The longest and Hardest one so far.
Ever since I came to know about this place Meesapulimala has always fascinated me with its unique features. Standing at a height of 2640 meters it is the second highest peak in Kerala and one among the very few mountains in Kerala region above 8000 ft. above sea level. Though it is the highest Mountain in Kerala region which can be trekked (Anamudi being the highest but not accessible due to restriction) the accessibility seemed easy as there are trekking programs which are organized by KFDC and the officials are very friendly and helpful.
I believe it was almost 1 year before I thought of doing this trek but was getting postponed due to various reasons from that time. But this time I have really decided to step on top of the peak. The trek was planned somewhat in advance as I have to book the package in prior. Though there were 4 packages most of them were meant for a group of minimum four people and the option left with me was to book a day trekking or the Sky cottage. As the day trekking option was not compatible for me I opted for the Sky cottage and made the payment online and booked the pack speaking to the KFDC divisional officer. He was very helpful and supported very well. It is a one bedroom cottage built on a lonely cliff in the silent valley base camp. The cottage is situated on a hill top almost 400 mtrs from the base camp of silent valley. We can rather say it is in an abandoned place to be. It is an ideal place for spending a week end away from all busy schedules of city life and enjoying the beauty of nature in its wild effect. It is widely known as a honeymoon cottage but the safety is a little bit to worry about though the officials guarantee the same. Three sides of the cottage are built in glass and hence we can have a panoramic view of the vast hill ranges of Western Ghats and it is an eye soother to look into the waterfalls and spending time roaming around. I booked the sky cottage for a week end. After booking the cottage Ajith also confirmed his availability and slowly the very long awaited trek was getting materialized.
Thus on a Friday evening Ajith started from Trivandrum and reached Cochin in the late night. We stayed in my room and by morning 5.30 we were ready to leave. Route was Moovattupuzha >Kothamangalam > Adimali > Munnar > Silent valley. We drove slowly as we have plenty of time to cover 140 kms . Hence in between we stopped at Vallara falls, Cheeyapara falls Munnar tea estates and all for taking pics
We were supposed to report at the KFDC office in Munnar Mattupetty road by 1.30 pm from where we need to obtain the permission letter. We reached Munnar by 10.30 am and we had ample time before going to the KFDC office. We decided to go to top station which was 40 km from Munnar and we were sure that we could very well manage to come back before 1.30 PM. The 40 km stretch from Munnar to top station is a beauty. We could see Mattupetty dam and reservoir, green carpets of tea estates, Eucalyptus plantation, A hill full of Neelakurinji flowers (though it is not a season this year Neelakurinji has bloomed. May be they got bored of waiting for 12 years), Echo point, Kundala Dam sight and top station view point. In 1 hour we reached top station.
Almost two years back I have visited top station on exploring Munnar, Rajamala, and Ramakkalmedu etc in a two day trip. There was hardly any change or development there and even the small ticket counter remained the same. Was it good or bad?? But I liked the way it was and the way it is now. There is a lot of serene places which lost its natural beauty in the name of development. Sometimes it is good not to interfere too much into the nature and leave it just like what it is. By 12.30 we left top station coming back to KFDC office. The permission letter was already ready in the office and we met Vishnu a KFDC official there who helped us with the route to go to the sky cottage. They usually pick up the guests from Munnar if required and the same is chargeable. Only Four wheel drive vehicles are meant to go to silent valley. But an expert driver can make it to silent valley base camp through an off road venture. As we were in bike we were given the letter and route so that we can get there ourselves. As the lunch was not included in the package we went back to Munnar which is 2 km away from KFDC office and had our lunch there. It was little bit drizzling in Munnar town and we feared it would wash away the whole plan. But rain subsided as we completed our lunch and we started back to our destination.
For reaching the silent valley base camp we need to take a left from the Check post right after the Echo point and travel almost 8 km inside. It is a private road to some tea plantation and there are two three deviations on the way. Believe me I couldn’t find any one on that road till I reached the silent valley base camp. We took deviations on our on intuitions. After travelling for 2-3 kms we could see the Sky cottage on the top of a distant hill and we were thrilled on the very sight of it. After 6 km we will reach a small junction (please do not mistake The Word junction with the one you have in your mind. It was just a spot where three gut roads met. From that point we need to take a left but the road is a little bit off beat. It is a metal rid road for almost 2 km and for first 500 mtrs I managed to ride with Ajith but after that I have to ask him to get down and walk the rest as it was very difficult to keep the balance up. I prayed not to puncture the bike as it would be a horrible situation if I had to change the same there. Luck flavored us and I reached the sky cottage in 10-15 minutes and waited for Ajith to come.
