Sunrise at Kolukkumalai, ShoePenLens, Shwetha Krish

A trip to scenic Kolukkumalai and Meesapulimalai

A trip to scenic Kolukkumalai and Meesapulimalai

With a week left for my friend’ and my birthday, we decided that Munnar is the place to go. We found a decent stay in Suryanelly, 20 km away from the Munnar town, through Airbnb. After an exhausting travel of 14 hours from Bangalore, we reached Munnar only to be welcomed by the lush tea estates and bountiful rains.

A quick breakfast at Saravana Bhavan gave us the energy to get to our home-stay in Suryanelly. We found a warm friendly Share-Auto person who took us to the home-stay  and enlightened us with places to visit in Munnar. The ride was beautiful. The tea estates were a treat to the weary eyes. After a quick picture and two we reached our home-stay. It was more than what we saw in the pictures on Airbnb and we were elated.

We enjoyed rest of the day, lazing around, watching TV, drawing and reading books. The next day we ventured out to explore the Suryanelly town and we had to book a ride to Kolukkumalai tea estate which happens to be the World’s Highest Organic Tea Plantation. We found a very genuine person(a travel guide cum driver) who gave us a short itinerary on the things that can be visited in and around in a day. After much contemplation, we gave a positive nod for him to take us along in his Jeep.

Before heading back to the stay, we explored the nearby tea estates and had a lovely stroll through the scenic roads.

The following morning we left quite early so that we could catch the sunrise at Kolukkumalai mountain range. The ride was pretty eventful as it was a bumpy ride all throughout. We did get a massage naturally.

Well, as we reached the mountain ridge, there the sun was climbing its way up and we were mesmerized by the spectacle. I felt on top of the world to start my birthday filled with wonder. After taking a few shots of the sunrise and the mountain ridges we took to a spicy breakfast as in spicy Maggi noodles and omelette.

Sunrise at Kolukkumalai, ShoePenLens, Shwetha Krish
Sunrise at Kolukkumalai

After a while atop the scenic mountains, we hiked to the Meesapulimalai mountain. With winding paths and ridges we made it to the gorgeous peak. We were on the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

The panoramic views, the gushing wind and the mind boggling silence had us glued to the place. We then trudged back to the jeep.

Scenic tea estates, ShoePenLens, Shwetha Krish
Scenic tea estates

 

 

We went about a tour of tea-making at this beautiful estate. A guide told us about the entire process and also involved us in few of the steps. It was quite heartening and hilarious as well.

At the World's Highest Organic Tea Garden
At the World’s Highest Organic Tea Garden

 

Post lunch, we headed to our home-stay to freshen up. An evening of Kathakali was waiting for us. We were happy to be the curious audience at this program. I had always felt scared seeing those colorful faces on TV as a kid but today I was here, right in front enjoying their performance.

 

After the lovely performance we headed to our stay for a relaxing night by the stars.

The next morning we went towards Thekkady and visited the Spice garden. We were educated on the various benefits of the spices. The short trail in the garden mesmerized us in a spicy way. Later on, we whizzed past lovely bridges between the tea estates.

It was a nice tour and after some shopping we headed for our bus to Bangalore.

Well all in all, it was a beautiful trip where we rejuvenated our tired souls 🙂

The beauty of the mountains spell binds any traveler any day.

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Trek to Kheerganga in the midst of Parvati Valley

Trek to Kheerganga in the midst of Parvati Valley

It has been a year already since the gorgeous Parvati valley happened to me. Situated in Himachal Pradesh, it is one of the beautiful valleys along the mighty Himalayas!

Parvati river along the Parvati Valley, Kasol, Himachal Pradesh, Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens
Parvati river along the Parvati Valley, Kasol, Himachal Pradesh

The trip to Himachal Pradesh last year was an adventurous one in every way- a road trip across the state, stopping by the scenic woods at Dalhousie, soaking in the serenity at Parashar lake, hiking up the Dhauladhar ranges and Parvati valley with thoroughly enjoying the roar of Parvati across Kasol- ‘Amsterdam of India’, Manikaran and quaint Tosh.

The trek to Kheerganga which is at 9700 feet is a beautiful one. The trek starts from Barshaini, a small town near Manikaran in the Kullu district at a height of about 7200 feet.

The trek of 14 km starts near a hydel project at the confluence of Parvati and Tosh rivers. The trail passes through small villages and cafes.

Confluence of Parvati and Tosh rivers at Barshaini, Himachal Pradesh, Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens
Confluence of Parvati and Tosh rivers at Barshaini, Himachal Pradesh

The vista opens upto the gorgeous Parvati valley lined with pine trees and one can hear the roar of Parvati all along the trail.

