Monday, June 21, 2010

Achenkovil - A Jungle Trail !!

Kerala - The God's own country is sandwiched between Western Ghats, the beautiful mountain ranges and the Arabian Sea. Lots of rivers originate from these Ghats and criss crosses the state to end up at sea. Add to it the n number of back waters and the stage is set for a tourists paradise who want to experience the nature upclose.

Eventhough there are many many beautiful spots, only some gets prominent noticed by travellers coming from abroad. The reason is plain simple. Where there is a big resort, the resort people will naturally promote that place as the most beautiful location in Kerala.

Being a Keralite I am lucky to explore the unexplored places and I like to do it regularly atleast once in a month which will provide a world of good for me and my family since such trips surely brings out a sea of change from our regular routine and I do enjoy the drive along the winding roads and shooting down some good frames.

An unexpected trip occured last weekend when one of my Bullet Riding Pal, Mr. Rag called up and told about their impending trip to one of the temples in the western ghats which is not a popular tourist spot at all. I had heard of this temple earlier too, but never got a chance to visit there. The place is called Achen Kovil. Another speciality is that the Achen Kovil river originates here. I had other plans for the weekend, but the pressure of doing this trip along with a like minded family made me and my wifey postpone all other engagements and decide on the trip as late as friday night.

Come saturday morning, I was on the wheel driving out of my home with my wifey and kids who had stocked all there gizmos for a fun outing since the other two familes which are tagging along with also had 2 kids each. So they were pretty excited too.

So it was two cars, 3 families (6 adults and 6 kids). Mr Rag &; family, Mr Sur & family and Subu & family
The route we took was

Thiruvananthapuram - Peeroorkada - Nedumangad - Kulathuppuzha - Thenmala - Aryankavu - Shenkottai - Achankovil

Once we passed Peerorkada the road is quite curvy and we were pretty much warmed up for a day full of twisty trail. The sight of Mr Sur's car was pleasing as the car was a looker and the auto enthusiast in me was gulping in each of the curves and lines of the majestic looking vehicle while cruising behind it.

The road was superb and once we got past Nedumangad, population density also went down and vegetation density increased. Just watch the Japanese beauty crusing through the nice roads

Our first stop was at Kulathuppuzha for a breakfast and we got introduced to Mr Sur and family. By the time breakfast was over we also aquainted with each other pretty well and the all kids occupied my car for the rest of the journey. So it was me and my wife and 6 kids. We provoked all the little ones to open up by discussing topics which they are interested, mainly video games, movies and cartoons they like. Soon they all came to life and the mood inside the car changed.

I was enjoying the twisty roads and was crusing leisurely with the kids giving me a lesson or two about their automotive gyans and about a lot of subjects, some of which took my wife and myself by surprise.

One guy actually gave a stunning philosophical explanation which I will not forget. We were talking about the Achen Kovil temple, when he replied that the temple thingy and different gods are all a creation of people having different perspective while the real fact is that there is only God in the whole world which is nothing but TRUTH. Words of wisdom from a guy who is hardly 11 years of age and way in which he described the things made us a fan of this little genius.

As we approached Thenmala we saw a big wall on one side of the road, stopped the vehicle on the insistance of the kids and they were eager to read out the board which said that it is a saddle dam having a length of more than 225m.

I was more interested at the skies and the beautiful frame it presented before me. Kids sure are more enthusiastic than us and if we let them pursue their enthusiasm they will surely open up their minds more.

Amidst the lively atmosphere inside the car we kept on munching miles and soon the beautiful Thenmala dam was in sight.

Kerala govt has made some attractive facilities for a day full of enjoyment at Thenmala called Thenmala Ecotourism ( Click here to read my experience on Thenmala

We did not stop here as our destination for the day was atleast 60 kms away and we have to cover lot of Ghat sections to reach there. Slowly but steadily we started climbing up the ghat towards Aryankavu. The beautiful metre gauge rail route (the Kollam - Thenkasi route) was on our side and at certain places the rail bridges are a sight to remember.

Watch one such bridge here constructed atleast 50 years ago

Just watch the terrain behind the bridge, to decipher the engineering skills and effort which might have gone into the creation of this one.

Some hair pin bends ensued and we crossed the Aryankavu check post to enter the state of Tamilnadu. The most interesting part of this journey is that eventhough the place Achen Kovil is in Kerala region of the Western Ghats, the route from Kerala side to this temple cannot be traversed in a vehicle. So one has to get to
Tamil Nadu travelling eastwards, through Aryankavu, climb down the western ghats,
proceed northwards till Shenkottai in plain land,
then turn westward to climb up the ghats again to reach Achen kovil.

Once we passed Aryankavu, we were on a descending mode, climbing down the ghats.

So now we are on the other side of the ghats and definitely the flora and fauna has a difference from what we see in Kerala's side. The climb down was brisk and we were soon in the plain roads of Tamil Nadu which are drivers dream roads.

