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|12th December 2008, 20:33||#1|
Magnificent Meenmutti & Misty Ponmudi
This is a trip I undertook with my friends at the time of my vacation in Trivandrum. Fresh from my trip to Bonacord, I was rearing to go on a trip which involved riding for atleast 2 to 3 days. Also, I wanted to meet up & if possible plan a trip with some old friends. So called up my friends & they were ready and told me to schedule the trip during the Onam holidays. But the only problem was that one of my friends who was working in Chennai was not able to get more than 3 days leave & out of those 3 days he had to spend at least 1 day at his home. So it was decided to do a 1 day trip. That was a dampener for me but I decided to do the trip anyway. As it was a one day trip, it was decided that we will go to some place which was nearby. The date was fixed as the third day of Onam holidays. After a lot of brain storming, we decided on Ponmudi as it was close to Trivandrum. We decided to go on bikes as all of us were interested more in riding & also the distance was not that much.
The People: Ranjith(yours truly), Ashok, Narayan & Bijoy
The Rides: Pulsar 150 dtsi & HH Passion Plus
Route: Vellayambalam - Peroorkada - Nedumangadu - Vithura - Kallaar - Ponmudi
Distance: 61 kms from Trivandrum
Camera: Sony DSC H5 (As it was raining on and off, pictures were shot when the skies were relatively clear) & my friend's digicam (forgot the make)
Morning 6.45 I was honking the horn in front of Narayan's house. You see, we had all agreed to meet before the CCD in Vellayambalam at 7'o clock. But Narayan being Narayan, we reached CCD around 7.30. Ashok & Bijoy were already waiting there & we proceeded to the nearby petrol pump & put some fuel into the belly of our bikes. After ensuring the bikes had their fill, we started our trip.
The road was near empty as it was during the Onam holidays. The condition of the road was good to start with (Vellayambalam road is one of the better maintained strips of road not only in Trivandrum, but entire Kerala due to the presence of the Raj Bhavan & other ministerial houses)but deteriorated from Ambalamukku towards Peroorkada. But after a few kms after Peroorkada, the road became smooth again. This was familiar territory for all of us. This was the route to many of our usual destinations like Thenmala, Ponmudi, Bonacord, Makki, Courtalam etc. The climate was good for riding & smooth roads combined with low traffic ensured that we were in Nedumangadu within no time at all. We stopped & had breakfast from one of our regular hotels in Nedumangadu.
After having our fill, we all started for our first destination of the day, Meenmutti falls. Guys, don't confuse this with the Meenmutti falls in Wayanad. Both are situated far apart. While planning for the ride itself we had decided that we would ride at a leisurely pace & that's what we stuck on to. After all, what is the use in riding/driving if you can't enjoy the greenery around you? And we had plenty of lush greenery surrounding us as it was the rainy season. We reached Vithura around 10.30. It had started drizzling on the way & we parked our bikes by the side of the road near the junction. We bought some snacks & a bottle of water from Vithura. The drizzling had now become stronger but we decided to move on without wasting further time (& also we were ready to get wet).
From Vithura we rode non stop to Kallaar where the trail to Meenmutti falls starts. But first we had to register ourselves at the Ecotourism Office at Kallaar. The Ecotourism concept uses the locals as guides & for other facilities, thus providing some much needed jobs to the locals also. We were provided with a guide for trekking upto the falls. We were the first visitors of the day. We were cautioned by the officials to be careful & not venture into the water near the falls as it was the rainy season. We were asked whether we had any liquor along with us to which we replied with a firm "no". Interestingly they didn't check our bags. After registering & paying the entrance fees we proceeded to the falls. One can ride upto the bathing ghat ("Kulikkadavu" in malayalam). From there, we had to trek for around 2 kms to reach the falls. Now for some sights along the way.
The start of the trail
We had Kallaar for company all the way. True to its name, Kallaar is full of stones & round boulders. Kallaar was in full flow due to the rains.