After a lemon drink at one of the cafes we( my friend and the guide) hit the trail with a zing of energy.

A lemon drink by the Parvati valley, Shwetha Krish, Shoepenlens
A lemon drink by the Parvati valley

As I saw the last of the villages lined with wheat fields, the trail opened up to a small clearing which happened to be the Rudranag waterfall.

Rudranag waterfall, Kheerganga trail, Shwetha Krish, Shoepenlens
Rudranag waterfall, Kheerganga trail

A small bridge ahead paved way to a steep trail. The woods were spooky yet beautiful. After trudging up the rocky spiral trail amidst the woods which had a fairy-tale wonder to it, we had reached the famous Kheerganga.

The roar of Parvati along the Kheerganga trail, Shwetha Krish, Shoepenlens
The roar of Parvati along the Kheerganga trail

Kheerganga, is a spectacular meadow where Shiva- the Adiyogi happened to have meditated for about 3000 years. The meadow is surrounded by lush green and snow clad mountains.

The hot springs of Kheerganga are best known for their healing properties and there are two separate hot springs area for men and women.

Hot springs at Kheerganga, Shwetha Krish, Shoepenlens
Hot springs at Kheerganga

After a trek of about 3-4 hrs one can relax in the spring and rejuvenate oneself. The meadow is a bit commercialized with camps, cafes and stays. It could turn off any trekker looking for a tranquil space in the mountains.

The camps and stays atop Kheerganga, Shwetha Krish, Shoepenlens
The camps and stays atop Kheerganga

After spending the night in a tent, viewing the splendid mountains, we were off to Barshaini to head to Tosh. More on Tosh at Quaint little Tosh

The view of the mountains from Kheerganga, Shwetha Krish, Shoepenlens
The view of the mountains from Kheerganga

The trail is absolutely beautiful lined with pine trees, serene captivating meadows and that makes this trek all the more worthwhile!

Tadiandamol: Home is where the Mountains are…

Tadiandamol: Home is where the Mountains are…

A good conversation on travel kinda ends up in going for one. Well got to be lucky in a way! Thanks to my fellow travelers.

Tadiandamol was just that, a plan made in a jiffy and lo and behold we were at the cosy coffee estates of Coorg in no time.

After an overnight bus ride from Bangalore to Virajpet, we were ushered by the chill air of the mountains. Our next stop was to Kabbinakad via Napoklu. We got a ride, after a wait of two hours, through beautiful estates and climb up the scenic mountains..

The path leading to Honey Valley, Coorg, Shwetha Krish
The path leading to Honey Valley, Coorg

Our home for the next three days was at Honey valley, at about 4250 feet which turned out to be an haven nestled in the lush coffee estates and forests. The Jeep ride from Kabbinakad to the homestay is an adventurous ride as it takes one through bumpy, slushy and steep curvy paths.

Cottage at Honey Valley, Coorg, Shwetha KRish
Cottage at Honey Valley, Coorg

A light breakfast energized us in no time and, we enjoyed the serene place with just about doing nothing. We strolled a bit along the estate. We found flora, frogs, butterflies and of course 3-4 dogs who were constant companions throughout our stay.

As it rained, we took to the confines of a small balcony facing the mountains and then made to the comforts of our bed. The day ended with card games, chatter with the rains playing a splendid tune.

The next day was slated for our much awaited Tadiandamol trek.

Tadiandamol(Big mountain) is the highest mountain in Coorg at about 5740 ft. It is a part of the Western Ghats range and is the fourth highest mountain in Karnataka state.

Owing to the rains and wild elephants, we had to take on an alternate route much before the Forest Guest house. As we hiked through the forests and winding paths, it felt as if we were the only four on the trail. After 2 kms, we hit upon views which were mesmerizing. The trail through the lush green grasslands were picture perfect. Not to forget the picturesque trail through the thick forests for about a mile. The weather was chill and it was drizzling. Thanks to that we weren’t that exhausted.

The trail, Tadiandamol,Coorg,Shwetha Krish
The trail, Tadiandamol,Coorg

The hike up the last mile was sheer beautiful. With rolling hills all around and the puffy clouds making their way on a beat, made the climb all the more worthwhile. We stayed at the peak for about two hours. We were lucky enough to see the vast greenlands, beautiful valleys, thick forests and curvy ridges when the clouds unveiled the canvas!

The trail ahead-Tadiandamol,coorg, ShwethaKrish
The trail ahead-Tadiandamol trek,coorg

The feeling of being one with nature is quite unexplainable till date. The silence of the mountains, a gusty tune of the winds, the whispers of the grasslands is just too divine.

