Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Peeping in

I know it's so long since I have visited this place and since I visited today 'by mistake' didn't want to leave without saying a Hi ;)

Well of late life has become very hectic and I am hardly finding time to breathe :P  But as I was telling a friend sometime back, I have always been the most creative when I have the least time. So hoping something will come up soon ;)

In the meantime, I am just posting a travelogue of a trip that we did few years back. We had posted it that time in our travel blog which is also dormant now. Even the flickr pics have taken off. Still there are many who ask us about the place and as years pass by I am finding it difficult to dig it out from my old mails. So thought of posting it here once again.

So here's the 'The famous Chimony trip' experience :)

1) Day 1 : A jungle to get lost in

2) Day 2 :Stretching the limits

Chimmony Jungle Camp - A Jungle to get lost in

We have been traveling extensively for many years now. But the trip that we had during the Diwali weekend has beaten everything heads down. It is full of unique and crazy experiences and I just can’t resist penning it down

It was KK who found the details of the programme from outlook traveler and booked for the five of us – KK, JK, Sid, me n Rash.
The Jungle Camp package was roughly like the following:
We will be taken to a tented accommodation on the eastern edge of Chimmony Reservior. Once in the camp on the banks of a stream we can go for treks, bird-watch, swim/relax in the pool at Cherpulikkuth etc. Check in time 10 am and check out after breakfast the next day.
But since we wanted to be in Chimmony till evening they suggested us to go for either of the following the next day.
a) Come back to Chimmony and go for a bamboo raft ride (can combine with short treks as well).
b) Go for a trek to the highest peak in the PA, the Ponmudi peak (1116 m). They said the trek passes through some good rain-forests and the view from the peak is breath taking and the trek will take about 6 hrs.
KK was too keen in making the most out of this trip and so he wanted to have both. So we decided to take the 2 hr raft ride before going to the camp. We had gone to the dam last year and were impressed by its calm n quiet atmosphere and so all of us were looking forward for the opportunity to be there for two days. Our plan was to start on Thursday evening around 6.30 pm and reach the place by Friday morning. Two hours prior to the trip Pint called up and said he also wanted to join. He just couldn't resist the raft ride and joined us in 1 hr :)

Day 1:

We went straight to Chimmony on Friday morning. At the check post, met the officers and they took us to the dormitory. After freshening up and a quick breakfast we were set for the first activity – the bamboo raft ride. This was the one all of us (except may be JK ;)) were eagerly waiting for. Since there were 6 of us they took us in two rafts. The rafts were beautifully made with nice bamboo seats so that we can sit comfortably without getting wet. It was a bit sunny in the beginning but later it changed to a pleasant one.

The place had a very soothing effect and had all the settings of a perfect holiday - far far away from the crowd, just amidst nature, nature and nature all around. And about the scenery surrounding us – what can I say? It’s far too stunning to describe in words. You can’t help but be mesmerized by the silky, shimmering waters and the stately mountains and hills filled with trees that stood proudly on almost all sides. We were busy savoring (or trying to savor) the beauty around us in the cameras (These are some situations were we realize that man/camera has limitations but nature doesn't).

Once we got used to the raft’s balance we were comfortable moving up and down. We even tried our hands in pedaling (not the main one of course). After sometime Pint got the idea to jump into the water (he can never resist a plunge). So Pint dived first. KK and Sid followed. Sid even swam from his raft to ours which was little far apart (n got exhausted).

Pint was insisting us also to jump but we didn’t want to wet ourselves…We then heard some elephant’s noise and so decided to try our luck in spotting it. So everyone returned to the respective rafts and we started again. But after some time pint got restless and started splashing water all over me. I was totally wet and so we decided not to leave others too.

The first target was obviously JK who is supposedly hydrophobic. In order to escape from us, he took 2 cameras, put it through his neck and was running around. But after a lot of effort we managed to take the cams from him and then it was real fun time. Splashing water all over, jumping from one raft to another, pulling others to water,… Pint even tried some diving and ended up in some distance from the raft and I had to pull him towards the raft.

In another 10 mins all the 6 of us were in 90 ft deep water without any life jackets and none of us were expert swimmers either!!!! Anyway after frolicking in water to the hearts content we returned to the IB. All of us were really hungry and so devoured the simple and delicious lunch waiting for us.

To the Wilderness
After lunch we started towards the camp site. A 45 minute ride in the speed boat along the lake took us to the depths of the sanctuary on the eastern edge of the Reservoir. We were accompanied by an armed forest guard with communication facilities and 4 tribal men. Once we got out of the boat and trekked to the campsite, we were exposed to the virgin forest which was the home for all sorts of creatures and many medicinal plants. We could spot some huge praying mantis, some rare flowers, medicinal plants, different varieties of mushrooms,…

The camp site was a clearing near the stream and some elevated base was already there. Our hosts (they are the tribes from the settlement of Echipara) were quick in setting up the almost ready made tent

 After spending some time near the stream we headed towards a waterfall nearby. That was a beautiful sight indeed.

There was a tree lying horizontally from one end to the other (kind of natural bridge) and it seems they used it for collecting honey (info from KK). We walked on that tree and went near the falls. But after sometime it started raining and we got completely wet.