The trail was fully covered by roots of trees & fallen leaves, which coupled with the rain, made it slippery especially along the slopes. But there is a rail running along the side in such places, so you can grab the rail for support if you need.
On the way we found this handsome fellow bang on the middle of the trail.
This, according to our guide is the "Kaduva Chilanthi". Kaduva means tiger & Chilanthi means spider. Don't ask me for its zoological name, I've no idea. I am sure some one in the forum can identify it correctly. Personally I thought the back side looked like that of a Scorpion.
Obviously we didn't want to disturb the fella, so after taking a few pics, we steered well clear of him.
It was now raining heavily & it was becoming very difficult to even take out the cameras, forget about shooting photos. How I wished I had an all weather camera like the Olympus of Samurai. An all weather camera has now become a top priority in my wish list. On the way, we found this rocky overhang under which we rested & waited for the rain to abate.
Finally after around half an hour (or did we take longer, I'm not sure) we reached Meenmutti falls. But even before we actually saw the falls we could hear the roar of the falls. And the sight of the falls itself can be described as just awesome. It is sights & sounds like this that make trips like this worthy. Also makes one realize that we should explore nature more during the rains. But I think pictures will speak more than words here.
We spent some time near the falls. We could go no where near the falls but still we could feel the spray on our faces & each time we snapped a picture of the falls, the lens got covered by fine spray. We sat on a big rock by the side & had some snacks & water. Water was more in demand as everyone was thirsty due to the short trek. After resting for a while we returned to the bathing ghat & then it was fun & frolic time in the water! The water was really cold and after spending some time in it, we were all shivering. But the fun & games continued in spite of this.
The Bathing Ghat at the start of the trail
Now the combined growling from our stomachs was starting to drown out the noise made by the crickets, so we got out of the water and packed our things and headed for the nearest hotel after paying the guide. Fortunately for us, we didn't have to search much as there was a hotel opposite the entrance to the falls. We headed there and had a sumptuous lunch. After that we headed towards our next destination of the day, Ponmudi & what a surprise Ponmudi had in store for us!
From Kallaar to Ponmudi the road comprises of some 19 hairpin bends (could be wrong about the number, knowledgeable persons can correct me if I am wrong) to the top. The road was good in places & really bad in some stretches with the tarring gone for a toss & with loose stones in the middle of the road which necessitated that we stay in 2nd gear most of the time.
As we went higher up, we were greeted by the sight of dense fog covering not only the road, but the entire area itself. The fog looked so intimidating from a distance that one of our friends was of the opinion that we should perhaps turn back. But majority opinion quickly buried that thought and we pressed forward slowly with our lights & indicators on. It was a beautiful experience riding in that dense fog, with visiblity reduced to just in front of your bike tyre. After riding like this for some distance, we got an Alto in front of us. He was also driving with the lights & indicators on. We made it our "Pilot Car" & from there on we followed it to the top.
Our Pilot Car
Our Pilot Car negotiating traffic
The whole of the top was covered by thick fog.
I have been to Ponmudi umpteen number of times, but never have I seen the place like this before. The fog combined with the rains made it a surreal atmosphere.
Usually one can see lovely views from the top but now visibility was reduced to a minimum. There were not many visitors at the top as it was the rainy season. We spent around 2 hrs at the top. Most of the time we were at the top we had rain for company. Sometimes it was a slight drizzle, sometimes it really poured. After exploring the top and clicking some pictures, we took shelter in a nearby tea shop & had "kattan" (black tea) and snacks. While having tea, Narayan found a leech attached to his leg trying to get his quota for the day. Some salt from the shop helped the tenacious fella change his mind. After that all of us made a thorough check of our legs & clothes but thankfully it was the only one.
Soon it was time to say good bye to Ponmudi & we started our bikes & headed down. A few curves before Kallaar, my bike had a puncture. I parked my bike to the side of the road & my friends went to find some one to repair the puncture. They returned with the puncturewallah after around an hour. He had a mobile puncture repair shop with him in his bike, complete with foot pump & all. The culprit was a nail & he removed the nail & patched up the tube.
