After the last Thenmala Pallivasal trekking I had some promises to keep. I have promised the people in waiting list for the trek that the same trek will be repeated on the very next week and they all will be included in the second batch. Due to some internal issues I couldn’t commence the trek on the very next week and had to postpone the same to second next week. But by that time because of the peak summer the water level has deteriorated to a much fierce level than expected and we were not in such a situation to do the Pallivasal trekking reason being boat couldn’t reach to that level through the dam reserve. But I always had a plan B which was to commence the Idimuzhangan trek. Mostly the same terrain and activities, people in the waiting list were ready to do this. Thus Idimuzhangan trek was materialized.
This time also a very compact group with very conservative minded people. I deliberately didn’t want to include fresher and beginners as an evergreen forest trek would not be so appreciated by them as we don’t expect much view points and scenic locations. Only serious trekkers could enjoy such a terrain. As planned I started from Cochin early morning, this time by KSRTC which later turned out to be unwise decision for it killed so much of my time. Reached Punalur by 12 pm over crossing the expected schedule and could tag along with two other team mates who started from Cochin by car. Some others also have reached Thenmala and we met them near to Dam ticket counter. I had a pre-trek work to complete and that was to procure groceries and food item for the next two days. I had to leave others there and tagged along with Rahul to get the same. There were some unforeseen delays in procuring food and groceries and it eventually made some of the team mates unhappy. A good learning on some “do not do things” and I accepted the criticisms with repentance. I should be more careful next time.
Around 2.30 pm when we started from office completing the formalities. We reached the boating point in Bus and wasting no time we got into the boat and started. On the way we stepped down at a relatively plain bank to open up the lunch packets and were done in 20 minutes or so. As the boat ride was not very long we had ample time to cover up the smaller limbs of the reservoir in detail. But unfortunately we couldn’t explore much of the smaller deviations due to low water level. After almost an hour and a half we had reached the place from where we need to start the trek to reach our camping site. It was fast becoming cloudy. We were all eager to get some sighting and there he goes. Our boat driver Navas who have a perfect plus feature in vision spotted a herd of Elephants on the longest possible other end of the river. There were around nine of them in the herd including some infants and they were heading towards the banks for water. Seeing our boat getting closer they would have though it a wrong idea to come to the bank and in a flash they took a U turn and vanished into the covers. I apologized in mind to mother nature for disturbing their routine rather an urgency for drinking water. We could get some very long shots of them. We came across another group very soon but they were also close to the margin of the woods and as soon as we entered into their sensing boundaries they went inside the covers.
Immediately after this sighting we had our boarding down point and everyone crawled out from the boat and packed our stuffs. Unlike last time this time we had to carry our entire luggage including the groceries and food stuffs to our camp site which was a hectic task. We had a walk of 20 mins from the bank to reach the camp shed. Initially through the banks of the river, then through some rocky patch, then into the grass lands, a bit of forest and finally we were there.
Idimuzhangan camp site is somewhat deep inside the forest. One could see it on the way to the campsite. A long view just stipulated my fears that it is a very small one but reaching the camp site I realized my fears were invalid. The camp site consists of two attached bedrooms comparatively bigger ones, one dining area, kitchen, a corridor type verandah, and lot of open space outside were we can chill out and make some fire. The open area outside the rooms was paved with outdoor tiles which made pitching tents easy for us. There was a very deep trench surrounding the campsite and was fenced with iron linings which they claimed would be electrified in the night. Though I couldn’t take that statement down row.
By the time we reached the campsite it was getting dark and team members unloaded their baggage. It was very humid day and the overcast sky contributed more spice into it. Fortunately we had a small rivulet getting down from the deep woods and passing near to our camp site some 500 mtrs from the camp. Everyone wanted to take a bath. We went to the rivulet to take a dip in pitch dark. Torch lights helped the way forward and the bath In the forest stream was actually very comforting to all the team members. We reached back to camp site before it was too late. We carried some woods on the way so that we can make camp fire. Tried in vain to light up the fire but later our caretakers lit it for us. We had two guards and two cooks to take care of us.
