Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Trip to God's Own Country - II

[Continued from "A Trip to God's Own Country - I"]

Day-3: 1st May 2010
Places visited: Rex's Estate @ Kunduthode, Vattipana Peak (by trek)

Trek to Vattipana peak

After a rejuvenating sleep we left the cottage early at 6am for an unforgettable trek. We went across Rex's sprawling 50-acre estate and surged higher along the slopes towards Vattipana peak, perched at 2500 feet above sea level. 

Coconut and areca nut trees in Rex's remarkable estate.

Men on a mission.

Trails to the top.

Less than mid-way to the top we had already started to see some breath-taking views of the western ghats. All of us, especially Deepak, wondered how Rex could leave this heavenly abode of his and come to stay in a trouble-ridden city like Bangalore.

Blankets of fog covering the valleys below.
 The fog interspersed the peaks to conjure a picture of nature's bliss.

 Midway we also met a stream that coaxed us to stop by for a while.

There are always stories within stories. We kept going up. The slopes were getting steeper. The peak never seemed to arrive. Most of us continued resolutely. But, for Deepak the pleasant journey in nature's lap was beginning to look like an ordeal. "Why are we doing this, Let's go back", he exhorted perspiring profusely. Pitiably, he didn't find supporters of his cause. Since we all kept going, he kept going, albeit grumbling all the way. He didn't want to do it. But he had to do it because we all wanted to do it. 
Rijil kept pushing Deepak - mentally and physically - to keep going.

Then something happened that no body could possibly capture on camera. We were under attack! Groups of leeches stuck to our legs - may be ten per person - to suck our blood! It was shocking and disconcerting for most of us. We were jumping and shouting in our efforts to get the stubborn and slimy creatures off our bodies. Rex being the seasoned campaigner in these conditions helped us keep our cool. We pulled those sucking creatures out and ran like crazy. That was the only time during in the entire trek that we saw Deepak running! It was  simultaneously horrific and hilarious. Note that leech bites are neither painful nor harmful. So there was no cause for worry. 

After the yucky experience, Deepak pleaded rather aggressively, '"After all this, do you still want to continue? When is the next bus to Bangalore? I'm going back home today". Still there was no one paying heed to his appeal. We had come almost eighty percent of the way and we weren't going back without conquering the peak.

Rex egged on Deepak in the final stretch to the peak.

Once we reached the peak, all our toil was vindicated and all the problems were forgotten. It felt as if we are in the sky or may be heaven. The sight from the peak was one of ineffable beauty.

Vattipana being the highest peak in the vicinity, all other peaks were below us. Even birds were flying below us. Actually it seemed the whole world was below us!

Gazing from atop the peak, the sky and the earth seemed to merge. It was not easy to delineate a distinct line of horizon as the following photographs would testify.



Snapshots of the view from atop Vattipana peak.

The full trekking gang after the conquest of Vattipana peak. 
Who was there to take this picture? 
Rex's aide, Prakash who joined us near the peak.

There couldn't be a happier place to pose for the camera :-)

 We all sat there and kept gazing in awe.

We could see Rex's estate from the peak. And we decided to go straight down. There were no more trails to lead us. Prakash was expertly leading us down clearing the way using his primitive cutting tool.

 We were going straight down the abrupt slope. The tall grass along the incline was very helpful for keeping us from falling over. But there were many thorny shrubs as well to make life difficult.

Prakash skillfully climbed up a coconut tree to get us some tender coconut - water as well as flesh - to ward off our thirst and hunger.
Once we were back at Rex's cottage, we looked back to see what we had conquered - Vattipana peak standing tall amongst its fellow-peaks. The cottage with it's adjoining cowshed had an idyllic charm to it.

We all were proud and satisfied of our accomplishment. The complete trek lasted seven hours. And then Deepak uttered those legendary words, "Today I learnt a lot about myself". For him it was a day when he had breached many of his pre-conceived limitations.

Day-4: 2nd May 2010
Places visited: Thalassery Fort and Beach, Muzhappilangad Beach, Payyambalam Beach, Snake Park and Sri Muthappan Temple (Parassinikadavu), Bekal Fort and Beach

Thalassery Fort and Beach
The British East India Company built the Thalassery fort in 1708 to establish a stronghold on the Malabar Coast. In 1781 Hyder Ali, ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore, was unsuccessful in capturing the fort in his campaign to control Malabar. His successor, Tipu Sultan, was forced to cede Malabar District to the British in 1792, at the conclusion of the Third Anglo-Maratha War. The square fort, with its massive walls, secret tunnels to the sea and intricately carved huge doors, is an imposing structure. The fort was once the nucleus of Thalassery's development. It is now a historical monument. [Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thalassery_Fort]

The historic Thalassery fort.

View of the beach from Thalassery fort.

A statue of German missionary Hermann Gundert at Thalassery.
Paul was particularly glad to see this I suppose.

The rocky beach at Thalassery.

