Thursday, July 06, 2006

Kodai Munnar Trek

Shyam Chand
Sandeep Raja
Pavitra Rao
Vimla Mothi
Malini Narasimha
Mihir Joshi
Kabir Joshi
Abraham Menacherry
Dev Balaji(Guide)

Hosted by Nature Admire, cost 3500 rupees, including food, stay(in tents/guesthouse etc) and pickup and drop to Bangalore.

Was it worth it? Since we could not complete the trek I can’t say for sure. Its a three day 10 + 21 + 10 km trek starting from Perijam lake in Kodaikanal to Top station about 30km from Munnar. Perijam Lake is situated about 30 km from kodaikanal. It’s a forest area and you need the forest dept's letter to go to that place.

We started the expedition from Bangalore on the night of 29th of March 2006. Transportation was in a Swaraj Mazda, it was a reasonably comfortable drive. We reached Kodai by 30th afternoon and had our lunch at a reasonably good place called "Goldan Parks Inn". Now we went to the office of the Forest Dept to get our letter. They acted like true govt: office and gave the letter after a long delay.

Next stop was Perijam Lake. The road to this place is along a forested area; fortunately it had a good tarred road through it. Halfway through our journey to the lake, we were stopped because of a tree that had fallen right across the road. We made good use of this opportunity to take a lot of snaps; also we packed our backpacks with all the necessary items for the trek and put the rest of the stuff back in the vehicle. Within half an hour the workers had cleared the tree off the road, and there was this woman working there who was kind enough to give us good "walking sticks" which she cut off from the fallen tree.

On reaching Perijam Lake we disembarked and started our trek, we made slow progress because of the weight of our backpacks. It is tougher than it seems to walk with a 15-20 kg load on your shoulder. You get tired pretty fast and your shoulders and back ache like mad. But after about 20 minutes you will get into a rhythm and then its fine.

The whole area is absolutely beautiful, the Kodai section of the trek is more of a pine forest and it’s near the Munnar section that the forest turns into a tropical evergreen type. I have always considered pine trees to be the "celebrity-good-looker" in the family of trees and here was a whole forest of em.

On our way to our first tenting point about 10 kilometers from Perijam Lake there were two occasions that really stood out. One was when we found the skull of a bison, it was really huge and heavy and it had such majestic rounded horns that it must have been one of the alpha males during its life time. We took a lot of snaps with the skull in different positions. The second situation was that we were lost in the forest at night, this arose because of a number of factors, we had started our trek late, we were slower than our guide expected and there were two kids with us (Mihir and Kabir are just passing on from 8th to 9th standard) who got a bit scared as the pitch black of the forest night descended on us. Anyway to make a long story short we had to trek a little bit extra before we could reach our destination.

I liked this "getting-lost" part, its where all the fun and adventure is, not knowing whether we will reach our destination, and what to do for the night is a rather funny feeling to be had, but looking back its such situations that make an expedition more memorable.
At our destination we bundled ourselves into a 6 by 7 foot room and had our dinner. There were two sparrows in the room before we arrived and we had to get rid of them before we could get in. It was an open room with no door and broken windows. Balaji had noticed elephant dung outside the room and this caused a bit of worry for everyone. Fortunately none of the jumbo’s came visiting during the night.

Since we could not all fit in to the room, it was decided that the "boys", me, shyam and Sandeep would sleep out in a tent. It was my first experience of sleeping in a tent. Balaji fixed us the tent in hardly 15 minutes and then we put in our sleeping mats and sleeping bags and went to sleep, well not directly to sleep coz we were all a bit scared about the elephant dung or at least its owner. It was very cold during the night but we managed to brave it. I had a reasonably good sleep and since I am one big snorer I am sure that the other guys did not get too much of the same.

The next day I awoke and did my morning rituals in the forest, we had our breakfast and were all set to start off on the second leg of our tour. This would mean about 21 km of trekking to a forest guest house. Till now we were following a jeep trial but going ahead we were to follow a single-man path through the thick forest, also the altitude would change dramatically from about 5000 feet to a high of 7500 feet. At this high altitude breathing is tougher especially with the loads that we were carrying.

I was very thrilled regarding this second leg of the trek, unfortunately one of the girls fainted just before start of the trek and Balaji decided that it was too risky to carry on. So we decided to retrace our steps back to Perijam Lake. The poor girl was real crestfallen but then it could have been anyone, we were all still tired from our night-trek on the day before. The way back was as good as going through a new route since we had not seen the surroundings in the pitch dark of the previous night.

This time instead of using the jeep track we used short-cuts through the forest to reach Perijam Lake, we lost our way a couple of times and most of our short-cuts turned out to be long-cuts but anyways it was fun. Also since we had the whole day with us to complete the 10km trek we stopped here and there to take a lot of snaps, climbed atop a huge rocky hill to get a view and stopped by a brook to take a long break, in short the trek was more like a picnic in the woods. By afternoon we had reached Perijam Lake and had our lunch from a local canteen.

We rode back from Perijam to Kodai on the back of a truck which had none of the flaps to cover its three sides... it was an absolutely thrilling experience, it was a first for everyone and all of us enjoyed this ride to the hilt. I think this will be one of the experiences that I will never forget about this trip. Thinking of the way we tossed around on the back while the truck negotiated hairpin curves at high speeds still brings on the goose bumps. Fortunately we took a photo/video of this.

We spend the night in Kodai in a hotel called "Clifton" it also had the name "JH Residency" don't know why both names were displayed together. This was a rather cheap but very cozy hotel. We had to pay only Rs500 for 9 people, and we easily fit into two rooms. Am not sure about the in-season charge for this place.

The next day was more of a picnic with the kids going for boating and some of us going for cycling around the lake in Kodai. We took a lot of snaps, did a bit of chit chat at a local hotel and later that day we returned to Bangalore.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoy full trip..

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2:04 PM  
Blogger sumathi kalpana said...

interesting blog. It would be great if you can provide more details about it. Thanks you

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Blogger Hai Baji said...

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