Some days, I wake up with an innate urge to travel.. to go on a long drive into the lap of nature. So, when a beautiful Sunday coincided with a strong desire to get away from the daily grind, I could only think of Nelliampathy.
I had visited Nelliyampathy earlier too, but never during the monsoons. And being a person who absolutely loves the rain, and having a companion who shares my love for Nature, as well as a long drive equally… my son, Varun, we decided to take off without any definite plans.
Nelliyampathy is about 60 Kilometers from Palakkad, and one can reach the place in less than two hours. The drive itself is very pleasant, as it takes you through lush greenery and a breathtaking view of mountains and fields. You pass small towns and villages with their ponds, temples, and trees to reach Pothundy Dam, which lies at the base of the Nelliyampathi hills.
There are about 10 hairpin bends to maneuver as you take off from Pothundy, which is at the base… another picturesque tourist spot with its magnificent dam.
There is a forest office just after Pothundy, where you are required to enter your details on their log book. The officer in charge cautioned us about the mist and rainfall up in the hills and instructed to get back by 4 PM, if not staying back.
It was well past lunch time, and hunger pangs were striking fast. Suddenly, as the road took a bend, we saw a couple of makeshift shacks on the side of the road. Each shack had a few tables and chairs inside, and served food to the tourists. We stopped our car and a lady from this eatery came out and enticed us with their menu which consisted of Kappa (tapioca) and fish curry or beef curry, bread omelette, Chappathi, Porotta, and meals.
It was a clean place, and she served us delicious Kappa and fish, which i found to be really tasty. It was followed by an omelette. I started a conversation with her and she said their men folk were tea estate laborers, and they lived in the estate quarters. While the husbands worked at the estate, a few of such enterprising women made food from home and brought it here to cater to tourists. judging by the quality of the food and the large number of tourists who had stopped by, she certainly was going to be having a busy day.
Huge trees with orange blooms were to be seen on either side of hte road. At first, i thought it was the Gulmohar, but when one flower fell on our windshield, i realised it was another tree altogether. The sight of the orange flowers on the roadside was indeed beautiful.
By the time we reached the parking lot, where we had to leave behind our vehicle, and do a small trek to Seetharkundu, it started raining heavily. People who were coming in after the trek informed us that visibility was very poor due to the heavy mist, and hence we decided to do that trek some other day.
Nelliampathy has a vast expanse of Tea estates which belong to private companies like AVT, Poabs, etc. There do allow plantation visits on weekdays with prior permission, it seems.
It was indeed a beautiful trip, and Nelliampathi was looking its greenest best, all fresh and pure with the rains. It definitely recharged our spirits and i am sure the memory of this would remain with us for a long time.
Kerala sure is God’s own country!!!