"Ponmudi" meaning The Golden peak is a hill station just 60 kms away from Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of God's own country - Kerala.
Standing tall at a height of more than 1000 metres with lush green landscape beautiful coffee plantations, waterfalls and a cool climate, this hill station offers an easier alternative for the city folks because of its proximity. The one thing that deters people from going this place is the real bad roads. The roads were in such bad shape that I have heard stories of people coming back after going half way up.
But come 2010 January, I read in a newspaper that the roads are being repaired on war footing and it will be finished by January end. Being a regular to this hill station I was keenly wating for the road work to finish and my wait was over in April 2010 and I was itching to have a dash over this newly built tarmac in my motorbike or car.
Finally a chance came when on a weekend we had some close relatives at home. I suggested the idea of having a trip to Ponmudi and soon we were off to this golden peak in search of a golden experience.
From Thiruvananthapuram city we took the following route
Vellayambalam - Peeroorkada - Nedumangad - Vithura - Kallar - Ponmudi.
Once we passed Kallar we were on the newly laid roads and the difference was felt immediately. What was normally is a bumpy ride has turned out to be a smooth one and the road grip also seems to have increased. Quickly we were inside the forest area passing the forest check post.
The roads continued to be better and we were travelling at a relatively high pace, since I was enjoying the drive really well and the curvy roads gives better satisfaction for the driving enthusiast in me. I love to maintain the high rpms (for not losing the turbo being a diesel vehicle) in the correct gear, taking turns without applying brakes, keeping the vehicle in the intended trajectory and keeping the extreme left side of the road.
The first major picnic spot as we move up is the Meenmutti waterfalls. One has to trek 1km through thick dense forest to reach this prestine waterfalls. Decided against this trek as we were really enjoying the climb up through these winding roads. (click here to see my earlier trip log on Meenmutti falls ).
But we were not able to ignore the Golden Valley. Another place enroute the Golden peak with a "Golden" prefixed name. Parked our vehicle on a small parking lot by the side of the road.
This is a bathing point, where the Kallar river flows through some beautiful rocks amidst thick jungle.
Once we were out of the vehicle we could enjoy the sound of nature. The sound of water gushing through the rocks in Golden Valley was also audible even though it was not visible from here. We have to walk down through those steps to reach there.
There are some extended landing points in this way, where a crowd of 10 to 15 people can easily can have food.
Once near the river we could know why this place is called Golden Valley. Just watch this sight
The water is so pure that the golden colored sand and stones underneath is clearly visible, the reason why this place is called Golden Valley.
Step into the water and look around. You are sure to enjoy the ambience.
The sight of the pure water gushing through the rocks is awesome. The bubbles created by the falling water is like pure milk. Just sit on the rocks keeping your legs in the water and nature will give you the best of the massage.
A closer view of the small water fall
We climbed up the rocks and trekked a little ahead. Water level was lesser and the rocks were slightly slippery and one has to be careful while walking through, but no one can resist from trekking ahead.Watch the huge rocks, you can compare the size with those two human beings in the middle.
We were moving ahead further and the experience was awesome, the greenery, the black rocks and the pure water, something which has to be experienced in real life.
My kids were also enjoying this place and we were having some good fun amidst the serene natural environment handcrafted by the nature.
We felt like we could spend the whole day here just relaxing without going up to the golden peak. Spend atleast 2 hours in the Golden valley, splashing our legs in water, climbing up the rocks, simplying lying down on the rocks enjoying the water massage on our feets, enjoying the background score which is so soothing to the ears and the greenish ambience soothing to our eyes. We could still walk more and more but atlast decided that it is time to move on.
It was already past noon and we all had a taste of the golden experience which we came searching for, but our bodies need some energy too as we had drained some of our energy climbing those rocks. We had carried our food, since no hotels are available once we enter the forest area, the only one being present in the top station.
Our next stop is going to be at some beautiful spot where we can have our light lunch. Soon we reached a place which seemed to have levelled for some construction.
This was going to be our dining place and it seemed to be pretty picturesque location. Parked our vehicle on the road side and climbed down to the vast spaces. We had already gained some altitude as is seen from the scenary around.
