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Friday 3 April 2015

Meesapulimala Trek

This year Good Friday was on April 3rd.
I reached home from Trivandrum that morning. Was planning to spend three days with my son. By 4:15 in the afternoon my cousin Anish called. He had a trekking plan from Kurangini to Kolukkumala and Meesapulimala. It was a dream come true for me as I have been wishing for this for a long time. Friday, the whole day I spent with my Kiddo and the trekking was planned on Saturday and Sunday.
I left my home at 9 in the morning and reached Thrissur at about 11. It was a very sunny day. I got a bus from Thrissur to Perumbavoor. From there to Adimali; next stop was Rajacaud. I met a farmer on that bus and he was so kind to explain the route and place. After reaching Rajacaud by 5PM I caught a bus to Rajakumari in Idukki district. There I met with another guy (named Jason). He too said many things about the place but he was not too familiar with my destination.
Anish ettan and team were reaching from Chennai and I have to join them soon. They have started early morning picking Binu from krishnagiri, even though it was a very long drive from chennai to bodi via salem and dinigul they found time for sightseeing as well, they kept on updating pics of Krishnagiri dam, Dindigul malaikottai, Dindigul Thalappakatti Biryani and gifting and planting trees nearby a  tea shop somewhere in theni district ...
Upon reaching Rajakumari I bought some oranges and bananas. Next was catching a bus to Pooppara. On reaching there at about 8:30, a person I met was an ex-employee of KSRTC who suggested me to get a bus to Thane and get down at Munthal (where I was to meet up with Anish ettan). Munthal is about 35km from Pooppara.
By the time I reached Munthal it was way past 9:30PM. I met with Anish ettan there. Binu and Loga was rest of the team. From there we went to Kurangini hills together and there starts our journey.
Our trekking organizer Yogesh was waiting for us at Kurangini. We made a night stay there as Yogesh had arranged a pretty decent place for us. We freshened up and had food that Anish ettan had prepared and bought with him. The view outside the room was magnificent and scary at the same time. The scene waiting our eyes was of huge mountains standing gallantly on either side of Kurangini; this intensified the thrill of the trek awaiting us tomorrow. It was drizzling by then and we were all worried the rain would spoil the trek.
Morning about 8 was the time we planned on starting the trek. We woke up by about 6:30 when hot coffee was bought by the organizer. We all got ready quick and had our breakfast from a small hotel nearby. A native boy was to be our guide throughout the trek. The villagers were bustling about even at that early hour. The goats, dogs and hens were busy with their daily routines.
Kurangini has two huge mountains on both sides. We have to pass through the mountain on the left to reach our trekking point. We had our lunch packed with us. The way to the trekking point was through a meadow and the sun was beating hard on us. Our silent guide Vijay had very few words even on questioning.
We took a break in a place in the meadow beside a small stream; eating sweet oranges that cooled us down a little. The water was refreshing.  Walking further on till about 12:00, we stopped near a huge pine tree. Surrounding that single tree, there was only grass. I have no words to describe that scene. It was breathtaking.
We thought of lying down on the grass to take a nap for some time after having our lunch under the shade of the tree, but the sun was still too hot despite the wind. Also the grass was very sharp to touch. The hill opposite the mountain on which we were was very beautiful.  we could see the topstation zig zag trails from kurangini, I wish we were hiking through that hill too. For about one hour we spent time there and started off again.
We then started our walk after 1 pm.
Vijay was leading the way and I was right behind him. Suddenly a long creature jumped in front of us from the bushes leaving us stunned. First we thought it was a snake. But at a second look we realized that it was a monitor lizard. It was too quick for us to take photographs. Anish ettan who was behind us didn’t get to see it. We were not expecting to see any animals during this trek and the lizard got us excited draining any fatigue from our bodies and minds; even if it was just a glimpse. After the excitement dying down, we continued our trip and the grassland through which we were walking was about to end and our guide told that we were about to enter a small forest.
We were glad that now we could enjoy some shade. We took rest at the starting of the forest trail. There was a stream nearby. Our water supplies were almost at an end. We decided to fill our empty bottles. The water had a slight color change. But Vijay (our guide) reassured us about its quality and usability. After refilling the bottles we resumed the trekking.
As we proceeded our electral packets kept on decreasing. Vijay informed us that it was just a 4 km walk more to reach the top. He suddenly stopped us and pointed to a tree. A “Malabar Giant Squirrel” (not so giant though ;P). I am seeing one for the first time. It was bigger than a domestic cat, a mix of white, maroon and black colors. I tried to take a video of it, but seeing humans that near it got scared and jumped further away from tree to tree and disappeared.
