Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ila Veezha Poonchira - Silent Patch of Greenery

                  As an earlier attempt to visit Ila Veezha Poonchira went out of our reach, this time we were determined. I, Sunil and our family got packed in our Alto and started at 9 AM on 5th August 2009. We took Ayur- Anchal – Punalur – Pathanamthitta – Ranni – Ponthanpuzha – Manimala – Ponkunnam route and reached Pala by 1.30 PM. After lunch, proceeded towards Thodupuzha, took a right deviation at Kollappilli, to bypass Thodupuzha town, and joined the Moolamattom road, at Muttom. Just after Kudayathoor, a sign board, directed right, reads ‘Ela Veezha Poonchira 8 kms’. Started the ascent from there. We had contacted the DTPC Kottayam earlier and had confirmed our night stay at Poonchira. The road was pretty smooth and picturesque, with a falls or a stream appearing occasionally.                        We had many stopovers for a snap or for a face wash and there at last, the tarred road transformed to a rocky hilly track. The local people confirmed that our Alto cannot be taken any further, and that the remaining one and a half km is to be done on foot, or in a four wheel drive Jeep. 

                 We stood there a while, and a jeep stopped near by. There were 5 passengers in it including Mr.James, the person in charge of the the DTPC rest house, at the top. The fellow passengers were his relatives, who came for a day’s visit at Poonchira. He had information about our visit from DTPC and he offered to take our luggage along with, as there wasn’t enough space in the jeep to accommodate us. We happily handed over the luggage, parked our vehicle by the road side, and started our climb along with the kids. In fact the jeep was always in front of us, as it couldn’t move any faster than us, such was the pathetic track. And finally reached the rest house by 4.30 PM.                     The three bed room building wasn’t electrified, and we had carried emergency lamps along with, as we knew about it earlier. It was located atop a peak, surrounded by such green green peaks all around. The peak to the west is named ‘Kudayathoor Bindal’ , and the one at the east is ‘Mainkallu Mudi’.
Kudayathoor Bindal
Mainkallu Mudi
                              The earlier visitors took the Jeep to Kudayathoor Bindal, and we people just wandered around. James and his relatives returned from Bindal half an hour later, and we expressed our wish to pay a visit to Bindal. Anoop, the jeep driver assured us, that he will return after dropping the others at the base. Aneesh, James’s assistant, also left with Anoop, to fetch provisions for our dinner. We had a chat with James, till Anoop returned. James had actually leased the building from DTPC and he is in trouble now, it seems. Poonchira being a very remote place, it is not being promoted by DTPC. As there is no power supply to the building, families (unlike ours) will never prefer an over night stay over here. A project to provide solar power is sleeping in files for long. The track to the building is not motorable, except for 4WD Jeeps. There is no fencing and not even a sign board, that this is a Govt. property…thus goes the grievance line. Sunil, being a senior official of Tourism dept., assured him that he would try his best to sort out the problems as soon as he returns – and James was happy. In fact, I found James as a man of great ideas, that he had even managed to fabricate a wind mill for the use of the building, in the event the power project is not through.

                      By this time Anoop returned with the jeep and we were out to explore the sunset at Kudayathoor Bindal.
       The track was so bumpy and rocky, that I could walk along with the Jeep.                 Once at the top, the view is awesome. The Malankara Reservoir, below, resembled a golden snake.                       Temperature dipped by then and many of us started shivering. Setting sun at the west and rising moon at the east, filled the silent place with a beauty, which words cannot express.                   I decided to walk down the peak and the jeep left with others. The DTPC rest house on the other peak, with Mainkallu Mudi at the backdrop, was the lone building in that wide canvas.                  By then mist spread blocking the view, and I slowly walked back to the night stay. I reached by 7, and by then Anoop had left for the base, where he lives, leaving the Jeep at the rest house, as we were to have a morning safari to ‘Muni Guha’, a cave inside woods. James and his assistant had prepared porridge for the kids, and was busy with rice, for the elders. We joined him and he took out all those preserved food, he had carried from his home, for his own use. Within this small interval, James became a good friend of ours, and he even rang up his house, which is near Thodupuzha, to get his mother on line, to explain to my wife, the recipe of a certain dish. The food he made was equally delicious as those by his mother, and we ate a lot. 

         He showed us a fully loaded long barreled gun, under his bed, to ensure us that we were safe in his custody – though we weren’t afraid of the loneliness. After the food, we took out our torches, and went for a short walk along the misty hillside. The mist and the overall silence had its own majesty, that we were out of this world. Spent a long time outside the building and went to bed by midnight. By then, I had planned an early morning trek to Mainkallu Mudi, and Aneesh had agreed to guide me.

