No Trivandrumite would have missed Ponmudi. For its scenic beauty and for the ride through the hills, a must visit place in Trivandrum. But very few would have trekked it, to take the feel of Ponmudi ranges into soul. Basically there are three trekking routes in Ponmudi as of now. Braemore estate to Ponmudi, Ponmudi to Chinnapulla, and Ponmudi to Varayadumotta.
Varayadumotta is the highest peak in the ponmudi ranges. As the name suggests, its a home of beautiful Nilgiri Tahrs. Its one of the beautiful and thrilling trek in this region. The trekking level can be from moderate to tough. Tough for first timers, but they will never forget the experience for a long time. Eventhough I trekked for while, this one is really challenging for its steep climbs and breathtaking heights. Those who love heights, a must do trek.
We started early morning from Kazhakootam (my home) in car to reach Kallar(foothills of Ponmudi) to catch the bus to Ponmudi peak at around 8am. This trek was organised by Ratheesh who is the founder of Nature Education Society of Travancore. An adventurous guy without whom, this experience would have not been possible. We reached at the top within next 25 minutes. There we met our guides waiting, whom ratheesh had arranged from forest department, after getting permission for the trek.
From there we distributed among ourselves the packed lunch, fruits and lots of water bottles ( note this trek will be exhausting for its steep climbs and also for its unavailability for water sources in between). So after getting it all prepared, we started the initial down-hill trek from Ponmudi to Varayadumotta route. It was some 45 minutes downhill trek through off roads, and forests, one must be careful because of many deviating routes to different trekking places and also to adivasi/labour settlements. In this situation our guides have been very helpful.
Our first halt is at a small temple inside the jungle, where we had our packed breakfast. While having breakfast to our surprise we saw The Indian giant squirrel or Malabar giant squirrel. Everyone took a picture of it, in few seconds it disappeared. Now we all set for the next adventures. The actual steep climb begins now, now climb is in dense bamboo jungles. It was little tough in the beginning, because of its steepness we are unable to take rest. But for trekkers this is awesome one, they can’t miss it. The route is made recently, so the path is little unclear, one has to be conscious of his/her trek. You can see little colourful butterflies in this place, but as said there is a long trek ahead and we have to reach back by evening, so no time to enjoy them. After some one hour of arduous trek we completed the jungle part. Now we crossed the shola’s without any leech bite ( note this trek is suggested only in summer due to absence of rain), to see the breath taking view of Varayadumotta.
Its open, Its high, Its curvy, Its scenic. You have to see it, to give words to it. Its now time for all photographers. Its a continuous hills of 5-6 peaks. To reach the summit, we have to cross or trek all these hills first. To reach the first peak itself it was very arduous and thrilling, because a small faint is enough to push you down the hill. And grasses our only support, sometimes dry rocks too. Next half and hour we trekked to reach our first peak, where we waited for others to join, had some fruits and planned for next peaks. By now it crossed noon. Our aim was to reach the highest peak by 2pm. So we started soon.
Now each step is ‘Narakapalam’ (eng: Hell’s bridge). When you take a look at right side, a big drop, on left side even more bigger drop. Its exciting!! At that time you think of all unrelated things!! After careful ups and downs, jumping, sliding,holding others we reached the base of highest peak, where you can see white flag hoisted just few meters above. We had our lunch here, and climbed vertically the peak, removing our backpacks. Now we reached the top.That feeling was heaven. Though we reached the top, we couldn’t find any Tahrs, which is the only disappointing thing of this trek. Thanks to our guides and ratheesh.
Now even more tougher task is to come down. Because we can’t take the same route to reach ponmudi, it will take time and there is short cut to reach directly to kallar. But this route is straight down almost vertical we have to trek downwards. We did this without ropes, some guys sat on the plains and slided slowly, others holding grasses and moved down. Anyway after another arduous trail for 1 more hour we reached the base of Varayadumotta. After saying fast adieu to Motta, we started towards kallar. By now it was 4pm. And we have to move fast to reach Kallar, before dark, because not all of us have torch. But this route is also steep and a dense forest. So we waited for older and younger members of the group to reach. It anyhow crossed 6:30pm and dark set in. We used torch, and it was fun, started as day trek ended in night trek.
After sometime, we reached the settlements and into off-road tracks, which gave us some relief. After 2km walk, we reached main road. From there to Kallar is 10 minutes After reaching Kallar, we said quick bye to all, because few of them have to catch the last bus to city. We four took a bath in Kallar river flowing at the downhills of Ponmudi. Then from there we set off to city by car. Giving our thanks to the guides and organize without whom this experience wouldn’t have been possible, and as usual taking our memories for future.