Monday, May 20, 2013

Meghamala – Venniar : The Border Line

   Venniar aka Eravangalar is one of the remote sections of East Division of Periyar Tiger Reserve of Kerala, which was recently declared as the best managed protected area in India, by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Though Venniar is about 15 km, aerially, to the east of Thekkadi ( head quarters of the East Division), access to the region is only through Chinnamannur of Tamilnadu - if not for the jungle track - and its about 100 kms from Thekkadi. The track to Venniar passes through the picturesque tea plantations of Meghamalai of Tamilnadu and thus decided to set apart three days, for this venture from Kerala to Kerala, through Tamilnadu.

        Reached Kumili by night, so as to start the onward journey, early morning, next day. Boarded the vehicle, of course equipped with four wheel drive, by around 7 in the morning. Went past the vineyards of Cumbum and of course had a short stop, to have a bite of some farm fresh grapes, well soaked in pesticides – I preferred to peel it before gulping.

           Stopped at Uthamapalayam for breakfast and to store provisions to keep us alive, the three days ahead. The track there after went through paddy fields, along the outskirts of Chinnamannur town, with towering hillocks surrounding, and occasionally with a borderline of Coconut plantations.

                Penetrating flocks of goat, that frequented the track, reached the first forest check post, on the line, at Thenpalani. No hassles and drove further up to small temple, where we had a short birding stop.

               Madhu, our chauffeur  dismantled the roof and side covers of the vehicle, and we got geared for the climb. The jeep went negotiating the hairpin curves slowly and the travelers were all busy with their cameras, copying the beauty of the entire valley.

         The jungle around, was dry and thorny initially, which gradually gained greenery, as we climbed. A watch tower about 100m from the track, about midway, offered a magnificent view of the tiny villages, scattered in the valley, further to the east. Few curves ahead, we were under thick foliage and the canopy underwent dramatic change.

     Signs of habitation appeared and soon we were driving along the winding road, cutting across a tea plantation. Stopped the vehicle near the sign board, which read ‘Megamalai’ and people scattered.

             Some went behind a laughing thrush and I opted to roam around and explore Megamalai. Megamalai is the hill top which got transformed to 'Highwavy' Tea Estate and I walked down to the Colony where the workers of the estate dwell.

                 About 30 households, a lower primary school, a tiny post office, a creche  a church, a temple and a bus shelter, make up Megamalai. But the greenery around, the chill in the air and the cloud of mist, will never let you forget the place.

             Further ahead the track went into thick woods, for about 4 km, with occasional patches of tea, and then opened to Manalar tea estate, surrounding Manalar reservoir.

          Thereafter the drive was along a scenic patch with the magical blend of greenery and bluish storage of tiny reservoirs, which resembled big ponds.

         A long bridge took us to the west bank side of Manalar and in another hour’s drive, along a similar stretch, got to Maharaja Medu.

            Maharaja Medu is another small colony of workers of Eravankalar Estate, located at the extreme end of the storage of Eravankalar Dam.

         Crossed the Dam structure and tea plantation gave way, to thick woods of Periyar Tiger Reserve! Here Madhu had to shift to 4WD, as it was a steep climb along a slippery track.

           The climb, tearing the mist veil, ended at the doorsteps of Venniar Forest Station.

      It was 6 in the evening. About eleven hours of journey from a Kerala to a different Kerala, and folks, it was a day indeed. And that cold night at Venniar Forest Station dawned to another remarkable day, on which, I will get back to you soon.    


  1. This is such a tempting drive. Waiting for more. Lovely captures.

    1. Have been reading your blog for quite sometime now - doing arm chair travelling. Amazing expeditions, I have to say. Kudos to you! Wish I were in your gang!

      We went to Meghamalai once and made it up to Manalar. With a family of 15 people (and 2 grandparents on board), we couldn't make it beyond that. Great to know you guys went till Venniar station. Have you tried the Varashanadu route to Vellimalai - which I've heard from locals - is adajacent to Meghamalai? It also has a water fall and a Murugan temple.


    2. Wanderlust : Thanks for your compliment. As regards Vellimalai, we are yet to explore that sector. Hope to do that in near future

  2. Excellent work Shinu! I've wanted to see teh Cumbum valley for a while, but never made the effort to go there myself. The photo looking over the valley from the jeep is wonderful. Can we see some more photos looking over the valley, perhaps some taken from the watchtower?

    1. Thank You Chris. Of course I will post more photos in Picasa

  3. the landscapes r lovely.. the last snap is awesome..

  4. Excellent photographs. Can you please the month in which you travelled.
    I'm not sure, but does the scenery (greenery) change month by month.
    Basically trying to figure the best time to visit Meghamalai.

  5. Sorry for being late. It was in August

  6. good... varayaadu motta vare kandu....ningale parichayappedaan oru avasaram kittiyilla....athoru nashtamaayi enikku thonnunnu.....

  7. How to book room at venniar forest station

    1. Sorry Sreejith. It's not possible.


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