We had a warm welcome at the base camp and there we met Aneesh and Sabu who were the care takers of sky cottage and guides of Meesapulimala. The base camp consisted of a Kitchen, one store room, One big open hall where usually food is served with a camp fire area, a comfort station, wash room, a lawn for making tents. After the tea and snacks we were escorted to the sky cottage. On the way to the cottage we saw another group of people who were coming back from Meesapulimala trekking. The loneliness felt on that place was remarkable. No phone calls, no busy scheduled works, no noise of vehicles, no pollution. All we could see was the unending layers of hills, a beautiful waterfalls surrounded by thick vegetation and the mesmerizing sky. Aneesh escorted us to the cottage he left the two souls there giving the key of the cottage and informed us that the lunch will be ready by 7.30. The evening was beautiful though we could not see a correct sunset the changing colors of the sky and silhouette of the distant hills were a treat to eyes.
It was really cold by this time and the freshen up in the cottage was and ice cold affair. We lied down for some time and went for the lunch by 7.30 pm. There were two more groups at the base camp and they all were there in the open area where all used to take the food. They were enjoying the night in the warmth of the camp fire and we felt we should have also joined them earlier. The warmth of the camp fire was really comforting. We spent some time with all of them and returned to our cottage after having lunch by 10.pm. It was chilling cold by this time and we slept keeping the curtains open so that we can see the sky and stars. The cold overpowered our sleeps and we woke up early in the morning by 6.30 and got ready for the trekking to Meesapulimala.
By 7.30 we reached the base camp for Breakfast. A team was about to leave and we bid good bye to them promising that we will meet again somewhere. By 8.30 I and Ajith along with the B team started our trekking with packed lunch. Sabu was the acting guide for me and Ajith and the B team was led by Aneesh. The trekking started through the forest covers behind the Sky cottage. Soon we reached a mud road which leads from Base camp to Rhodovalley. Two ways to reach Rhodovalley 1. To follow the mud road. 2. To take short route through the forest covers. Our plan was to take the short route through the forest and to return via the mud road. The trails started with a steep ascend which exhausted the sumptuous breakfast. In 30 minutes we reached the top of the falls and had our first break there. The walk was through marshy land and almost every one of us had leeches crawling in our legs. But after that we entered into some plain grass lands and from this point the walk was little easier and we could cover more distance in less time.
By 10.15 we reached Rhodovalley which was 6 kms from base camp and had a break of 15 minutes. There where leach attacks in between and the B team members got a number of bites. I and Ajith had less compared to them. We deterred back and unconfined the salt war against them at the check dam in Rhodovalley. Crossing the large valley through the grass lands we reached the base of a mountain and Sabu said Meesapulimala is behind this mountain. I was anxious to see the destination and wanted to ascend fast but all I could do was to drag my foot one after another. Don’t know why but I was feeling very tired. But the fact which I later realized was that I have reached the maximum level of my stamina. Walking 8 km through the steep hills drained out my stamina.
Getting to the top of the mountain Sabu showed me the Meesapulimala. It was an enormous structure to look at and the very sight itself boosted me up and I decided I won’t turn back leaving this giant unconquered. We had to cross yet another valley and in another 20 minutes we reached the base of Meesapulimala. All the team members were tired and we took a break before starting the final lap. Slow and study we started Sabu leading the team. But the other team members were not picking speed and he had to stay back behind them with Aneesh.
There were no obstructions in front and the top of the peak was visible from that point I took permission from the guide and started over to lead giving others time to breath. Don’t know from where I got that energy but I wanted to do the whole final ascend in one stretch and so did i. I neither looked up the top nor did I look back for them as I knew they will be ok with two guides. Just concentrated on my foot and kept both my legs move one after the other. The fresh air was helping a lot. A long breath was enough to continue whenever I felt like stopping.
