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Old 19th July 2017, 22:09   #1
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Default A weekend in Siruvani

After buying a DSLR and getting a taste of the photography elixir, travel fever had gripped me like never before. Even at the slightest instant of free time, I would make it a point to visit new places and photograph whatever possible. It was on one such weekend that the idea of a trip landed me on a place called Siruvani.

Siruvani is quite well known for the people of Coimbatore since it is the dam which provides drinking water to the entire city and the sweetness of its waters are renowned. This dam is situated in Kerala and there is a route less explored leading to the dam situated amidst thick evergreen forests.
Me and dad decided to go check out this place. One of my friends was working in Forest Department in Siruvani and it is through him that we came to know about this route. So called him up to check the timings. To our dismay he was not available on that weekend but still we decided to go ahead.

As per his instruction we decided to start early from home. Took the following route and reached the Inchikkunnu checkpost by 6am.

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In the Palakkad Mannarkkad route just after crossing Karimba there is a place called Edakurissi from where one has to take a right turn to reach Siruvani. The last town in the route is Palakkayam which is predominantly a plantation area dotted with rubber, arecanut, pepper and cardamom plantations. We could feel that we are gradually climbing up through narrow scenic winding roads. The views got better and better. Finally we reached the forest checkpost at Inchikkunnu.

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Thick evergreen forests were waiting ahead. The idea behind an early start was to reach there first so that the probability of sighting birds and wildlife would be high.

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Parked our car and proceeded towards the forest outpost. The guard was informed about our arrival through my friend earlier itself. But he didn't expect us to reach so early. He was brushing his teeth.

As per rules private vehicles are not allowed inside the forest. One has to park their vehicle at the checkpost and proceed in a safari van after paying the fees.

But the vans were breakdown for a long time and they were allowing private vehicles inside along with a guide. Guide fee and vehicle fee had to be paid at the checkpost.

Our guide has also not arrived and we had to wait for nearly an hour for the guide to reach. In that time we had our packed breakfast of idli and onion chutney. Lazed around and clicked a few snaps.

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There was no sign of the guide yet and we asked the guard whether we could go inside without the guide. He agreed and we entered the forest. The woods were very thick. All sorts of strange bird sounds could be heard. After some time it became pitch dark. Pure evergreen forests. It became a bit scary too.
We decided to head back and wait for the guide in the fear of loosing our way.

We came back to the checkpost and the guard greeted us with a smile as if he knew we would return. He then called the guide over phone and speeded up his arrival.

Finally the guy arrived. He was a young native guy. Immediately we started off with the guide occupying the rear seat. Incidentally we were the first guys to enter the forest after a gap of nearly a month when the entry was closed due to summer season.

Forests became thicker and thicker as we went further deep. The guide boasted about the variety of animals in these woods. We had lost hope of seeing anything as even sunlight could hardly seep through the lush greenery.

We heard the calls of Malabar giant squirrel and Malabar hornbill. As we took a turn suddenly something flew away from the roadside into the bushes. We stopped the car and I could manage to get a record shot of the bird.

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Malayan night heron

It was a rare sight as the bird is highly elusive and uncommon. Even the guide conceded to the fact that he was seeing it for the first time.

We moved ahead and finally reached an open space where the front elevation of Siruvani dam could be seen. We moved over a bridge below which the Siruvani river was flowing. Our guide asked to stop the car and jumped out of it screaming "Elephants"!!!

Full credits to the guide because of whom we were able to see this.

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A couple of female elephants grazing peacefully on the banks of river Siruvani. The calmness of the lush greenery was disturbed only by the gushing sound of the sweet waters.

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We silently spent a good 15 minutes watching them graze. By then one of them had sensed our presence and she was clearly unhappy about it. She threw a puff of mud in the air and with a raised tail looked at us in utter displeasure.

We sensed that it was time to leave and we bid adieu to them and moved on. Just after getting into the car and taking an imminent turn I couldn't believe what I saw on the road ahead.

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A massive gaur was blocking our way hardly 15 feet ahead. The road was narrow. There was a wall on the right side and a deep gorge on the left leading to the river bank where the elephants were grazing. So the only way out was to go reverse in case he decides to charge.
We waited patiently for nearly 20 minutes for the formidable guy to make way. He raised his head, gave us a stare and went about his business of grazing in the bushes.

Managed to click a couple of shots from this lucky encounter.

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As time went by the sound of crumbling bamboo shoots became louder from the river bank. Our guide told that the elephants might have come to higher ground from the river and there is every possibility of them coming in the road towards us.

