Reconnect with the elements at this hill station, writes MANU REMAKANT
AT Kanjar Junction, a big jeep waits in front of `Tasty Bakers,’ a local confectionary. Soon, crammed with people, it begins an uphill journey to one of the most fabulous hill stations in Kerala – Ilaveezhapoonchira.
The jeep hugs the curving rugged road that is too narrow to permit overtaking or speeding. One side of the road gives way to a steep fall that reveals glimpses of Idukki shimmering in the morning sun. After 8 km, the jeep comes to a halt, at a spot where the path widens a bit.
This is Chakkikkavu. A sign put up by the District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) announces that Ilaveezhapoonchira is three km away.
This demands a steady climb on foot through a gravelled road. One has to be careful as a careless step could dislodge big boulders on the path. Another kilometre up and you feel the nip in the air. It is hard to keep your eyes on the path as the mountains in the distance and wild orchids vie for your attention.
After 30 minutes, you reach a big plateau. The place is surrounded by three hillocks – Mankunnu, Kodayathoormala and Thonippara, making it an ideal place for trekking. The sunlight, which filters through the dark clouds, forces you to search for a tree to seek shelter. As you look around, you realise why people call it Ilaveezhapoonchira, the valley where `leaves never fall.’ There are no trees in the vicinity.
There is only a worn out DTPC cottage here, which is used as a public comfort station. “It is yet to be inaugurated,” says Mathew, a resident. He helps occasional visitors to see the place. “If you come here on Pathamudayam, you can see the most brilliant sunrise ever in your life People come here just to see the sunset and sunrise….”
The mountain owes its green cover to a plant called `Chitteenth,’ a variety of coniferous plant. “People use seeds of the plant to adulterate coffee powder,” claims Mathew. At a distance, beyond the mountain ridge, dark clouds hover. The mist covers you and soon you are walking in the clouds.
At the zenith
A deserted police outpost greets visitors at the zenith. A breathtaking view of the valley awaits intrepid travellers who go right to the top of the mountain. You walk another kilometre downhill over the ridge and you come across the dark mouth of a cave that goes deep into the mountain. However, the eerily dark cave discourages exploration. The rumble of distant thunder forces you to beat a hasty retreat to Chakkikavu, where the jeep is waiting to take you back to the world.
How to get there
TAKE AN early morning train to Kottayam. A fast bus will take you to Thodupuzha within two hours. From Thodupuzha, you would have to travel to Moolamattam and alight at Kanjar, which is 15 km from Thodupuzha. Buy your lunch at Kanjar. An umbrella is a must if you plan to go on a rainy day. Find out what time the jeep would reach CCC for your return trip. Never go on a Sunday as the jeep services are rare on holidays.
Source: The Hindu