After four kilometers of walk the path ended abruptly. We were relieved that the walk came to an end. We were on top of Kolukkumalai, the highest tea plantations in the world. We reached the top by 4 pm and had a good view of the tea plantation from there. The whole estate was visible. Breathtaking! The view from that point was exotic. There were two small temples; below acres of the tea plantation. The whole area was covered with blue flowers, cows grazing in between. Fantastic!
The houses of plantation workers were looking beautiful blending in well with the nature. Houses were made of wooden planks painted blue and green; tile thatched small beautiful houses. We were in awe.
We had a tasty tea from the shop built there nearby the old tea factory which in itself is the prime landmark right on top of the Kolukkumalai tea estates. There were many people there, like us. Many came by Scorpio; some on bullet bikes.
Coming out of the shop with satisfied smiles on our faces we saw Yogesh waiting for us with his jeep. The materials needed for the tents were neatly tied to the top of the jeep. The jeep took us to a beautiful guest house. The view from there was more beautiful.
We had tea and biscuits.
We charged our phone batteries while Yogesh went to set up the tents. To one side of the guest house there was a small hut made of wood and palm leaves. The creepers and flowers growing over the hut gave it a look straight out of a fairytale.  After about two hours Vijay took us to where the tents were. It was a small clearing with tall trees around. Two tents were put up there for us. Saxophone music playing in the background (from the stereo in the jeep). An unreal setting that left us in a state where we were like “wow”. The view, weather- the very ambiance was excellent.
Yogesh arranged a campfire at night- firewood was arranged earlier for that. The tents could accommodate 4 people each. There were sleeping bags and all other arrangements inside. The only hitch was a toilet. We had to use nature as a toilet.
Seeing the clear green ground we suddenly were caught by an urge to play football. We made DIY football using hay and some paper. We played on until it became dark. Rajan an other helper along with vijay started arranging woods at the fireplace.
Later we went to the guest house to have dinner. Upon finishing dinner we came back to the tent and started the camp fire for cold was setting in on us.
After sometime there fell an eerie silence. The Easter full moon rose above the pine trees, casting around a strange glow transforming everything and giving the whole scenario an unreal feel. A true Hollywood horror movie setting!
By 10:30 we all went to sleep. Anish ettan hadn’t slept for two days now and was craving peaceful sleep. He even threatened us jokingly that if he didn’t fall asleep, he wouldn’t let anyone else sleep keeping them awake the whole night too giving him company! (hehe.. ;D) I was to sleep beside Anish ettan that night. Getting to my sleeping bag and lying down after a long and tiring day was a blissful feeling!
By 5AM Anish ettan woke me up. He told me that he didn’t sleep. He was roaming and exploring the places nearby the tents the whole night! He also thought that the sky and the  moon went through different phases of
lighting transformation when it was fused up with the surrounding mist, lying near the campfire watching all these actions was nature at its brilliant best is what he described. What a weird guy! I came out of the tent and met with a thick fog around me. Could hardly see anything far. The fog, the shadow of the pine trees cast by the soon fading moonlight; the mighty mountains around. A scene to behold in my heart forever. You should have been there to experience it; no words could cover the feel. Anish ettan came and stood beside me. He told me that during his night stroll he came across a gate. He was curious to see what lay beyond it and so he jumped over to the other side. I was stunned by his guts, what if some wild animal had attacked him!
After hearing about his adventure I too had the urge to go explore the forest that Anish ettan said lay beyond the gate. So I pestered him till he took me to the place for a troll and we both jumped over the locked gate. It was still too dark as it was early hours of morning. To one side the forest and the other a tea plantation. By that time the birds had started to awake and their melodic morning raga met our ears. The air was filled with the smell of different kinds of beautiful flowers. The sounds, sights and smells were soothing our minds and refreshing our bodies. After walking some distance we reached a crossing. There was a plague placed telling us about the place. To the right of that cross was Kerala and to the left was Tamil Nadu. We were standing on the road separating the two states. After sometime we walked back.
When we reached the gate, we saw someone flashing a torchlight. It was our guide Vijay. He had bought black tea for us. Everyone was up by that time. We bathed and after brushing, had tea. The water there was icy cold. “Brr!!!”

