District 12: The Heights

You should have surely heard about the District 12 of Kerala – Wayanad. As one of the more popular tourist destinations, it came into existence in its present form in 1980 as the twelfth district of Kerala right out of Kannur and Kozhikode districts. The special thing about this district is that there is no place with the name of the district, and the headquarters is at Kalpetta which has developed very well. Wayanad district also has the distinction of being the only district of Kerala to share the borders with both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, and it is the district with the least population around here.

Wayanad has been known for its natural beauty, and it has no railway connection anywhere in the district; the nearest airport is at Kozhikode. Kalpetta, Mananthavady and Sulthan Bathery are its major towns. When I was a child, I wished to travel here, but the destination wasn’t considered then. But I managed to be there many years later, and I am sharing a few photos from that trip here, even though I still haven’t explored the destination in detail – that is pending, and this post could have a second part. They were all taken on my Sony Cybershot DSC-310. The base of operations for the visit was fixed at Kozhikode at that time with Chevrolet Beat taking that long journey from Aluva, and it extended all the way to Kannur, with three northern districts being toured, and the final one left to visit on another day.

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TeNy

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Rock of the Eagle

Throughout my life, I have had special love for some birds; no, not the love birds, sparrows or doves – the birds of prey have been my favourites. Among them all, I was always interested in seeing an eagle flying in the sky. The standards and banners used by the Roman Empire and the later Byzantine Empire had my attention. I have loved the image of the double-headed eagle, and had the feeling that it was special. Then there were the ancient Eagle Warriors of Tenochtitlan, who were the elite infantry units of the Aztec Empire, seen in the game, Age of Empires II: The Conquerers.

Still part of the coats of arms of many cities and a few nations, eagle has always been the bird which inspired to rise and claim what we needed. It is the symbol of courage, will-power and strength, with its agility and superior vision, are used in connection with the greater gods, Zeus for Greeks, Jupiter for Romans and Odin for the Norse. There is the idea of flying high and free like the eagle. Then there was also this poem which I learned by-heart at school, but then I realized that I needn’t – a problem of leaving for CBSE from the state syllabus 😀

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.
— The Eagle by Lord Alfred Tennyson.

So, let the dark clouds leave and get to the destination I am talking about.

So, let the dark clouds leave and we get to the destination I am talking about.

That brings us to the Rock of the Eagle or Eagle’s Rock, called Parunthumpara. With “eagle” associated with the name, I was always willing to have a look there. Located around six kilometres from the nearest town Peermade, it is a beautiful and interesting viewpoint which can be accessed while traveling through the Kottayam Kumily road. If you are traveling from the Northern side of Kerala, you can follow the route which goes through Perumbavoor, Muvattupuzha, Thodupuzha, Vagamon and then get to this road. It is not exactly on the way, and you will have to turn right before reaching Peermade.

This is the kind of path which you follow. Also note my car for no reason :P

This is the kind of path which you follow. Also note my car for no reason 😛

It is a good place to visit if you are traveling to Kumily, Thekkady or Kattappana through the road mentioned. The view that the place provides is amazingly good, and there is lot of area around to park the vehicle. There are some small tea shops there and you will find some bigger ones on the way, with more options of tea packets and chocolates. The road is mostly good except for a small area which has a certain absence of road and it will test the ground clearance of your vehicle in the case of the smaller cars.

You drive through the roads on the top and wander through the grasslands.

You drive through the roads on the top and wander through the grasslands.

The advantage of going through this smaller, but good road is the bliss which is available while seeing so much of greenery and the wind providing inspiration. With all the beauty around, it is good enough to challenge any other location around. There is a little plastic problem which has to be dealt with though. Otherwise, it is well-maintained. It is still not fully developed, and so may be we can see some interesting changes some day. The place has a lot of beauty and space, and so this one can stand of its own one day with the rock having somewhat the shape of the head of an eagle.