Tense moments ensued and eventually the bull decided to give way. We thankfully gave him a look and moved ahead.

We crossed a forest camp enroute. There were stalls selling honey and some herbs. We didn't bother to stop and went ahead. Our next destination.. Pattiyar Bungalow..

We were greeted by two peacocks at the bungalow entrance. There was a trench dug around the bungalow and the car had to be driven over two metal planks kept across the trench to enter the bungalow compound. Our guide showed the signal from outside and we made it inside.

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Pattiyar bungalow is a hunting lodge built by the British deep inside the forest. The view of Muthikkulam waterfalls from the balcony of the bungalow is breathtaking.

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Our guide decided to have breakfast along with the bungalow's care taker. Meanwhile we explored the surroundings and clicked a few pics.

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The caretaker explained about the place and it's surrounding. The Siruvani reservoir could be seen from the balcony. The muthikkulam falls originated from a lake high up the hills and we were told that there are remains of an aircraft from WWII which crashed there during that time.

It is possible to do trekking to that spot with FD permission. May be food for thought for another trip.

We were also shown a lamp shade which was broken by a mischievous baby elephant which managed to jump the trench and enter the bungalow premises.

Unfortunately now a days the bungalow is not open to public and only because of our friend in FD we were able to even go there. As a VIP was coming to stay that day we had to move quickly. Reluctantly, bid farewell to that beautiful place and hit the road.

Our next destination is the Kerala Tamilnadu border checkpost. We parked our car near the checkpost. Vehicles are not allowed beyond this point even though the road continues all the way up to Kovai Kutralam falls and Coimbatore.

There were a few guards and local tribes at the checkpost. The building was a 3 storied one. The window panes of the lower floor were all broken. The metal pillars of the checkpost were in mangled condition. We were amused to see this and enquired our guide about the same. The reply we got scared the hell out of us.

All that we saw was the misdeeds of a lone tusker which was roaming around in that area. On one fine evening the guards were preparing food near the checkpost building when the rogue tusker came running towards them. Luckily they were able to spot it early and they rushed to the topmost floor of the building. Frustrated at not getting them, the tusker wrecked havoc and inflicted all those damages.

They were almost living life Jurassic park style. We admired their courage. Our last program in the itinerary was a trek to the top of a mountain called Keralamedu. It was situated at the state border and on a clear day one could see the entire Coimbatore city from its top as well as the Siruvani dam.
With the elephant threat looming large we were in two minds whether to go ahead for the trek or go back. At that moment another vehicle came there and there were three guys in it who were also heading towards the same trek. We decided to join them.

Our guide showed the way upto the starting point of the hike. He then left us on our own. Only thing he told was that we had to climb three hills to reach the topmost point. Once there we had to return through the same path and come back to the checkpost.

We started the climb. Initially we passed through thick bushes. All the while we were on the lookout for the tusker. But no sound could be heard.
After the bushes there were grasslands on one side and forest on other side. There was a narrow path leading to the top. My mind was preoccupied at that moment with the thought that just in case the elephant charged at us from the woods there was no way for us to run on that steep climb.
But the beauty of the place and the sheer determination to conquer the three hills was good enough to overcome all fears. As they say in a TV ad.. Dar ke aage jeet hai... We summoned courage and moved ahead.

No sign of the tusker. We reached open grasslands. We were relieved to an extend since anything approaching in any direction could be easily spotted now. Dad got tired of the climb and decided to stay back at the middle of the second hill climb. We even forgot to carry drinking water with us.
So I proceeded to the topmost point with the other guys giving company. The final hill was steep but the wind and the views seemed worth the effort. Here are a few snaps.

View of coimbatore city

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View of surroundings and Siruvani Dam

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After enjoying the strong wind blowing through we started the descend backwards. Plucked some ripe guava on the way back.

Saw a few birds and some animal droppings on the way back. Luckily we didn't had an encounter with the tusker. Our guide joined us at the checkpost. We decided that we've had enough and will go back home.

A weekend in Siruvani-langur.jpg

So started the return journey through the lush evergreen forests back to Inchikkunnu checkpost. The return journey was uneventful. Stopped at the Siruvani dam site to click a few pics. Water level was considerably less due to less rains.

A weekend in Siruvani-dam-view-1.jpg

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Dropped our guide back at the checkpost.

It was time for lunch. The guard was generous enough to allow us to use his dining area to have our packed lunch. Post lunch we thanked the guide and guard and bid farewell to the beautiful place promising to be back for more in future.

