Monday, November 19, 2012

Nature, Adventure and Wagamon

Wagamon, a celebrated, but less frequented destination in Kerala tourist map is a great destination for nature lovers, adventurers, and everyone who loves nature in its purest shape.

A visit to this place was well worth it because it is one of the tourist destinations, where you can listen to the birds, enjoy the stillness and explore some great adventures, including a climb to one of the tallest peaks in South India.

The main points of interest near Wagamon are the Pine Valley, where pine trees grow sky-high in an area of 125 acres, Mottakkunnu (bald-headed hills - 14 of them), Thangal Para (a rocky mountain perched at 8000 ft above sea level), Kurisumala, and a dairy farm.

Apart from them, we stopped at several places on a whim, and each stop proved to be a great new exploration. Lucky for us, we stopped at several places and each stop proved to be a fine destination of its own. Sadly, I can't tell you the names of the places because the places were deserted and there weren't any sign boards telling what the places are.

I can tell you we stopped by a tea-estate en-route to Wagamon, from where we could get a good look at the morning rays seeping through the mist, the long winding roads, the township from a distance, an abandoned tea-factory, and rolling hills far and near. Again we stopped by a tiny lake, a meadow with a circular shaped church on one side, and in the midst of nowhere when a herd of cows blocked our car. The cows walk on the roads; gives milk to the locals and don't care much when we ask them to move away from the road.


This is the only place where you have to pay an entry fee - Rs 5 per person, known as Wagamon Meadows and Hideout, a series of 14 green top hills. On one side there is a small lake, where several hundreds of tiny fish will give you company when you bathe there.

Pine Valley

One of the biggest pine forests in Kerala, Pine Valley Wagamon offers a special treat. In an area of 125 acres, there are thousands and thousands of pine trees, each one reaching up to the skies. The air was still and the sight magnificent as we walked along the trees, taking a fresh breathe and marveling the beauty of this man-made forest.

I strongly doubt I have seen both the Mottakkunnu and Pine Valley in several films I have watched. They are beautiful.

Adventure Point (Also suicide point)

And, next we stopped by the suicide point, where you will find hills even bigger than what you find at Mottakkunnu. Green grass blankets the hills and it is special experience scaling the hills, listening to the wind and feeling on top of the world.

They say this is the place for paragliding adventures. We didn't find any gliders, though.

Thangal Para

It is a mountain. You can reach the top without any steep climb. You can walk along the marked paths and reach the top of the rocky mountain. The wind is strong, and you feel like flying. Be extra careful, the rocks are dangerous. And, you are standing at a height of 7000 to 8000 ft above sea level.

Keep in mind there is a Mosque, and the place is a pilgrim center.

Kurisumala & Murukan Mala

Kurisu (cross) and Murukan (a Hindu deity) hills, face each other. Climbing them is not an easy task. Trek your way up the Kurisumala and the rewards are freshness of air, a feeling of on top of the world and the thrills of adventure.

Dairy Farm Near Kurisumala - Ask for permission to visit this dairy farm, where you will be amazed at the sights of the cows, bulls and the place in which they live.

Well, that was all in a day's trip. And, we started our journey back home.

Travel Tips:

It may be just me, but I found it very difficult locating restaurants or decent hotels. They are very few. So, it is a nice idea carrying your food, water and snacks.

I also didn't find a fuel station. There sure will be some petrol/diesel pumps nearby. Only we didn't see any.

The places described above are the most frequented places nearby Wagamon. There also are several, little-frequented stops along the way. Such stops offer beautiful sights, fresh air and great opportunities to shoot postcard perfect photos.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Weekend Trip to Alappuzha Backwaters

I doubt if I am a real traveller because at times I don't go anywhere special for a long time. Last Saturday was different and I decided to take my lovely wife on a trip through the pristine backwaters of Kerala. We stayed inside a boat plying between Kottayam and Alappuzha, for almost the whole day. Travelling from Kottayam to Alappuzha costs only Rs.10/- per person and we had a great day, enjoying the fresh air, greenery and the most relaxed travel experience of quite some time.

Well, the boat left Kottayam (Kodimatha is the place) at 11.30 AM and reached Alappuzha (Aleppey) at 2.00 PM. The boat would return in 30 minutes.

In between, we fully enjoyed the still waters and felt once again marvelled at the sight of farmlands situated below water levels. I wonder how on earth do they keep water away at the paddy fields of R-Block or Kuttanad stretch. The water, on which the boats ply just don't ooze into the paddy fields. I wonder how they keep it that way.

The lake (Vembanad Lake) contains several islands, which have day restaurants, from where you can enjoy some Kuttanadan delicacies including 'Karimeen' (pearl spot fish), 'Konchu' (freshwater shrimp), 'Kappa' (tapioca), and a lot more. For boozing, there is 'kallu' (toddy). The abundance of coconut palms make sure there is no shortage of this natural liquor. (Well, my wife is a vegetarian and we had a super quick meal at a vegetarian restaurant near the boat yard in Alappuzha).

A houseboat near a paddy field in Kuttanadu Backwaters

Well, I am posting a few photos of Vembanad Lake, the most famous of Kerala backwaters. The camera was new and I was not used to its function. I could salvage only a few of the 400 plus photos I have taken. So, please bear with me on the quality of the photos.
Houseboats are aplenty in Alappuzha
A Church as seen from the boat
OK guys, that is all for today and for a few weeks to come. Special thanks to all my readers who like my little blog called Kerala Traveller.