Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wayanad - Mingling with the Indian Rain

August 5-7, 2011 marked my first set of treks in the peak Indian monsoon. This time I was not a LoneWolf, I had the company of my counterstrike mates cum infosys mates and close friends. Pretty August company aint it? :P (pun intended)

Back to the trip, we had 3 places in mind:
1. Edakkal Caves
2. Chembara Peak
3. Soochipara Waterfalls

The climate was, rain, rain and more rain. It literally poured all day.Our First stop was the Edakkal Caves. Getting to the caves involves a trek of about a km. 90% of the path is paved, so its pretty tame. This paved path/steps leads us to the first cave. Though named Edakkal Caves, they are not literal caves. they are rather clefts, caused by a chunk or rock splitting away from the main rock. The oldest cleft is said to be about 8000 years old.

Due to the monsoon, the first cave had many a criss crossing stream, adding to the aura of the cave. When we reached the top, it was raining heavily, adding to the volume of water. That made quite a sight. Owing to the high darkness, I could not manage clicks of this (read do justice to the beauty and the aura inside). The second cleft has to be the mother of all petroglyphs. It had so many inscriptions and  they were so closely packed together that making out the shapes and what they conveyed was pretty difficult. Two inscriptions however, stood out. One was what looked to be the chieftain of the tribe that did it. The second was a depiction of the sun as the epicenter of everything. I could only gape and wonder how the bronze age people deduced it.

Since the caves are at the top of a mountain, the view down was breathtaking from the peak. Add the cloud cover and the mist and it made a very spectacular sight. One can only stand in awe at nature's creations. Rain, which was already pouring had turned to a torrent by the time we decided to descend. That delayed our return, and here are some clicks..

 Here's Raj and Adi

 Sathish and Raj..(others, I dun have the group pics sorry if you're not included)

We had made Ponnada Gardens our base for staying in Wayanad. Vythri Resort is a very good alternative, though ponnada gardens is equidistant from all the places mentioned above. My rating of Ponnada Gardens is very good, you have to ask for what you want though. Right from the food, to extra beds et al. Vythri is more of a honeymoon getaway if you ask me. Spent the night at base, only to be in line for an even more exciting day that lay ahead.

Next day, we were informed that Chembara Peak was open for trekking. It was closed for the past couple of days due to torrential rain. Lucky us. An awesome breakfast at Ponnada Gardens gave us the energy for the ardous trek that lay ahead. The peak is about 22 km away from Kalpeta. A couple of things to be noted here.
1. We need to get a permission from the forest authorities at the base.
2. Trekker groups are charged.
3. All cameras are to be declared and paid for.

All procedures done, we were informed that the more exciting foest route was closed as a herd of elephants had laid base there. It was too dangerous. The second route is a more exciting climb. Or it sounded so. I say this because there are three phases to the top. Two phases of 60 degree inclines through thickets and rocks, combined with ferrous rich mud. The second phase is a bit tougher owing to the presence of algae rich, slippery rocks on the trail. The third phase is the easiest, having an incline of 30 degrees.

Phase 1 greeted us with mild rain and we were able to take lots of pictures of the estate, the view of the peak from below and us of course. We started Phase 2 and were greeted with a torrent of rain. We thought it would subside on, and how wrong we were. It poured incessantly, creating a mini waterfall along the trail! We were wading our way through water, if the rocks, thorns and slippery mud were not enough. But as any good group would do, we pushed each other, cracked jokes and made the climb lighter. If rains made the ascent difficult, read on about the descent. Cams packed, mobiles secured and all wet, we crawled through phase 2. The sight of the heart shaped lake warned us to no end as we'd made it through 95% of the trail. 10 more minutes and we were atop the tallest peak in Wayanad! Clouds and literally everything below us, we felt on to of the world. We washed ourselves up using the water in the lake, took pics and prepared for the descent.

If the stream of water made the ascent difficult, rain had stopped, water had receded and all we were left with loads of ferrous slush on the trail. A couple of steps in it and we knew we were in for a tough descent, how right we were. It was so so slippery. But we fought it all out, found good paths to descend on and when we reached the base again, all of us were elated. Words might not describe well on how difficult the descent was, but I would like add a couple of inputs here:
1. A monsoon trek is one of the most difficult thing to do, but also one of the most satisfying.
2. If you're on a monsoon trek, make sure you wear shoes, and ones that grip well.
3. Western Ghats trek trails are notorious for leeches, especially in the rainy seasons, take necessary precautions.
4. A wet trail, with water flowing on it, is better than a slushy one. Time your trip well. Try avoiding slushy ascents/descents.
5. Egg on your group/yourself no matter what, be surprised to see what you're in store for after that.

It was back to base again. After all the achievements, yeah it was an achievement to conquer the peak, it was time for some boys fun and what a nite of frivolity it was! There were many memorable moments that are etched in the memory and wont be erased anytime soon! Some clicks en route....

Next in line was the Soochipara Waterfalls. Located at 22km northeast of Kalpeta, you have to take a 1.5km walk from the parking bays to reach the falls. They are cordoned off during peak monsoon seasons and offer a great avenue for rock climbing and white water rafting. The walk is through dense, pristine rainforests and tree lovers can find many a rare tree variety here. The waterfalls were at their full glory when we reached there, and we were in for an amazing sight. This was nature at its undisturbed, serene best. The full force of the waterfalls were a sight to behold. The path to the waterfall is pretty steep for most of the time, so be prepared for some dog breaths, especially the walk back to the parking bay. A couple of clicks of the falls in full force..

That concluded the short trip to Wayanad. All of us had our return booked from Mysore. We reached Mysore, only to know the Mysore Palace was to be lit up. The palace is lit up with thousands of serial bulbs illuminating the entire complex. They are switched off after the mysore royal band beats the retreat. The complex is lit up on all holidays and weekends and makes for a very pretty viewing. Would we miss it? Not for all eternity! Made a dash to the palace, saw the lit up complex and the band's beat the retreat. Not before we shopped at KSIC for authentic sandalwood stuff. Trip done, we bade fond goodbyes to each other and went back to our routines.

It would be a gross injustice not to mention the names of the trekkers who conquered the peak, and also who came halfway through to the trail: I will also use our personal counterstrike call signs which we usually address each other by more frequently than our real ones:
Aditya "Dilton" S, Bharath "Damal" Kumar, Aravind "Scorpion" N, Kannan "Karimedu" A, Jayanth "JBoss" T, Satish "Robo" C, Raj "Kaatupoochi" R, CP "Sharpshooter" Arun, Rajaram "Raam" G, Deva "Terror" Rajan, SRG, and finally yours truly "Scarecrow".

 The Mysore Palace - A Visitor's Guide


  1. sooper... jus went thru few lines... will finish completely n post few more comments :)

  2. Awesome and livelier as the trip... great one da :)