It has been a while since I have been planning to trek to Irumulachikallu. But for some or the other reasons it was getting postponed. Finally it was planned to execute by the end of December as it would be the most convenient situation the constrains being whether and treacherous route. We can reach Irumulachikallu by trekking or by road. By road it is connected via Uppukulam or from Urumbikkara. But the route I was planning was through the forest and it was considered to be a highly risky and most treacherous in the close vicinity. We have to do rock climbing using ropes and walk through thickets finding our own way and most importantly the way we have to take is actually the trail made by the flowing water which over flows from the Uppukulam Dam. As the water flow was there it was something next to impossible to do the trekking in this season. But this time it happened all of a sudden just out of the way I thought it would happen. The plan was Just to visit Pappanithodu falls and Urumbikkara. Thought of having an off roading bike trip to Urumbikkara and Pappanithodu came like a bonus.
Initially planned to pen down all the three places in one log but for the ease of posting and reading I decided to cut it short into two different travelogues. Urumbikkara and Irumulachikallu itself would be long enough to bore my readers I believe and I would deliberately make all efforts to keep it as shot and interesting as possible.
The current scenario starts from Pappanithodu falls. After the Pappanithodu falls visit We continued to Urumbikkara. That was a strenuous off roading for atleast 6 km. From Wembili to Urumbikkara is 9 km and from Urumbikkara to Irumulachikallu would be 3-4 km by walk as we took it. The road condition was horrible rather I would say there was not road. It was a road meant for 4×4 vehicles preferably jeep. Yet we have our guts adrenalized to continue on the road upto Urumbikkara.
Most of the stretch was muddy, rocky and boulder paved. I have to exercise much to keep my Rambo going balanced. Manoj sir was on his Avenger and was very much experienced in this roads. He was riding like he was riding in a four line road while I was praying Mother Nature to pass me all strengths to keep it up right. In 30 minutes we reached Urumbikkara and kept our bikes in front of a house where Manoj had some acquaintance.
We looked around for viewpoints and suddenly Manoj pointed towards a not so far mountain and told me that this is the top of Irumulachikallu. I was amazed to hear that as I could never get convinced to view a peak which I was longing to climb for so long a time in so close a proximity. My urge grew tall and I asked Manoj whether we could scale the peak today. Manoj readily agreed to do so and only his enthusiasm made it possible for me to scale Irumulachikallu. If he would have even uttered a word in doubt I would have called it a day as Irumulachikallu was nowhere in my “things to do list” for the day. But he was so confident that we could make it. After all it is only 4 km away from Urumbikkara and Manoj promised there is a clear trail leads to the hills from there.
We started walking along the jeep track to Irumulachikallu. We saw the Old tea factory in a ruined condition and some other buildings along the way. The once majestic Urumbikkara Bungalow which I have seen in some old pics was almost at the wedge of ruin. The view from the front side of the Bungalow was superb. We could see unending layers of mountains and forest ranges. The weather was clear and that enhanced our views.
Moving inside the route become wilder and the trail which we were moving was getting bordered with thickets on both sides. We could see some common and rare birds in the tree. We attained some more height and our legs were slowing down as the energy source inside had already deteriorated for the tasks we committed for the day. We decided to have food and we stopped by a stream inside the woods. Spending almost 20 minutes there we started again and I could see the Top of Irumulachikallu from this point very clearly.
The route was getting steeper and the jeep trail was very clear throughout the whole stretch. In another 30 minutes we emerged out of the forest trail to an open grass land. Our plan was to get on top of the rock and it was a bit hell of a task. The rock was almost vertical with a slight angle to crawl up with some ones support from the top. Manoj sir went first and his helping hand made it easy for me to get on top of the rock. That was a moment of triumph. It was a long pending wish to get on top of Irumulachikallu.
The view from the top of the rock was simply superb. Only thing above the rock was the mountains which stood behind us which also falls under the range and we had plans to get on top of that. Normally it is very risky to get on top of the rock as there would be strong winds which could sweep you off your feet. The gorge on the other side of the rock would be a vertical fall of 300 t0 400 feet and would be fatal by all means. But that day the wind and the whole Nature supported me to accomplish the mission
Took off the shoes and rested sometime over the rock. It was hot over the rock but was bearable. Besides I was not in a condition to continue without a break. After a brief rest we took photos and it was time to get down and go to the highest point of the hills. But there lied the tricky portion of the climb. It was not easy to get down as it was to climb up. I tried two three postures and finally decided to go with the most comfortable one. It was bit tricky. The next destination was the top of the hills where there was a small temple which the local residents worshiped a deity called Irumulachiyamman. They perform poojas there on the first Friday of every month.
For going there we need to get down to the valley again and climb the other hill. The valley of the hill was so beautiful as it was separated by a small stream. The stream in its nature flow was looking beautiful and serene. The water was chill cold. It was surprising that there were fish in this stream. I wondered how come fish came to this stream which was in the top most of the peak. Manoj sir the revealed the fact that it was the origin of Pappanithodu falls. It was another surprise and joyous moment for me to be at the origin of a water source. I took a bit time there enjoying the ice cold water.
There is one more hill to climb up and that would be the top most point we can reach in this area. It was a simple walk up the hill. The top of the hill was unending grass lands and rocky terrains. The green carpet rolled over and over along the adjoining hills.
The view of the hill ranges from Uppukulam to Vagamon meadows was in front and was gorgeous. The top of the Vagamon hill ranges are unusually plain and this is one of the places from where this is clearely visible. Some rare species of Strobilanthes flowers were there. I wanted to spend my whole life there. Manoj sir told that it is possible to camp here at night. One more thing added to my to do list and we took a break there. The calmness of the place was truly magical. The other side of the hill was covered in a small range of shola forest.
By 4 it was time for us to move on as rain gods gathered in the balcony of the sky and it would be bit difficult for us to get back to Urumbikkara if it rains. Bidding good bye to the heavenly beauty of Irumulachikallu we went down. From the Urumbikkara Bungalow we took another short cut down the road and we reached Urumbikkara very fast.
Took our bikes and again it was a humpy dumpy off-roading of 9 kms down to Wembili. By 5 we reached Manoj’s home and I departed to Kottayam without Much delay there. It was an awesome day. I would memorize this trip for atleast quite a bit of time. Thanks to Mother Nature for keeping me safe for the entire adventurous day. Reaching Irumulachikallu through the forest is still undone and added some more places in the “to do” list this day. So I cannot say a good bye to this range. I will be definitely back for more adventures. Till the time it’s a short “ I will be back break….”
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