Reached back home by evening and while going to bed that night I recollected the fond memories of seeing the grazing elephants, a huge wild gaur from close range and going on a trek not knowing when an angry elephant would charge at you.

After all life is all about such memories to recollect and laugh at when we lie in our dying bed in old age and reassure ourselves that "Yes.. I've lived it to the fullest!!"
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Old 19th July 2017, 22:25   #2
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Default re: A weekend in Siruvani

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!

One of those rare views of the dam. I am told, no one is usually allowed to the dam because of its importance of water resource for Coimbattore city.

Last edited by ampere : 19th July 2017 at 22:26.
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Old 19th July 2017, 22:41   #3
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Originally Posted by ampere View Post
One of those rare views of the dam. I am told, no one is usually allowed to the dam because of its importance of water resource for Coimbattore city.
It is possible for public to go to the dam site through the route I mentioned in this T log. But cannot go any further since there are police personnel guarding the place.
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Old 20th July 2017, 12:37   #4
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Default Re: A weekend in Siruvani

One word - Awesome. Siruvani Dam is a sight in itself. My dad used to work in Coimbatore Municipal Corporation in 1970s. He had access to Siruvani dam and frequented there, even lived there in the down hills for almost 6 months. He used to narrate the incident where he and his team was confronted by a single angry tusker and how they ran for their life through the forest.

I too visited the Dam in 2000s and enjoyed the whole sight. Yes, it is true that the access to dam is not for public people. Only if you know some higher ups or if you are a VIP you can request a visit to the Dam. Being the sole water supplier to half of Coimbatore, they are very strict in maintaining the dam.

We ventured inside dam structure , but it was bit scary as there was less to no light and knee high water in most places. The maintenance people can tell you a lot of interesting stories right from the British era.

A memorable place!!
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Old 20th July 2017, 13:29   #5
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Default Re: A weekend in Siruvani

Great travelogue! Just wondering on which date/month you were at Siruvani. Water level seems to be way too low for the month of July! Monsoon yield is pretty low this year in Kerala. I have read somewhere that Siruvani dam almost dried up this summer. I was there in June 2015, stayed for a night at Pattiar Bungalow. Water levels were much better those days and even the waterfalls were very much alive.

So the stories of the famous lonely tusker is still continuing! We did a night safari, all the way up to the TN border. Forest staff at the border office were reluctant to come down from third floor, not even for peeing! They used to call the lonely tusker as ‘otta komban’ in Malayalam (the one with a single tusk).
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Old 20th July 2017, 14:45   #6
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What a place to check out. Loved the place and your travelogue.
The road/place where you met the Gaur is just dramatic .
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Old 20th July 2017, 14:57   #7
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Enjoyed reading your TL. Stunning pictures!!! Enjoyed your narrative. OT: Normally won't they use Kumkis to scare off these kombans? Looks like these incidents must have inspired movies like "kumki".
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Old 20th July 2017, 15:04   #8
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Amazing Travelogue with breath taking photographs.. Congratulations. Which is the make of your new companion?.. I mean the DSLR.
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Old 20th July 2017, 15:19   #9
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Default Re: A weekend in Siruvani

Wonderful travelogue, i20ian. Malayan Night Heron is a super duper catch.

Have been to Siruvani some 5 to 6 times, including a stay at Pattiar, but never got so lucky as you. Had spotted only Elephants and Lion tailed Monkeys. Never even a Gaur.

My old log here

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...-bungalow.html (Howling Winds and a Hunting Lodge – A Sojourn at Siruvani Pattiar Bungalow)

Also the checkpost used to be much higher up, just across the bridge, where you have the forest office - you can drive till there in dense jungle

An earlier experience described here

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/street...ml#post2070091 (Have you ever stopped to remove the stone from the middle of the road while driving?)


Quote:
Originally Posted by arunramaswamy View Post
Normally won't they use Kumkis to scare off these kombans? Looks like these incidents must have inspired movies like "kumki".
Kumki's are used to scare away elephants which stray into into human settlements. You wouldn't want to scare away the poor elephant from its own home

Quote:
Originally Posted by ampere View Post

One of those rare views of the dam. I am told, no one is usually allowed to the dam because of its importance of water resource for Coimbattore city.
Day trips to Siruvani is allowed. Only for visiting Pattiar Bungalow, you need contacts. But you cannot visit the dam from TN side, again unless you know someone in TN PWD

Last edited by mallumowgli : 20th July 2017 at 15:37.
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Old 20th July 2017, 18:20   #10
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Originally Posted by rajeshsundaram View Post
One word - Awesome.
Thank you.. You are a lucky guy to have ventured into the dam structure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BipB View Post
Great travelogue! Just wondering on which date/month you were at Siruvani. Water level seems to be way too low for the month of July! Monsoon yield is pretty low this year in Kerala. I have read somewhere that Siruvani dam almost dried up this summer. I was there in June 2015, stayed for a night at Pattiar Bungalow. Water levels were much better those days and even the waterfalls were very much alive.

