Thursday, May 30, 2013

Vattathotti – Palliyanpaara : The Border Line – 2

          If the previous chapter was on the expedition to Venniar, a border section of Periyar Tiger Reserve, through the Tamil Nadu Hills of Meghamala, here I would present a report on the day, in and around Venniar, after a cold night’s stay at the Forest station of Venniar.

        The day started with a delicious dish of Tapioca, topped with a lavish pour of lemoned black tea, at the mercy of Karikalan, a forest watcher and the delegation set out for the exploration, heavily armed against leeches – and not tigers.

               Though the morning was misty and cloudy, nothing hindered us, if not for the intermittent light drizzle. The woods in the morning light and mist, was all the more charming and the shutter bugs enjoyed the opportunity to the best.

       We were heading west, towards Vattathotti – a ridge overlooking the Mullaperiyar reservoir – and in just about 200 metres, had an exciting stop at the fresh footprints of the big cat.

        The grass sprouts stamped to mud were just springing up, signing how unfortunate we were in missing the sighting of the most elusive creature, in its natural habitat. Decided against following the pug marks and continued in our direction.

       In another ten minutes, defense call of an elephant, from the thicket close to our track, stopped us for another while, until the subsequent calls ensured its recede. Thereafter the walk went slower, not that we were scared, but as the gradient went steeper. In half an hour, assumed the heights of grass hillocks, but mist was so thick, restricting the view beneath.

         Waited there in good hope and luck was on our part. A mighty wind slid off the mist veil and we had the majestic view of the big blue pool amidst thick green canopy.

        Opportunities are short lived and so was the view. Moved to the eastern side of the ridge, where visibility was comparatively better and the view was worth the walk.


          We had folds of grass mounts beneath, bordered by tea plantations of Eravankalar, to our west and the distant vilages of Chinnamannur, to the north. Interestingly, a tusker – should be the one who scared us earlier - was found roaming in the grass hillock, just beneath us.

        As the photographers clicked to their content, the delegation went ahead with the trek to Palliyanpara, to the south of Vattathotti.

          Descended a bit, wading the thick undergrowth, went around a large pool, evidently the water source for the inhabitants around - including our big cat friend - crossed our earlier track, as our predecessor did and headed south beneath thick canopy, which spared us from the drizzle.

         It was slight down hill all the way and in half an hour we could find the canopy opening to grass lands, at the far end. Karkalan was leading the trail and as he was about to clear the cover, he fell to the floor, signaling us to follow suite. On crawling to him, we could find a large herd of Gaur, leisurely grazing in the meadow beneath us, totally unaware of the show watchers.

       Watched the show for a long while, and the perfection instincts forced us to crawl closer. Being in an open ground, they could sense us pretty quick, an alarm went around, and we witnessed the elder ones circling around the calves, and galloping into the nearest cover. Deviated from the track and went a bit more down to the ridge of Palliyanpara, from where a part of the reservoir was very clearly visible. It was surprising to learn that Mullakkudi region of PTR is just 6 km down hill, where I had been once, through the jungle track of PTR.   

       The support of the light break fast had left us long back and we were running on reserves. The thought of the hike that remains, flared the fire inside, and the return climb was bit brisk, despite the steep terrain. Reached back Venniar by half past three, and had to spent a while, to unload leeches who had joined us from all along the track, before reaching up to the lunch plates.


             Spent the evening at Eravankalar, birding around and drove back to the forest station by dusk. The last night at Venniar was colder, due to the downpour and it dawned to the return voyage from Kerala to Kerala, through Tamilnadu.


  1. I adore the way you explore the least trodden paths. Another mesmerising post!

  2. nice journey, beautiful pictures of thick forest. you got very good friends to do these kind of trips. i just wonder is it possible to go ahead through the forest track that leading to kumali. thanks.

  3. nice journey, beautiful pictures of thick forest. you got very good friends to do these kind of trips. i just wonder is it possible to go ahead through the forest track that leading to kumali. thanks.

  4. marakkamudiyaatha dinangal...grt experience also...super report

  5. Thanks for an excellent sequel Shinu Chetta. Some of the terrain on part two looks like the UK with all the mist you encountered. I like the leech defence system, we call those "gaiters" here and use them to stop our boots and feet getting wet.

  6. Shinu,
    I have been silently reading your travelogues for couple of years.
    Your selection of places are amazing !!! , hats-off for your expeditions & travelogues.
    Have to ask u one thing- Since u venture out to remote forests, tackling border check-posts.
    How do the guards treat you ? do they ask bribes ? do they behave harsh by not letting you ? Just curious to know ...
    - from KAR.

  7. Santosh : Normally I go with proper permissions and prior intimations to such check posts. And hence haven't faced any hassles of that sort

  8. Hi shiny can I have your no...plz mail to
    You r living my dream

  9. Keralaexpatriate : Details sent



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