Reeling under an extreme heat wave with mercury scaling up in most places in Kerala, we decided to have a drive to get ourselves chilled and refreshed. It was then that we started our journey from Trivandrum to a hill station which is 56 to 60 kms north-east to it, a place with wintry climate that serves as a base for trekking and hiking. I think, by now, it is quite easy to trace the place I am talking about. As you might have guessed, it is the“Ponmudi”also known as the “Golden peak”.
To be more exact, we began our journey from Trivandrum, drove along the Nedumangad road. After reaching near Nedumangad, we drove along the Thenmala road. Then, it was from Chullimanoor Junction that we took a right turn towards Ponmudi; the next junction was Vithura Junction. Again, we took a right turn towards Ponmudi and reached the Kallar River and that was our first halt.
It was almost time for lunch. I am not a big fan of restaurant food on thrilling journeys like this and I enjoy having food cooked and packed from home. Also, there won’t be any restaurants on the way to Ponmudi once we leave the city behind. So we parked our car, paid the parking fee and headed to the river side. After getting out of the car, we were so delighted to hear the chirping sound of crickets and some insects accompanied by the tranquil music of water.
We thought of having the lunch first and then taking an energizing bath in the frigid ice cool water. We spent more than three hours there. Kallar seems to be the perfect waterfalls spot. Believe me, you will equally enjoy trekking, sightseeing and the plantations of rubber, pepper, cardamom and tea that can be viewed on the way. We were all in the top of excitement, playing in the water fall and we never knew that three hours passed and we were still in the water falls. Be very careful if you have children with you as the rocks there are too much slippery. It was time for us to start our journey to Ponmudi.
One of the most exciting things about reaching the top of the hill station is climbing the 22 hair pin curves. As it was almost evening time, we could see more vehicles coming down the hair pin curves than going up. So we felt like we were trapped and we had to stay there; it actually added to my excitement. But we were not sure whether rooms would be available anywhere. Anyhow, we started heading towards Ponmudi. On the way we could see some people climbing the hairpin curves in bikes. That would definitely be an exhilarating journey.
It took nearly half an hour to reach the check post that comes after the 22nd hairpin curve. As expected, the check post was closed and when we asked the guard, he said entry is not permitted after 5.30 p.m. He suggested us to have a stay at the KTDC resort which is very near to the check post. To our luck, there were two deluxe rooms available and there were some weekend tariff offers also. He also advised to make online booking so that we could make the booking fast before any others come with a similar situation. Also, online booking had the advantage of a 10 percent discount. There were range problems, but somehow we managed to access the site and book the rooms.
At that time, looking back I was shocked to see that the road was completely covered with fog and mist and a journey back seemed quite impossible. It was a slow realization that the journey to Ponmudi was indeed a splendid risk in life. Then, we headed towards the KTDC Golden Peak resort and decided to visit the various viewpoints on the following day. We could see a heavy rush of tourists as we moved into the resort. We had tea, French fries and snacks at a restaurant in the resort. It was a very cheerful and jolly time. We started having the feeling that being late at the check post was in fact a blessing or else we would not have had the opportunity to spend night at a superb yet affordable resort. We ordered our dinner and left the restaurant to the room.
We got freshened up and wandered in the resort where we could see a beautiful garden, a small but sufficient area for having outdoor games and an area for arranging delightful campfires. We enjoyed the time there playing badminton, having campfires and a lot more. A flash back to that beautiful night awakens some missing feelings in me. I badly want days like that to happen again. After having dinner, and lots of fun at night, we slept to wake up early in the next morning and explore as much as we could.
The next morning, our main motive was to visit the various view points and peaks. So we cleared the rooms and went for sightseeing and trekking. The sceneries and the cool breeze along with the serenity of nature are sure to romanticize one’s thoughts and mood. There were some rare species of frogs and some other reptiles and insects of which we have taken photos. A walk through the tea gardens was a visual treat that we could not afford to miss. Plenty of native and migratory birds were found there. Bird watching was also a mind blowing activity. Ponmudi serves as a natural habitat for a variety of birds.
We spent a lot of time at the top involving in all these activities and finally reached back near the check post. Time constraints pulled us back to our place; however, we did keep this in mind that we have a lot more to explore and will accomplish that in the near future. The plenty of attractions in and around Ponmudi that are to be explored include the Agasthyamalai biosphere reserve which is a famous wildlife reserve that is launched by UNESCO. On the outskirts of Ponmudi, we have the Peppara wildlife sanctuary. There is Menmutty falls, 3 km from Kallar and a lot more.
We started our journey back going down the hairpins once again viewing nature’s beauty through the windows of the car. Suddenly a deer caught my attention; I was so pleased to see the animal sitting on one side of the road making some movements with its head as if saying good bye. I felt so delighted and could see lots of vehicles coming opposite to us climbing up the hairpins and I could only look at them and think that the rest of the day is theirs to enjoy without limits.