So the stories of the famous lonely tusker is still continuing! We did a night safari, all the way up to the TN border. Forest staff at the border office were reluctant to come down from third floor, not even for peeing! They used to call the lonely tusker as ‘otta komban’ in Malayalam (the one with a single tusk).
Thank you.. We visited the place in end April. That's why the place looks dried up. This year the rains have been very less in Palakkad. Hopefully the water levels would have picked up by now.

The forest staff needs to be admired for their courage.

The night safari you did would have been quite an experience I believe. Even during day time some stretches looked scary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ddrive View Post
What a place to check out. Loved the place and your travelogue.
The road/place where you met the Gaur is just dramatic .
Thank you. We were lucky to spot the Gaur. The guys we met at Keralamedu didn't even see a bird during their trip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by arunramaswamy View Post
Enjoyed reading your TL. Stunning pictures!!! Enjoyed your narrative. OT: Normally won't they use Kumkis to scare off these kombans? Looks like these incidents must have inspired movies like "kumki".
Thank you.. Kumkis are used to scare away elephants from venturing into villages just like mallumowgli said.

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Originally Posted by Jeevan Sukumar View Post
Amazing Travelogue with breath taking photographs.. Congratulations. Which is the make of your new companion?.. I mean the DSLR.
Thanks a lot.. I took a Canon EOS 1300D

Quote:
Originally Posted by mallumowgli View Post
Wonderful travelogue, i20ian. Malayan Night Heron is a super duper catch.

My old log here

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...-bungalow.html (Howling Winds and a Hunting Lodge – A Sojourn at Siruvani Pattiar Bungalow)
Thank you mallumowgli. I've read your earlier Tlog about Siruvani. In fact it was one of the inspirations for me to go there. These forests are largely unexplored and who knows may be Malayan night heron might just be the tip of an iceberg.
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Old 20th July 2017, 20:10   #11
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Default Re: A weekend in Siruvani

Wonderful travelogue, loved the serenity of the places you visited. I just hope the restrictions on visitors is enforced strictly and the use of plastic and other environmentally harmful products are kept away from these places.
We are losing a lot of forest cover so I just hope such places will continue to exist in the years to come, we all are obligated to ensure they survive for our well-being and for the future generations.

Excellent pictures too, Thanks for sharing

Last edited by .anshuman : 21st July 2017 at 12:44. Reason: Typo fixed on request. Thanks
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Old 20th July 2017, 21:57   #12
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Awesome narration and snaps. Silent Valley National Park in the same area, around 30 km away with similar vegetation and lush forests. The water level in the reservoir is a matter of concern after repeated failure of Monsoons.
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Old 20th July 2017, 22:05   #13
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Awesome narration and snaps. Silent Valley National Park in the same area, around 30 km away with similar vegetation and lush forests. The water level in the reservoir is a matter of concern after repeated failure of Monsoons.
Thank you.. Yes Silent Valley is definitely in the bucket list. Heard that they have started monsoon yatras with packages including food, accommodation and trekking. Need to collect more details regd that.
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Old 21st July 2017, 12:34   #14
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Default Re: A weekend in Siruvani

i20ian ! Super travelogue of an amazing place ! Being a resident of Tirupur, have travelled a lot of times to Kovai Kutralam Falls and wondered whether I will ever be allowed to go further on that road onward towards Siruvani Dam. Many people with connections at higher places actually manage to visit Siruvani Dam from the Coimbatore side.
Thanks for providing us a glimpse of this wonderful locale although it was depressing to see such low water levels well into the monsoon months. The picture of the two elephants by the riverside under the bridge was mind blowing.
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Old 21st July 2017, 12:48   #15
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I studied in a college near Siruvani (On the Tamil Nadu side). I am flooded with Fond memories of trekking up the hill with my friends in search of nirvana! (otherwise called bunking classes)

Last edited by bullet-tooth : 21st July 2017 at 12:50.
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