Kodai/Palani Aug 23 - 24

Tuesday, November 11, 2008
30 members completed a long distance trek through leech infested forests, walking down 2000m high, green, grass hill tops with deep valley views on both sides, fresh mountain air, breathtaking mountain views as far as the eye reaches, huge waterfalls and river fun, a big dam, small trails through thorny bushes, dropping 500m altitude in just 1.5 hour, etc. Beautiful place 10 hours by bus from Chennai!

The Kodai-Palani trek was one of the exhaustive and breath-taking treks undertaken by CTC. The name Kodaikanal brings to one's mind a mountainous region filled with lush greenery and awesome scenery. The participants of the Kodai-Palani trek had a firsthand experience of this and much more.

On Friday evening a much exited CTC gang collected at the Koyambedu bus stand. Couple of first timers stood by quite nervous about the trek. But, the nervousness was soon paled by the enthusiastic fervor and the calm reassurance of the other members. Soon the gang was divided into two groups. While one group boarded the KPN travels bus, the other got into Parveen travels. Parveen travels took the route via Pondicherry from where two other trekkers boarded the bus. The heavy rain and a felled tree en route failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the CTC gang.

The bus reached Kodai at around 8am on Saturday. We alighted outside Meenakshi Bhavan and found our way to the rest house. Here we freshened up and had our breakfast.

After everyone was ready, we distributed the usual items to everyone - energy-giving, orange flavored, delicious Glucon D, cup-noodles, jam, bread, sleeping mats and bags. Two mini-buses had been arranged to take us to Kukkal, the starting point of our trek. The girls jumped into the pink bus and the guys into the blue bus (Well, that just happened by chance!!

As the bus climbed higher up the mountain, the sights of misty mountains, lush terraced fields, and picturesque scenery took our breath away. Anything more than this would only lead to heaven! Unable to resist, we made a couple of stops to click photos. At a point, we HAD to get out of the bus, because the view wasn't worth missing.

Here, two horses on the side of the road caught CTC's attention. One was snoozing on the side. It got a good petting form us all! The other one was grazing. Peter decided to check it out and sat on it. Did it jump/run? No. Horssie was honored and happy! Nervous Sheetal tried to ride it too rodeo style. :) . Somewhere along the way, we were able to spot a couple of bison grazing. But, the shy animals quickly sped away before we could get out cameras out. Soon, it started drizzling and we were worried about slushy trails and worse – leeches!

Before long, we reached Kukkal. There was a lovely big lake and a little further from that was the starting point of our trek. We unloaded our stuff, and geared up to begin the trek. Salt packets were handed around and people smeared their socks and shoes with salt (leech prevention!). We also armed ourselves with strong deodorants in hope of scaring away the leeches.

‘Kodai Mani’ our guide accompanied by two other locals led the way through the fields. The fear of leeches made us all walk fast. Soon we reached a gate made of flat wood and hay. At this point Mani told us that we would be crossing a long stretch of dense Shola forest and that we must walk in a single file while remaining silent throughout.
The forest was filled with leeches all wriggling their heads, ready to latch on to somebody's shoes. Sheetal entered the forest slowly. Suddenly she screamed ‘leeeaaachhhhh… run, run, run”… Soon everybody was running. But this didn’t last long as people started getting tired. The first timers kept stopping to brush off the leeches, but they were goaded on to keep moving by the experienced people. At the end of the stretch, we were greeted with open sky and grass, finally devoid of leeches. Some lucky ones came out without getting a single bite, while some came out bleeding. Everybody sat down to check out the damages.

Moving on, we trekked up a small hill. Mani, the guide, who had reached up ahead of us welcomed everybody with delicious home-made chocolate. The view from the top was breathtaking. What more? There was a tiny temple at the top! We stopped here for lunch and hogged on idlis, vadais, and a lot of clicks. After a while we started trekking again, walking atop tiny hills. We had to reach the camp base before dark. On our way, we were rewarded with more breathtaking sights. While the others proceeded to the camp, Peter, Balaji and other trekkers stayed back to enjoy the company of Nature. At base camp, the men got busy setting up tents, and collecting firewood to make a fire. Chenchu took over the ‘open-kitchen’ and soon we were feasting on delicious noodles and soup. Later, we enjoyed a nice game of UNO around the bonfire, and had some fun making scary faces in the torchlight. A few, goaded by the guide Mani, even went on a short night trek.

In a short while, everyone settled for the night. As the others were sleeping, some guys discovered a leech in a tent and played around with it for some time. Sunday morning was a beautiful sight. But, we couldn’t stay longer to enjoy it as we had to get started again. Climbing down was even more difficult than climbing up, and many first timers had trouble getting down the steep slope of the mountain. But, the sound of a distant waterfall which seemed only a stone’s through away and the cheer of the CTC kept the people moving. At one point, Peter had to carry an exhausted first timer on his back. Around noon, we reached a spring deep in the forest, and that’s when we stopped to have breakfast. Bread and jam never tasted so delicious before! After filling our water bottles at the spring, and cooling our aching feet in the water, we proceeded towards our destination - the Kuthiraiyaru Dam. The trail was filled with thorny bushes on the sides in some portions. Some trekkers employed the help of strong sticks to help them walk.

After a while we reached a river, where a herd of wild buffaloes bathing there were mistaken as bison! Peter and few others managed to find a mini-waterfall downstream where they had a great time.
We continued walking through beautiful landscapes and forests. On the way, two trekkers took a wrong turn and found themselves in the middle of nowhere. Luckily, they managed to retrace their steps and go back to the river, where a rescue team had came back for them. Happily walking on and on for almost 3-4 hrs, we finally reached Kuthraiyaru river. The huge expanse of water was such a welcome sight that people rushed into it. But, we couldn’t spend much time there too, as we had the 7 pm bus to Palani to catch. We walked to the village and refreshed ourselves with sodas and tea. When the bus came, a jubilant CTC boarded it and stuffed the bus with bags and baggage. We reached Palani at 8 pm. After a quick dinner, we boarded the buses to our respective destination, carrying home sweet memories and the satisfied feeling of a mission accomplished!

Participants: Vinod Hari, Diwakar, Tarannum, Tabassum, Shwetha Kumaran, Sreekumar R, Nagendran M, Kannan K, Balaji Seshan, Narasimhan, Vikram J, Preethi, Velu, Sivasubramanian, Balaji S, Sreedhar M M, Vinod Shetty, BharathRajV, Divya, VanGeit Peter, Sheetal, Chenchu Muni M, Ami Galla, Shubhro, Rekha N Swamy, Alex, Babu Ramalingam, Chandravel Murugan, Satish Kumar Harikrishnan, Vijesh Rajagopal, Sridhar Kumar P., Rajulan Lysander, Gopikrishna

Image Library:
Kannan K
Preethi. S. Iyer
Vikram J
Sreekumar R
Vijesh Bhaktha

Trail in Google Earth



Copyright © 2015 • The Chennai Trekking Club