Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Trip to God's Own Country - I


Who?
Seven research students from Power Electronics Laboratory, CEDT, IISc: 
Deepak, Lalit, Paul, Prasanna, Rex, Rijil and Srinivas

Where?
North Kerala and Coastal Karnataka

When?
29th April - 4th May, 2010

Why?
A break from research!

"If you travel from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari, you can see the beauty of the whole world" - Gopal Mondal, ex-lab-mate, quoting on India's beauty

In a hectic six-day trip we covered four northern districts of Kerala - Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur and Kasargod - and three towns of coastal Karnataka. I shall make an honest attempt at documenting the trip with words. But the story of this trip can be best expressed in photographs for, as they say, each picture would substitute for a thousand words. But again a thousand pictures are still not as good as the experience of actually being there.

Road Route from Bangalore to Kozhikode: 
Bangalore - Ramanagaram - Chanapatna - Maddur - Mandya - Srirangapatna - Mysore - Gundlupet - Sulthan Bathery - Kalpetta - Vythri - Thamarassery - Kozhikode

Gundlupet is near the border between the states of Karnataka and Kerala. When our bus reached there, the driver and conductor got down to buy vegetables and several others  followed suit. What on earth was happening? Supposedly vegetables here are damn cheap - about one-third the price you would get in Bangalore. Close to the border check-post we were lucky to witness some wild elephants by the highway. 

Day-1: 29th April 2010
Places visited: Thusharagiri Falls,
Kappad Beach, Kozhikode Beach

Thusharagiri Falls
"Some 50kms east of Kozhikode in Kerala is the picturesque holiday destination of Thusharagiri, a small tribal village. Two streams originating from the verdant Western Ghats converge here to form the River Challipuzha. The gushing river diverges into three waterfalls, throwing up a fine snowy spray of water giving it a snowy effect. Thus the name 'Thusharagiri', which means 'snowy peak'."[Source: http://www.holidayiq.com/Thusharagiri-Falls-Kozhikode-Calicut-Sightseeing.html]
April being the dry season, the waters of Thusharagiri falls were rather genial and inviting - the kind that would draw any weary traveler into it. Come monsoons and the place would transform itself into a roaring deluge.

 
The genial waters at Thusharagiri.

Thusharagiri falls: A trickle flow in the dry season.

Here's a picture of the Thusharagiri falls during monsoons. If you stay in or around Bangalore and you like water falls, one more place you should certainly visit is the Shivanasamudra falls

An intriguing tree with a hollow trunk at Thusharagiri.

 An inside-view of the "hollow" tree.

 That's how the tree looks from outside - huge!
Some readers suggest it's a Baobab tree.

Kappad Beach
"In the year 1498, 170 men led by the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama (1460-1524) sailed in and stepped into Kerala to create a new chapter in history. The story of a long and tumultuous socio-political relationship between India and Europe. It was the spices and wealth of Malabar that first brought the Arabs, the Phoenicans, the Greeks, the Romans, the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English to Kerala. Kappad has witnessed many such landings." [Source: http://www.calicut.net/travel/kappad.html]

Kappad beach, locally known as Kappakkadavu, is steeped in history. 
Over the centuries, it has seen many a sailor from far-off countries land on its coast.

 As dense clouds started to cast their shadow over Kappad, some amazing hues of nature were on display.

The sun-rays sneaking out of the crowd of clouds to illuminate a patch on the sea seemed to convey some heavenly message.

Kozhikode Beach
"Kozhikode Beach is a favourite haunt of sunset viewers. Its natural beauty and old world charm makes it a dreamy place to visit. The beach has an old lighthouse and two crumbling piers running into the sea, each more than a hundred years old. Children can be entertained at the Lions Park and the Marine Water Aquarium. Should you be able to drag yourself away from the beach the city of Calicut or Kozhikode awaits you with its unique culture and other treasures." [Source:http://www.keralatourism.org/destination/beaches/kozhikode-beach-108.php]

 

Snap-shots of the picture-perfect sunset at Kozhikode Beach.

Day-2: 30th April 2010
Places visited: Kozhikode Ghat Section, Pookot/Pookode Lake, Edakkal Caves

Kozhikode Ghat Section

Several estates dot the approach to the ghats. They grow mostly coconut, areca-nut, rubber, pine-apple and coffee. There are nine hair-pin bends at the ghat section with lot's of monkeys around to entertain you in case you have the time to observe them. A view-point near one of the bends gives a panoramic view of the entire region. 