Muzhappilangad Beach
Muzhappilangad Beach with its shallow waters makes it ideal for swimmers. Just 15 km from Kannur and 8 km from Thalassery, the beach is bordered by black rocks, which protects it. It is Kerala's only drive-in beach where you can drive for a full four km, from Kannur to Tellicherry. The enchanting ambience of the beautiful Muzhappilangad beach invites one to swim, sunbathe, or just laze around. From Muzhappilangad, one can view the Dharmadam Island or the Green Island. [Source: http://www.keralahotelsandtours.com/beach-tours-in-kerala-india/muzhappilangad-beach-tours.html]

View of the privately owned Dharmadam Island from Muzhappilangad Beach.
The looks of it, for some queer reason, reminded me of the animated movie Madagascar.

 Muzhappilangad Beach: One of the longest drive-in beaches in India.

Payyambalam Beach 
The quiet, secluded Payyambalam beach is a popular local picnic spot and a beautiful beach resort. It houses monuments to the celebrated journalist Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai and the revered Communist leader Sri. A.K. Gopalan. There is a massive sculpture of mother and child by renowned sculptor Kanayi Kunhiraman in the landscaped garden at the beach. [Source: http://www.keralatourism.org/shootinglocation/payyambalam-beach,-kannur-27.php]
The view-point at Payyambalam Beach.

If you are adventurous, you can climb down the view-point to a rocky part of the beach. 
It was quite enjoyable to witness the splashing of the waves against the rocks and the umpteen crabs running helter-skelter.

The picturesque Payyambalam beach at Kannur.

Snake Park @ Parassinikadavu
One of India’s foremost snake parks is the Parassinikadavu Snake Park near Kannur. It is about 18km from Kannur town, on the way to Taliparamba. The park, set up by the Visha Chikitsa Kendra, has over a hundred varieties of snakes, the most famous ones being the King Cobra, Russel’s viper, Krait, Python, and many others. The centre has a venom-extracting laboratory and treats snake bite victims round the year. There are demonstrations at the centre to educate the public and tourists about snakes and to take away popular superstitions about them. [Source: http://travel.homestayscochin.com/2009/04/25/a-serpentine-story-parassinikadavu-snake-park/]


Brahminy Kite


Waiting for the dentist: This crocodile seemed to have its mouth open for eternity.

Bekal Fort and Beach
The imposing fort at Bekal is one of the largest and best preserved forts in Kerala. The beautiful expanse of the shallow beach near the Bekal fort known as Bekal Fort Beach has been developed as an exotic beach location by the Bekal Resorts Development Corporation (BRDC). [Source: http://www.keralatourism.org/destination/beaches/bekal-fort-beach--kasaragod-199042196.php]
The stunning Bekal fort of the "Tu hi re" fame.

The Power Gang at Bekal Fort.

View of the beach from one of the watch-towers on Bekal fort.

 Another view of Bekal beach from the fort.
As the sun was going down, the fort juxtaposed with the beach looked simply gorgeous.

 Sunset at Bekal beach.

Day-5: 3rd May 2010
Places visited: Mangalore, Udupi, NITK-Surathkal

Udupi Krishna Temple
Thousands of pious devotees throng the Udupi Krishna temple all round the year to catch a glimpse of Lord Krishna. The unique feature of this temple is that the Lord is worshiped only through a window with nine holes called the Navagraha Kitiki. The window is exquisitely carved and silver - plated. It has been a tradition in this temple to worship the Lord only through this window. [Source: http://www.udipikrishnamutt.com/]

The Udupi Krishna Temple.

The intricately decorated chariot of Lord Krishna. There's one more chariot made of Navaratna - the nine precious gems - kept inside a locker room with a window through which you can see it.

A pond inside the temple premises.

 The boat that ferries the deity on special festival days.

 The costumes and ornaments used in Yakshagana performance at the temple.

Surathkal is on the shore of Arabian sea and boasts of having beautiful beaches. There is a beach in front of the Sadashiva Temple; the picturesque beach is known for its clean surrounding and its lighthouse. NITK has its own private beach north of Surathkal beach which is open to the public too. [Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surathkal]

Yet another pretty sunset this time at NITK-Surathkal beach.

On day-six, we made our journey back from Mangalore to Bangalore by rail. As the train sauntered through high bridges and long tunnels in the western ghats, cherished memories of our tryst with God's Own Country lingered. I wondered - not for the first time - why people in cities consider themselves privileged.


  1. The bird in the forefront is a Brahminy kite, the only kite that doesn't have a forked tail. instead a fan tail like eagles

  2. I don't know what to say about this post, wonderful, great... beautiful pictures show that you really enjoyed your trip. and as "Altered Egos" said that bird in that picture is a Brahminy kite.

  3. @ altered egos
    Thank you very much for the information. I've updated the same in the post.

    @ Kerala Holidays
    Thanks for the generous remarks.

  4. Good one. Nice to see this. Really showcasing some downtrodden or hidden trails in the major tourism map of Kerala.

  5. Nice pictures of udupi krishna temple.. I have always longed to be there..it appears that you guys enjoyed the most.. great passion!
    keep these coming, feast to the readers' eyes!!

    IISc Alumna:)

  6. @ IISc Alumna
    Thank you very much. I would definitely recommend you to visit the temple when you find time.

  7. Really awesome pictures and good travelogue there :). Would love to visit these places.

  8. @ Nishant Singh
    Thanks for reading :-)
    Do visit those places!

    @ Ana_treek
    Thanks. I'll tell you, pictures just aren't good enough! Go visit them :-)