Secret Caves Exploration – Mankulam
I have been very lazy now a days. I took more than 4 months for me to update the last trek to Mankulam in May. I was in search for new places and one of my trek mate Jino suggested this place. I spoke to the concerned person and felt like it is going to be a good event. It was planned as a tow day event first day exploring the secret caves in at Mankulam and second day as a full day trek. Since it was raining I knew that it is going to be a wet trek and as soon as the event was announced enquiries started pouring in and finally the group was as big as 30 people from all over Kerala some from Bangalore and some from Chennai.
There were lots of new faces this time and I felt happy that I am adding new friends all the time. There were regular trekkers also and I am happy for them too as they are coming back just because I am giving them a good experience all the time. I started from Cochin along with four other trek mates who joined me from Kochin and headed towards Munnar deviating into the Mankulam Road from Kallar Junction. As we started a bit early we reached there by 10.30 and waited for the other to join. All were supposed to reach by 12 pm and sooner later we reached people started reporting. Lunch was arranged at the camp site. By the stipulated time itself everyone has arranged and we had a sumptuous lunch prepared by our guide cum cook Josettan in local taste.
Soon after the lunch we were supposed to explore the famous secret caves and we set out to expedite the same. The trail started behind the camp site leading into the adjacent forest. Soon after taking the trail we saw a small opening on the ground level of a big rock. I seemed like a person can barely scrawl into it. Our guides told that it is a big cave and some of us ventured into it exploring the same. It was indeed a big cave which could accommodate all of us. It was dark and we came out of the cave so as not to bore the others.
We had plans to explore the same after first days trek. We continued into the trail and it was becoming wilder. As it was raining for the past few days it was really wet and intimidating. There were small stream with clear drinkable stone cold water. The trees were bigger enough to give us a frightening feel. The creepers were old enough to create frightful patterns. It was a more or less cloudy day and hence sun light was anywhere to be seen and we were inside thick canopy which lead light barely in.
We had to crawl through the roots of enormous trees, climb on wet slipper rocks, and traverse through the boulders on the stream. Soon we reached a point where all the trails ended and we were standing in front of a vertical wall of rock. The only way up was to climb the wall vertically which was frightening but we all did without any mishap. The part after the vertical climb was equally challenging. We had to boulder huge rocks through the roots spread over them which was very strenuous at least for some of. But the effort was worth taking as we reached into a cave which was very big to hold all of us comfortably and there was a water falls coming inside the cave out of nowhere through the joints of rocks. It was heavenly experience for all. We all took our turn to come into the flowing water and enjoyed our time there.
Returning back from the cave was scary. We had to get into small holes inside the rocks and crawl our self out from them. There was little light in most of the area. Climbing down and up into the crevasses were scary for some people. Now we all know why this place is called as the secret caves. Soon the first day came to an end back into the camp site and people in group went for bathing in the streams and some people went into the caves and some of us were busy pitching the tents on top of a plain big rock which would accommodate all of us.
We had tents carried along and pitched them over the rocks. Soon it was dark and mist covered the area. We had camp fire and dinner was served at the camp site. Everyone was bit tired from the first days walk and went asleep by 11. Pm except some late birds. The sleep was comfortable with small drizzling in the night. Most of the team members were awake by early morning and we had our breakfast and were getting ready for the second days trek. We were carrying our lunch so that we can have it on the way.
The second days trail started through the plantation down the camp site entering into the forest trails crossing the stream at one point . The trail was steep from the very beginning. We took the steep trail into the bamboo growth gradually moving into the forest trail soon after some time. The trail was really wild and we got a feel of the rain forest. It was all green and wet due to the rain. There were some superb view points on the way which offered a view of the surroundings.
There were numerous streams on the way. We had no issue with find water for drinking as it was all over. We kept on moving taking regular intervals and finally reached a point where we could comfortably have our lunch near water source. Had our lunch and took an elaborate rest there. Soon it was fast becoming cloudy and we had to start back. We came back through another route back into the camp which was also equally wild. By the end of the trail we reached back to the camp site again and were all set to pack up. Having a tea and bidding good bye to our hosts everyone started leaving the place back to their bases, We were the last one to leave and we did so by the days end.
It was a wonderful time we had. I never knew that we had such wonderful opportunities and places to explore there in Mankulam. Every one enjoyed the place and its wilderness to the core. I had plans to come back again exploring more trails in and around the area and I have told the same to my host. Left the place with a heavy heart and hoping to go back soon.