Monday, November 23, 2009

Idukki - The complete Picture : Part 5

A small offroad experience at Idukki.

Continued from Part 4 - Arch dam & Cheruthoni dam
Our next destiny was to visit our colleagues home near Kulamavu.

The Idukki - Kulamavu road is one of the best motorable roads of Gods own country. These roads are always well maintained, might be partly due to the fact that traffic through these roads are less.

This is what we can view through our front windscreen.

At some points the twisties form a snake like pattern

The color tones of the thick flora and fauna are a treat to watch

These longish trees were again on display with the green blanket covered hills in the backdrop.

The view on our sides was also eye catching with the evening sky adding some interesting patterns aided by the settings sun's color tone

All of us were truly indulged fully in the pure joy of a ride through these beautiful surroundings and I took care to ride the vehicle in a calm and sedate pace ensuring minimal lateral movement. Soon the landmark provided to us by our friend was in sight and we had to turn right to a hilly road.

Initially it was a steep climb. The road was narrow but seemed like we are going deep into the forest.

There was a warning sign that elephants are prone to be spotted in this area. Soon the dense forest gave way to an open area and we stepped out of our vehicle to enjoy the scenary, which is beyond description.

Just watch the road through which we came.

This is the view which we got from the edge of the road.

Watch closely and you can see a light greenish patch towards the middle of the photo, which was having a distinctly different color tone than the rest of the area.
Zoomed in to capture that greenish patch and found that something is being cultivated there

Sun was trying to finish his job for the day and we had some more distance to cover and a small trek also was necessary to reach our destination.

So we hastily started from this prestine location and proceeded to the next landmark. Stopped our vehicle at this point as the road ahead could be done by a 4 x 4 offroader only.

Started our trek through this rocky roads

The walk through the woods was another experience of sorts and it gave a nice work out to our travel weary muscles.

Lot of such roads are present, if one takes a deviation from the main roads and these roads could well be explored by a good off roader vehicle.

The rocky road was over soon and we could see a road leading to a lonely house in this area.

It was our friends house and we were happy that we found out our way without without much difficulty.

He was happy to host us, not only him but his entire family. They never expected us to travel this far to make a visit. After exchanging pleasantries with the newly wed, we started our trek back quickly so that we could get near our vehicle before complete darkness take control of the proceedings.

The journey from there was through typical hilly roads again, but since it was night only the roads illuminated by the vehicle's light could be seen. By about 8pm reached Kottayam. Had a nice dinner and by 9pm we again hit the road to Thiruvananthapuram via the MC road. None of us were ready to sleep and the sense of excitment of having seen some of the most beautiful scenaries were keeping our energy levels high. Amidst all the discussions, I kept on maneuvering the steed through the twists and turns of the road and by about 11.30 pm we were back in our huts after a travel of about 650 kms, covering different kinds of terrain, different cultures and alltogether a different experience, memories of which will cherish for a long time.

The overall feeling of this truly wonderful journey is depicted by this snap

So here comes an end to the 5 part long story of our Idukki trip and I would appreciate if you could share your feelings on this very long post by way of comments both positive and negative.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Part 4 - Idukki The complete Picture

Reservoir view - Arch dam & Cheruthoni Dam

Continued from Part 3 - The Arch Dam Experience

The trek up through the hill view park was good. After climbing some distance, there was a ticket counter. The entrance fee was quite nominal at Rs. 5 per adult and Rs 10 for a still camera. The place was devoid of any tourists, thanks to the working day. There was a garden on both sides of the trek up path. The plants showed signs of lack of attention, but being a fertile land and aplenty of rain, they were all very healthy and was a treat to watch.

This flower caught our attention because of its resemblance to a bird sitting on a flower.

There were steep steps at some point which were shortcuts to the partly concrete laid roads which were not steep.

There were some vast area filled with longish grass which resembled a geography very unfamiliar to this part of the world

But once at the top, the view which we had was mind boggling. The Arch dam and the Cheruthoni dam (left one) in one view.

Just posting the view of the other side of the arch dam from my earlier post(click here to read part 3 - the arch dam experience) .

Its height is about 550 ft. So in the reservoir portion, see how filled up it is.

Considering the slim frame of the arch dam, we just wondered how engineering principles have been put into use for solving real world problems.