One big tree which escaped from the axe gave us shelter from the sun which was playing hide and seek behind the clouds when we enjoyed our lunch.
After having a nice stroll around this area we were ready to move up. Our vehicle also had a breather, while we took a break.
The beautiful roads continued and we were covering distances quickly with the smooth roads providing excellent comfort. It was a pleasure driving through the beautiful hilly terrain in such roads.
After some time we could see some buildings at a distance, which was the Kerala tourism owned hotels at Ponmudi near the top station.
The hair pin bends in this route was a pleasure and there are 22 of them. I enjoyed taking these turns in a motorbike than in a four wheeler.
We soon reached the 19th bend and only 3 more to go.
Throughout this route there were some small temples on the road side with a single diety.
We reached the point where we have to take a turn to the newly reconstructed KTDC hotel - Golden Peak (http://www.ktdc.com/golden-peak.php), but decided to go to top station first. Some small amount has to be paid for visiting the top station.
By this time we were already near the top station and the roads became even more beautiful with superb scenary on both sides.
Soon we reached a point where many vehicles are parked. I was surprised to see so many vehicles and tourists here because whenever I visited here earlier there were hardly any tourists here. From here we had many options to trek. We decided to take this path which was the steepest.
It was starting to drizzle but our spirits were still high and the climate was cool.
The cloud cover was a joy to watch, and it gives a different perspective or more depth to the photos, with the only precaution to take being the shake factor owing to the more exposure times one needs to set due to low light conditions.As we trekked up higher and higher the scene just got better and better.
We reached a point from where the climb to top was really steep and we could see the top station where already many tourists were there.
My kids were not really interested to climb all the way up. So we decided to take a relatively flat route towards the end of the hill on one side. The grass was having a light green color, thanks to the recent summer showers. We have to walk till that edge of this hill from where we can have view of the moutains around.
Soon we reached the edge of the hill and needless to say we were in for a visual treat.
Sitting on the rocks at the edge of this cliff we could see these beautifuly trees directly underneath us in the beautiful valley. Lack of sunlight was not going to deter me from capturing the colorful ambience.
We were given good company by this chameleon who resting in a nearby rock. Even this guy seemed to be a beauty of its own amidst the beautiful surroundings.
Towards another side of the hill there were some beautiful rocks and it seemed like all of them have been precisely engineered and placed in specific locations for enhancing the ambience.
The cloud cover was increasing and there were some feeble sounds of thunder too. We could see the nerve like appearance of lighting at a distance and soon the sound of thunder became defeaning. Being at a high altitude place in this condition is dangerous, and soon we were seen running down. While we were running down, we could see a rocky terrain on the other side of the hill which can also be reached by trekking.
We need to stay in this place for one more day to enjoy it full trekking around leisurely. But being a place close to where we stay we always plan only one day trips.
By the time we reached near the vehicle, clouds began to come near us, a sight which we enjoyed thoroughly.
Heavy downpour soon followed suite and we enjoyed the shower from inside the comfort of the vehicle.
It was already past 4 in the evening and we decided to start our return journey. Even decided to skip our customary visit to the KTDC restaurant, since the place was already fully crowded by tourists all of which came here to escape the heavy downpour.
I enjoyed driving the vehicle slowly through these beautiful roads with heavy downpour adding spice to the experience.
But the heavy rain lasted only for a few minutes and we were again soon enjoying the winding roads. The return drive was pretty fast and reached back the city in about an hour and a half. Soon we felt like we are back to hell from paradise, what a change of terrain and environment within a span of 60 kilometers.
The Ponmudi hills have always been a beautiful location and a visit here is well worth it whenever you are in Trivandrum. At times I feel like it is even better than Ooty which is more crowded. But be prepared to stay at here for atleast one day, then only you can enjoy it to the maximum. The beautiful roads has enhanced the experience to greater heights tooo.
Name of the place:
Ponmud (The golden peak)
How to reach?
60 kms from Trivandrum,
Travel via nedumangad, Vithura, Kallar and reach Ponmudi. (buses operate from Thiruvananthapuram Central Bus stand)
Rooms available at KTDC hotel at hill top - Golden peak (Tariff in the range Rs.1800 to Rs.4000)
Places to visit:
Meenmutty water falls
Trekking at top station.