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Old 18th September 2011, 10:29   #1
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Cool In Search of the Haunted Bungalow at Bonacaud, Trivandrum

Friday, 7Am - “I need to do an endurance test for my car’ s suspension” – said my friend.

“why?” – I asked.

“I had a forest/ high range trip last month and my car’s suspension had to be overhauled after that trip..so I want to test it”. – said my friend.

“Leave it..we are not going anywhere now. It’s a Friday morning and I’m not a business man like you. I got an office to report to and a boss too. I’m even too lazy to wander tomorrow or day after” – I said.

That was when suddenly a spot came to my mind, which had been tempting me to revisit. Knowing some peoples weak spots too can be helpful.

7.15 Am – “tring tring tring tring..yes young man, its Friday morning and which Friday illness are you having today again?” – asked boss.

“nothing sir, I just came to know that we can get 100% fresh estate tea leaves and lots of fruits untouched by man from a nearby place. My friends are visiting that place and I thought that you might like some tea leaves and fresh fruits” – I said

“Fresh tea leaves? In Trivandrum? Now, do you think I would fall for that my boy?” – asked boss

“Yes sir, I guarantee. I thought that since you are such an afficando of tea, I might as well go along with them and get the correct leaves”

“Hmmm..so you want a day off, right? If you can promise that you would be in office on Monday, I can think about it”

8.30 Am – suddenly, 2 became 4 (no, boss didn’t come along, but 2 other ‘testers’ ) and there we were, driving to Bonacaud to ‘test suspension’ of a Ford Fiesta. Lying almost parallel to the Ponmudi hill station, I was entranced by Bonacuad on my first visit in June 2010 itself. Spread over 2500 acres of plains, valleys, hills and forests, Bonacaud was once a magnificent tea estate which was started during the British Raj era and now, left to die. Few people know about the existence of this spot and perhaps, that might be the reason why the place still remains virgin and natural beauty intact.

Bonacaud is nearly 40km from Trivandrum, taking a deviation from the Ponmudi road. From the Ponmudi main road, it is only 13 Kms, but the road is narrow and winding, offering beautiful views of the Agasthya mountain ranges. There is a ‘Jersey Farm’ – a dairy run by the Government which is just at the end of the plain road before the start of the long winding road. You got to declare yourselves at the Forest Check-post before entering the hill road. Unlike the Ponmudi road which is superb, the Bonacaud road is relatively battered and possibility of wild life sighting is high too.

The road leading to the first check-post
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The State Road Transport Corporation runs few bus trips at 2 hours gap from Nedumangad.On the road up, there is a watch tower from where once can have a clear view (on mist free days) of the Peppara Dam and its catch area which is to the right and as you turn your vision to left, you can see the green mountain ranges and the factory and buildings dotting the Bonacaud estate and the winding roads snaking further up from Bonacaud (again, if its free from mist).

partial view of Peppara Dam
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view of the factory from watchtower
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The Bonafalls, a spectacular large waterfall is nearly 6km from the Bonacaud tea factory. Vehicles can be taken only 2kms to a Forest Checkpoint and Bungalow and the remaining 4 kms are to be trekked through a forest path. The permit for the trek has to be taken from the first Forest checkpost before reaching the estate. Unfortunately, both times, we were not allowed to trek as it was said that elephants were out on the track. Starting from the watchtower mentioned earlier, the sound of the waterfall is audible till you reach the factory.

a beautiful waterfall enroute
In Search of the Haunted Bungalow at Bonacaud, Trivandrum-334594_248009191910802_100001051681089_750907_1840089096_o.jpg

However, the pristine beauty one was driving through for so long turns into beauty of ruins you near the estate area. Acres of ruined tea shrubs, covered by undergrowth and huge barren trees dot the final run into the estate. Broken walls, semi-collapsed ‘layams’ or dwelling units for plantation workers, a single tea-shop etc. welcomes you. The constant rain and mist makes the place evergreen with the mosses everywhere – on the walls, on the tarmac, on the trees.. A public TV stand which is broken sans the TV stands as a monument to the once lively evenings when the workers would be gathering to watch TV, not in a much distant past.