Towards one end of the Arch dam there were some huge pillar like constructions, which is sure to make one curious about its purpose.

These were actually built during the construction phase of this dam and used to lift up building materials to that height.

A zoomed view of the cheruthoni dam.

This view point of Idukki was the ultimate. We had a sense of achievement.

We could really understand the reservoir which we had heard of from schooldays, the place which lights up our homes at night, and even more familiar because of the newspaper coverage on how much water is left for power generation.

The view point was so strategically placed that, if you just turn and click, then each shot is sure to give you a different picture.

Some more shots from the same point but pointed to different directions

Some buildings were also in sight.

This water body was formed in the park where the view point was present. Small pedal boats are available for a boating experience at such a high altitude.

The view point which presented us with all these superb scenes itself presented a good view. A snap captured from the viewpoint of the viewpoint

Overall this viewpoint experience was something which gave us an all new feel of this ultimate place. One more snap of the most catchy view before we trekked down with lot of images etched into the CCD sensors of our brain.

The day was still not over, we had one more target, that was to visit our colleagues home. We thought it will be just the pleasure of being present for the occasion, but like our experience so far throughout the day, that trip also gave another pleasant surprise.

Continued in part 5 - Click here to read Part 5

Friday, November 20, 2009

Idukki - the complete picture Part 3

The Arch Dam Experience

Once we started our journey after a heavy and late lunch, we thought that we might be just visiting one or two spots and then will be heading back to our homes. But the most tremendous part of the journey was yet to come.

From Cheruthoni, there were two roads, one southwards towards Kulamavu and the other North wards towards Kattappana. The hotel guy had told that there is a view point 2 Kms towards the kattappana route and another one 2 kms towards Kulamavu route. We decided to first go northwards and then come back and go southwards as it is our return direction.

As we progressed towards the kattappana route, we found that there is nothing special around, the area was more or less populated too with some houses around. We were thinking on lines of what will be view point which he mentioned.

Suddenly I saw something on the right side. Two gigantic rocks and a big construction between them. Oh yes it is the arch dam, the famous arch dam of Idukki. We could not stop their since it was a narrow road. Just proceeded ahead to search for some parking space. But we saw a sign post pointing to the arch dam and a road on the right side. Parked our vehicle their and decided to trek up the small hilly road.

We could see the big rock at a distance.

The road was real nice with a rich diversity of the plant life. Saw this tree striving in a rock

This flower even though small was found plenty here adding a color to the ambience.

After climbing up a little high, turned back and could see a good church in the hills opposite to the main road where we parked our vehicle. I could see the church more clearly through my camera lens than using my naked eye

We could see a house built amongst the thick greenery in the adjacent hill. A wonderful location that is for a house

We seemed to approach an open sort of area and suddenly we all were awed by the sight in front of us. It was huge, it was magnificient, it resembled a spreaded neck of a snake, standing tall at almost 550 feet it is the IDUKKI ARCH DAM.

Idukki Arch Dam

We saw a gate where there is a warning sign of not to tresspass. We did not proceed further, but it was learnt from a local that, if we had permission from state govt authorities we could get inside.

The shape of the dam is arched as the name suggest. The arch is not only in the horizontal direction but also in the vertical direction. Hence it is a double curvature dam. This dam has to hold huge amounts of water on the other side. The pressure which the dam will be facing is enormous, but the design has ensured that pressure won't be applied on the walls eventhough the walls are not quite thick. It seems that the two mountains on both sides, (name kuravan mala and kurathi mala) will be bearing more pressure than the arch dam. A tribal chief helped in identifying this location and his story about the legend of kuravan and kurathi hills resulted in naming the hills.

If one goes near the foot of this magnificient structure and look up we won't be able to see the sky on top of us, because of the arch. So rain water do not directly fall into the sides of this wall. The area in the wall which gets wet during rains are the black areas as is evident from the above photo.

After experiencing the breath taking view of this engineering marvel we were wondering on where to go to see the reservoir side of this arch dam. The view point which the hotel guy mentioned in the cheruthoni - Kulamavu route might be this. So immediately we proceeded to find the spot, not sure if it will give the reservoir view.

Again we found a sculpture like rock on side. It truly looks like a Lotus bud.