Proceeded through this route till we reached Shenkottai, where we had to again turn westwards towards Kerala. The plain roads continued for some more time. In between we saw these two trees striking a good pose from opposite sides of the road.

The roads were narrow, but there was no traffic at all and pretty well maintained tooo.

Soon we began to see some more moutains around and seems like we are approaching the ghat section again.

The thing which I liked the most is the sky which was giving me maximum possible support for getting some lovely frames. We moved closer and closer to the ghats and isn't this sight lovely. The clouds touching down the top of these glorious ghats as if they are taking rest on them.

As expected the ghat section started and the upward climb followed suite. Within a short time, Kerala border was in sight and we crossed the checkpost again. It was thick dense forest with hardly any human activity. The drive was really tremendous as the twisties were really keeping the adrenalin levels high.

One of the boys travelling along with us wanted to have a short break since we were taking so much of hairpin bends and the kids were not sitting quietly. We also thought to take a break. Soon found a small space between the woods where we could hear the sound of a gushing stream too. Stopped the vehicle and stepped out. Unfortunately there was no mobile coverage and we could not inform our pals in the other car. Neverthless we thought of spenind some time in these beautiful woods.

One of the kids found out the presence of mushrooms on top of the trees. These kids never stops to amaze. Always they have something in their stock which we never expect.

Walked a little ahead and found out this beautiful stream, the sound of flowing water and the purity of the water makes anyone desirous of having a dip in it, but since we could not inform our co travellers on this stoppage, we decided to not to take a dip. After somehow convincing the kids that we will take a dip in water during our return trip we proceeded ahead.

Neverthless this stop made us aware on what to expect out of this beautiful place.

The landscape was just getting better and better and it was pretty difficult for me to stop taking photos every now and then.

We reached a place where we found the first trace of human activity. The place was Kumbhavurutty and we could see people getting ready to take a bath.

When we were on top of the bridge at Kumbhavuruty, we could see for ourselves why people stopped here. Who wouldn't want to spend some quality time in this august company.

Again we did not stop but proceeded ahead, with the kids equally enjoying the scenic beauty. All of sudden we saw a beautiful female peacock on the road and the kids sure were excited.

We had to stop there for sometime as the kids were of the opinion that a male peacock might also be around and they wanted to see the more beautiful male counterpart. But we could not spot one and proceeded ahead.

I am just at loss of words to describe what we experienced further ahead. Don't know whether this picture could convey the real beauty of the place.

Soon we got a call from the other batch and we told them that we too are approaching Achen Kovil after lot of photo stops.

We reached Achen Kovil, but by that time the temple was closed. But my pals could have darshan as they came fast.

Neverthless I too had a good drive and the scenic beauty of the place is just mind boggling. Add to it the kids who added another dimension to the whole journey. My little ones also enjoyed there company so much and by this time all them were talking in the same frequency.

We took a short break in front the temple and was exchanging our experience of this upward journey. A local guy who sells palm toddy came to us with a good bunch of toddy palm fruit. It was interesting to see how his whole business set up was packed.

The kids were wanting to have a break for playing and so we all decided to make our return and find a suitable place to spend some time amidst the beautiful woods.

Seeing this car in the rear view mirror of my vehicle made me think of changing the warning quote in the mirror as "Objects in the rear view mirror are more beautiful than they appear"

We soon found a place where we could spend some time and the sound of gushing water means that the river is close by. Parked our steeds amidst the thick dense forest. Even they seem to relish the surroundings

The kids walked in front of us towards the sound of stream and they were pretty much excited to see the river nearby. What a sight it was. So serene and beautiful. Just see for yourself.

We could spend the whole day here. It was just amazing.

All of us were soon in the stream. Initially we were just walking around the clear pool as the lady folk brought all eatable from the car. Kids were the first ones to remove there dress and were already making a splash.

There were lots of fishes too and people began to catch them using a cloth.

Innovative ways of having food in water was being tried out as the eatables were seen floating around.

For the first time in our life we were eating from a water table and it was fun all around with no trace of any other human activity. Mr Rag was busy reenergising himself.

It was only our gang and the beautiful nature. Soon Mrs.Sur joined my son in the clang of fish hunters.

They were successfull in catching a poor little one too.

Once they showed everyone the result of their achievement, left the poor one back in the water to join his free world.
Meanwhile I crossed the stream and found out jeep trails. Wonder how fantastic it would be to take ride through this beautiful jungle trail.

More and more people were getting a closer feel of the pool.

What followed suite was a tremendous session of swimming activity. The beautiful clear flowing water had a soothing effect on our bodies and we forgot all the fatigue of the long journey. Kids were enjoying to their maximum diving around and we were happy to let them free coz the water level was pretty low and the flow was also minimal.

I too could not resist the invitation and soon found myself under the water, playing with the kids, cracking jokes, making fun of each other, the joy of being together with like minded people in such a setting is awesome.

