A Road Trip to Ilaveezhapoonchira and Vagamon
It has been quite some time I have been hearing about this place Ilaveezhapoonchira. A small hillock place in Idukki district near Thodupuzha. It is only 4 km away from Melukavu in Kottayam district where the film “Kadaparayumbol” was shot. It is about 20 km from Thodupuzha along Moolamattom road. Enroute Moolamattom we have to take a deviation from Kanjar Junction. From Kanjar junction it is nearly 9 km to the top.
From my previous reading about this place it has been a less explored remote place with such serenity that any hiker would love to take the road at least once in their life. From the description and photos I have gathered from the internet source I also felt it is a good choice to make.
( View Enroute the top point)
Thus having nothing to do on a Sunday I decided to scale up Ilaveezhapoonchira. As it is only nearly 100 kms from Cochin it was planned to cover by bike and it has been a while since I have hit the road. The last one was to thommankuthu near thodupuzha where in my colleague also was there. It was an awesome journey and we had some good time inside the scary forest of thommankuthu and a wonderful dip in the chilling water of the thommankuthu falls
Though was planning to leave very early in the morning by 5 I could make it only by 6. There were two choices of route one was to take the Aluva Perumbavoor route and the second was to take the Kolenchery – Moovattupuzha route. As I have already taken the first route in the last trip to thodupuzha I decided to try the second one. At first there was a confusion in the route but once I hit the SH it was all ok for me. I rode slow and steady enjoying the ride. Though it was early in the morning there was no chilling wind or mist in the Moovattupuzha thodupuzha stretch as it used to be. The summer season was having its effect on that too.
By eight I reached thodupuzha junction and I wanted to have breakfast from there as I was not sure about the availability of good hotel in the Thodupuzha Kanjar road. Most of the hotels were closed and finally I managed to find one near to the Moolamattom road. I had idly and chutney. The cuisine was not commendable but was ok type. I had some bread, bananas and some energy bars with me hence avoided packing food for the noon. I bought 2 liters of water from the same hotel and again started cruising to my destination.
In another half an hour I reached Kanjar junction and the board pointing to Ilaveezhapoonchira was very visible on the road side itself. I have noticed this on my last trip to Thommankuthu also. From this deviation it is 9 kms to the top of the hill where in it was supposed to be 5km motorable road (tarred one) and rest should be taken only by foot or in Jeep four wheel drive as per the descriptions in the net. But to my surprise after 5 km also I felt like continuing in the bike itself as I felt like I could manage it. The road is not in good condition and was curvy. There were some hairpin model curves and one should take care of steep curves if riding themselves. I have covered almost 7 km now but was there was no sign of an only four wheel drive road there. I took a sharp curve to the right and the scene in front was really scary. Just in one second the road turned out to be night mare for riders. The road was big but was very humpy and there were lot of rocks and mud on the way and I even wondered how a Jeep could cover such a path. Even at one point of time I thought it was some kind of a land slide or something. I was thinking to go back and park the bike in the last house in have seen on the way and shall walk from there. But something inside pushed me to go little more forward. After hardly 50 mtrs which I covered in almost 5-10 mins I bike was howling in pain but surprisingly I found a little house on the right side where I could park the bike. There was a lady there and I have asked for permission to do so which she accepted with joy.
( From this point we have to walk or Jeep)
( I wonder how Jeep make this. Kudos to hanuman gear)
After parking the bike I stared walking up though the road. It was hardly just another warm up as I didn’t felt much strain to go through. I would have walked another 20-25 mins and then I could see the top of the hill. I was very disappointed as I was expecting some good landscape and all but there was absolutely nothing. Another 15 minutes I could make it to the top and I saw the Govt guest house and another structure wherein I could see two persons working on something. The view from this side was little more convincing as I could see a lot of hill ranges along the right side. I tried figuring out and naming some of them but not sure I was correct.
(Hill ranges seen from top point)
I straight away went to those men and they were so friendly in nature. They offered water and I took a soda lime with salt which was so refreshing after a walk in the hot sun. I read there was no electricity atop the hill but was misled. It has been three years since electricity has been there. The wondered how old were the article I read on net.
I could see a tall peak to the right side and Ravi chettan and George chettan told me that it is the top most point and from the top of it you can have a superb view of the surroundings and Malankara dam on the valley. I decided moving up. It was literally hot by that time and in spite of the altitude there was no pleasant wind also. The sun was really sucking the juice of me. I was sweating heavily.
But after getting to the top I was feeling really happy as the views were simply superb. I could see the whole of Malankara dam reservoir and beautiful range of hills in almost 180 degree.
(Malankara dam reservoir from top)
The police wireless station was atop the hill and there were two officers there. Unknowingly I have entered the restricted area but they have told me very pleasantly.