rusted..the tea factory
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A single store (can be called a hotel too with 2 benches and 2 chairs) caters to the need of the remaining workers. The owner is a simple man whom I had befriended during last visit. He recognized me after some effort and I asked him if there are visitors to the area. He told that during season, some groups would come to trek to the Bonafalls, but they never bother to stop over the estate area or talk to the people there. During first visit we had explored around the factory and immediate estate areas which were riddled with ruined settlements, partially broken homes and lives, staring eyes, friendly eyes and people who were happy that we were willing to listen to their stories – stories of a glorious past. During the last trip, the factory was closed and there had been no activity for more than 5 years. But this, time, there were some activities, thanks to the Government intervention and some change in management. Tea were being plucked at some sections and the whirring sound of machines were heard..May be a good sign.


he saw through many decades, accompanied by hardships and neglect, mind & body hardened by the struggles. now his eyes brood with contempt..even our lens didn't have the courage to look into his eyes directly
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Standing where we were, what we saw seemed so beautiful..as if everything were gelled together perfectly. But as we got close, we found it was shattered beyond the point of return and paradoxically beautiful - Nature’s canvas was large, yet the human life seemed so small. Homes had the view to streams, yet there were no one to watch the beauty. Many crossed the beautiful bridge, but only not to return. It was green all around, yet it was the creeping greenery, the greenery which gains as life starts to withdraw.
In Search of the Haunted Bungalow at Bonacaud, Trivandrum-56784_148567645188291_100001051681089_260203_6328066_o.jpg

The trip so far had made us damn hungry and the food packets were cleaned off accompanied by the black tea and omelette ordered from the shop.We asked the shop owner about the possible journey upwards from the factory area and we were told that a old Bungalow or mansion was there up in the mountain and a haunted one too. We looked at each other and looked up the mountain..The sky was turning turning dark from the mountain side with the mist accompanying it, sun was still shining in the valley side on the other side, making the grey skies atop the mountain more sinister. We asked about the condition of the road and was told that the soil roads were redone recently, but still bumpy and rocky. Well, that was when we remembered that we had come for ‘suspension test’.

Something was up there, the mist called us
In Search of the Haunted Bungalow at Bonacaud, Trivandrum-326933_248016505243404_100001051681089_750980_1683662459_o.jpg


The trip ahead took us through some spectacular drives, through the middle of enormous loneliness of the tea plants, settlements in between and the sight of the catchment area of Peppara Dam at some curves. We felt as if it was a different world, often the roads lined with mystic red flowers falling down from particular type of huge tree. Only sound was that of the car ad the chirping crickets and the occasional wind. The lights were magical, one moment we were under spotlight, next moment, the mountain behind us was in spotlight. In next corner, we faced the dark grey sky which opened up pretty soon.

In Search of the Haunted Bungalow at Bonacaud, Trivandrum-dsc_0432.jpg

The next few kilometers was under the violent pounding of rain and we were wondering of anyone would be up there in such a place. At the next corner, we were surprised to find a crèche, we stopped there in awe thinking of how one could be placing a crèche at this point and suddenly, two ladies and kid came out to the balcony looking at us. It was hard to roll down the glass even an inch as water came in with all its might. Yet, one glass was rolled down and we asked them where the Bungalow was and was told that we took the wrong curve and had to get into another.

The drive continued and the pace was very slow, often in first gear over the rocks and muddy water. For a moment, we thought – what would happen if the car get stuck..no range for mobiles, not even a single soul, and the forest getting more thick. We were told from the base that it is safe since there would be no elephants up there. Rain cleared off and we drove on as the path got narrow into single lane, there were few ruined homes/ structures. These were supposed to be there from British period and the location was such that it provided a stunning view of the valley down below, the factory area and dam. Yet it didn’t look like the huge Bungalow we were told of. The search continued and the sky turned grey again slowly..Finally, sighted the Officers Bungalow which was ruined and this was a landmark told to us. Happy that we were on the right track, we continued the trip and suddenly, we spotted an elephant dung. Gulp!! Then we said to ourselves that it might be an elephant brought to pull the fallen trees.

akin to Hitchcock movies..popcorn anyone?
In Search of the Haunted Bungalow at Bonacaud, Trivandrum-324575_248010228577365_100001051681089_750917_238769749_o.jpg

We decided to push further up and continued. But, with each passing corner, the dung was getting fresher and fresher. Then, the realization sunk in that the path was single lane only, time was nearing 4.30 Pm, mist slowly descending and rain drops starting to fall. We decided to keep the remaining exploration for next time and then, the focus was to find some space to turn around the car. At one curve, there was enough space to reverse in steps and that was when, rain opened up its fury.