This place made us lose track of our time. We forgot to have lunch and it was almost 4 pm when we decided to part with one of the most beautiful and serene picnic spots we ever had visited in our lives. We vowed to back here again.

Soon we were on roads again and the scenary around was keeping us entertained. Eventhough we were following the same route which we took in our upward jouney everything was looking different.

The clear blue skies at times gave way to dark clouds too

We again crossed the Kerala border towards Tamilnadu and were starting to descent when we found a series of windmills at a far away place.

Zoomed my cam to the maximum, Still I was not able to capture what I saw coz it was very foggy at a distance.

Saw another temple on top of the rocks on our way back, but by this time clear blue skies completely gave way to dark clouds.

We had another good driving session through the Ghats and crossed over to our home state again and was searching for a hotel. We found Motel Araam, a Government run hotel on the way to Thenmala.

The motel is good, but there was no food, and the employees told that it is offseason, hence lunch will be served only upto 2pm. This motel is just opposite to the road which leads to Palaruvi a beautiful waterfall. 

Since our kids did not had lunch we decided to proceed further ahead towards thenmala. Atlast found a hotel at Thenmala from where we took our lunch at almost 6pm in the evening. But no one was complaining as our appetitie was completely satisfied by the mother nature.

We had some time left to watch the Musical fountain at Thenmala. Took the tickets and proceeded to the venue. The show starts at 7.00 pm and ends at 7.45pm. The deserted venue before the start of the show.

The musical fountain soon started, and it was visual treat for the eyes and they played some real fast songs too.

All thats well has to end and once the musical fountain was finished, we started our return drive. The return drive was pretty fast as all the kids fell asleep pretty fast. We soon reached our hometown Thiruvananthapuram. Decided to have dinner together, to have one more bash. It was almost 11pm when we parted ways after bidding good bye.

It was a day when we experienced the joy of friendship, the joy of being together with like minded people, even if we are getting to know them for the first time, the way kids open up, the excitement of kids, the joy of being in close company of the nature and above all the joy of travelling !!!

Thanks to Mr. Rag & family and Mr. Sur &; family for giving some pretty happy moments .

Other similar locations
Golden Valley @ Ponmudi - Prestine Kallar river flowing amidst rocks

Kaveri Nisargadhama - An island surrounded by river Cauveri in Coorg


auntiegwen said...

How very beautiful, so lush and green. said...

hello auntiegwen
Thanks !!

sharmila said...

Oh my God !! ... u had such a amazing trip - i definately want to visit Keral n envy u ... u stay there n can make a trip any time .. lucky u ... i simple love nature - greenry ... some of the pics were stunningly beautiful esp. the place around the river where fishing was enjoyed !!

nice info about the place too !!

Roshmi Sinha said...

All that greenery... is a feast for the eyes and the soul. I really envy you...

Here the folks indulging in poly-tricks look at trees and parks and think of money and furniture...

Those were some awesome pics... Thanks for sharing :)

Saumya said...

wow!!!...such a beautiful place....I got to visit kerela atleast once....its amazing...and hats off to your clicks!!!

chitra said...

Loads of thanks buddy for presenting me with the award .
Your blog is unique as you provide areal visual treat ...always.

radha said...

Very beautiful pictures of Kerala. And amazing pictures of the mushrooms, the clear water, the dense trees. And the 11 year old is so wise for his age.

Amin said...

Wonderful post!
Beautiful place. said...

hi Sharmila
Thanks for visiting my blogspace and for those nice words. Well Kerala is a gem of a place, but as is the saying goes most of the people here never recognizes its beauty. said...

Hi Roshmi
Here also the same thing is happening in the name of urbanization/infrastructure upgradation, but luckily thanks to the red tapes the growth rate is pretty much less, which is a blessing in disguise for the preservation of nature.
Many thanks for your visit and those poly trickal comments. said...

Hi Saumya
You should visit kerala not once, but many times to enjoy its beauty. said...

hello Chithra
Thank you very much and you deserved the award !! said...

Hi Radha
Yes it was really a fantastic place. These kids never fail to amaze me. said...

hello amin, Thanks

Aruditi said...

Lavishly Green..Beautiful place to be..

Prateek said...

Beautiful country. It reminded me of my own vacation there. I was in Kottayam and remember going to Allapuza.
It seems you had a pretty fun trip. Thanks for rekindling the old memories.

S.R.Ayyangar said...

Full of peace and simple people. Thats why it is God's own country!
But during my trip of Kerala, missed good typical Kerala food like Pottu or hot Aappams in hotels.

varsha said...

oh!Subu on reading this post I feel like dropping down everthing and going to the western Ghats!!
YOUR BLOG IS AWESOME and the photos are SUPERB.
I do hope to get in touch with you to plan a vacation.

Lalit S Chowdhary said...

Breath taking pictures

Pooja said...

wow awesome pictures.. breathtaking beauty..
and an awesome narration..


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