Holidays falling in week days are always a blessing in disguise and the nomad inside me always have back up plan for such days. This week also I had one holiday falling in week day for Dussehra and I had my plans for trekking at top station in Munnar. The month of October was momentous for me. The first week was Vellarimala trekking then this and I already have plans for the coming week ends too :). Rohan also enrolled to join me for the trek in top station but couldn’t make it due to some last minute contingencies. So, though reluctantly I finally decided to do it alone. Though I have done some treks alone and I love traveling alone this time I was not in that mood to travel alone and it was with a bit disconnect finally I agreed to myself doing that. All set for Munnar
Night 10.30 got a message from Madhu. It sounded “Any plans for tomorrow?” I was typing the reply but couldn’t complete the same as he called me right then. He was also at the wits end and wanted to plan something. I told him my plan and he was not that impressed on that knowing the fact that trekking to Kurangini from top station and returning back on the same day (such was my plan) would be a little more than hectic and the an eight hour minimum ride from Cochin and back would add pepper to that. I had to admit that, but was doable for me. Yet we discussed on some other places. The places where he has not been would be in my completed list and vice versa for me. Finally after a brief debate we both almost agreed to one place and that was Panchalimedu near Kuttikanam. We googled some links and the place was worth exploring for a day trek. So it was fixed and Madhu said we will start by day break and I agreed and slept. We met at my place sharp at 6 am and started. Then only I came to know that two more guys Aneesh and Niboy are joining us from Thripoonithura. The route planned was like Thripoonithura > Kanjiramattom > Thalayolaparambu > Kaduthuruthy > Kuravilangadu > Pala > Eerattupetta > Thidanadu > Podimattom > Mundakkayam > Murinjapuzha > Panchalimedu. It was a ride of almost 125 km one side and we kept an average 3hrs expected time to reach. Panchalimedu was the place which we supposed to explore but Kattupara was a buffer we got. Once again proving that we will definitely get rewarded for the little bit of stretch we make and the difficult paths always leads to beautiful places. Aneesh and Niboy joined in between and having breakfast near Pala we reached Panchalimedu by a little past nine if I am not wrong.
From Panchalimedu our plans were to explore the nearby hill ranges exploring the Panchali theertham (a small pond which never dries up where Panchali aka Droupathy supposedly took her holy bath during their vanavaasa) Pandavaguha ( a small rock cave near Kattupara where Pandavas and Panchali supposedly stayed during their vanavaasa) and the foot print of Bhima (a foot print like structure in Kattupara which resembled a huge foot print. Locals believe it to be the foot print of Lord Bhima.) If this is correct then Pandavas would be the first and foremost trekkers of Western ghats and they have traveled a lot through this range. Avid trekkers they are for sure :). As it was rainy in the evenings the grass lands were flourished and resembled. There is a small temple on the right side hill and the left side one has crosses all over.
By 9.30 we reached Murinjapuzha and took the right deviation from there. Before taking the deviation we took some snacks from the road side Bakery. there were some hill behind the bakery which looked very prominent in the Kuttikanam Range. We decided to do it sometime. There are clear direction boards so that we don’t lose the way. From Murinjapuzha it is 3.5 km to Panchalimedu. In another 15 minutes we reached Panchalimedu. It was disappointing at first. There were no much views from there. . Its was a sunny day. There was a small tea shop there and we inquired them what all things are there to see. They give us a brief idea about the place and things to do. We were told about the ponds, caves and Bhīma’s footprints. We had plans to explore the adjacent hills also. We started trekking towards the hill top. It was not that strenuous a job. Just a walk up the hill. We had amble time to explore the place and hence we spend lot of time on small small things. In just 20 minutes or so we reached the top of the hill. The view was pretty decent from this spot. We could see some more medium hills down the level. We had so many trails leading to all directions. We didn’t know which one to follow.
I followed the trail which I felt would lead to the edge of the hill. The trail was pretty clear and hence it was just a cake walk. I lost some altitude getting down the hill and finally reached a vantage point. The view from this point was good. I spend some time there gazing at the valley and plantations below. Others joined me in no time. We could see some hills down the valley which was prominent. For reaching those hills we need to get down the valley and ascend it again. There was a prominent trail going down the valley through the edge of the hill we were standing. It looked somewhat like a jeep track. We decided to get down to the valley searching for some trails to ascend the hill. From the point we were standing we had to return back to the top of the hill to get down the valley to the trails. Instead of that we created our own way through the grasslands to get down to the trails which moved through the right side of the hill. Till that time we didn’t know that the place name is Kattupara.
