A Fort of Monsters

A long time ago, there lived a kid who believed in monsters. He believed in monsters long before he had detailed information about them. He knew that they were real. He used to go under the bed and search for them so that there would be someone for him to play with. But he never really found the monster. They were real, but still they were not there. He waited for them to arrive, but they never came. Still, he knew that they had to come, and that much he had hoped.

The monsters exist, just like the certainty of the beauty of nature.

The monsters exist, just like the certainty of the beauty of nature.

There was such a destination for the myths. I still believe in monsters, and this place called Bhoothathankettu or the Fort of Monsters had a good role to play during my early monster belief season. The advantage of this Malayalam word is that it can be used in more than one way; we can also call them demons. I am sure that they won’t mind whatever we call them because horror is beyond names. Bhoothathankettu has a dam and is a popular tourist destination which was lesser visited at those times.

Bhoothathankettu has been the place to visit again and again.

Bhoothathankettu has been the place to visit again and again – worth it.

But it existed when I was a kid and it was only eleven kilometres from my Kothamangalam where my ancestral home is situated. So, it was always going to be a popular destination for me. It was different at that time, with less tourists, and naming it a tourist destination wasn’t going to be accurate during those days. The places for tourists were at other places, and this was just a dam and a park. But now, things have changed and a lot more facilities became available around the dam.

This might be the first dam which I ever saw, but can't be so sure.

This might be the first dam which I ever saw in my life, but can’t be so sure.

Located about fourty seven kilometres from the nearest railway station at Aluva and around fourty two kilometres from the Cochin International Airport, you can pass through the town of Kothamangalam to reach this place. There are tree houses and boating facilities for the tourists, and more have been added in the recent years. It has been some time since we last visited the place, and an update was to happen when I decided to travel less. May be another day with relatives will see me traveling again here, later.

Nature makes the call, but we are rarely ready for the journey.

Nature makes the call, but we are rarely ready for the journey to the greens.

From there, you can also travel to the Idamalayar Dam which provides more of the scenic views there. Then you can go for the other option, which is the Thattekad Bird Sanctuary which is also not that far away from there; it is also close enough to Kothamangalam, reached by taking a turn while going to Bhoothathankettu. It was the first bird sanctuary in Kerala, and is named after the famous ornithologist Salim Ali. You can also travel to Kuttampuzha, Urulanthanni and Pooyamkutty if you keep that route.

The tree-house - this one never losses the charm, that is for sure.

The tree-house once again – this one never losses the charm, that is for sure.

The distance from the city of Cochin will be around sixty three kilometres. There is quite some distance which can be traveled through the forests, with all the greenery around. There is a park on the side, and the dam itself provides a nice view of the nature which has blessed the surroundings. It will be an ideal tourist spot if you decide to travel to this side – you can find many other places, but this one will have its special charm with the myths, the dam and the improving scope.

You take a walk around to make it feel better, and nature heals.

You take a walk around here to make it feel better, and nature can heal.

There is something about this place which I have visited so many times, with friends and also with relatives. But time has passed since the last journey and I hope to be back there again. May be that will happen on another day when I will have the desire to travel again. There will be a lot more awaiting me by that time with the popularity of the place increasing. I hope that the kid finds the right monsters there on that special day, because the human monsters have been too evil for his liking.

Can the monsters be around here? This is a nice place, isn't it?

Can the monsters be around here? This is a nice place for them, isn’t it?

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310.

TeNy

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Urulanthanni: Not the Obvious

No matter where or how you search for information, Urulanthanni is not a place which you can find with ease; not on the internet or not while talking with those people whom you usually meet. It is because Urulanthanni is far away from most of those places where you visit for a relief from the normal city routine. It is also because it is not that much explored by people of modernity. Urulanthanni remains a name which is not usually talked about among the travelers, but it is a place which deserves to be discovered.

You see this on the way and you know that this is going to be good!

You see this on the way and you know that this is going to be an awesome experience!

If you have searched for Urulanthanni after reading the first paragraph on google, I am sure that you won’t find much of the written information about it, not even on Wikipedia. It is an area around Kuttampuzha river and a few kilometres away from Kuttampuzha – this much should be easy to find. If you come from Cochin, take the road to Muvattupuzha and then to Kothamangalam. Our starting point was at Aluva, fifty nine kilometres from the destination, not including the distance which we had to walk after the drive.

While on the way, you stop here, and just have a look; can't resist!

While on the way, you stop here, and just have a look; can’t resist on this view!

If you are coming from the Cochin Airport, you can join this route, and it will be fifty five kilometres from there, and fourty two from the place where the routes from Aluva and Airport joins – Perumbavoor from where there is fourty two kilometres to the destination. You will be travelling on the Aluva-Munnar road, and you can choose to have food just before reaching the next big town, or rather the last one worth mentioning – Kothamangalam. There is a vegetarian restaurant Dwaraka, and a non-vegetarian restaurant Paradise on the way which might be the best options to have food.

There are smaller places of worship around, as God doesn't go for money around here!

There are smaller places of worship around, as God doesn’t go for money around here!

After Kothamangalam, finding big enough restaurants get tougher except for the fact that there might be something around with Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary on the way, and there is the Bhoothathankettu Dam if you take a deviation, but you won’t if you are going to Urulanthanni. The path is indeed beautiful, and nature only gets better as you keep moving. Once you reach Kuttampuzha, the last small town, you have to take a deviation to the right. Otherwise you might end up reaching Pooyamkutty. You can travel through that road to reach and end from where you will have to walk.

So much green for the eyes, and for the camera - can't deny its power.

So much green for the eyes, and for the camera – can’t deny its extreme power.

There you enter the charming world of Urulanthanni, which is part of the Idukki Wildlife Division, even as it is part of Ernakulam district. Vodafone might be the only network which has connectivity there though. As you walk deeper into the area, you will find not much other than greenery, and there will be streams of water which you need to cross, and so there is the need to be prepared. some of them might be quite deep and having strong currents, so care is needed there. The rain which actually make it stronger and create newer ones.

Just one of those streams which should be crossed during the journey on foot.

Just one of those beautiful streams which should be crossed during the journey on foot.

You will also have to walk through the water which is caught between the rocks, and it should be slippery; therefore further care might be needed. You have to walk, run and jump until you reach the waterfalls which is a nice sight with the greenery. If you can manage to climb to the top of any of the rocks there, you can get a nice view of the surroundings. The beauty of the green is so powerful, and seems like eternal there. As it is not a big tourist site yet, the human disturbance on nature is not there and let’s not create something like that there too.

You can climb one or two of the rocks there and have a detailed look around the area.

You can climb one or two of the rocks there and have a detailed look around the area.

Along with the chances of slipping during the rains, you will also have to be careful about the leeches. I did donate some of my blood to a good number of them during my visit, but you needn’t make them grateful by feeding your blood. The best option will be to wear the shoes rather than chappals. You can ask for the help of locals to guide, as the path can be confusing or even dangerous for people not used to such journeys and leeches at full strength can be disgusting. Urulanthanni might not be the obvious tourist destination, but surely a nice place to visit with all the beauty of nature.

The waterfalls and all those green elements - that surely feels like Tomb Raider!

The waterfalls and all those green elements – that surely feels like Tomb Raider!

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on my camera and mobile phone (Sony Cybershot and Samsung Duos).

TeNy