Go Back   Team-BHP > Buckle Up > Travelogues


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 12th May 2014, 13:31   #1
BHPian
 
katchkamalesh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Chennai
Posts: 145
Thanked: 122 Times
Default Kookal – A Trekker's Paradise

Hello folks, I am back with different kind of travelogue.

What’s different you ask? Well, in this case, this “epic” trip does not have anything to do with cars or bikes.

It all started when my buddy sajesh got a call from my friend and schoolmate Pavaanan, an avid trekker, a photographer by passion and a software engineer by profession. (We, as in Sajesh n me used to pester Pavaanan to take us on some trek). Now back to the call, Pavaanan wanted to know if any of us would be interested in a 2 day trek in Kodaikanal on 8th & 9th of June, 2013 where one night stay would be in the forest and had informed him that he could accommodate a maximum of 3 people to his group. This got us all excited and it was decided that me, Sajesh and Samu would be the ones going on the trip.

We (me, Sajesh and Samu) were all excited because we had never done any actual trek of this magnitude. All excited, we started planning for the trip and immediately it was decided that we take public transport as we thought that riding after a trek would be tiring. So train tickets were arranged to reach Kodai road station from Chennai.

We had booked Ananthapuri Express to take us to Kodai road, the train chugged along Tambaram station by 19:45 on 7th June, soon we boarded the train and as usual, after all night chatting and a couple of hours of sleep, we reached Kodai road. From there we took a mini bus, we had to wait for more than an hour for the first bus to start the service. The interesting fact was that the taxi operators reduced their quoted fare from Rs 1300 to Rs 800 in the span of 1 hour. At one point the wait was so annoying that we contemplated the thought of taking the taxi if the fare reduced to Rs 750 or less but then better sense (aka financial situation) prevailed and we waited for the bus. Finally the bus arrived and got filled with in 15 minutes. We decided to sit in the middle, boy what a terrible mistake it was. As proceed towards Kodaikanal, more and more people got into the bus. Now the bus resembled a glass filled with water, with no space to move or air to breathe we were battling to sit still as the bus proceeded through the Ghats. Finally after what felt like an eternity we managed to get down at our stop. From the bus stop, we had to walk for 15 mins to reach the place where the rest of the gang was staying.

Kodai’s famous guide, Kodai Mani was waiting for us in the room. Mani had informed us that due to the bad weather, camping in the forest was too dangerous. Instead we would be trekking through the leech infested Shola forest to reach a peak near Kookal village on day 1 and camp at the forest guest house for the night. On day 2, we would be visiting a new water fall which had recently formed due to the rains.

After shower and breakfast we proceeded to a village called Kookal in a minivan. We reached Kookal by noon and we decided to have lunch at the forest guest house and then begin the trek. There was a small lake near the guest house and since the guide’s associates needed some time to prepare lunch for us, we made use of that time for a photo shoot and we had a gala time by the lake.

After lunch, it was time for the trek. This is where the actual fun begins, Pavaanan and his friends who had experience in trekking decided to wear shorts. After seeing this Sajesh and Samu opted for shorts. Most preferred to wear slippers and some wore shoes. I made a fool of myself by choosing jeans and shoes combo. The trek was not a big one but it did drain the energy as we were not used to any physical activity of this level. Going through the forest was an amazing experience. Guides were leading us all the way. As we approached the moist part of the forest, the leech attack began, people wearing slipper used sticks and stones to flick the leech. However, I with shoes found it difficult to remove the leech. Leech was easy to identify on people with shorts. However, it was a different case for me as the leeches climbed on to the shoes and went inside the jeans. The leech infestation was so bad that by the time I removed one, three would get on. Beaten by the leeches, we decided to run through the forest. Again a bad idea, for a good 15 mins I was running all alone in the forest without any sense of direction, the only saving grace that there were only 2-3 beaten tracks which meant that my folks were on one of those tracks. Soon enough, I spot my friends standing over a rock waiting for others to join. For the uninformed, leeches do not climb rocks and they prefer moist place like ground and even trees.

After hours of running, we finally reach a place free of leeches. We stop here to look at the injury and remove any leech in our body. Boy o boy, I hit bonanza with the leeches. There were so many leeches that I dumped my shoes and socks on the foot of the hill. It was drizzling all the time and we scaled the peak to find a temple. We were told that every year villagers young and old would scale the peak to offer their prayers to goddess. After offering our prayers, we looked around only to see mist. We were disappointed; however Mother Nature had decided to blow the mist away to reveal her beauty. We were on one of the many peaks around; from here we could see Munnar, Palani hills etc. The view was just breathtaking, this experience ranks number one. We were able to see a heard of bison at a good distance, there was a huge animal farther away. We concluded that it might be an elephant.

