Kodaikkanal Munnar Trekking
A momentous trek through the historic escape road. That has been a dream for so many years now. But due to permission issues and security concerns it remains as a dream as of now. The other route via Kavunji Kadavari Klavara Koviloor Vattavada also seems impossible due to security issues at Kurinji National park. My only hope was to take the last and final route which traverse through Dolphin nose Vellagavi Kumabakkarai Kurangini and finally Top station Munnar. I have been doing the back ground works for the same for some time now and last August I could materialize the same. Though we planned for just 10-15 members, it finally becomes a big team of 31 members. 21 of us from Kochin and 10 from Trivandrum.
Team from Kochin including me started by Friday evening. Monday being a holiday for Independence we were having 3 whole days to complete the trek. Our plan was like to start the first day from Dolphin nose and reach Vellagavi and stay there overnight for the first day. Second day trek to Kumbakkarai and travel to Kurangini via Road and stay overnight. Finally on the last day Trek to Top station from Kurangini Village as we have done in the last Kolukkumala Top station trek. But on the contrary to our plans there were some unforeseen incidents due to which we had to stay back at Kodaikkanal itself for the first day and we could start the trek on the second day morning only. It was planned to reach Kodaikkanal on the first day by Noon and start the trek. Although my team from Kochin reached Kodaikkanal by 10 am the team from Trivandrum could reach by 4 pm only.
We reached the stay option in Pambarpuram by 10 am and had a brief break. It was a cottage which could accommodate all of us in one go. It was an ancient German settlement which was a favorite spot for Film shooting. A big bungalow with four big bedrooms and a hall. Some of us ventured outside for local sigh seeing. For some reasons I wanted to remain there enjoying the silence and serenity of the place. Kodai special flora and fauna caught my attention and I got engaged in staring at all those things enjoying the beauty of things around. At night we had rice porridge and local cuisine curries. There was an introduction session which was very useful for all of us to know each other. It was not that cold but enough for all of us to stretch our legs inside the blankets. The night went well with some sweet dreams about the trails to cover in the coming days.
Woke up early in the morning. The dawn was still chilling. Concluded the morning ablutions somehow in the ice cold water. We already had a back log of almost 6 km that is from Dolphin Nose to Vellagavi. After breakfast we immediately started from the cottage. Reaching road was just a 5 minutes’ walk and we followed the road to Dolphin nose. As Dolphin Nose is a famous tourist location it was very much crowded over there. Initially there was a tarred road and it narrowed into concreted path first and finally into a muddy path. There were people all around. I could see youngsters competing to go to the edge of the peak and taking selfies. Selfie stick has become an organ to most of them. The idea of visiting and seeing places has been replaced by taking selfies and littering. After a small break there we had to take a detour into the lonely trail used only by Vellagavi natives and trekkers. It was just a forest trail and was clear at the initial stage. It narrowed and become wilder as we moved in. Light was very feeble inside the canopies. After some time the trail become wider.
At some vantage points we could see the hawk’s eye view of the Vellagavi village. Vellagavi is a mountain village on top of a peak. There are almost 100 families there. There are also 25 temples around this place which make them think that this is a holly place and hence they don’t use chappals. One must see to believe that this place is in the middle of nowhere. 1 hour walk took us to the village of Vellagavi. Vellagavi is a peculiar place with peculiar life style and people behavior. They were very shy to come in front of cameras. They live by cultivation and some of the people going out for daily wages jobs in places like Kodaikanal or Kumbakkarai. We spend some time there understanding their lifestyle and had coffee and bananas from a home which is the one and only provision store of this place. I wish I could spend a night there. Maybe some other time or maybe not. I am not sure that I will come to this place again.
The trail from Vellagavi to Kumbakkarai was even wilder. This trail is used by Vellagavi natives only. The views were simply unbelievable. We could see trees so big. They would have been there for at least 500 years it seems. The undergrowth was also strong. Creepers were enormous. Everyone was getting tired. People started asking the regular desperate questions like “Have we not reached?”, “How much Longer? Etc. We could see lot of birding around us. We were still in some decent elevation. We might have descended for two hours by then. We reached the plains of Kumbakkarai. Straight away we went to the Kumbakkarai falls just to see a bunch of people shower is a borderline flow. The water was discolored with dirt. Couldn’t even think about taking a dip in that. Some of the team members were having a muscle sprain and took some time to reach the falls. Rest of the team waited there. By 6 pm we took the minibus to Kurangini and by 7.30 we reached Kurangini forest IB where our stay and food was already been arranged. We spend the night in the tents and the dormitory hall. Tomorrow we have another 12 km to cover. The night was comparatively hot.
Woke up early in the morning. Our breakfast and packed lunch was ready by 8 am. Without wasting much time we started as soon as we had breakfast. It is tough ascend for the rest of the day as I had experienced the same terrain in the Kolukkumala Top Station trek. We started the trek through the muddy jeep road and entered the grass lands after 1 hour. Passed through Muthuvarkudy village below the top station and entered into steep grasslands. Surprisingly they were celebrating the Independence and we took some pics.
The view around was impeccable. Cameras came out of the bags and there was photo sessions every now and then. The landscape was so beautiful that everywhere there was a frame for nature lovers. As I have already traveled this way didn’t bothered to take much pics. My whole concentration was on the ascend. This is indeed a very tough climb. After the beginning of the grass land the elevation is more. The last stretch was so very difficult. At times the terrain was almost 70 degree steep. We had to stop every 10 steps to gather breath. After so much of toil and soil we reached the Top station by around 2.30 pm. Everyone were literally exhausted by the time. Some of us went to the nearby hotel to have food. We started from Top station to Munnar by the 3.00 pm Bus.
Bid good bye to the entire group after reaching Munnar and took a bus to Kochin. The past three days were literally a festival for all of us. The Impeccable views, night camps, new friends, new terrain, new learning all added spice to the beauty of the trek. Along with that a long time wish also came true. Thanks to Mother Nature and all who participated and supported in this event. Wish to see you all soon in another trek.