We packed our things and reached the guest house. Yogesh informed us that on the way to Meesapulimala elephants were seen by the locals and said that it’s too dangerous for us to go there now. We were very disappointed. Anish ettan was quiet for a while thinking. He then told Yogesh that we were ready to take up that risk as we were coming from a place near Mudumalai Wild Life Sanctuary; elephants don’t scare us. He insisted that we return but our pestering led him to agree and let us go but one other guide also tagging along; a local.
We started the climb through the tea estate. It is 5km from there to Meesapulimala. The climb was some 70 degree elevation, and it was a single climb. Both side of the way were flowers of eye pleasingly beautiful colors.
In that climb we came across elephant dung. From then on we were expecting to see elephants. Our local guide pointed to a distance showing us a group of Varayadu (Nilgiri Tahr -Nilgiritragus hylocrius).
Reaching the end of the hills our walk continued through a dense forest path. The path was narrow, just wide enough for a man to walk. I will never forget that walk through the forest. It was full of white, yellow and rose blooms all around. How beautiful that sight was! We tried hard to capture at least a glimpse of that beauty onto our cameras. We were all on a fight to pose in front of those flowers for the photographs.

Vijay showed us a guava tree which bore really small fruit. I believe that must be the smallest guava bearing tree in the world. They were so small that we had to collect a lot to get enough for all of us. We enjoyed the tasty treat. Further on we noticed that the place was filled with these bonsai-like trees. Even the mango and trees were tiny. Vijay and I were behind from others and we somehow lost our way. To reach beside the others quickly we did something adventurous. We slid among the bushes; though scratched by the thorns and bruised a little we reached down in an easy and fun way. Given a chance again I would still do the same to reach down!
Soon the forest came to an end and saw a vast grassland spread in front of our path. To one side deep down was Kerala. We were now at the valley from where now we have to climb to reach our destination. I was wondering how the place got its name. As we were going to climb, we decided to reduce the weight of our bags. I took out some extra clothes from my bag and Vijay hid them behind some bushes.
Loga and Binu started climbing the hill like cats, using hands and legs with much ease. Vijay and I were climbing slowly enjoying the climb and the nature. We were able to see a lake far at the horizon of the grassland. It felt like we were in some African reserve forest. Anish ettan and our guide were coming up as a third pair. All of us met at a point and had some water and glucose tablets.
Loga and Binu but by this time were panting because of the steeper path they chose. We were nowhere near our destination; it was still very far. There was not a single tree or even a plant for long so no shade. But it was windy up there and the cool wind was very soothing and refreshing. To the right of the path we can see the mighty mountains and to the left was dry grassland. We noticed a hawk flying high and we spied it swooping down in a sharp dive down and disappearing. We saw it emerging a moment later with some unfortunate little animal in its strong clutches.
Loga was in the front and me right behind. He kept on clicking photos; asking us from time to time to pose. I overtook him soon with an unintentional plan in my mind to reach the zenith of Meesapulimala first.
I was recording the last few meters of the climb in my mobile cam. I was just a few meters from the peak. And finally I was there; on top of South India’s second highest peak. I have conquered it. The mixed emotions in my mind at that point are quite hard to explain. It’s at moments like this in our lives, we are glad that we are alive. That we got to live this life in this beautiful paradise called earth. My heart is in a state of happiness and peace; beyond words. Wishing I could stay there till lives’ end. The view was breathtaking; just stunning.
Loga reached. Anish ettan and the gang were still far behind. I was recording everything there when suddenly I heard Loga calling me.