After a hearty meal, we headed back to the base camp. Just as we got into our Jeep the clouds gave way for a heavy downpour. We paid a visit to the Nalknad Palace, which happened to be hidden between the mountains. It is a very old palace built in 1792 AD and was the last refuge of the Kodagu kings.

We ended our day relaxing, singing and enjoying the rains.

My companion while doing Yoga, Honey Valley Shwetha Krish
My companion while doing Yoga, Honey Valley

Honey Valley estate is very beautiful and obviously away from the humdrum of the city. It was the first homestay in Coorg and started its services way back in 1994. It is surrounded by coffee estates all around along with pepper and cardamom trees. The homestay and the surrounding area is just warmly splendid. One take a peaceful stroll or meditate(which is what we did) or just about enjoy the natural setting.

Honey valley homestay, Coorg, Shwetha Krish
Honey valley homestay, Coorg

After a lovely short stay we left the beautiful Honey Valley estate the next day only to drive back to the city but with renewed energy.

The article is also published on Shwetha Krish Website

Info:

  • Honey Valley is near to Kabbinakad which can be reached by Virajpet via Napoklu. Link: Honey Valley Coorg
  • Bangalore to Virajpet is about 270 kms and has numerous bus services from Bangalore.
  • Tadiandamol is a beginner’s trek, fitness is any day required. Leeches are galore in the monsoon months from June-August. One can wear leech socks or carry enough salt.
  • A guide is needed when one takes the route through the forests especially during the monsoons as wild elephants may meet you on the way.
  • The trail starting from the Forest Guest house is pretty comfortable and can be done without a guide’s assistance.

Xtra Mile #AtoZChallenge

X #AtoZchallenge

Xcersing the Xtra Mile!

I remember going the Xtra mile when I ran a 10k Run, trekked up the Himalayas or sky dived from about 13000 feet.

Going the Xtra Mile always brings in a sense of triumph as I always learnt a bit more about myself- my strengths, weaknesses, the reserve energy that I can put forth when I am way too exhausted.

I think strenuous activities have always helped me know myself a lot better or more precisely the limitations of my body and mind.

What has got you go the Xtra Mile and what have you learnt?

Trekking #AtoZChallenge

T #AtoZChallenge

Trekking up the Himalayas is an adventure..

As one gets to see spellbinding landscapes-which change their color now and then, the mesmerizing clouds- white puffy butlers at one point to dark stallions by the evening, variety of fauna-the cute little marmots, geese, snow leopards, yaks and horses, the silence of the mountains- which speaks to anyone who wants to listen, the profound inner journey to self- makes up for an wholesome journey to the mountains!

Have you been on trekking up the mountains? What was your experience?

A quiet conversation! #AtoZChallenge

A quiet conversation!

Q

I toiled up a gigantic mountain which broke my back and body completely. I profusely trudged along the rocky mountain laden with steep rugged boulders and slippery path. The air was getting thin and a slight breeze accompanied the hike up the Himalayas.

On reaching Dzongri, Thansing, Prek Chu River in the background
On reaching Dzongri, Thansing, Prek Chu River in the background

I was on the Goechala trail in the Kanchenjunga National Park, Sikkim, India. I heard and seen a lot about the trail in various blogs and websites. I had decided on a certain whim that I had to honor my decision of hiking up the Himalayas.

This opportunity came at the right time. Within a couple of months I was up here heaving myself up the gigantic mountain.

As I reached the final ascent for the day and reached about 12000 feet, I could see the wide expanse of the mountain ranges all over.

There was a subtle conversation with the mountains and my soul. Something in me changed at that moment. For me it was rebirth. I was reborn in the lap of the Himalayas!

Words did not matter

Emotions weren’t surging

Physically I was broken

I was soul arrested.

Deep inside I could see the panorama of my soul!

Wow quite something the quiet conversation was!

TRIUND, An abode amidst the clouds!

Dhauladhar range
Dhauladhar range…

“You cannot go! It is dangerous. The weather is bad. You cannot see the path, you will get lost! Read this notice….”

My friend and me stared at the Hotel concierge as he said the most discouraging words. He kept aside the tray which he was carrying and waited for our decision for the D day.

We read the most saddening Govt. Notice for trekkers, climbers to not get atop the mountain in harsh rainy conditions. And to take a local guide along  the trail.

It was raining cats and dogs, McLeodganj seemed to be on a high!

We asked about the Guide whereabouts to which the concierge happily gave the details and made sure that we won’t leave without the guide. 🙂

As the rain pelted against the window panes, we shared the news with our third fellow trekker.

After analysing the pros and cons, we decided to take on the trail but with a guide after all, trekking in the rains on the Himalayas is a risky affair all the more!