Now, Clammed by the view, once down the hill, I decided to remove the leech from the socks, shoes. I wore the shoe without socks and tucked the socks in my Jacket. Fortunately, the jacket had zippers and I zipped the pocket to prevent any leech infestation from sock to my body. After another bout of man vs. leech with me being the loser, we made it to the end of Shola forest. I was so frustrated with the leech that I stopped removing them; it was Paavanan, Sajesh, Samu and the guide who removed the leeches. After 30 mins of hike we were the last ones to reach the guest house. People wanted to know who had the highest number of leech bites, as soon as I entered the scene; they clearly knew that they had a winner. With ~30+ bites I was declared the winner; the runner up had less than 20 bites. After cleaning the blood and bite spots, we spent the evening chatting. I forget to mention that the guest house did not have power supply for the entire duration of our stay because of the weather which had damaged the lines. I had a bad headache so I decided to sleep whereas others had a bon fire.

After a couple of hours my friends waked me up and made me have dinner. After dinner I went back to sleep; this time in a sleeping bag and a tent which we was arranged anticipating the night stay in the forest. All through the night we heard some sounds and we made up a story that they were wolves. The winds were ferocious threatening to rip apart our tents. The weather was also cold, if it weren’t for the sleeping bag, we would have been shivering.
Next day, the friendly wolves were sleeping near the tent. They turned out to be dogs. After breakfast, we headed out to a new water fall, fortunately, there were no leeches. And this was no forest route, the water fall had formed behind an agricultural place and we had to climb down to get to the water fall. The water was clean and we had bath. After hours of fun, we went back to the guest house for lunch and then left to Kodaikanal bus stand to start our return trip to Chennai.

Again since Pavaanan and his friends had planned in advance they took a different bus and we took a different bus to reach Chennai. Me, Sajesh and Samu went around Kodai for shopping and had some sandwiches at Coffee day. Finally we boarded the bus to Chennai.
Let the pictures do the talking.

P.S. Now I am armed with knowledge on how to repel leeches. This helped me to ward of leech attack on my recent trip to Wayanad.
Attached Thumbnails
Kookal – A Trekker's Paradise-dsc_0027.jpg  

Kookal – A Trekker's Paradise-dsc_0045.jpg  

Kookal – A Trekker's Paradise-dsc_0048.jpg  

Kookal – A Trekker's Paradise-dsc_0058.jpg  

Kookal – A Trekker's Paradise-dsc_0059.jpg  

Kookal – A Trekker's Paradise-dsc_0062.jpg  

Kookal – A Trekker's Paradise-dsc_0080.jpg  

Kookal – A Trekker's Paradise-dsc_0102.jpg  

Kookal – A Trekker's Paradise-dsc_0132.jpg  

Kookal – A Trekker's Paradise-dsc_0185.jpg  

Kookal – A Trekker's Paradise-dsc_0197.jpg  

Kookal – A Trekker's Paradise-dsc_0268.jpg  

Kookal – A Trekker's Paradise-dsc_0269.jpg  

Kookal – A Trekker's Paradise-photo-080613-4-24-21-pm.jpg  

Kookal – A Trekker's Paradise-photo-080613-4-24-32-pm.jpg  

katchkamalesh is offline   (7) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 12th May 2014, 22:55   #2
Senior - BHPian
 
TaureanBull's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Indore
Posts: 1,066
Thanked: 311 Times
Default Re: Kookal – A Trekker's Paradise

Thats a wonderful trek. Its so peaceful and soothing. Is that the bonfire in one of the pics?Why are those tents near the house?

30+ leech bites! Thats really something. I guess these were small leeches and not the tiger leeches. BTW whats the countermeasure that you have found for the leeches?
TaureanBull is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13th May 2014, 05:03   #3
Distinguished - BHPian
 
phamilyman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Gurgaon
Posts: 5,601
Thanked: 3,452 Times
Default Re: Kookal – A Trekker's Paradise

Nice triplog - thanks for introducing a new place to the forum!

TFS - 30+ leech bites is seriously badass.

I would've thought wearing jeans would've helped, instead of exposing the legs by wearing shorts. Do let us know what you did finally!
phamilyman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13th May 2014, 08:49   #4
Distinguished - BHPian
 
sudev's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Gurgaon
Posts: 3,511
Thanked: 2,385 Times
Default Re: Kookal – A Trekker's Paradise

The title should be "Leeched Trek" LOL

Interesting read. Any GPS coordinates?
sudev is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 13th May 2014, 10:27   #5
BHPian
 
katchkamalesh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Chennai
Posts: 145
Thanked: 122 Times
Default Re: Kookal – A Trekker's Paradise

Quote:
Originally Posted by TaureanBull View Post
Thats a wonderful trek. Its so peaceful and soothing. Is that the bonfire in one of the pics?Why are those tents near the house?
Hi, Taureanbull.

