the most famous tea plantations in Kerala at the time of British. The British started the tea factory but during all these years Bonacaud has turned out into a ruin and a ghost place. As the tea factory got closed the people here now don’t have any job and so many of the natives have migrated to other places. Yet some of them who have no other place to go had to stay back as a living remaining of flourished society years ago. Almost 140 people are there in Bonacaud now. The abandoned houses, hospitals, tea factory, amenities center etc give a ghostly effect to Bonacaud now.
Apart from the history there were some other things which grabbed my attention there and that was the high hills which created a tall wall around the place. Bonacaud was actually in the base of many hills and is the base of Agasthya hills which is the 10th highest peak of Kerala. The famous pilgrim trek of Agasthyarkoodam starts from the base of Bonacaud. On the very sight of them I have decided that I need to explore these hills. Some of the places where in Permission is granted were in my top priority list. So when I got a week end free at Trivandrum I planned for a trek in Bonacaud area along with Rahul. It is my third event with him after Bison valley and Pambadumshola trek. Rahul being into this part for many treks earlier was able to make all arrangements without any hassles. Ajith also was supposed to come with me for the trek but due to illness he had to withdraw at the last moment.
Thus on a Saturday Morning I started from home in my bike to Bonacaud. On the way I picked up Rahul also from his place. There were a group of youngsters joining us, who work in Techno park, for the trek. We made it to Vithura and stopped for food and waited till the others join. Everyone finished their brain food and packed lunch. By 10 we reached Bonacaud and met with our guide Rajendran. It took another 45 minutes for us to start the trek. Starting a trek at 11 am of the day was a crime according to me but had to jell with the team.
Our first destination was the Kurishumala which is one of the prominent hills around the area after Agasthyarkoodam and Pandipathu. The trek started with a small trail down the hills from where we parked our vehicle and gradually it went uphill attaining some height. After the initial plantation covers we entered into the forest area. The upper cover was not enough to give us a shade and after some time the trail continued as a grass land and we had to take a direct hit from the Sun.
Though It was not a tedious trek things were not easy as the Sun was on its best and juiced all of us within no time. The hill which we climbed was somewhat a grass land with rocky patches but with no covers. As we climbed up the heat become unbearable and some of the team members were not feeling good enough to continue. We had to slow down eventually.
By 1 Pm we made it to the top of the peak but could barely withstand the heat. Went to the top view point and had some fabulous views of the Peppara dam reservoir, Ponmudi hills, Varayattumotta etc. There was one more view point on the left side. To get to that view point we need to get down a little bit to the edge of the hill. We will reach the tip of the peak with a vertical fall of at least 300 feet. Only few of us went to that edge while others waited on the top. Everyone literally wanted to get down from the burning Sun. Without spending much time at the top we went down and reached the base of the hill in another one hour.
Our next destination was the abandoned Bungalow made by the British. The Bungalow was supposedly made in 1897 for the British people to stay. The Bungalow is in a very picturesque location and is situated at a vantage point. All the valley and plantation can be seen from this place and all the roads which connect Bonacaud to the outer world is watchable from this vantage point. The only thing they would have missed is the view of the Peppara dam which was built after their period. I have read about this lovely place earlier also but could come and see this only now. The ruined building stood still as a monument of the glory of those days. Even after 120 years this building out called the expertise of making such a structure inside the thickets during the old times. The walls of the building were all written and painted with bad words and names who have invaded here thereafter. I don’t ever understand what satisfaction people get writing their names and bad words on the walls of such a historic monument. People are crazy and do crazy things. We had our lunch here and we deliberately tried not to leave anything behind.
It was 2.30 by then and it was not likely to call it a day though we have completed the tasks in mind. With almost 4 hours left to Sun down we planned to explore an old trail which was used by the British people and the residents of Bonacaud to go to kallar (a place near the valley of Ponmudi Hills) to get essentials. Geographically Kallar is approximately 15-20 km from Bonacaud by road but residents of Bonacaud took this route in the early days to reach Kallar to get essentials as it was only a 2-3 hour walk through dense forest. It is said to be a horse riding path for the British also to reach Kallar to take a short cut to Ponmudi hills where they camped during the early Nineties. Now days no one use this path and it remains a path unexplored. I came to know from Rahul that there is a beautiful water falls in this route called Suryakanthi but it is something which we cannot reach with half a day left. If we reach there also it won’t be possible to come back before sun set. So our plans were to cover maximum distance through the trail and return back before the light goes down.
The trail was inside dense forest. We could feel the vibrations of wild life every now and then. We spotted lion tailed macaque and Malabar giant squirrel in some distance and there were visible presence of Elephants, bears, fox, porcupine and all. We took the trail for almost one and a half hour and by 4 pm we reached fairly inside the trail. The woods were getting denser and light was coming down. Without any second thoughts we returned back to the open covers as we were sure that it won’t be a good idea to continue further. The Suryakanthi falls was still far ahead and I kept it for another day.
By 5.30 we reached back to the roads and took a dip in a rivulet which eventually washed away all the fatigue of the day. Came back to Bonacaud town and had a tea from Rajendran’s so called tea shop. It was time to bid good bye to all and Sun was coming down. The setting sun gave us a fabulous view from the top hills and bidding good bye to our guide and Bonacaud we started the return trip.
By 8 I reached back to home dropping Rahul at his place. Bonacaud is a wonderful land far away from the busy roads and pollution. The serene atmosphere is worth enough to spend a day or two. There are immense possibilities for trekking and Birding. As both are an area of interest for me I had to come back here to explore more. Now that I have plenty of reasons to come back Like Suryakanthi falls, Bona falls, Pandipathu, Agasthyarkoodam. Penning down for now till I go back to Bonacaud with a new plan.
For arranging trekking similar treks in Bonacaud please contact Rakesh @ 9745112411