 The panoramic view from Kozhikode ghat section.

Ravishing rendezvous: A cloud pregnant with life-giving rain kisses the verdant and expectant mountain.

Pookot Lake
"The natural fresh-water lake at Pookot, about 13 kms from Kalpetta, is one of the most beautiful tourist spots in Wayanad. The lake nestles in the lap of mountains surrounding it. Tall trees and dense forests that surround the lake provide a visual treat. Boating in the lake is a memorable experience. A freshwater aquarium with a large variety of fish is an added attraction." [Source: http://www.calicut.net/travel/pookot.html]
Violet water lilies sitting pretty on the serene waters of Pookot Lake. 


 Those flowers again. There were hoards of them.

Pedal-boat on the lake: Just fifty bucks for four people spending twenty priceless and tranquil minutes soaking in the scenic beauty all around.

Edakkal Caves
"The fascinating prehistoric rock etchings found on the walls of these caves have drawn the serious attention of archeologists and historians worldwide. With at least three distinct sets of petroglyphs, the earliest thought to date back over 5000 years, it is assumed that the Edakkal caves had been inhabited at various stages in history. The name “Edakkal” literally means “a stone in between”, and this describes how the cave is formed by a heavy boulder straddling a fissure in the rock. [...] Light enters the cave through a big gap at the right-hand corner of the roof where the boulder does not touch the facing wall." [Source: http://www.edakkal.com/]
It takes a mini-trek to reach the Edakkal caves situated atop a hill. 
Initially it's a winding round but soon it becomes a rocky climb.

The "elephant" mountain visible from the entrance of the caves.

 Petroglyphs (rock engravings) inside the caves.

  One rock over the other: That's how the cave was formed.

A heavy burst of rain that lasted for close to three hours forced us to cancel our plans to visit the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary at Muthanga. It was the heaviest rain Paul had seen in his five-month stay in India. 




The rain seemed to get heavier every minute. Kudos to our Toyota Qualis driver for taking us through safe and unscathed. By sun down, we reached Rex who was waiting in his estate at Kunduthode near Thottilpalam, a hill town at the north-eastern corner of Kozhikode district. Rex had furnished us with a two-page write-up describing the route complete with terrain descriptions and warnings. That's how remote the location of the estate was from civilization! 

The pretty setting at Rex's estate with insects creaking from bushes and trees all around. The sun had sunk under the undulating horizon and in the fading light, the moon had begun to realize it's worth.

A furlong away from the cottage was a comely stream where we relaxed and washed away the weariness of the journey. An arduous trek awaited us on the morrow.

[To be continued in "A Trip to God's Own Country - II"]

12 comments:

  1. Hey, brilliant fotographs... especially d 'hues of nature' one. Too good!

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  2. @ indisch
    Thank you. The credit for that photograph goes to my lab-mate Prasanna for clicking and of course mother nature for posing :-)

    I suggest you should also visit Kerala sometime!

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  3. Seems like u ppl had lot of fun.... nice photographs especially the hollow tree and sun rays on the sea surface, by the way the violet flower is lotus.

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  4. Dude you went so close to my house. My house is 4km from kappad beach. Whenever i go home its my hangout place.

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  5. @ adhirajad

    Yes, it was great fun indeed. Thanks for your comments. Regarding the flower, I'm still not sure whether it's a lotus. Anybody knows the answer?

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  6. @ Outlaws corner
    I didn't know you were from Kozhikode. You are really lucky to have the beautiful Kappad beach so near to your house!

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  7. Thanks to Rijil, I found out that those violet flowers in Pookot lake are water lilies. Also, Shripathi suggests that the "hollow" tree is a Baobab. The post has been updated with both the inputs.

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  8. Really nice pics........ I can feel the freshness :-)

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  9. Enjoyed your Wayanad trip. The photographs are amazing.

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  10. Lovely pictures. From mist cloaked mountains to golden beaches, from quaint gushing waterfalls to breathtakingly serene backwaters, from palm fronds delicately dipping into waters to sprawling tea gardens, from man made wonders to the marvels of nature - if there's is one place that has it all, it is Kerala. Check out all 177 places to visit in Calicut also.

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