After spending sometime there we headed towards the next falls. It was a stream flowing through the huge rocks. They said in monsoon the entire rock area will be covered by water. By then the light was very dim and Pint tried out some excellent long exposure shots.

As the dusk fell, we came back to the camp site. There the lanterns (I’m seeing it after a very long time) were kept on the dining table (don’t mistake. It is a nice bamboo structure) and a camp fire was also lit(tho it got extinguished soon). We were ready to crash but discovered that the tents were wet due to rain :( Our hosts immediately changed two tents under the tarpaulin and they were busy preparing dinner for us – chappathi and peas curry. After relishing the same we immediately went to the tents and crashed while our hosts were awake. It seems in the middle of the night some wild boars came and they shooed them off. They then lit a camp fire so that some more attacks will not be there.

Day 2 : Stretching the limits..

We got up early and started off to the mainland after dismantling the tent and other stuff. The early morning ride was really awesome. Weather was simply gorgeous with the sun shinning its golden rays through the clouds and giving it a fine blend of colors. Mist was there all over the place. In addition, the high rise mountains and it’s reflections in the placid water was like a perfect painting...

After a tasty breakfast of puttu and kadala it was time for the Ponmudi trek which was around 1100 mts high. I had my own apprehensions about it mainly coz of the story from Simanta about the leeches. Also I was not sure of my health and fitness level as I was on medication for quite sometime. Anyway everyone ignored my reasoning as lame excuses and so by 10.30 we started our trek (tho we were supposed to start at 6.30 am!!). The climb was not very difficult except for the leeches who gleefully welcomed us :(  The route was definitely interesting with dense forest, some stream crossing, interesting creatures, rare flowers etc. Our guides were giving us gyaan about the different trees, medicinal plants, it’s uses and all on the way.

 By around 1.30 we reached a clearing from where we could see the chimony dam. We then thought we have almost reached the top and slowed down a little. After a while thick fog surrounded the entire place and it was lovely… But only then we realized that we were no were near the top and had to hurry up. The climb further was becoming bit difficult also. Our guides asked us to be in a close group as well since the visibility was greatly reduced coz of the fog.

Once we reached near a stream we had packed lunch and continued our ascent. By around 3.30 we reached the summit. It seems on clear days we can see three dams from that point and that view was supposedly very breathtaking. But unfortunately for us it was little foggy (Although it had a beauty of its own). The mist was clearing fast but we couldn't stay there for long as it was quite late…

Soon we started our descent. We took a different route which was shorter but little steeper. All of us were tired and so the pace was not very fast. Our guide wanted us to cross two difficult parts before 5 and we were struggling to do that. Anyway we somehow managed that part and they said the difficult part was over (in terms of steepness) But for us it just began!! The route seemed never ending.. :(

It was getting dark and there were symptoms of a heavy rain. The ranger was getting anxious and was asking us to hurry up as there is a possibility for the elephants to charge us. But as JK rightly said “In that case you run and take care of yourself. None of us are going to run even if it happens. This is the max pace that we can walk in the current situation”. For me I was loosing my strength and was finding it difficult even to balance. Many a times I had to depend on JK. So was the state of Rashmi. Pint and Sid was helping her. Pint was saying “Even I’m tired and I can imagine the state of you ppl”. Sid was like “I’m stretching my limits”. Rash was continuously asking “Can I be tired” but KK’s diplomatic answer was “I have faith in you”. I really pity the state of boys. Although they themselves were tired, they had to take care of us also :( .

Soon night fell and it started pouring heavily and no umbrella (not that it would have made a difference). Since we never expected such a late return, we didn't have any torches and to make it worse - it was an “amavasya” night (new moon). The situation was abominable - pitch dark, dense forest, heavy rain, uneven ground and possible hidden dangers behind the bushes. Soon we had another hurdle to overcome – a stream crossing. Even before, we didn't have any idea where we were stepping. Now we don’t know what the depth is, whether the rocks are slippery and also how strong the current is!!! We somehow managed this also and soon I had the next set back. During the wayanad trip my leg was twisted and it was not completely cured. The same leg was twisted again and the cold made the pain worse :( .From there on I couldn't apply force on one leg and literally had to manage with one leg. After rambling in the dark like this for more than an hr we finally saw some light (of the jeep of-course  and a big crowd to receive us. The walkie-talkie was also not working and so they just couldn't contact us. They were clearly worried and were happy to see us back safe and sound (?). Anyway all of us were unanimous in saying that we stretched a little too much (tho KK won’t agree).

Anyway we soon reached IB, packed and bid adieu to the place taking with us some long lasting memories…

Info: Chimmony is 35 km. from Thrissur. There are buses from the North bus stand. If you are coming in your own vehicle, turn east at Amballur jn. Amballur is 11km. from Thrissur on the NH47 to Kochi. Chimmony is 24 km. from Amballur, the road end at Chimmony Dam.

PS: Far from the hustles and bustles of city, this place unleashes a whole new world of sunshine, fresh air, varieties of birds, trees, mountains, streams, flowers,… In short, Chimmony doesn't disappoint :)