Once we passed cheruthoni, superbly maintained roads welcomed us. Wonder how we have got such good roads in this part of the state when the heavily used urban roads are in a very pathetic condition.

The beautiful trees on both sides was giving amble shade and adds to the scenic value too

After 2 kms from cheruthoni, we were making a turn to the right when we saw a board and an open gate on the left side. The board told about a guest house and viewpoint, but there was no one to ask for any info. Out of curiosity we just went inside, but nothing was in site. At one point there was an intersection, one road was going down and another upward. We took the upward route and reached near a building. Voila towards one side we could see the reservoir. A local fellow informed us that we can walk our way up the park to get a full view.

Once we walked up we could see that we are in for a visual treat if the view which we were getting now is an indication.

Idukki - the complete picture Part 4 Click here to view the reservoir from top station.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Idukki - the complete picture - Part 2

Kothamangalam to Cheruthoni - Road side scenes

After one of the most delicious cup of tea, we proceeded with our journey, none of us quite sure on the way we are going to take and we were not bothered because we knew wherever we reach in this part of the country, it is sure a treat to watch.

We could see some mountains upfront the straight roads.

Soon we found ourselves starting to climb up.

Some faint remembrance of this route flashed through my mind and I could recollect that this was the route which I took for the Munnar trip one year back, but the drive was at night (Munnar travelogue is here).

What I remembered was right as is evident from this sign post.

Which way to chose? Munnar or Idukki.. Either one of them is tempting. But the plan to make a visit to our colleagues house near Idukki made us turn right towards Idukki.

The twisties were fun to negotiate in very low speeds. Each view we had was a treat and we kept enjoying the slow but steady drive through these neatly maintained terrain

There was a terrain change again, when we could spot big rocks towards one side of the road and the longish trees on the other side presenting another spot to remember.

We reached an open sort of area with a big rock on the right side and beautiful mountains on the other side and by instict I turned the vehicle out of the road towards the foot of those rocks to enjoy this view for some time. Naturally my fingers had a good exercise, by way of pressing the shoot button of my Sony H50.

After a chit chat in the prestine company of nature, we were on roads again.

Suddenly there was a heavy rush of lorries, mainly tipper lorries and we could see a long queue of them towards one side of the road with the queue culminating at this point.

Sand mining was happening there and these lorries were waiting to carry loads of sand being taken from this area.

Kerala state electricity boards sign post indicated that we are entering the Lower Periyar Hydro Electric project area.

From then on the roads seemed to go through thick dense forest. The greenery wore a fresh look owing to the recent rains which gave a natural cleaning and also a heavy dose of proteins to these flora fauna making them really shine.

We were unaware of the distance to travel to reach Idukki, when this sign post helped us to clear the doubt

Another thing which came to our notice is that there were some small rocks on the road sides which resembled some good sculputures. One such rock can be seen on the left side of this road.

Time was 1.00pm and we were still roaming around inside these forest with no hotels in sight to cool of our tummy's desire to refill. Against our tummy's wish another stop happened when we found another good spot to relax. Afterall we ventured this journey just to relax and to take our minds from then normal routines and there was no need to rush things of as we don't have any schedule commitments to meet

Atlast I decided to pose one before the camera

It was fun indulging in a discussion sitting here in the company of nature, with the sound of a stream of water, some birds and swaying trees.

It was almost 1.45 when we started from this point, even though we could have stayed there for long.

We had gained enough altitude as is evident from the view which got on our left side

Another rock which resembled a human head and body was on display. Thanks to the zooming capability of my image capturing machine, the sculpture is here.

We were nearing Cheruthoni. The roads continued to be quiet scenic.

The hilly terrain on our side kept on changing its look, feel and color ensuring that we don't get bored and wanting for more

Finally a small town was in site named cheruthoni, found out a good hotel and filled up our tummy. Enquired with the staff on the viewpoints around and decided to proceed based on his advice.

Overall the ride from Ernakulam till Cheruthoni was really enjoyable with us stopping frequently to be with nature and enjoying the natural beauty at its best. The roads were pretty good with almost zero traffic and the climate was pretty good though with no sun and no rain.

Something even better was in store for us after the lunch.

Hope you too enjoyed the scenes as much as we did. Your feedback please!!!

Part 3 - Idukki the complete picture - The Arch Dam experience


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