Around the camp fire we made some contact with each other. We played some anthakshari which was flooded over with Hindi songs, some of them very much unfamiliar to me. But I was happy that all enjoyed the moments. Tents got pitched on the open area. I wanted to stay outside like always and pitched the tent near to the fireplace. Food was ready by 9.00pm. Sumptuous it was I must say. Rice, tapioca, Curd, Chicken curry, Chicken fry, vegetable dishes, Pappad, pickle and what not. I hogged like a beast as I skipped my lunch. Most of the team members opted to sleep after the lunch but some of us stayed awake a bit late. Even after everyone was asleeep, I was awake for almost 15-20 minutes which I enjoyed the most. The sound of the jungle was equally calming and frightening. I remember I slept sometime after 1.30 am. The sleep was comfortless but peaceful.
I woke up by 6.30. . I opened my eyes to the chirrup of numerous birds. I stayed inside the tent for some more time. After 10 minutes I crawled out of the tent and there were some others also awake quite early who were the early birds to go to sleep yesterday night. Some of them went to the small stream as they couldn’t resist going back to the ice cold water again. They were not done yesterday night as it was dark. Back at camp site the breakfast was ready with Puttu, Payaru,(Steamed rice cake and cereal), Banana, Pappad combined with hot and sweet Black tea. The cooking was such an ecstasy. Every one commented on that and yesterday night when I having my dinner itself I have decided to give them an extra tip for the good job. By 8.30 we wanted to start the trek. First we went close to the banks of the river to check for some sighting. We could see an Indian Gaur gazing in the grass land at a distance. It was very long a shot to see the detailed feature of the giant animal. On the way back we saw the remainings of a tiger hunt. But there was nothing much left except for some left over skin and bones. We came back on the way of the camp site and deviated into the forest close to the camp.
The initial path was a small ascend. We were moving deep and deep inside the core area. Large trees and creepers replaced the under growth and smaller ones. Creepers formed interesting patterns over trees. After the initial ascend the walk was comparatively plain. It was a very sunny day. But we couldn’t even see the sun over us. The canopy was so thick at some places that it barely allowed sunlight to peep through. The trek path was wide enough at some places for a jeep but there was often obstacles in the form of fallen trees and decayed logs.
The silence was flawless. Humidity was horrible that I was sweating profusely. Our destination was Nirappupara, a plain rocky formation in the middle of a small peak from where we could get a clear view of the surroundings in a 180 degree view. Nirappupara was almost 7 km from the camp site. As it was relatively plain ground we could cover more distance in swift time.
By 11.30 we reached Nirappupara. A serene open rocky place in the middle of thick jungle which gave us a balcony view of the reservoir. We wish there was more water in the reservoir so that the view would have been better. Sitting on the edges of the rock was fun and the gushing wind took away all the fatigue in no time. We took some group photos here. After a short break here it was time for us to start trekking back to the camp. We were supposed to leave camp site by 3.30 and had to reach back Thenmala office by 5.pm.
We started trekking back. There was a clear trail but the wilderness was even better after this point. It was very obvious that no one has took this path somewhere in the nearer past. May be the watchers would take this route on their routine schedule. We had some small ascends and descends on the way. The floor was completely paved with fallen leaves and it made the descends difficult some times. Some of the trees were so huge that people were like ants. There were some more photo sessions on the way where we could not resist ourselves stopping. We could munch on some wild fruits which our guides suggested are edible. The sweet and sour taste of it reminded lychee fruit’s taste.
We reached back to camp site by 2.30pm. Waiting there for us was another sumptuous meal including rice, tapioca, fish fry, vegetable curry, Pappad contributed to the tastes. All of the team members unanimously agreed to the fact that it is something next to impossible to arrange for such a fantastic meal inside the forest. All credit goes to our cooks. After the Lunch we hardly had time to relax. It was time to pack our bags and rush back. Saying good bye to Idimuzhangan we left from camp site by 3.45 and reached the boat in another 20 minutes. Though the baggages were lighter than yesterday all had to leave with a heavy heart to agree that we had to leave this serene place and get back to the normal life scheduled which would screw our happiness to the possible extended levels. Boarded the boat by 4.10 and reached back to Thenmala by 5.15. Saying good bye to others every one departed to their own locations and me back to Cochin along with some other team mates. Thanking Mother Nature for giving us all the extraordinary feast of views and keeping us safe for the entire trip.