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The Tiger Road

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Tiger roads were tracks across tiger infested woods, used by the then rulers, for game, and occasionally to get rid of man eaters. The sport gained momentum towards the end of 19th century and carried on to mid 20th century. In fact, India witnessed a massive wipe out of sixty thousand to seventy thousand of these gentle animals, in a short span of fifty years across 1875 to 1925. And the southern part of the big country, had its own contributions. In 1971, tiger killing was banned by Supreme Court of India and in 1973, 'Project Tiger' was launched. The hunting tracks were abandoned and left to the woods.

        And this story is about one such track, that still remains distinct, in the southern part of the country, and eventually on a tiger encounter, at close quarters...Let's start with a small history on the hunting ground...

               Be it the Wodayars of  Mysore Dynasty or the Tippu - the tiger himself - were all fond of the sport of tiger hunting,…

Varayattu Motta - The Inviting Summit

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Ponmudi is a well known destination, to the east of Thiruvananthapuram district and it is thronged by nature enthus, during week ends; peak being lone of its kind, nearest to capital city, with smooth vehicle access. We too frequent the place, during early hours of the day, in search of birds and during those visits, the towering green hillocks, a bit west to the upper sanatorium of Ponmudi, had always been a fascinating sight, especially in the golden light. It was actually Kumarettan, who runs a small food joint at Kallar, the base of Ponmudi hills, who briefed us on Varayadu Motta - the abode of Varayadu (Nilgiri Tahr) - while we were raiding on his Dosas, a fine morning. He added that, not many has been up there, though the mount stay inviting....

       And some days later we again found ourselves, in front of that delicious cuisine, all set to hike the toughest one near by. Thankfully, the department had relieved Mr. Alexander, a forest watcher, who joined us to guide…

Memari – The Isle Of Seclusion

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Memari has nothing to do with rains though ‘mari’ means so in Malayalam. It’s a tiny tribal settlement all surrounded by the woods of Idukki Wildlife sanctuary. The hamlet is headed by Arjunan, who played our host for the two days, we roamed around Memari. The expedition took off from Kizhukanam, the base of all ventures we had in Idukki Wild life Sanctuary. We boarded the 4 wheel drive Jeep, owned by Babu of Kizhukanam, by around 3 in the evening, of a pleasant sunny day. 



       Drive to Memari is impossible while it rains, as the terrain is not that friendly, even to the 4 wheel drives. The initial stretch was a climb to the mountain top adjacent to that hosts Memari. At the top, halted for a while, as the evening sun graciously lighting the Memari hillock, didn’t let us go that easy. 



          The journey then was downhill, initially wading through the grass growth, which gradually gave way to thick foliage. Crossed a rivulet and it went uphill, landing in front of a four pillared …

Kizhakkalaachi - The Eastern Heights

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Idukki Wild Life Sanctuary is a low profile reserve with all its beauty and majesty hidden and unexplored. Kizhakkalachi is one among the hidden wonders not even popular with the local inhabitants. Access to these heights, is only through a remote village named Kizhukanam, connected by a dirt road from Valakode, about 30 km from Kattappana, the head quarters of Idukki district. Few buses ply between Kattappana and Kizhukanam, apart from which jeeps serve the connectivity with outer world.

        Thus we boarded the 4 Wheel Drive vehicle owned by Babu of Kizhukanam, after parking our vehicle at Valakode. The jerky drive ended at the forest station of Kizhukanam, from where two of the forest staff,  joined us to guide.Our vehicle carrying the seven member delegation drove up to Kizhukanam junction, deviated left and switched over to 4WD option, for the next part of the climb. After half an hour  of jumps and jerks, the drive ended at ‘Mulla’ and we got geared for the trek…