Gavi..?? where in Kerala? Is it a tourist place? Which district it is? etc these were the queries i got after posting the event in the website. Monsoons in its peak time,bad time to visit the forests of Periyar tiger reserve. Good response and a bunch of people registered within the first week and was forced to close the registration within few dates.
So Friday night I reached Shanti Nagar bus stand from where our bus to Kumily was booked. People started coming and finally after all late comers majority seats of the bus were filled by the ascenders. We started of to Kumily, morning when woke up we were in the plains of Tamil Nadu near Kumbam. Hills far ahead, grape farms and drizzling, a good sign to start up with the day. We could see a waterfall sliding through the hills and I made an announcement its Chellarkovil waterfalls and we will be visiting that today. All heads out of windows to see it:):).
After 1 hour of climbing up from Cumbam we reached Kumily... cool and pleasant atmosphere welcomed we crossed the check post in border to Kerala. We checked in to hotel and decided to start by 10.00AM after breakfast with a Jeep ride. mean time went to the forest office and made the arrangements for Gavi passes. By 10.00AM 4 Jeeps were in front of the Hotel and all occupied the best seats and we headed off to Ottakathalamedu (camel head top, if I translated correct ) view point in Kumily. When we started climate was good but as we attained altitude it started drizzling.
We reached the peak and drivers showed doubt of going to the peak by vehicle through muddy paths. Rony chettan decided to give a try and after some struggling crossed the muddy area to reach the view point, followed by other Jeeps. Even tough drizzling, rain coats, umbrellas, click click click... click mine... see that peak, mist , people started framing the natures beauty. The view of the hills around and the Thekkady lake and forest all framed and captured well. A failure attempt to have an introduction section due to rains and we started to Chellarkovil waterfalls as promised in bus. Down pour was more and was non stop. We reached an estate and waited for the rain to stop. We had a nice lecture about the Chellarkovil waterfalls, the life around Kumily and the farming in the high range. Slowly rain reduced and we moved through the estates to the waterfall view point. Disappointment spreaded to all the faces... mist every where and cant even see anything, not even the plains down was visible. Waited for more than 1 hour and no chances of the villain moving out, we started back. Went back to the estate and climbed the tree house, and a call from the top.. "he's moving out lets go back.". Huge energy and all started running back to the view point... what a beauty the valley down and hills spreading across. The plains of Tamil Nadu in Cumbam and Theni down, the hills of Kerala dividing it with Kerala. Chellarkovil waterfall going down to Tamil Nadu side was a fest for the eyes. Mist playing hide and seek and with lots of satisfaction we moved back to the tree house. Checked the time and its almost 3:00pm, all forgot about having lunch only and we headed towards Ampady hotel and had a tasty lunch and came out. Again some clicks around the hotel surrounding. We decided to walk towards Thekkady lake through forests dropping the boating plan, and it proved to be right decision thick forests in both sides and little wild life and some leach encounters we reached the Thekkady lake. Spent some time over there and headed back to Kumily where a martial arts show was going on. Got tickets and all occupied their seats and the show started, one by one the items were shown and was surprised to see their body language and the rhythm they followed in the show. They even performed some fire works in the dark which too was a feast to the eyes.
The first day programs over and the gang dispersed for shopping and dinner.. Kumily being a good place to buy spices and handicrafts people got a lot to shop, and food of all types. All went to sleep as we have check out from hotel and start early morning by 5:00 AM to Gavi.
