March 12, 2015

Trek from Kodaikanal to Munnar via Kurangani

Joys of climbing a mountain is an experience unparalleled. Those six days have perhaps been amongst my best trekking experience for all that has been my quota of experiences. Enjoying the sheer toughness of it all, the fact that we could climb down several hundred feet of two straight days without killing ourselves was a great revelation to me. Though there was some disappointment that we could not walk the entire distance to Munnar via the Berijam route, the alternate proved to be a tough trek if not a scenic one.

Also, somehow as my best friend said not to be happy but to be in the experience, this time it has been that. I have been the experience or the experience has been me. I have not been happy but rather been content. An experience that I have felt after a long long time. The walk down to Velakavi was tough but we managed. There was mist all around and we walked through them. The human element of tourism was visible with a lot waste thrown around till Dolphin Nose and then all of a sudden, it was clean all around.

Velakavi itself was confusing. All people were fair almost uniformly, the village was neat as well, too neat and clean to be an Indian village, there were strange rules as opening our shoes when we entered the village. But the end effect was good as we were in our best behaviour in that village.

What I remember most of our first trek stop was the cooking helper from Delhi - Bihar, the camp leader who was eager and those beautiful children.

The second day was uniformly tough and depressing. On the one hand was the fact that Siddu's walker had yet not arrived and on the other was the constant downhill trudge. We walked down and down and down and down till we landed at the bottom of the hill. In between, we had a beautiful falls where I took a loner's bath. Alone in the falls, washing my t shirt, feeling the slight pain in my knees, it was surely a great experience. The last stretch was through some tall tamarind trees and here we landed at the falls of the Pambar river at Kombakarai. I might remember that place as where I lost my Howard Johnson cap. Anyways, after a quick drive through Periyakulam and Theni, we entered the Kurangani reserve forest, which was entirely overshadowed by the Kulakamalai massif.

The third day was matching upto the height of the massif at all times and finally, we landed at the central station, the best camp of all. A tiresome trip with the beat viewpoints for company, we were all tired but relieved that we are not descending. How we hated climbing down the past two days, that climbing up though tough was a pleasurable experience for most people in the group. We were treated to a feast and had a great sleep, slightly disturbed by my developing cold and tick bites. The last day from Central to Top station was tough and fast, infact we reached in a little more than two hours and treated myself to a treat of a cup of coffee. Later, we proceeded to Munnar and Devikulam via several famous sites such as Gundale dam, echo point, Mattupatti and a few other places.

There were human elements as well. It was fun being a part of a diverse group, three from Bombay, 8 from Hyderabad, 2 from Delhi, 15 from Bangalore. Of all, Bangalore was interesting as though people were from Bangalore, hardly a few were Bangaloreans. They were all outsiders from here and there. We used to have a strange morning ritual wherein an uncle would say loudly, everyday, we are getting, better and better. Increasingly, the morning discourses became holy and holy, it was interesting to say the least. There were a lot of young kids and it was nice to hear them, there was a really young boy from Delhi, Vipul who was good and solid to be with. Overall, it was a strange fulfilling trip where few people cared for my background or my present. Everyone was equally respectful of everyone and the twain did meet. North met the south and South met the north.

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