Friday, February 8, 2013

Aaralam – Meenmutti ; The Riverine Rhapsody

           Just as the vehicle stopped by the Forest Inspection Bungalow, what got into me was a well audible gush. Just 50 meters from the IB, Cheenkanni Puzha was celebrating the recent rains in the woods.

            It was a pleasant evening, not for the slight drizzle and we set out to join the celebration. The hanging bridge across the river, though not a safe platform for a crowd, is the best place near the IB, to capture the might of Cheenkanni Puzha. The entire evening was dedicated to her and returned to the IB only after it was dark. 

                After dinner, leaving the ladies and the kids in the safety of the IB, Biju and I ventured out, roaming the premises. Spotted a Sambar deer and a mouse deer on the way, who were happy to pose for us, but the light condition wasn’t favorable for a shoot out. The Forest Watcher with us, urged not to move far away, for fear of an elephant herd, which was scared away by the farmers in the adjoining village – Aralam Farm – the very evening, we reached. Got back to the IB by around 10 and the room was neat and comfortable enough, to offer a sound sleep.

      Aralam Wild Life Sanctuary falls in the Kannur district of Kerala, within the Western Ghats and share borders with the woods of Coorg District in Karnataka.

            The nearest town is Iritty, about 40 km to the east of Kannur town and it is another 20 km from Iritty to the sanctuary. To the west lies, Aaralam Farm, run by Govt. of Kerala, for the welfare and rehabilitation of tribal people.

     Woke up to a well lit morning, with almost no clouds hovering above and got ready for the expedition upstream, after a delicious break fast. Vehicle was ready by then and we set out, by around 8 in the morning. Rains are always a worry for the forest staff, as the jungle tracks often get blocked by fallen trees and branches and we had a team along with us, who were on routine duty of clearing tracks.

The destination was decided to be Meenmutti, where Cheenkani Puzha suffers a deep plunge, close to its origin, near the Karnataka border of the woods.

         The initial stretch was very comfortable, as the track was even and we had so many rivulets, singing across the track, and eventually strengthening Cheenkannipuzha flow.

      Many of these musicians, plunged from heights, close to the track and it was interesting to know that these falls are yet to be named.

                            Thus proceeded, clearing occasional hurdles, as broken tree branches, until stopped by a big tree itself, uprooted and lying across the track. And that would become our destination, I thought; but that wasn’t the destiny.

          To our surprise, our team was equipped with big saws too and in half an hour the track was cleared.


                 Went ahead, eyes engaged by the beauty of the woods and ears left to the narration by our team leader, Lekshmanan, who himself was a tribesman, lucky to spend his childhood within the depth of this jungle, and later forced out.

   Finally the vehicle came to a stop near a high built camp shed. Got out of the vehicle and could see nothing, but the rhythm of the roar; such was the mist.

                      Lekshmanan lead us through a slippery, narrow, leach infested – read it carpeted – track, by the side of the flow, for about half a km and we got very close to the plunge. Cutting through the mist, we could have a blurred vision of the milky flow, down a steep rocky ridge.

                   Spent there about half an hour, in which Mother Nature was kind enough to lift the misty veil, for a few seconds intermittently, for us to have an exciting sight of the majesty. Those moments were so precious, that I didn’t attempt a click but let my naked eyes have the feast.

    Climbed back to the camp shed and just before we left, mist thinned for a moment, as if to wave us off with a parting sight.

             On the way back, had a stop at Pothenplavu, where there is a watch tower, high enough to offer a birds view of the sector.

               Back at the IB for a late lunch and hungry souls couldn’t even wait for a wash up.

    Before leaving, by evening, walked up to the riverside and Cheenkannipuzha, perhaps being more familiar by then, seemed to play a friendly tune – the riverine rhapsody.   


  1. OSM!!!!!!
    When did you go there???
    Is there any prior booking required for the trekking?
    And what about the trekking charges?

  2. Nirmal Raghavan : It was in last September (2012). A friend in the dept arranged this trip. You may contact the Wild Life Warden Aaralam, for details

  3. Excellent post. Seems like an awesome place for trekking.

  4. More good work and much appreciated Shinu. Interesting to see some photos of Biju not wearing his huge camera, I thought it was permanently attached to him.

    1. Thank You Chris. And that was a nice observation on Biju

  5. govt jobs,fresher jobs,bank jobs,ssc jobs,railway jobs,police jobs,army jobs,navy jobs,rrb jobs,fci jobs,state government jobs,central government jobs,fresher walkins


Pappilai Amman - The Deity Distinct

         Raj Vridhachalam, the man behind many of my trails, was the one to brief me on Pappilai Amman, the deity of a jungle shrine, deep i...