The return trip was on..to be on the safer side, we decided that the search for the haunted Bungalow can be kept for next time along with a local guide and an SUV. The car had passed the ‘suspension test’, and on reaching the factory area, we gave locals some tip for plucking the tea leaves so that my boss can be happy. But, the happiest guys were us who explored through unknown and came back with a feeling that what remains to be seen would be more mystic. Words can’t do justice to the beautiful sights we saw all around and I hope the pictures would talk for itself.

Last edited by Mysticeyes : 18th September 2011 at 10:33.
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Old 18th September 2011, 11:09   #2
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Default Re: In Search of the Haunted Bungalow at Bonacaud, Trivandrum

A fantastic, crisp and excellent write-up, with expressive language and wonderful photography! It's got me absolutely hooked! Needless to say, I'm subscribed!

Keep 'em coming!
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Old 18th September 2011, 14:42   #3
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Originally Posted by Mysticeyes View Post
Words can’t do justice to the beautiful sights we saw all around and I hope the pictures would talk for itself.
Words did justice and the photographs completed the picture. Thank you for taking us there through your eyes - Mystic eyes, I presume.
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Old 18th September 2011, 15:33   #4
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No further pics?? No GPS??

And because I work in a Govt. dpt. which may be related - what exactly revived the plantation and the factory? Or was it just that the factory alone was dead?
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Old 18th September 2011, 16:45   #5
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B E A utiful!! love your write ups! they are so very inviting and inspirational.

Can you plot a map for us to this place?
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Old 18th September 2011, 16:49   #6
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Originally Posted by suhaas307 View Post
A fantastic, crisp and excellent write-up, with expressive language and wonderful photography! It's got me absolutely hooked! Needless to say, I'm subscribed!

Keep 'em coming!
my pleasure


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Originally Posted by BaCkSeAtDrIVeR View Post
No further pics?? No GPS??
And because I work in a Govt. dpt. which may be related - what exactly revived the plantation and the factory? Or was it just that the factory alone was dead?
sir, from the talks with the locals, it was learned that a new person had taken lease of the estate from the owners. hence things had improved over last few months. majority of the plantation is in a poor state.

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Can you plot a map for us to this place?
Govi, I'm pretty poor at mapping just checked google maps and found that there is detailed satellite imagery for the route. if you search 'bonacaud trivandrum', it would take you to the road from Vithura Jn - Bonacaud and beyond.

However, the general route is Trivandrum-Peroorkada-Karakulam-Azhicode-Pazhakutty-Anad-Vithura-Bonacaud. The Trivandrum-Anad road is the same one as the Trivandrum-Shenkottai State Highway. The deviation (to right) to enter the ponmudi/ bonacaud route is taken at Anad. The road markings are excellent.

yet another curve..
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one of the many small waterfalls en route to Bonacaud
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used to be..
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once upon a time money-orders went from here
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envy the view..we got to pay millions for having such a home
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dippers point
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in full bloom
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loved the contrast of the brownish rust and 'greenery'
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still intact
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go green
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Last edited by Mysticeyes : 18th September 2011 at 17:04.
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Old 18th September 2011, 18:13   #7
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The return trip was on..to be on the safer side, we decided that the search for the haunted Bungalow can be kept for next time along with a local guide and an SUV. The car had passed the ‘suspension test’, and on reaching the factory area, we gave locals some tip for plucking the tea leaves so that my boss can be happy. But, the happiest guys were us who explored through unknown and came back with a feeling that what remains to be seen would be more mystic. Words can’t do justice to the beautiful sights we saw all around and I hope the pictures would talk for itself.
Very good write-up backed by eye-catching pics dude. I got fully involved while going thru the excellent narration that you have made. Hope to get more updates on your quest for the haunted bungalow next time.