We hit the sack hoping that the next day was sunny enough to make it to the beautiful Dhauladhar ranges.

Morning turned out to be sunny and magnificent! The quaint town of McLeodganj was getting ready for the usual hustle bustle after a heavy downpour. But we did get a guide who accepted our proposal to take us along and we headed for the trail right away.

Triund trek is the most beautiful and scenic trek in Himachal Pradesh. The trek starts from Galu Devi temple, 2 km ahead of McLeodganj. Nestled in the Kangra valley, it offers a hike through Deodar, Rhododendron forests and of course gives a magnanimous view of the mighty Dhauladhar range and the Kangra valley.

Clouds passing by the Dhauladhar range
Clouds passing by the Dhauladhar range

We met our guide who happened to be very courteous and we gained insight about Himachal Pradesh as well through him. We started the hike close to 9:45 AM after registering our names at the Start point, a protocol closely followed by the Forest Department.

After an hour’s walk along the deodar trees, rhododendron trees we reached a stony path from where we could see the Dharamsala Cricket stadium, the stadium at the highest altitude in India at about 4780 feet above sea level.

Further walk through stony paths, we reached the Magic View Cafe which is the oldest cafe. A cup of hot tea soothed our throats and energized us for the rest of the journey. The clouds played around and brought in a slight chill to the air around. Being a Monday not many trekkers, local crowd were present on the trail. But a lot of them were on the way back after spending the  Sunday night at Triund Hill.

Triund Trail
Triund Trail

The stony path was now damp owing to a nearby small waterfall. But when it rains, the path would be very risky to tread upon. The villagers who were on the trail, time and again advised us not to walk at the edge of the path owing to uneven ground and loose stones.

As we hiked up the hill we came across yet another cafe Scenic View. With tad bit of a rest we hiked towards the last leg of the trail- The famous 22 curves before the Triund peak. It was a hike along stony paths, mushroom laden trunks of trees, lovely flowers with the mesmerising dew on the petals. The clouds did cover the trail on and off.

Lovely colorful Mushrooms on a fallen tree...
Lovely colorful Mushrooms on a fallen tree…

After a hiking for four hours, I reached the peak. A lush green meadow ran across the hill. A couple of cafes were present which catered to the needs of the few then trekkers.

The TRIO at the Triund Peak
The TRIO at the Triund Peak

As we strolled about the meadow, the clouds impulsively gave way to the Himalayas. The slightly snow clad Dhauladhar ranges came into view. It was a marvelous sight. As the clouds played about, we could catch a glimpse of Mcleodganj, Bhagsu way below.

Meadows, Ranges, Clouds at Triund Hill
Meadows, Ranges, Clouds at Triund Hill

After a sumptuous lunch of Roti, Rice and yummy Dal, we headed towards our tent with a view of the Kangra valley and the Dhauladhar ranges towards the side.

For our Siesta!
For our Siesta!

After a long stroll up and down the meadow, we retired for the night under a cloudy sky. We woke up to a not so cloudy day and welcomed the sunrise!

Sunrise atop Triund!
Sunrise atop Triund!

As we bid goodbye to the ranges and the valley, McLeodganj ushered us to explore the quaint town and the Dalai Lama Temple…. More on in the next post….

Well that was the end to the lovely Triund trek. Plan for it and enjoy the enthralling journey and the lovely mountains of course!

Throwback Thursday! Why do I trek?

Perks of trekking!

SHOEPENLENS

“Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.” (Greg Child)

So the quote says it all but what is the mystery?

A peek  into my initial days of trekking…

Well, I started trekking just for the heck of it, for pure adrenalin rush and for the amazing view at the summit. It held good, be it the Western Ghats in Karnataka, Kerala & Maharashtra.  Since I was in my early 20s,  I loved racing up the mountain!

On top of Edakkal caves, Wayanad On top of Edakkal caves, Wayanad, Kerala

Karnala Hill fort, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra Karnala Hill fort, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra

Matheran, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra Matheran, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra

Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra

Kuduremukh, Karnataka Kuduremukh, Karnataka

Amongst the clouds, KumaraParvatha, Karnataka Amongst the clouds, KumaraParvatha, Karnataka

View Point 1, Goechala Pass, Sikkim with Mt. Kanchenjunga in the background View Point 1, Goechala Pass, Sikkim with Mt. Kanchenjunga in the background

On the way back from Manokarma Base camp(Stok Kangri Expedition), Ladakh, J&K On the way back from Manokarma Base camp(Stok Kangri Expedition), Ladakh, J&K

But after a gap of 6 years my idea and purpose of trekking changed. Thanks…

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