Soon we were on our way home and after an uneventful ride, reached Vellayambalam around 7.30 in the evening. From there me & Narayan bid good bye to Ashok & Bijoy and headed for home. Dropped Narayan at his house & reached home around 8. All in all a very satisfying day riding in the rains. Hope you guys enjoyed reading the travelogue!
|13th December 2008, 10:01||#4|
Join Date: Jan 2006
Thanked: 61 Times
Never seen ponmudi as misty as this .. Maybe I should try going there in the rainy season .
BTW Nutty ! Have u gone to vayuvanthole falls ?? Its on the way to bonacaud . Awesome place + not much visitors .
|13th December 2008, 11:21||#6|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Dec 2006
Thanked: 17 Times
nice travelogue...nutty_nair , when did you do this trip and how was the road conditions then ?
|13th December 2008, 15:31||#7|
Road condition - from Vellayambalam to Aanaadu it is smooth except in Ambalamukku where the road work has been going on for I can't remember how many years now. From Aanaadu to Kallaar it is typical countryside road i.e., you get smooth roads with broken roads thrown in between just so that you remember that you are still in "God's own Country". From Kallaar to Ponmudi it is 19 delightful "curves" to the top. Oh! & did I mention that the tarring usually has gone for a toss just before, after or on the hairpin bends?
Yes, Not only Vazhuvanthole. I think I have pretty much covered all the waterfalls in that area (Bono falls, Kathippaara, Courtalam,etc)
Now for some more pictures
Some more Kallaar shots
On way to Ponmudi
A small waterfall on the way to Ponmudi
Road to the top
Yes, they have a beer parlour here also!
|13th December 2008, 17:00||#8|
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Chennai / Dubai
Superb pictures and a lovely place to be !
The pictures of the spider are too good - the guy looks better from the bottom than the top.
And, of course, 'the Ghost Riders' - what can I say?!
|15th December 2008, 14:26||#9|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Feb 2007
Thanked: 31 Times
Nice snaps. I remember Ponmudi really well.. Was a really romantic trip we did to that place. I remember there used to be a natural swimming pool near that place. Is it still there? Lot of leeches when we went as it had rained pretty hard sometime back.
|15th December 2008, 16:00||#11|
Distinguished - BHPian
Join Date: Sep 2008
Thanked: 7,799 Times
I have started to miss my hometown and friends after seeing this :( Ponmudi was one special hide out for us especially during weekends after the hectic exams.
You pictures are cool.
|15th December 2008, 17:21||#12|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Jun 2007
Thanked: 258 Times
Yet another set of very nice pictures. Mists and clouds have a certain charm of their own. Please identify yourself and your friends in the pics.
|16th December 2008, 19:47||#13|
|16th December 2008, 23:25||#14|
Join Date: Mar 2008
Thanked: 5 Times
Nutty Nair, thanks for the pics. I miss my Ponmudi these days. Had gone there in a variety of vehicles, my old Vespa NV Spl scooter, my sister's TVS Scooty, a Shogun, an Yamaha, an Ambassador which required cooling every 1km we climbed and lastly my 2002 Indica V2 DLS. I have no count of the trips I have taken, perhaps it would be around 20. Second day of my marriage, I had headed straight for Ponmudi.
Ponmudi is Trivandrum City's own hill station. It is just about 50 km from city boundary. Nutty Nair, yes, you made a little mistake in the count of bends. Infact they are not only 'bends', but 'Hair Pin Curves'. There are a total of 22. You climb 1000 metres in altitude in just 15kms, with 22 hair pin bends.
I would advice you to stay there for a night, on a clear day. The experience is great, the whistle of the wind, the misty engulfing you, and then crisp chilly morning.
|17th December 2008, 13:23||#15|
Hi Sudeesh, Actually I wanted to take a snap of the board indicating the number of hairpin bends, but it was raining heavily. Thanks!
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