Keep it rolling

Cheers,
Kiran
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Old 18th September 2011, 20:03   #8
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Falubous write up and beautiful pictures to go with it too. You couldn't have asked for a better place to test the "suspension".
Your images express a great deal about the current state of the factory.
Agasthya ranges was in my mind for some time, but never got a chance to do it. Will make my trip pretty soon. I believe decent accommodation could be found at Ponmudi.
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Old 18th September 2011, 23:13   #9
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Can't believe my eyes that such beautiful place exists in Thiruvananthapuram.
Don't mistake me, haven't been to Ponmudi or the north eastern part of the district,
Anyway wonderful pics and narration. Keep it coming.
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Old 19th September 2011, 06:25   #10
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Hope to get more updates on your quest for the haunted bungalow next time.
Cheers,
Kiran
As a matter of fact. the travel bug was so much that we almost got off the very next day. but better sense prevailed

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Can't believe my eyes that such beautiful place exists in Thiruvananthapuram.
Don't mistake me, haven't been to Ponmudi or the north eastern part of the district,
Anyway wonderful pics and narration. Keep it coming.
Dicky, there does exist such unknown pristine locales..the beauty liesin its anonymity

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Agasthya ranges was in my mind for some time, but never got a chance to do it. Will make my trip pretty soon. I believe decent accommodation could be found at Ponmudi.
Anuj, till december is the best climate with rain and mist which adds to the beauty of ponmudi nd bonacaud. accommodation is there but rooms are very limited and have to be booked well in advance if you are planning to stay in ponmudi itself.

the road leading to bonacaud 'town' with a shop, post-office & bus stand
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in the lap of greenery
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the great war for focus
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battered
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oh boyyy..seems someone is giving us company. the remains of officers bungalow can be seen behind the car
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Last edited by GTO : 25th September 2011 at 23:08. Reason: No more than 2 smileys per post please. Read our rules
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Old 19th September 2011, 06:33   #11
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Wooohoooo no ghost!!! Still it was very nice narrative. Such places are rare find.
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Old 19th September 2011, 19:42   #12
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Wooohoooo no ghost!!! Still it was very nice narrative. Such places are rare find.
no ghost this timebut the feeling was mystic

"you would find something interesting over there" - said the man as he pointed somewhere above the distant cross..we couldn't see anything 'there'.."wait" - he said, "let the cloud mellow down". we waited and waited. we asked him what was 'there'? "an old bungalow" - he said. the cloud didn't mellow down, but the journey to 'there' was on.. I liked the yellowish light spreading all over then.

In Search of the Haunted Bungalow at Bonacaud, Trivandrum-331024_248991288479259_100001051681089_754061_1194802380_o.jpg

something made us look behind from a sharp curve on the drive back..we were returning after the attempt to reach 'there'. things are more beautiful when they remain mystic..

In Search of the Haunted Bungalow at Bonacaud, Trivandrum-326716_248953165149738_100001051681089_753959_511397701_o.jpg

Last edited by Mysticeyes : 19th September 2011 at 19:47.
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Old 22nd September 2011, 17:18   #13
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Default Re: In Search of the Haunted Bungalow at Bonacaud, Trivandrum

Excellent place, awesome review and beautiful pics.

Nature at its best. I was so engrossed while reading, just like a Sherlock Holmes mysterious story! I thought you would actually reach 'there' and break the jinx!

Nevertheless, thanks for sharing such a beautiful place. Hope to go there sometime soon!


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Anuj, till december is the best climate with rain and mist which adds to the beauty of ponmudi nd bonacaud. accommodation is there but rooms are very limited and have to be booked well in advance if you are planning to stay in ponmudi itself.
By the way, how do we book in advance? And how was the accommodation?
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Old 23rd September 2011, 05:58   #14
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By the way, how do we book in advance? And how was the accommodation?
You can reserve i advance through Ponmudi, Hill resort, Golden Peak, Thiruvananthapuram, Trivandrum, Hotels, Accommodation, KTDC, Kerala, India
The accommodation 'was' very good when my friend stayed there last year. but the rooms are limited and has to be booked well in advance.

As for breaking the 'jinx', its yet another Friday morning and here I'm, awoke at 5.50 Am and wondering whether to..
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Old 23rd September 2011, 16:44   #15
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Great place to be in Mysticeyes. Hope the "jinx" did really break this another friday and shared the weekend with the "mystic" people.
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