We would have covered 2 km down the hill through that trail taking one short break. It was a sunny day and the sun has already started its effect on us. Though I was not tired I was profusely sweating. The trail was leading us nowhere. Every curve we expected it to come to a valley or a vantage point. Nothing happened. Finally we were thinking of turning back. It was a tough decision. Everyone wanted the other one to say that. But finally against all odds we decided to go forward what all happens. It was just another 100 mtrs we reached the valley.
If we had returned it would have been so close a miss. In the valley we saw a variety of ponderosa lemon tree. The tree was full of fruits and that was really a visual feast for us. The base of the tree was fully covered with fallen fruits. We tried some but the taste was not good. Without any second thoughts Aneesh climbed up the tree to pluck some ripe fruits. Myself and Madhu waited below with watery mouths. Aneesh was successful and we got some ripe ones. We started eating them. Our thirst was also satiated. By this time Niboy went down the valley further and found a house there. He managed to hook up a boy from there who could lead us to the Pandavas cave. His name was Shiyas.
walking towards the cave..
With the new companion Shiyas our journey become more interesting and aimful. Now we know where we are going. He lead the way from front and we obliged him from behind. We started walking again to another part of the hill. Shiyas told that the cave is just a 10 minutes’ walk from there. We had to get into some rocky terrain now. The cave was inside a big rock. It was approximately 25 foot long with opening on both ends. We entered into the cave through one end and came out through the other end. That was an experience for us climbing up through the other end once we were inside the cave. I just imagined that the stories about this cave were true that the Pandavas along with Panchali lived in this cave centuries ago. Then we were standing inside a historic place. I just had some wild thoughts about that period. How they would have come there. It would have been so wild a jungle at that time literally inaccessible to anyone for that matter. I noticed some ideal places inside the cave and imagined how they would have slept , made food kept fire and all. It was fun thinking all that there.
Now it was time to move on to see the Bhīma’s footprint. We proceeded further up the hill attaining some altitude and came out of the woods into an open area. It was a big rocky part of the mountain and almost the top of it. There was a little thicket towards the top. The rock is called Kattupara (meaning windy rock). Surprisingly there was a huge footprint on the rock which justified the belief of local that Bhima the giant of all Pandavas once visited there. The footprint was not that clear though we could easily identify it to be a giant footprint on the flat rock. The view from the top was excellent.
We could take a 180 degree view of the valleys down the hill. There were some rubber plantations visible in the valley. Shiyas told the name of the plantation but I missed to note it down. Such a lazy fellow I am. We didn’t dared to go close to the edges as it would be a free fall of atleast a couple of hundred feet. Gentle breeze was there which took away all the fatigue from us. It would be the best place to camp over night for a day. We spent some time gazing at the valleys and places around. We could see unending layers of hill ranges and plain grounds after the plantation. It is said that from the top we can see Idukki, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta and Kollam districts. Though I couldn’t digest that completely.
By 2 pm we prepared to return back. It is a whole lot of steep walk back to the place where we parked our bike. On the way back we took the prominent trail (the one like the jeep trail) instead of getting into the grasslands again. We deliberately took such a decision so as not to waste time as it was fast becoming a cloudy day and we had in mind that we have a 3 hour’s journey back to Cochin. There were view points every where. We tried to cover all of them though we had our intentions to leave soon. The view points were so tempting that we cannot turn our back to it.
On the way back we paid a quick visit to the Panchali theertham. This is a beautiful piece of art. The long view of the pond is so beautiful that one cannot resist themselves paying a close visit. The water is crystal clear but I doubt the edibility of it. By 4 we reached back to the road after a quick refreshment from the tea shop we started our return trip without any delay.
The return trip was literally momentous. It started raining as soon as we started from Panchalimedu and the whole stretch of 120 km it was raining. It was in the last Palkulamedu trekking I had an experience like this. Riding in heavy rain. It was a hell of a task to drive in rain so heavy. Luckily I had taken rain coat and was a bit helpful. After the Vellarimala trek I practices taking rain coat :). By 8 pm we reached Cochin. Aneesh and Niboy deviated from Thripoonithura. After dropping Madhu at home I reached room by 8.30. Had a brisk look at the pics taken. Thanked Mother Nature for keeping all of us safe for the entire day. Though the trek was not strenuous the to and fro ride in bike especially the return ride in heavy rain had its effects on the body. Took a nap with a joyful heart
For arranging trekking similar treks in Kattupara please contact Rakesh @ 9745112411