Friday, October 19, 2012
The journey they say is the destination. This was a journey that started in down south Tirunelveli in a village called Kallidaikurichi one sunny morning. We crossed the river Tambiraparani to the neighbouring town, Ambasamudram and walked into a rather welcoming office of the Forest Department to get the necessary permits to enter the Kalakadu Mudanthurai Tiger Reserve. My journey was to take me down through the hot biodiversity reserve with endemic flora and fauna , the home of several rivers , rivulets and reservoirs. But the forests took me on a road not taken to the land where ferns grew in abundance.
We drove without a destination in mind and without an agenda as well. No tigers or leopards crossed our paths, nor were we looking for them. The trees cast long shadows, wrapping us in a green world. And then in a little clearing, I saw it . With the mountains of the Western Ghats bordering it, the little Manimuthar, that has its source in the hills flowed here and cascaded down as a waterfall. Tourists sing praises to Courtrallam Falls, but Manimuthar tumbled down as the lady in white and a dam greeted us on the way.
The mountains gave us company. A herd of spotted deer crossed our paths. The monkeys glared at us, a crested serpent eagle posed for us. The landscape kept changing with every turn on the road. Dense evergreen forests, open grasslands, little streams and dams followed us where ever we go. The skies were a distinct blue and the clouds came down to touch you. But it was not just the beauty of nature or the invisible presence of the wild that fascinated me ; it was the absolute silence that greeted me everywhere. There was no tourist or even a local around, but for a local tea shop near Manjolai tea estate .
We drove on without stopping and crossed tea plantations at Manjolai until another dam interrupted us – the Upper Kodaiyar Dam . The landscape changed again and we saw open grasslands , but the mountains were still with us. Sometimes road trips are just about aimless journeys moving from one scenic spot to another, lost in the lap of nature.
But finally we did pause in our journey. There was no milestone or a board that announced our destination. It was just the wind that swept across our face . There were no roads or houses huddled together. There were just open grasslands with the mountains circling us and just a viewing point in a corner. We climbed up the steps and waited for the mist to clear.
This was Kudrevatti - one of Tamil Nadu’s best secrets which would give a hill station a run for its tourist tag. The mountains just got closer as the entire canopy of the forests spread itself around me , almost embracing me in a carpet of green. But in the middle of the green cover was a sea of blue as we could see a couple of dams from the scenic point . While Manimuthar dam was clearly visible Karayar dam seemed to be in a veil of clouds. We stood there for what seemed like an eternity until the mist soon descended wrapping everything in its fold ensuring Kudrevatti remained a secret.
This story was published in my column Inside Story last week in The Hindu Metro Plus. To see more beautiful skies around the world, visit Skywatch