By 11.40 I touched the top of Meesapulimala and looked back to see the other still midway or little above that. They were having breaks photo sessions and all but I cared most for getting to the top. It was a great moment of happiness when I reached the top. The view from the top was simply unbelievable. All the surrounding hills seemed like little dwarfs and it made Meesapulimala really a giant. The three giants of Top station seemed a prototype of what we see from the top station view point. I clicked the view but I could never get the real picture that we can see with bare eyes. Cameras could copy 60% of what we can see there I would say. Beauty unlimited was lying in front of me. We could see the Kolukkumalai hills, Yellapetty, top station, Kurangini area, and lot of other hills which even my guide couldn’t name. After 15 odd minutes the other also reached the top and we had a breathing time of 30 minutes. Cameras went on clicking. There was no need of composing a scene for taking pictures. Just point the camera to any direction you feel and click it will be good picture.
By 12.30 it was time for us to say good bye to Meesapulimala. We were taking another route while descending and Sabu showed the way in front. He pointed to another large mountain and said we need to cross that and after that there will be only descends. With a full heart we started descending through the other side. Descended down the hills and covered a valley. Then there were small small hills which was easier to walk through. A look back would give the Majestic view of Meesapulimala. By 2 pm we were on top of the last hill and descended with a light heart keeping in mind the words from our guide Sabu that from this point there were only descends and no ascends.
There was a small stream flowing through the valley of the hill and we stopped there for having our packed lunch. All were exorbitantly hungry and the food was over in no time. The water in the stream was ice cold and some of the team member wanted to take a dip. I also had a feeling against getting into the stream at first but later decided to take a dip. The water was really Ice cold (literally). Who ever got into the stream didn’t stay there for more than 30 seconds. Step into the water take a dip and get out that was all what everyone could do. It was deadly cold I would say. If we stay in that water for elongated period there will be some adverse effects for sure. I also stepped in took a dip and got out. For some time I could not even fist my fingers. But after all the action was very effective for all of us to overcome the fatigue of the long walk and all were ready to move on.
By 3.00 pm we reached Rhodovalley again and as there were no ascends we were taking no breaks and by this time mist has covered up the whole place and the atmosphere cooled off making our time easier On the way we saw the new cottages that are coming in Rhodovalley.
By 4.30 we were back in the Sky cottage. It was little late to our schedules. We wanted to leave atleast by 4 pm so as to minimize night drive duration. But everything has gone for a toss when it started drizzling again. We had a quick fresh up and we started from sky cottage by 5pm saying good bye to Shine, Aneesh, Sabu and the other team. The 2 km off road I had to cover alone and poor Ajith was made to walk the two kms again. The drizzling and mist left me with no options other than to cover the stretch alone. Although I managed to reach the plain grounds safely I slipped dangerously in the wet stones two three times which I am sure would not have done with a Pillion rider. Rain was there but we couldn’t wait for it to subside as we had to cover atleast till Neryamangalam which route was considered unpredictable. So against the rain we kept on moving. As Ajith had to attend office mandatorily on Monday we couldn’t think of anything else other than moving. Though we couldn’t ride fast it meant covering as much as distance possible. In between we stopped two times due to heavy rain and one such stop we could stop near a restaurant and had our food. We were extremely hungry.
There was no other way than to ignore the rain and we just carried on. Till Neryamangalam it was raining and after that the climate was pleasant. Could cover a fair amount of distance and by 9.30 we reached Cochin. We went straight to Vytilla hub and a bus to Trivandrum was supposed to come by 10.pm. The bus was surprisingly sharp in time and he boarded the bus. I reached room by 10.30 had a refreshing bath. There was severe body pain from the 25 km walk in the wild and the long bike ride. Had a quick look at the pics taken and slipped into sleep bidding thanks to Mother Nature for keeping us safe for the day.
Meesapulimala trekking is the longest and hardest one I had so far. Strictly not recommended for first timers and the week ones. We need to walk almost 25 to and from to complete the day. Though it was a strenuous day we regret nothing and want to do it again sooner. We already have our plans to hit back with the Yellapetty trekking which is tougher. Some other options also told by the officials and guide like Kurunjimala, Meesapulimala through Kolukkumalai side are in preference hopefully will do it soon.
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