A journey conquering the wilderness
Kerala, God’s own country as the whole world calls it, is definitely one of the most beautiful places on the earth. Having born to this place is one of the most privileged things in my life. I could go hours and hours talking if given a topic about Kerala.
The land of coconut trees and backwaters, my native place is the best place than any other so called paradise on earth. If someone asked me where would I go and live at this point or at any point in life, I would undoubtedly say my naadu, my Kerala! Mind you, when we Keralites say naadu, it just doesn’t mean our local place alone but the whole of Kerala. Any part of our state is naadu for us, because each and every place is equally beautiful and very much similar in landscape and people. Of course, Global warming has affected us more than anyone else eating up a major chunk of our landscapes and the beautiful waterbodies. The once paradise on earth changed a lot as a result of what few ‘literates from the 100% literacy state’ managed to accomplish with their unproductive activities.Yet, we haven’t lost hope and are striving more than ever to retain what we lost in the midst of all this modernization and global warming.
While I talk endlessly about Kerala, I wonder now why don’t I write something about the nature trails here that bikers are fond of! In fact I have been thinking of this one topic for some time now. It all started with a movie I watched recently where the actor guy chose to travel north in pursuit of his lady love. But it made me thinking as to why do we always need a reason to travel? Why can’t any trip be just for fun? Think of the places around this part of the country where you could plan a weekend getaway with friends.
You can have a million reasons to travel but think about wandering aimlessly on the winding roads that cut through the woods and little cascades. Think of the soothing silence that awaits you as you enter the road less travelled; something that you don’t get in the other part of hurly burly world where you live. There is this ‘I wouldn’t say unexplored, but a better term would be not much explored’ green corridor of god’s own country ready to enchant you with a magical sprinkle of the moist air and guide you to a mesmerizing tropical backdrop of nature.
I would love to add my personal choice of locations here that has captivated my senses at its best in few of my exploring trips in Kerala. But here when I say Kerala, I am also going to include a place in the interiors of Tamilnadu only through which, this trip would become complete. No matter what you chose to ride/drive, these places would sure leave you spellbound with its flirtatious wide spread smile that stretches across the lofty peaks of the Western Ghats. But remember to leave the windows and sun roof open if you are riding a car to let that forest breeze and the chirping of birds awaken your senses. Bikers needless to say are sure to reach heights of ecstasy in this one joyous trip.
Here is an insight into one of my favourite scenic locales with a detailed road map.
Hold your breath for you are about to witness the most beautiful rain forests as you ride through the nascent path beginning from Chalakudy towards the breath taking Athirappally waterfalls and from then on towards Valparai and further take the deep turn towards Munnar from where you can drive back to where you started. It is an adventurous yet relaxing stretch of 390kms that trails through the gently flowing cascades to the tea plantations of Valparai and Munnar. Along the path, as you ride/drive listening to the uproar of the mighty waterfalls of Athirappally and deeper through the ravines leading you to 80kms of dense woods, it leaves in you moments of heavenly bliss that helps to unwind yourself from the everyday stress of life.
As the journey begins, no matter which part of the earth you are from, remember that this is a piece of land where nature is seen at its raw form. Whether it be the slippery wet rocks along the uneven winding roads or the elusive species of birds or animals you might get lucky enough to spot, nature is at its best here in this stretch. I advise you to not miss out the beauty of this journey by hunting for mobile signals at that time.Be ready to embark on a journey that could leave you spellbound all through the way.
If you are travelling from Kochi/Palakkad, make sure to start during the wee hours of daybreak and reach Chalakudy before 7am so that you can experience the best of the Athirappallywaterfalls before it gets sunny. Distance from Kochi to Chalakudy is less than 60kms while from Palakkad it is 90kms.Chalakudy to Athirappally waterfalls is another 25kms; hence you can plan coffee and a quick breakfast before/after opting for a dip in the stream below the falls. The waterfall rushes from a height of around 80feet and is said to exhibitits magnificence during the monsoons. There are quite a lot of other waterfalls and wildlife sanctuaries around to visit if you are a nature traveller, but since I am fond of rides through the isolated jungle paths, I am going to usher you to the next destination, i.e. Valparai.
Valparai is a small hill station in the suburbs of Tamilnadu, a less inhabited one. And the road that leads to this destination is through the wooded jungle, and so you sure need some real guts to head through the narrow path less travelled. Hence, preferably opt for morning rides and reach valparai before the sun sets. Also the check post doesn’t allow vehicles after dusk. Even then, all you may see along the way would be few tribal people or tents and bamboo stacks here and there. The Peringalkuthu dam and the Sholayar Dam are two reservoirs that capture your attention as they merge with the lush evergreen forests creating the perfect backdrop for any song sequence.
19kms from Sholayar dam leads you to the towns of Valparai where you could drop your bags and halt for lunch. Evenings are best to settle down at Valparai with nothing to disturb the tranquility that prevails there. Few very good private bungalows and guest houses are available here to spend overnight and prepare you for the next leg of journey the following day.
Morning after breakfast, you could pack up and start to Munnar which is another beautiful stretch through Aliyar Dam- Anamalai Dhali Road- Thirumoorthy dam- Marayoor-Gundumalai – Munnar. On this 153kms stretch, you will spot three reservoirs where god has used blue and green from his canvas in plenty here. And as you chase the clouds that have engulfed the mountain slopes dipping them in shades of pearl white, the adrenaline rush that has been there in you all the way from athirappally to valparai will be further heightened leaving a sense of euphoria.
Now reaching Munnar, you could check into any of the cottages facing the beautiful tea plantations and have lunch. Opt to stay overnight at Munnar to get the best out of the trip. Sleep well to wipe out all the tiredness and wake up early to catch the mist lift its white blanket over the green hills. After breakfast, you could plan your trip back home.
When I wrote this blog, I only meant a long weekend trip, hence planned it like this. But just in case you have an extra day or two to spare, you could extend it for more nights at Munnar probably for sightseeing, and to enjoy the weather and ask me I would say laze off whole day. Well, At least my idea of a perfect holiday would be that.