Spend around half an hour there and took some pictures. Had some snacks and decided to scale down as it was very hot. There were two small hills on the other side of the guest house which I wanted to scale But there was no definite route to that place and I have to cover a lot of Shola forest in the valley. The mount was so rocky also hence I decided not to venture it as it would be a risk not worth taking alone. Moving down to the plain ground I saw many plastic bottles dumbed on the way. I had a big polythene cover with me so I picked up what all I could on my way. When I reached down my polythene cover was full and I dumbed the same in the use me. People as very less concerned about preserving the nature but are very keen in taking the benefit out of it.
I came back to the normal ground where Ravi chettan and George chettan were working. I asked them about the Muni guha which was another place to visit in Ilaveezhapoonchira. They said we need to get down the hill through the back side of the guest house for around 2 kms. I decided to try that. I went to the back side of the guest house where I could see three trails going down. I was confused which one to take. At last took the more prominent trail though the other two were moving down in parallel lines in a distance of 50 mtrs. I almost covered 1 km through that trail but it came narrowed and all of a sudden after a rock boulder the trail disappeared I searched for the other two trails which came parallel to my trail but was not found anywhere near. It was a bad idea to go without a trail and I had no idea about the location of Muni guha as well. So decided to turn back. It was only when I returned I saw the vast hills area I have covered and there was not even a single human around for at least 1.5 km radius. The sun was burning like anything and I moved fast to reach back to the top. In another 45 minute I reached back to the top. Sat around for a little while and decided to go back. At 10.30 am I said good bye to Ilaveezhapoonchira and started walking down reaching my bike in another 15 mins as the scale down was easier. They were good people and asked me whether I need water. There was a kid there I gave some chocolates which I was carrying to him.
Rode down 7 kms and I reached Kanjar junction again and I looked around for a smoke. But it was not a shop caught my eyes but a yellow board with black letters. “Vagamon – 22 Km”. I was surprised to see the board as I was never thinking Vagamon is nowhere near to me. Though geographically both the hills are near the only way I knew was via Eerattupetta which is at least 50 kms from where I stood. No matter what I wanted to go hit the road. Though there would be nothing much to see in Vagamon in this hot summer I decided to have a ride as it was only 11 am and too early to return home.
In no time I was cruising through the new route. The road was newly tarred and good to see. For the first 4 km there were only rubber plantation on the right side and deep valley on left side. But i was gaining a lot of height as I moved along. It was like a typical Idukki road and I thought I shouldn’t have done this. But after four kms the geography completely changed and I was riding through the most beautiful road I have ever travelled both the sides were covered with hills as far as my eyes could see.
( lovely curves)
It was the days best decision to take this road or else I could have missed this wonderful stretch of 22 km. Later on I came to know that this road is made motorable just a few years back till then it was just a muddy path through the mountains. I have enjoyed the whole stretch like anything. Almost 12 kms it was like that and after that I started to see tea plantations and understood that I am nearing Vagamon.
( hills hills everywhere)
In one hour I reached Vagamon and had my lunch there. Had a few calls and by 1 pm I started to turn back. On the way back from pullikanam I saw two roads one was through which I came to Vagamon and the other was to Moolamattom. I asked some local people how is the road and all they said road is good but take this road only if your bike has good break and is in good condition.
I knew the road would be steep as it is only 10 kms to Moolamattom which is 5 Km from Kanjar. So the 22 kms I travelled plus 5 km total 27 km distance am going to cover only in 10 km. obviously I expected the road to be steep. I was still under the log of mesmerizing beauty of the Kanjar Vagamon road and I kept appreciating myself for taking the wright decision to opt that. Soon things turned out to be a nightmare for me. I was expecting a steep road but what I experienced was beyond my expectation At some point of time it was almost a 70 degree steep and there were so many hair pin bends. There was nothing on the way but steep rock on the left side and deep valley on the right. Even in second gear my Bike was howling like anything and I feared I could really make it. Couldn’t even take photos as I could not park my bike in stand due to the steep roads. I just wanted to reach the plains road asap. Not even a single fellow rider I saw during the stretch. If something happens there no one will come to know for at least a fatal delay of time. I could hear my heart beats clearly for some time. To make things worst I saw some people trying to take a car out of the deep valley which went out of control the previous day. But it was a relief also to see some people. From them I came to know that very few people take this road to decent and even locals doesn’t take this route in the evening or night. Luckily the people inside the car miraculously escaped the crash.
( You can see the tyre marks of the car on the road before going down)
I would suggest those who want to try this road not to cover this stretch at any state of intoxication and do not try this road at night. In another 15 minutes I reached plain roads nearing to Moolamattom which looked alike a teak plantation.
(A road inside the woods)
After 2 more km I reached Moolamattom and entered the SH to Thodupuzha. The day was becoming hotter and I wanted to reach home as early as possible. Stopped at a shop for a drink before reaching Moovattupuzha.
Reached Room by 3.30 pm and had bath. It was a memorable trip. Apart from the heat of the sun I enjoyed everything.
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