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Solo drive to Manjolai: Techie’s Travelogue

manjolai>>  I always prefer solo drive. You have the peace of mind. You have your own freedom and much more. We can plan everything on time and change if any things needs to be done in the last minute. Whatever decision you take is a final decision as there is no one to ask for. Might sounds weird but I love travelling alone.

This time I shortlisted my drive to Manjolai.  Manjolai is located in the Western Ghats, in the Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger reserve. It’s located on top of the Manimuthar Dam and the Manimuthar waterfalls in Tirunelveli District in Tamilnadu. The Manjolai area comprises of tea plantations and small settlements, Upper Kodaiyar Dam and a windy viewpoint called Kuthiravetti. To visit this place we need to get a permission letter from the Project Tiger office as this place comes under reserve forst area. I had written a letter to the project tiger office in Mundanthurai to give permission for me to enter to this place. Since I knew a officer over here and he gladly gave me the permission officially.

I started from my home (marthandam) at 6AM in the morning and reached Ambasamudram to get the Permission letter from the Project tiger office. The permission letter was readily available with all the formalities. Got the letter and took some photo copies of it and then headed to Manjolai. From Ambasamudram had a drive till Kaladikurichy and from there to Manimuthar. In the Manimuthar dam entrance, i have to show the permission letter and pay the pass.

For vehicle they charge 15 rs. for camera its 15 rs and for each person its 15 rs. The forest official asked me how many people are there with me, I said im all alone. He was quite surprised to see me driving all alone.Ii love to travel alone always.  He asked me if I love the forest. Without wasting a single millisecond i said YES and he opened the gates for me. From Manimuthar dam i had to go to the Manjolai via the Manimuthar falls. In the entrance of the falls, I had to show the copy of the letter to a forest guard he then opened a small gate. Now it’s into the forest. The roads are now steep to climb. I had to ride the car in the 2nd gear. The climate too began to change. i was feeling around 35 degrees in the low areas. The temperature began to fall. i can feel it.

I was driving, driving, driving.  Cannot able to spot a single vehicle coming from opposite side. Then after time the entrance gate of the tea estate comes. I had to show the permission letter and even that security was quite surprised to see me alone driving in this place. Now i have to travel to a place called Kudiraivetti.  From the main gate to Kudiraivetti, its nearly 26 kms.  Travelling this 26 kms will take nearly 3 hours as its steep roads.  According to my knowledge kudiraivetti is the highest peak in this manjolai hill station.  Not so sure if its correct or not. I had to travel to a towns named Manjolai, Naalumukku, Oothu and then travel to Kudirai Vetti.

On the way to Naalumukku, I saw a beautiful place. It’s a golf course I believe.  But entry is prohibited. There is a small lake near to the area. It’s awesome. Had spent some 10 min over there and spoke about Manjolai to the security guard. i then headed towards Naalumukku.  On the way I asked several people where is Naalukukku.  They said its 1 km 2km 5 km, but road is going on and on. i got a doubt if I am travelling on a wrong route, but I met an officer in the tea estate, he explained me the route very clearly that it’s better to avoid asking anyone.  After some driving reached Naalumukku. It’s a small town. The people who works in the tea estate stays here.

In some stretch the roads goes through a thick dense forest. I was just thinking if there is any animals nearby watching me driving.

Stephen (Traveller, IT Professional)

From Naalumukku there is a road which goes to Kodayar upper dam. The lower dam is in Kanyakumari dist. For going to Kodayar we need to get permission from the Electricity Board office in Kalakkad, Irunelveli.  I enquired about Kodayar in Naalukummu.  The locals said it’s not so worth to travel over there. Then I continued my drive towards Kudiraivetti.  On the way there is a place called Oothu. There were two boys playing around i just waved my hands. They asked me where I am going. I asked them to accompany me if they are free. They came along with me.  They shared many things about the forest. These two boys are studying in a school in Manjolai. I asked them what they want to become. One boy said collector and another boy said civil engineer…awesome !!!

Now the roads become really worse. Felt really bad for my car. Anyways, she did not… at last from a distance saw a watch tower and whooooo.. this is Kudiraivetti, beautiful place. from the watch tower can able to see Manimuthar dam, Karayar dam. These boys showed me some hills. I think some 3-4 hills. They said these are the places that you have travelled, oh my God..amazing. The winds in Kudiraivetti is very strong, it will push you down in some occasions.

It’s now time for me to return back to home. Dropped the two boys in Oothu and then had a drive till the main gate of the estate. In the entrance office they sell tea. I bought an organic tea named Oothu tea. Just 200 gm cost around 150 rs. It’s purely meant for exporting. Then I travelled via the Manimuthar falls and Manimuthar dam. In the entrance i spoke to the officer and told me experience. He was very glad to see me back. Started from there and finally reached my home at 10 PM. it was a great experience for me. Distance from the Manimuthar dam to Kudiraivetti is 35 kms. So readers, do get confused at any cost. Climate is fascinating.  Hardly 22 degrees in the day time, but in the morning it would be 16 degrees.

For any queries about the trip, and his travel experience / advice, please contact Stephen, 8129249864


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