6 – 8 – 09

                        Left for MainkalluMudi by 5.45 AM, accompanied by Aneesh. We had to descent our peak first, into a patch of woods and then on to a grassland, at the end of which the hike to Mainkallu Mudi starts. I slipped many time times, during the descent, luckily not sustaining any major injuries. The mist was so thick and it was still dark.                      Visibility improved at the end of the grasslands, but the mist was still thick. Started the hike to the top and I found that actually there is no specific path ahead. Aneesh was leading me just by the direction. The trek was fairly difficult for me, as we had to jump from rock to rock and I had to crawl at many places. Half way up, Aneesh pointed to the east, and we knew that the sun will be up soon. Waited for a while to capture sunrise, and amazingly the sun wasn’t red, but yellowish, in the thick mist. Kept on climbing and reached atop a cliff. Aneesh suggested that we shall wait here for a while, for the mist to clear off, that we can have distant a view of Pala town towards the south and, of course, our rest house on the opposite side.              Mist went off for a short interval and we could clearly spot our rest house atop our lonely peak, as a white dot.
The white spot at the back drop is the rest house
                        More closer look revealed people walking around, probably Sunil and James. Mist spread again, blocking the view and we started the descent.                     Many more slippings and were back by 8 AM. Anoop arrived by 8.30, and we started our safari to ‘Muni Guha’ by 8.45 AM.                      At the initial stage, the track was just rocks for about half an hour, and then after crossing a stream it transformed to grasslands. The grasses were so high to cover the Jeep and the path was too narrow.                          After about 20 minutes, grass lands gave way to woods. In the midst of the woods the vehicle came to a stop, and we looked around for the cave. Anoop reveals that a small walk down the woods would take us to the cave. It was a difficult stretch for me, as I had my two and a half year old, on my shoulders. After a short while we reached the entrance of the cave, which is a small hole, through which a man can just crawl in.                        Anoop went in first to check for pre occupancies, if any, and signaled us to get in. Once inside, it’s spacious enough for one to stand straight.                It was pitch dark inside and we moved on in the light of mobile torches and camera flash. At the end of the cave, there is a tiny cute water fall, which never dries off, it seems.             Anoop says it will be much more beautiful after the rains.                       The cave is believed to have been the temporary residence of Pandavas, during their exile. Got out and climbed up to the jeep.                  On our return, Anoop stopped the vehicle in the midst of thick grass hills and pointed to a distant rock, from where 7 districts of Kerala is visible, he claims. We decided to explore, but the grass hill up to the rock, was higher than we people. Anoop lead us with my two and a half year old on his shoulders, and we followed. At some points we did'nt even see others as we got fully immersed in the greenery of grass.                Some how crawled up the rock, to a wonderful view. I don’t know whether the claim of 7 district view - it included even Calicut – is true or not, but the rock is at such a height and the view limit was infinite. We could clearly identify the towns of Thodupuzha, Muttom and Pala.                     The tiny town of Melukavu – location of the Malayalam movie ‘Kadha Parayumbol’ - lies just beneath the rock. A bus parked at Melukavu junction appeared as an ant.                    Spent a while there and swam across the grass sea to the Jeep. Two kms ahead we had another stop to have a dip in the crystal clear, chilled stream, wayside.                  Finally back at the rest house by 12 noon. Had some porridge and checked out soon, as our destination today is Kanthalloor, near Marayoor, about 150 kms drive ahead. Bye to James and Aneesh, and Anoop dropped us at the base, where our car was safe by the roadside. Thanked Anoop as he was not just a driver, but a guide, a helping friend and much more.

           Drove towards Thodupuzha, and all of a sudden it started raining heavily. Let it rain and rain and the falls in Muni Guha thicken to beauty, for tomorrow’s explorers

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  1. Actually i was googling to get some details about ila veezha poonchira and happend to see your blog post. it was such a detailed description, actually no need to ask anybody else. thank u so much for the information.



  3. By reading your narration and seeing photos I felt as if I were ther.Wonderful description.Keep it up

  4. Could you include the contact number of James !! ?

  5. very very nice i feel very proud that i am a native of melukavu!!!

  6. We are planning to go for a nice trip to ila-veezha-poonchira soon ... Thanks for your nice description ...

  7. hello shinu, pls let me know the procedure for getting accomodation in the DTPC rest house atop ila veezha poonchira

    1. Sreenath : The rest house is now leased by Poonchira resorts run by Mr.Anoop. His contact no. is 9995577005.

    2. @ shinu that number is not reachable is there any other number to book the guest house in the top.

    3. Can you please post the contact number obtained from DTPC


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