Kodaikanal -----> Vellagavi -----> Kumbakarai ----> Periakulam
In January 2018, we decided to embark a strenuous task of hiking from Kodaikanal to Periakulam, Why? one might ask, let's say we were looking for some risk, danger and challenge in our otherwise dull routine life, yep before Baby R came into our life.
Both our life was never-ending work-home-work-home even though we were living in the exciting, touristy Pondicherry. There was no work-life balance, Mr.R's job was more challenging and it was mentally straining him. To put an end to the mundane things we decided to take a break from all this and wanted to be with nature. Mr.R and I are jungle/mountain person, yes we like beaches but given a chance we would definitely pick a hilly or a jungle-e place to live, we even decided to settle down in Kodaikanal near future. (Fingers crossed!)
We planned our itinerary and invited our family members(Sis-in-law & Bro-in-law) to be a part of it. We planned for the Republic day weekend for our venture. Mr.R and I started from Pondicherry and reached Dindigul where we met my Sis-in-law Ms.K, who came all the way from Chennai and we took a cab to Kodaikanal after having our breakfast. We met my Bro-in-law Mr.M in Kodaikanal and went to check-in in our hotel which due to an error in booking site the room was not booked, so we booked another B&B in Kodaikanal and settled in.
It was a 2-day trip, the first day was dedicated to sightseeing where we visited all the touristy place to see in Kodaikanal nothing off-beat as we were saving our energy for our hike tomorrow, as we had no idea what to expect.
We visited Moir's point situated at the entrance of the forest which leads up all the way to Berijam Lake. Moir's point is one of the significant viewpoints of Kodaikanal we had tasty lunch from a street vendor and journeyed to the next stop - Pine Forest. I've been to Kodaikanal many times at least twice in a year with Mr.R but never been to pine forest as it was not enticing enough why would I visit a place with only pine trees to look around but how wrong I was! The place was surreal with tall pine trees, sun rays managing to seep through giving the whole place a golden hue. It was breathtaking. The breeze was chilly, the sun was out and we were basking in it. Here are a few pictures.
Basking in Pine Forest
Crown Shyness of Pine trees
A fallen Pine Cone
We continued our journey towards the Devil's Kitchen aka The Guna Caves. The place was crowded with tourists as the actual cave is off-limits, we hung out near it took some pictures and went to see Pillar Rocks the towering rocks of Kodaikanal which almost looks otherworldly to me. Around 5 pm we reached the Kodai lake hired cycles and pedalled around the lake a few times and ate hot crunchy bajjis, bought chocolate and dinner on the go. We reached our B&B had our food and went to bed around 10 pm very excited for the next day - The day of the big HIKE!
I was expecting and anticipating this day for a long time. I knew the hike was around 8 hrs and was mentally prepared for it for a few weeks. I woke up early got ready for the trek had breakfast at B&B and we got to the cab at 9 am which took us to Vattakanal where a popular site Dolphin's nose is situated. We reached Dolphin's nose in no time and thus officially began our trek. I was excited and thrilled to be doing this. Oh yes! I forgot to mention one important thing about trekking to Kumbakarai, you ought to take permission from the forest department to trek in the forest. We searched online but there was no mention of permission tickets and the forest is off-limit to the tourists. We enquired in our B&B and the cab person no one had a clue. So we assumed there were no permissions to be sought and went on with the journey.
Dolphin's Nose - Starting place of the Trek!
The trail was rocky and as we were walking downhill it was not hard though we had to balance ourselves as the path was steep. To prevent from falling over I walked with a slight back slouch and put a lot of pressure on my toes and knees to balance myself. The trail was treacherous as some bends had deep falls. We met a ranger who asked for our permission slips when we told him that we didn't have one he asked us to tag along with him but he was literally running and we couldn't keep up with him. We walked for almost an hour stopped to drink water and take pics and there I saw our 1st stop a quaint village nestled among the mountains. Vellagavi - The only human settlement in the mountains. We walked for another hour and reached the village.
Can you spot the Village on BG?
A villager gathering firewoods
Inside the Village
The village was tiny with few rows of houses, the people in the village had to buy provisions/groceries in Kodaikanal so they climb up the hill buy things and come back or they have to climb down to Kumbakarai. We went to a tiny shack where the hosts welcomed us and gave hot drinks and made lunch. We had lunch and rested for a while as we had to cover another half to reach Kumbakarai. Many kids were playing around when I inquired about their studies the host told they had a school up to standard 5 after which they have to move out to study.
It was time to start our journey as we had a 3-4 hrs trek to reach the bottom of the mountain. The villagers warned us about getting dark midway and asked to spend the night there as around 5 pm bison are spotted roaming freely but as per our calculation we would reach the foot of the hill at 6 so we set out for our journey. The path was rustic and I found it harder than Kodai-Vellagavi route.
We walked for an hour and stopped for water and refreshment and walked for 15 mins and came to a halt as in the middle of the forest we found a locked-chained gate. There was no other way as the trail continued past the gate and it was locked.
We were stumped as we didn't know if that led to the trail-less jungle and was locked in order to stop people from entering into it by mistake or we had lost the trail mid-way. I switched my phone on, neither the GPS was working nor the data, but luckily Mr.R's phone was on and he called our host in Vellagavi who informed us that we were on the right path and how to open the gate, thankfully we continued our trek down. The trees along the trail were huge and tall when peered into, it looked like we had to walk a great deal before we reached the floor of the mountains.
Mr. R and I