April 4, 2009

Periyar - Profusely Nature's

April 04, 2009 Posted by Vijay , 6 comments
Thekday was calling loud and clear on the Ugadi weekend. I reached Kumily, which is the town nearest to Thekady by bus from Bangalore on the morning of 28th March. It is at the Tamil Nadu/Kerala border and very close to Kodaikanal and Munnar. The plan was for the old Reflections (a collegiate magazine team of ours during Engg college days) to meet and have a look around. Sujith, Rahul and Thomas ettan apart from me were the participants for this trip. Sujith had booked an Inspection Bungalow (IB) at Kumily, which is where the stay for the next 2 days had been planned for. Kumily being just 4 kms away from Thekady, this was the perfect place to halt.

After the gang arrived, we told the IB caretaker of the previous DFO being Sujith's close acquaintance, and enquired about the availability of a room or 2 at Edapalayam Island's Forest Guest House. This is an island within the Periyar Lake in Thekady, amidst all the flora and fauna of the Periyar Tiger Reserve. Fortunately, there were no bookings, and we changed our plans and decided to stay at the island instead. It is difficult to get accommodation here, and one needs someone higher in Forest Division circles to get accommodation. If one gets it, it is well worth at 1300 for a double bedroom.

A boat ride took us to the Edapalayam island in Thekady, and we were awestruck by the beauty of the surroundings. Though end of March is not peak season, the beauty of the island, encompassed by the lake was mesmerising to say the least. There was still lot of greenery, and the lake was still and reflective of the tranquility surrounding the island. Gaurs and Barking deers came out of the wilderness on the other side of the lake, to munch on the green pastures. During December time period, the surroundings would look much greener and prettier.

The 4 of us got talking and taking pictures, and were discussing how privileged and lucky we were to just get a glimpse of the Periyar Tiger Reserve at close quarters. We did not realise how time just flew by, and had requested the forest guest house staff to prepare dinner for us for the day. The dinner was awesome, and so was the calmness of the island. The Lake Palace at the island is just beside this guest house and they charge a whopping 28000 INR per day for availing its facilities. But we were more than happy with our accommodation and enjoying it every bit.

The next day morning, one of the staff took us for a nature walk, and was narrating incidents of Tigers and elephants during his stint at the Reserve, and in and around the island. We were hoping against hope to atleast sight some elephants. But alas, that was never the case, and we returned back from the island before noon, having witnessed what nature truly beholds.

The day was not over, but Sujith and I had tickets booked only for the next day, while Rahul and Thomas ettan had to leave the very same day. After they had left, we came back to the same inspection bungalow and decided to book for a night trek and an early morning trek the next day. While numerous tourist spots like Munnar, Kumarakom are very close to Kumily, they would still have taken half a day to travel and make arrangements impromptu. The night trek was to begin at 7 in the night, for 3 hours. It is called Jungle Patrol and costs 500 per head, while the day trek was arranged at 100 per head by us.

We set out on the night trek, inside the eerie darkness of the Periyar Tiger Reserve, and saw gentle movements of deers and wild boars. The guides had given us torches and was showing us the animals, at a distance. A little ahead we saw Gaurs moving around, and when we neared them, they scampered for shelter. Only we knew that we would have had to scamper off, if we had encroached even a wee bit more. It was a memorable experience, but yet again we could not spot any elephants, let alone tigers. Locals claim that there are 42 tigers and around 700 elephants in the reserve. But only the fortunate few get to see them.

The next day morning we set off for another trek at 7 AM, a longer one spanning almost 15 kms into the forest. The new sightings included a Malabar Squirrel, the Gaurs at a distance, Mongoose. And of course the scenic beauty around the forest is something which got imprinted in my memory. It was a long trek, made more tiring because of the heat. While our guide hardly broke a sweat, I started to struggle towards the end of the ascent. The descent was simpler, though the trickier one, which it always is.

We were back at our inspection bungalow, and dead tired by now. Gathering thoughts and discussing how memorable and pleasurable the entire trip was. We parted ways at Kottayam, Sujith heading off to Chennai and me to Bangalore.

To be so close to nature, breathing in the serenity of the surroundings and feeling one with nature was a privilege. If not for Sujith's DFO and the Edappalayam island stay, the trip may have lost its sheen. It may be very long before I get another opportunity to stay at that island again. But, it was an experience of a lifetime.


Sindhu said...

Well am jealous [:P]
Still Happy 4 u .... Seems like u had a gr8 trip ....

N welcome bak to Blogger

Srivatsa K R said...

Awesome man...the pics are good too, esp the frog one!

Vijay said...

Thanks Sindhu. I haven't written anything substantial. But I have been posting a lot of photos :)

Thanks Vatsa. Good to know a true photographer's view point :) It always encourages :)

sushma said...

hey vijay...its super amazing trip and the photographs are so professional....good...take care

Ajay Vijayan said...

Wel written

Can I post this on my blog (wheredowego.in) Due credit and linkback will be provided.

Vijay said...

Thanks for the comment Ajay ! You sure can post this on http://www.wheredowego.in/