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Monday, May 30, 2011

A "Treknic" to Wayanad organized by the Bangalore Ascenders seemed the ideal means to unwind after a hectic week of tight schedules and deadlines. Organized by Jinu at the brink of the monsoon season -with a trek up the Chembra peak, a visit to the Meenmutty Falls & Edakkal Caves on the cards, the stage was set for the perfect weekend getaway.
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A good mix of about 22 first timers and seasoned trekking enthusiasts gathered in front of Shantala Silks (Majestic Bus Station) at 10 PM to board the mini bus that was to take us to our destination. With everybody on board, we set off at about 10:30 PM. The plan was to halt and spend the night at the Bandipur forest entrance which was cordoned off between 9 PM & 6 AM. The bus journey was made interesting with a lively introduction session wherein we got acquainted with our fellow “ascenders”. Most of us were newbie groups of twos and threes while some already knew each other from previous trekking trips. However, Jinu and the other old timers made sure everybody was comfortable and involved in the interaction that ensued. As the night wore on, we began to doze off one by one.
At 6 AM, the bus started moving through the Bandipur forest stretch. The lush greenery and cool morning breeze was a treat for the senses. At the check post, some stopped to take pictures. The next stop was the Adarsh Hotel at Kalpetta where we freshened up and had breakfast before getting back on course. Once refreshed, we set out for our first destination- the Chembra hills. As the bus driver skillfully maneuvered through the sharp bends in the road in the journey through the Ghats, the breathtaking view of the hills under the dense cloud cover and the scenic beauty kept everyone spellbound.
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Our gang !! 3
The bus halted at a point where we had to get permission to trek. As Jinu went to make the arrangements, some of the trekkers had fun with the local kids and clicked photos with them. The journey by bus then continued until we reached the point from where we would be starting our walk on foot to reach the lighthouse- the starting point of our trek. It was a short pleasant walk to the lighthouse with tea estates on either side. From the lighthouse, we began our ascent to the Chembra peak at 10 AM. As we climbed upwards through the rocky and grassy terrain, some of us began to tire out more easily than the rest and required frequent resting breaks. But that did not dampen our enthusiasm and we trudged on. We soon arrived at the heart shaped lake.
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The banks of the lake were grassy with only a single tree in the lake’s vicinity with its branches spreading out across the water. The cloudy skies, light drizzle and cool breeze only added to the romantic setting & weather. This was evident from one trekker’s poses for the camera which had a striking resemblance to the poses given by Shahrukh Khan in the exotic locales of his candy floss movies! (no prizes for guessing who!!) As all of us relaxed near the lake, those with professional cameras kept clicking away at the beautiful scenery which gave us some awesome pictures to cherish as memories.
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After a short break at the lake, we once again started off to the peak. Unfortunately, a few of us could not really make it right up to the top and decided to stop at several levels above the lake. The remaining however conquered the Chembra peak and were witness to the spectacular bird’s eye view of Wayanad.
8While we waited for the bigger group to come down from the peak, the rest of us chatted and enjoyed a nap under the open sky, right at the edge of the cliff! The strong breeze at the edge made us feel like we are floating on air- something that you can never feel within the city limits.
Once the bigger group joined us, we started our descent. This turned out to be quite tricky as the loose mud and stones resulted in quite a few falls. However, the group soon reached the base of the hills and set off towards the vehicle. By this time everybody was dead tired. On the way, we stopped for tea and snacks at a chai shop before boarding the bus that would take us to the home stay for the night. A game of Dumb Charades kept everyone interested.
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The home stay was about a half hour drive from the base of the hills- a cozy cottage called D’Silvas Home Stay at Sulthan Bethary. This was owned by a sweet couple who were extremely hospitable and caring during our stay with them. A huge stuffed black bear in the showcase, leopard skin draped on a wall, a swing in the garden, love birds in a cage and other such antiques added to the cottage’s unique charm. After dinner, the girls fell asleep almost immediately. The same cannot be said about the guys who we heard were mysteriously engaged all night in certain nocturnal activities! (This was the joke going around the next day!)
The following day, after a refreshing walk around the cottage and eating delicious mangoes freshly plucked off the treesIMG_0501 in the garden, we set off for the Meenmutty Falls- the largest waterfall in Wayanad which required a 2 km hike downwards to reach the base of the falls. When we reached the spot, we were first asked to give an account of the plastic items we were carrying as the authorities here are strict regarding anti-littering policies. Once this was done, we started off on our hike through the jungle. Being a Sunday, the place was quite crowded with the localites. Some of the rocks were quite mossy and slippery. We had to constantly hold the ropes alongside the entire downward stretch to make sure we didn’t fall. As we neared the base, we could hear the roar of the water becoming louder until the waterfall came into full view in all its glory.
While some of us sat on the rocks and enjoyed the cool spray of water, the others had a wonderful time playing in the water or swimming. After a while, the group started its climb upwards and soon reached the point where we had started off from after a number of rest breaks. Bottles of spicy buttermilk did the rounds and made everyone feel instantly better after the tiring hike.
The group then stopped for lunch at a place providing homely food. After lunch and relaxing for a bit, we set off in the bus for the Edakkal Caves. The Edakkal Caves9 are two natural cave formations formed by the splitting of a single rock located 1200 metres above sea level. We had to reach the caves before 4 PM after which the entrance would be closed to visitors. The climb to the caves was approximately 3 kms. The inside of the caves had a number of interesting carvings dating back to about 6000 B.C; most of which have not been deciphered yet. The guide explained a few of the carvings and also mentioned that similar prehistoric rock carvings could be seen only in France and was a rare sight. We then clicked a couple of group pictures inside the caves before venturing out. The walk down to the bus was extremely pleasant.
The caves marked the end of a two- day tiring but fun weekend in God’s own country. We then set off for Bangalore by about 6 PM in the bus in order to cross the Bandipur entrance before 9 PM. As we crossed the Bandipur forest, someone in the bus spotted two baby elephants near the road. We stopped to click a few pictures of the same before moving on. We then stopped for dinner at a dhaba near Mysore and stayed there till about 1:30 chatting, listening to music and looking at photos before setting off for Bangalore again. While waiting for dinner to be served, we had a good laugh over a game of "Chinese Whispers". We reached Bangalore at about 4:30 AM where everyone bade their goodbyes at Majestic Station and the group dispersed.
My first trip with the Bangalore Ascenders will certainly go down in my memory lane as a trip to be remembered- thanks to all the wonderful people I met and Jinu’s skills as an organizer. I sure hope to meet some of them again on other interesting trips organized by the Ascenders. Cheers!
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Written by: Sanjana
Event organized by: Jinu John
Image Galleries:
Jinu, Faizal, Suhas, Gururaj, Rahul

2 comments :

  1. Good photos and enjoyable description !
    And i live here,near chembra..Come again..UR WELCOME!

    Zameer-Wayanad

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  2. Hi zameer.. you are from waynad? Hows the water level in meenmutty now after the rains? Do they allow to play in the waterfall. I heard the guards there are strict when rains are more. What all are the places which I can cover other than this list. Am planning to visit Waynad on 28th of july

    Also is there an alternate route to reach waynad. heard night traffic is banned in bandipur.
    Thanks,
    Amar (bangalore)

    ReplyDelete