Yes, it was a wonderful trek. And it is a bon fire. My friends set it up near the guest house/tent while I was sleeping. The original plan was to descend the temple peak and camp in the forest. However because of bad weather, we had dropped the plan. Since the tents were available we decided to sleep in them.

It is a tranquil place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
Nice triplog - thanks for introducing a new place to the forum!

I would've thought wearing jeans would've helped, instead of exposing the legs by wearing shorts. Do let us know what you did finally!
Hi phamilyman.

I guess I did my bit to serve the purpose of this forum i.e., is to share the experiences.

One will not be able to realise that the leeches have climbed on until it bites. Even the bite is a painless prick that one will fail to recognise. After the leech bite, the worst thing to do would be to try to pull it off or burn it with cigarette. If any of the above is tried, the leech will regurgitate whatever it had previously sucked into the person’s blood stream. This can communicate diseases. So let the leech suck some blood and then it will automatically fall off once it’s full.

The best way to avoid leech is to buy a leech sock, this sock makes it impossible for the leech to climb on. This sock will only prevent the leech ground force not the air borne one i.e., the leech can climb on to you from the trees. But a majority of the leeches will be on the ground waiting for the prey.

Other ways is to boil tobacco in water and soak your socks/clothes, rub tobacco over your body, applying Eucalyptus oil & dettol is also considered to be effective.

In wayanad, my friend who used dettol did suffer a bit. Me, I mixed dettol with tobacco and escaped the attack.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sudev View Post
The title should be "Leeched Trek" LOL

Interesting read. Any GPS coordinates?
Hi Sudev. LOL. I am attaching the route map.

@Mods: I am also attaching a picture of the leech attack. Kindly remove if you or anyone in the forum feel its disgusting
Attached Thumbnails
Kookal – A Trekker's Paradise-kookal.jpg  

Kookal – A Trekker's Paradise-20130608_174028.jpg  

katchkamalesh is offline   (3) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 13th May 2014, 22:05   #6
BHPian
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Kochi
Posts: 108
Thanked: 39 Times
Default Re: Kookal – A Trekker's Paradise

That's an awesome trek and wonderful experience, I'd say.
Is any permission required to undertake this trek? How's the road conditions till the start of the trek?
JohnnyBoss is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 14th May 2014, 13:06   #7
BHPian
 
katchkamalesh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Chennai
Posts: 145
Thanked: 122 Times
Default Re: Kookal – A Trekker's Paradise

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyBoss View Post
That's an awesome trek and wonderful experience, I'd say.
Is any permission required to undertake this trek? How's the road conditions till the start of the trek?
Its been almost 10 months since we finished this trek. The road condition were decent to good back then.

We did not take any permission. However, Kodai mani, the guide might have taken some permission which we are not aware of. I am saying this because we stayed in the forest guest house. Mani has good contact with the forest official IIRC he was offered a job in the forest dept.

Mani is the guy to contact for trekking related activities in and around Kodaikanal. His number can be found with simple google search.

We did not fill or sign any form.
katchkamalesh is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 14th May 2014, 17:13   #8
BHPian
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: DELHI
Posts: 630
Thanked: 323 Times
Default Re: Kookal – A Trekker's Paradise

Have been to Thekkady myself and the leeches made me miserable too !

I just want to know whether ALL forests are infested with leeches or the ones in Kerala only?
I am guessing moist, rainy forested ones like in Kerala are their breeding grounds.
BUXX is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15th May 2014, 18:53   #9
BHPian
 
katchkamalesh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Chennai
Posts: 145
Thanked: 122 Times
Default Re: Kookal – A Trekker's Paradise

Quote:
Originally Posted by BUXX View Post
Have been to Thekkady myself and the leeches made me miserable too !

I just want to know whether ALL forests are infested with leeches or the ones in Kerala only?
I am guessing moist, rainy forested ones like in Kerala are their breeding grounds.
I believe that as long as there is no sun or heat, leeches will thrive in the forest. For this, the forest must be thick with vegetation. Given this condition I guess the western ghats is a perfect spot for the leeches.
katchkamalesh is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Old Hindustan Trekker Bertoko The Indian Car Scene 97 25th July 2017 13:07
Narkanda... Paradise!! tsk1979 Travelogues 28 5th January 2007 20:36


All times are GMT +5.5. The time now is 04:59.

Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Team-BHP.com
Proudly powered by E2E Networks