A Journey to the Forgotten Memories - A pleasant pain ?? ::: Travelogue - Peremede, Vandiperiyar and Thekkadi

6th October 2011: When I was told we were to be off for a family trip to Thekkadi via Vandiperiyar, with a break at Vandiperiyar for a visit to our 'once' home, I was really thrilled ! Though I had been to the high range area amble number of times (though it was more that 5-6 years back last time), I have little memories about the place where I spent the first 2 years of my life. When I had been there last time, the cold there was really chilling, it was really pleasant for me though; and the paths almost were witnessed by two or three monkeys every mile or so once we are past Paruvanthanam, and sometimes - especially at dusk even leopards and wild tuskers. Even we have had an experience of witnessing a tusker swaying a KSRTC (Road Transport Corporation of Kerala) Bus, intended to protect the private vehicles parked under its cover, our vehicle being one among those. Such a horrifying, but diverse and astonishing wildlife in interaction with the civilian life was really mind blowing those days.

 

The Traffic-Flooded High Range RoadExpecting all these, I set off for the journey today morning along with my family. But what welcomed me was totally out of all expectations. The chilling cold that prevailed even in the hot months of April and May, is now feeble even in the mid of October. Once, when we had waited more than an hour to see another vehicle when ours broke down, the present high range might perhaps be fed up of vehicles. I do not remember even a minute in which vehicles were out of sight.  Also about the wildlife, all have disappeared - the monkeys grin at the passing by vehicles no more, the traces of elephants or at-least their dungs are not visible at any part of either sides of the road. Apart from the skies and distant peaks, nothing distinguishes the high range roads from the ordinary ones. Also the fauna and the dreadful depths covered by long treacherous bushes setting bait for adventure lovers vanished into soils and stones. Totally, for me the

new version was disastrous !!

Waterfall @ Kuttikanam

Initially I thought speeding up on the high range roads could tamper with the photos I took. But thanks to my fantastic mobile camera, I got still shots of the scenery even from inside of the car speeding at about 60 km/hr. The one and only stop was at Kuttikanam upon my request to have a better shot of the waterfalls, perhaps becoming narrower day by day, or may be it can be my memories broadening also :-P Kuttikanam in my memory was a fantastic place where we always used blankets to help the chill out. But the waterfall was alone to serve the scenic beauty. Desperately indeed we headed on to our planned destinations. I was thinking on about how life and places change due to developments, deteriorating the scenic beauty and its serenity. Indeed while it can be claimed to facilitate the tourists with all the comforts, one should remember that if it was for modern comfort that tourists came, why should they leave their perhaps better developed country. Dazzled in such thoughts, I forgot about the descending roads.


Having made our journey through the smooth roads, only occasionally bumpy, we approached the first destination - my sweet old forgotten home. It was for rent that we stayed there, my father, mother and a little me, in a small house midst of a vast land full of Cardamomum (Malayalam : Elam, ഏലം). I have been well familiar about the place from the stories I've heard from my mother, of she being alone when my father was late from work, of the wild bees always making little me cry, and the house owner scolding me for hampering with the coffee seeds set for drying. The stories drives unseen nostalgia into my mind.


We made a quick inquiry about the people my parents knew once they were there. Many passed away, the still alive also may have migrated. Finally we headed for the then final destination - Thekkadi.

 

A Monkey @ Thekkadi Tiger Reserve CentreThekkadi has changed a lot. Some positively and some negatively. I remembering seeing monkeys everywhere in Thekkadi, the Tiger Reserve Forest of Kerala. The hundreds now reduced to tens. Once we have entered, we have to take real care about the belongings that those might be snatched away by the monkeys there. It seemed that the monkeys were given some sort of personality development classes, that they learned some sort decency, excepting for the one which in vein tried to snatch the bag from a Tamil lady. To my great Thekkadi Tiger Reserve Centre - River Viewamusement, I've seen a monkey tearing open a packet of 50-50 biscuits and eating them with such a perfection even humans seldom do. My mind suddenly went for contrasting between the monkeys and humans and the being swapped characters of the two. Now focusing from the monkeys to the human ladies, the place blossomed with ladies of all ages, the tender teens to grandmas, indistinguishable in the mode of dressing, half sleeved and shaped to the downs and ups of the body. It seems as if they are looking forward for a financial crisis, because the misery is visible even in the sleeves, neck and lowers of the clothes.


The scenic view at Thekkadi was indeed attractive and thanks to the Forest Department, the entry of vehicles to the compound has been restricted to a great extend. The waters still glazed in the bright sunlight. To our great misfortune we were unable to get the boating tickets and hence after wandering here and there we went for a return. While going back, my uncle also joined us. Directed by him, we went for another picnic spot - Parunthumpara. I was totally new the location which may be the reason why I was so excited. The place is really good for the blowing winds and more or less a hundred vehicles parked around the hills.

 

The Reflector Lined Roads

Before it was too late, we headed back to home. I remembered the old days night travels through high ranges when we had to wait for a lorry to arrive to get rid of mists. A tip - going behind huge vehicles and with better exhaust will help us for a clean ride free from fog. Anyhow, even the traces of fog was scarce during the ride. Thanks to the public works departments, the reflectors used to line the roads deserves huge appreciation, that they could guide the vehicles without being accidentally thrown into the depths. Anyhow the journey was a real pleasure but in some part of my mind, there is a bit of pain, despair about the unexpected changes brought about to the places which I always dreamed about, but no longer as beautiful and catching as the old day's Vandiperiyar and Thekkadi...

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