Here is the vision which you should have very often to make life feel better.

Here is the vision which you should have very often to make life feel better.

Meanwhile, Peermade is the place to stop and have some food, and if you are not hungry yet, you can stop at Vandiperiyar later. There are many tea plantations around where you can stop and have the selfie with tea. One of the interesting places around includes the Pattumala Church which is a nice structure which can be noticed from the main road itself as it is located at some good height. The building catches our attention and so does the flowers around the tea plantations which surround the church. You can add these with Parunthumpara during your journey to Thekkady.

And this is the Pattumala Church which I have been talking about.

And this is the Pattumala Church which I have been talking about.

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on Samsung Galaxy A5.

TeNy

A Special Destination

There is one special destination which I have already mentioned on my travel blog – Travel Diaries: Of this world and beyond (http://theviator.wordpress.com), but has traveled to the same location in more detail again. I had also shared only one photo at that time, and so I would take this occasion to talk about that place again, this time related to our second journey. All the photos shared in this blog post are from the two big journeys to the place, taken on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310.

Such water-bodies are common on the way to our place.

Such water-bodies are common on the way to our place; take some time to look.

The destination is Ilaveezhapoonjira, the beautiful place with a name which people from outside Kerala will struggle to pronounce. It is a tourist destination which hasn’t been that explored and therefore stays beyond the boundaries of modernity. There will be not much crowd in this area, which mostly only has the youth among the visitors, as there is a good amount of journey on foot or by the juggling jeep to the top.

We are going among the hills this time.

We are going among the hills this time, away from the modern barbarians.

We had started our journey quite early on that day, and it is a perfect road until Thodupuzha from where the Vagamon route was also quite good. But from that moment you take the turn to the road going for this place, you are introduced to the smaller road which goes up, having enough potholes and curves to make you mad, especially if another vehicle comes from the other side. In the case of an early morning visit, there is not going to be anything coming down from Ilaveezhapoonjira though.

When the dark clouds arrive, trees are ready with silhouette.

When the dark clouds arrive and show their strength, trees are ready with silhouettes.

Once you reach the first part of the top, there is a small tea stall kind of setup which was not open when we went there. But it surely deserves a mention as this is “the tea cerebrations” blog. May be it will be there again on another day when we go there. There is also something which looks like a resort, but is seemingly abandoned; looks good enough to nicely blend with nature. The wind is usually strong there, making the tall grass bow down, as the sphere of air takes control here.

The fog takes over and makes a big impact at times.

The fog takes over and makes a big impact at times, improving the view even more.

There is also that fog that comes through and makes a big impact, as the vision is minimal when it makes its presence felt. On that day, there was rain too, but by the time we reached the top, it had a more clear version of the site, even as not that good enough to make a great impression on our ordinary cameras. Yes, you will get some awesome photos if you take someone with a big camera, or you can persuade a rich guy to buy an awesome camera and take him with you. By the time we returned, it had felt so good with the wonderful climate.

When you reach the top-most point, you find this.

When you reach the top-most point, you find this place and then you take out the camera.

Ilaveezhapoonjira is one of our favourite destinations, followed only by Thommankuthu and Bhoothathankettu, both being far behind in popularity in our circle. As it is not stormed by the visitors and never does it lack in being a thing of dazzling beauty, we would choose Ilaveezhapoonjira any day for just another random trip away from the modern barbarian world which tries to devour us like spiders of the movie Enemy (http://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/12/10/enemy/).

What you see when you have a look down from there.

What you see when you have a look down from there. I needed a better camera here.

This place might not find a place in your list of tourist attractions as it is not a popular desination suggested for people from outside Kerala. The rest should be aware of this place, especially those from the Central Travancore area as well as Ernakulam and Trichur districts. It is located around twenty kilometres from the town of Thodupuzha and about double the distance from Muvattupuzha – a distance of around twenty more will take you to Perumbavoor. Do add this to your list.

TeNy