I rushed to his side but unfortunately the Tahr Loga was trying to show me went out of sight. There was another peak just next to Meesapulimala, which was almost the same height. Our local guide Rajan lay down and relaxed. The blue and green of the grass and sky was mesmerizing all around us. We had a photo taken from up there; jumping high up- almost like flying!
Suddenly everyone realized something. We had all forgotten that these two days were stolen from our busy lives and now we had to return to it all once again. Every one of us had to reach back for one reason or the other.  With heavy hearts we started our climb down, leaving behind us that one piece of heaven on earth. In our excitement to reach up we hadn’t noticed how steep it was. The descent was really difficult. Our muscles started protesting giving us signs of exhaustion. If we lose a step it would be a bone breaking skull crushing fall for God knows how far down. I was very thankful to Suja, my colleague, who gifted me the Salomon trekking shoes. Finally we reached the spot where we earlier hid our clothes. We all rested for a while.
On our trekking back, Loga had somehow managed to find a shortcut through the tea estate to reach the guest house; and we were back pretty fast.
Breakfast was waiting for us and we were all famished enough to eat a mammoth by the time we reached. Steaming hot Puri Masala. Anish ettan had gone to freshen up before eating so he had to wait for the Puris’ to be made a second time.
Thanking for the food we soon left the guest house. The trip was coming to an end. We were to reach our starting point Kurangani in Yogesh’s jeep soon. Anish ettan sat in the front with the driver and rest of us in the back. It will be the most memorable jeep ride in our entire lives! It was one of the toughest off-road rides downhill. A hat off to Yogesh’s driving skills.
The roller coaster ride was a torture to my poor back and in the end I shifted to the center seat; I couldn’t take it anymore. The jeep dropped us somewhere on the route to Munnar. Yogesh went to return the rented tents and other essentials. It was a hilly area. Tourists and locals have littered the whole place with plastic and other wastes. We saw some people teaching their kids rock climbing there. One of the most adventurous sports in the world; one I was not fortunate enough to try myself.
Yogesh came back after returning the camping gear and the rest if the journey to Kurangani was difficult.
Everyone had vomiting urges throughout the rickety road ride and Loga was affected the most.
He was throwing up continuously. We reached Kurangani by 3 in the evening. We went to our rooms and took rest. I gave Vijay our guide who helped us throughout the journey my multi-utility tool as a gift.
Anishettan had a long way to drive back from there so he dropped me at the nearest KSRTC stand from where I caught a Trivandrum fast.
I never had such an awesome and crazy trip before. It was fun going with Anish ettan. I enjoyed every exciting moment of those 21 km climb. Yes the view was not as thrilling as the one that I was fortunate enough to see from Agasthyakoodam, still it was worth it.
There are many more peaks left to conquer for me. Soon!
I dedicate this trip to Suja who supported me in all my craziness.

Author        : Sreejith Kannan
Clicked          : Anish, Sreejith
Team                 : Anish, Sreejith, Binu, Loga, Vijay, Rajan
Place                    : Idukki District, Kerala


  1. Great kanneta... Can read between the lines, how you might have enjoyed the trek...GReat group, great clicks too... keep going...:)......

  2. Very Good Narration.fine snaps.Every trekking is difficult and hard.but when we reach the destination we are getting happiness that descri beyond words. when reading your article vi was a feeling I am with you.Ok keep the memories as great tressure

  3. Finally you have recaptured those wonderful moments of those 3 days.. Well written Kanna.. Just like a short story :)

  4. It was so fun as well as exciting trekking with all of you. Really enjoyed and learned a lot from Kannettan. He is the right example of a good trekker. Anishetta you are just awesome and you need no comments

  5. adipoli.. nalla detail aayi ezhuthettundu..

  6. Nice write up! loved it...each photographs explained your happiness... :) :) <3

  7. Hi kannetaa.just now read the block.. Its wonderful kanneta. Its so detailed and clear that I felt like I m was with you guys for the trek.. Goodone kanneta

  8. Wonderful blog thanks to share with us. Now Bus Tickets Booking is available to in advance also can be booked online at any time.