Morning 4:00AM the annoying mobile alarm, snoozed and went back to sleep under the thick blanket. Again alarm, this time realizing the time got up and freshed up. Went to all other rooms and gained all the bad words for waking them up. Jeeps had come, chilling morning and all got into jeeps. 1,2,3...29 head counts, multiple times, 3 people are missing. Went every where searching and Rony chettan suggested to check the rooms. Got the key back from reception and opened the rooms one by one... what the hell... 3 Kumbakarnas still sleeping. All scoldings and a time line to reach reception with 15 minutes. By 5:40AM all started off to Gavi. Green carpet of tea plantations,civilization and all disappeared behind us and reached Vandiperiyar forest check post. Check post entries and the jeep roof tops opened we enter the forests of Gavi. Beautiful landscapes and streams flowing between them and the music from nature welcomed us. We climbed a small hill as instructed by the driver and spotted some Indian Gaurs on a near by hill. These jeep drivers have a sharp eye in locating wild life, and they have some favorite spots and they tell that wild animals are usually spotted in those places. Time was 7:30AM still we had a feeling that it was only 6:00AM due to the mist and darkness in forest. green green every where we traveled and stopped at view points, pictures and finally reached Gavi. The Gavi is an isolated village hamlet deep inside forest with very less population. Wildlife is abundant here. This area was unknown to the most of outside world before tourism started. The trek to wilderness, lake in Gavi and boating in that is a highlight of the place. The delicious breakfast from the canteen and guides were assigned to our team to trek in to the wild. We were given leach socks, rain coats and all all set ready. Rain gods having no mercy continued, but we couldn't stop trekking and followed the trail. Beautiful landscapes and mother nature in full glory, and no doubt it became a monsoon trek.
We descended to a hut deep inside the forest, the guide showed us a tiger pug mark. Just down the hut there was a stream and waterfall, visited that and here comes challenge.. we need to cross the stream. By forming human chain crossed the stream and ascended back to Gavi. After a tiring trek had a delicious lunch there comes another news , elephants appeared near Pachakkanam forest.
We asked the guide and our drivers to take us there. Jeeps started and headed into wild routes again to Pachakkanam forests. Jeeps stopped and we could see a group of elephants in a distant peak. the guide advised its not safe to go near, on requesting again he asked people who's ready to run on being chased by elephants can come. I passed on the message and few of the people started hiking. By this time elephants realized our presence and started showing their digress of our approach. We went nearer to an adjacent hill and took photos. They again started showing their dislike to our presence , and our fear of having more elephants in the near by grasses made us to go down. We returned back as it was getting late and we need to finish our boating and exit the forest before 6:00PM.
Went back to the lake where boats were ready for us. We divided into 2groups as there were no sufficient boats and life jackets. A pleasant sail in the Gavi lake headed us to a surprise a waterfall on one edge of the lake. Got down and headed close to the waterfalls and lot of fun and bath in the ice cold water.
Headed back to the canteen where the next group was waiting. While the other group went to waterfalls we had a visit to the store room where lot of skulls and bones of elephants and other animals were kept. Surprised to see so huge elephants skulls and all. All back and few of us climbed the hill behind to have a distant view of Shabarimala temple deep inside forest. When we were there our guide came and told its time to head back.
We sat in Jeeps and headed back to Kumily, on the way a sudden stop and shh..sh... See a step ahead in the forest. A group of elephants so close again.
Again clicks and clicks.... Satisfied all head back to Kumily. Reached Kumily and end of 2 days Treknic and truly a monsoon treknic with a bunch of like minded friends.
This treknic was with Bangalore Ascenders, a non profitable trekking group based in Bangalore .
Video composed by Navendu,
Kumily and Thekkady:
Kumily is a town near Thekkady and Periyar Tiger Reserve in Idukki District, Kerala. Its one of the major tourist locations and main spices trade center.
Nearest Airport: Even tough Kumily is inKerala, nearest airport is in Madurai, which is some 120 Kms
Route : bangalore- Salem - Dindigul _ Theni - Cumbam - Kumily - Gavi
: Cochin - Vandiperiyar -Gavi
Regular buses are there from Cumbam in Tamil Nadu. Also regular buses ply from Kottayam and Cochin in Kerala.
Gavi lying in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala is a must visit place where lot of eco tourism projects which you should book in advance. They have one day package and camping packages depending on season.
From Kumily Gavi is approachable via Vandiperiyar. The road continues via Pachakkanam, Kochu Pamba till Pathanamthitta which you may not be permitted to do by Forest officials. one or two KSRTC buses runs to and fro between Kumily and Pathanamthitta via Gavi which is a rewarding trip if you have time. It starts early morning and ends at evening.
Accomodation and Food: Gavi accommodation if required you should book well in advance. Kumily there are lot of options available for food and accommodation.
Write up: Jinu John