Hiking Through God's Own Country

by Shiv Sanket


Posted on 9th Apr, 2015


Munnar Tea Plantations
Image Source: Flickr(cc)

“To see places others haven’t seen, you have to go places where others haven’t gone”

So after reading countless travel blogs and things like travel is the best thing that you can do in your twenties, it was time. It was time to do something, to get out of the comfort zone we surround ourselves in. To learn directly from the greatest teacher around, that is experience.

The desire of solo backpacking across the mountains of Kerala was not impromptu. It was always there, buried somewhere inside and when the time came, “the boy must wander?”, "Yeah! He must wander".

And one thing more anyone who says that “Traveling makes you grow in ways you’ve never imagined” is not at all over stating. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of travel and travelling alone, and in how many little ways it will change you.

So here is my small travelogue, of my small solo journey to the beautiful place called Devikulam.

And yeah, before starting, here are some travel hacks:

Planning:

Plan your journey extensively. I spent about a week going through several travel blogs about places in and around Munnar. Maps, bus timings, train timings, local custom rituals, places to visit, best time to visit all these things should be known to you prior to travelling. Make sure you have these saved in your smart phone as you can never be sure of a reliable internet connection. Also always have some cash handy.

Backpack:

I carried a backpack (not an actual trekking backpack , but something bigger than a laptop bag) , my camera with lots of rain protection, a good raincoat as it was heavy monsoon season. I had two extra set of clothing, my smart phone, an old diary, a Swiss army knife, a small torch and extra batteries.

For footwear, shoes are the first choice for trailing. I had two pairs of socks with simple polythene in between to keep my feet dry, which is very important.

And lastly some medicine and antiseptic cream. The regular ones for headaches, stomach aches etc..

And packing light always helps.


The Trip

Devikulam is a small town located northwest of Munnar. It sits in the mountainous region of western ghats near the Kerala - TamilNadu border.

The region itself is known for its cooler weather and beautiful views of rolling tea gardens.

The best way to get to Devikulam is to take a bus from Kochi to the town of Munnar, from there you'll have to take a 30 minutes bus/auto/jeep ride deep into the mountains. I took the bus from the Kochi private bus stand around 8 in the morning, the ticket cost me around 95 rupees.

I arrived at Munnar at 11.30 AM, from then on I took the bus ride up to Devikulam. The view was gorgeous once I get to the windy mountain roads.... it's a shame that I just couldn't keep my eyes open.

Devikulam Kerala

For the two days I stayed here, I followed a "trek" down to the different hillside villages. To be honest, talking to any guide will not be helpful; they didn't really explain much other than just telling us where to go. You might be better off just doing the trek on your own with a map and try to arrange for a pick up back to Devikulam from the bottom of the mountain after your trek. For staying there are plenty of small and friendly hotels around Munnar as well as holiday homes. My suggestion would be to roam around the town a little bit and then decide. You can get pretty decent place at around 500 bucks.

For the first day I started the trek to “Top station” via Mattupetty Dam.

The views were just stunning. Just endless amount of tea gardens and splendid mountains.

Tea Gardens Kerala

The trek alongside Mattupetty Dam was very picturesque and was a long one. The dam is also connected to a Hydel power station. You can take a slight detour to visit that also otherwise the water will keep you company for large part of your trek. The trek goes through forests and tea garden and cutting the main highway at some places. The weather was really good with slight drizzle, exactly as I would have liked. I clicked a few shots here and there when the weather cleared up a bit.

I reached “Top Station” in the evening. I spent some time around getting to know the place and talking with some local tea garden managers. In the end a nice and exhausting trek. On the way back I climbed back to the highway and took a Jeep back to the city of Munnar.

Mattupetty Dam Kerala

On the second day's trek I took I different route through the Eravikulam National park. You can take a bus up to the National park and then start your trek from there. I started the trek around 7 o’clock in the morning as I had come back to Kochi in the evening to catch my flight back home. Here your bags will be checked and then again when you come back so that the amount of litter can be controlled and removed.

This one is a difficult trek as all along the trail you will climb in the upward direction only. Also the weather was gruesome with rains so heavy at some places I had to stop and take shelter somewhere.

But walking 1 hour straight the weather cleared up and I rested for a while and enjoyed the amazing scenery.

Jungle Hut Kerala

The trek is amazing and you will be literally walking through the mountains.

Misty Western Ghats

With some luck, you can also get to see some wild life around. Here just rounding a corner I came face to face with a Nilgiri Tahr, which is an endangered species of large mammal mostly found in the southern portion of the Western Ghats. The animal looked quite smug and was in no hurry and so I clicked some nice shots.

Nilgiri Tahr Kerala

There were some really voluminous water falls in route, and were at their prime due to the incessant rains.

Kerala WaterFalls
Kerala WaterFalls

Taking rest on the trail and enjoying the view. You just can’t get enough of it.

Kerala Mountains

I finished the hike at around 1 PM, after which a shuttle bus picked me up from the bottom of the valley back to the town. Just enough time for me to rest up and head back out to Kochi.

Feeling tired and ready to go home, but the one thing I realized from this trip was that there are still so many places to see and so many more travels that I want to do while I still can.

Lastly, some takeaways from the trip:

  • Don’t doubt your travel. This is the thing you want to do for yourself. Just keep on doing and the world will come to terms with it in due time.
  • Don’t try to cover too much. Take time. Make short trips first here and there. Don’t pressurize yourself with backpacking the whole country in one go.
  • The importance of self-confidence cannot be in any way underestimated. There were people asking me where are rest of the people of your group are, and sound astonished when I told them I am travelling alone. It’s your confidence alone which will take your through uncomfortable situations.

Hope I was able to communicate the essence of travelling well.

Happy Travelling!

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About the Author: Shiv Sanket

Shiv Sanket

I am a 24 years old individual working in the technology industry. I love travelling to places close to nature. I have travelled solo across Kerala, Goa , Sikkim and Uttrakhand. Some day in the future I would like to open a café-bookstore in Gangtok.

Tags:

Road Trips, Solo Travel, Kerala, Devikulam, Western Ghats, Hiking