We reached the spot on Sunday morning and our guide, Thankappan, took us on a short trekking trip through the forest. He explained the forest covers more than 100,000 hectre. The forest is also home to almost all kinds of wild animals, including elephants, bears, tigers, and king of snakes - King Cobras.
King Cobras' Natural Habitat
King Cobras caught from different parts of the state are let free in this forest and its population is quite high in this area. He reassures there haven't been a single attack by these kings against humans. And, there are a good number of humans inside the forest too.
Our guide was also an expert of plants & trees, especially climbers. The story of a particular climber named 'Chela' fascinated us. Birds like the fruits of this climber. The seeds would sprout only after going through a bird's intestine. However, the seed doesn't sprout if it falls on land. Its easy stage of life is on top of a tree. From there, there will be several roots running to the ground and branches growing upwards. The sad thing is, the climber will become a tree, killing the tree that has given it the space to grow. The climber will then become a tree, after eating its host.
Well, another attraction was a mineral water source. The water is tasty and pleasantly cold. I never liked cold water stored in fridge. The water here was cold, but not chilling. This water has medicinal properties too.
A Cave for Adventurers
We come to expect caves in forests and this forest was no exception. A cave was there. Only one person can pass through the cave at a time. The guide explained there was one path leading directly into the earth. Legend has it, this is the path demons use to reach the nether land. Twenty minutes' crawling along the other path inside the cave is a thrilling experience if you are not afraid of bats and porcupines.
|Periyar is beautiful at Bhoothathankettu|
The Legend of Bhoothathan Kettu
Legends tell you the natural dam-like structure was built by bhootham (demons, evil spirits, ghosts - I am not sure about the exact translation). Legend has it Lord Shiva and his consort Parvathi lived here. Once Shiva told his consort that he would return to her after one month's meditation. She waited for more than three months and her husband didn't return. So she went inquiring and found out the truth behind her husband's meditation.
He was having an affair with Ganges. Soon, there was a fight between Parvathi and Ganga. Shiva promptly absconded from the scene. Enraged, belittled and hurt, Parvati planned revenge against Ganga and her village. She conceived an idea.
He called the bhootas (demons) and gave them a quotation to build the dam across the wide river. This would change the course of the river and sweep Ganga's village, Trikkariyoor. Demons were afraid of Lord Shiva, but they didn't want to estrange the Goddess too. So they agreed to build a check dam across the river on one condition. They will build the dam until it is morning. They will stop working once it is dawn.
|Demon Carrying Boulder|
You can see huge boulders on both sides of the river (the demons brought them, but left before the dam is finished).
A few hundred meters down the man-made dam, you can see this 'almost finished' dam built by super human forces. The reality can be, floods brought boulders from atop the hills and dumped them at this place.
A Nice Picnic All the Way
Believing or not, the legend was much more beautiful than the scientific explanation. Any way, it was a refreshing trip through the forest.
Later, we ate the lunch we brought with us on the banks of Periyar. The water was crystal clear, everyone took a dip, which lasted hours.
Boating is also available in the reservoir.
Nearby places are: Salim Ali National Park (bird sanctuary at Thattekkad), Idamalayar Dam and power house.
Bhoothathankettu at Google Maps: click here!
More details at official Kerala Tourism site.