BBQ and trekking at Meenuliyan Para, Thodupuzha, Idukki.Back

Posted By Rajeev

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            The Sunday morning was covered in  fog, as the sun rays started piercing the skin of the darkness, the birds tweeted and trees woke up from the sleep shaking their leafy hair in the cold southern wind. The rain clouds were nowhere to be seen, as we have started packing our bags for the trip, the night went to visit the other side of the world. We have started driving by 6 o clock. There were five of us, Ajesh, Bijo, Anmohan, and Rajeev and Midhun, our destination was Meenoliayn para, a scenic mountain in  Thodupuzha, Kerala, India.   Thodupuzha  is a part of the magnificent Idukki district a tourist hot spot in Kerala. Thodupuzh  is blessed with many tourist spots and the Meenoliyan Para is a must see destination in Thodupuzha. 

        At 9:00 AM we have reached the Thodupuzha town, as the Sun we could see travellers every where and  we stopped for a glass of tea.  It was a small shop run by an old man, the taste of tea has no connection with the size of the shop as it was a wonderful mix of spices, milk and the black tea, the readily prepared hot Vada (a local food item) has increased the taste. As we were sipping on to the tea and enjoying the Vada we have made the plans for our trip. It’s always good to make short term plans as a traveller than the long ones, because the traveling is exciting when we have a short plan, the long ones always ends up in nothing. It was 9:30 Am by the the time we said bye to the shop owner. Always remember to say thanks and share the smile with the people we meet on our way, a sign of a good traveller, well that makes life much easier.

We had some wood for fire, some utensils to cook and some jars to fill the water in the trunk of our car, rest of the stuff we had to buy. The traffic in the town started increasing, the crowd were choking us, and Midhun put pressure on the accelerator to save us from the zombie crowd.  The pack reached the a local town of Kodikulam by 10:00 AM, away from the zombies in the town, we bought rest of our supplies such as some fresh beef, tapioca (cassava), some spices, groceries to cook and a bottle of rum along with couple of litters of Toddy (a local drink made from palm or coconut tree), there is no trekking without the drinks!! 

 

The way to the mountain is exciting as it is covred  lush green trees and we had to stop often to confirm the road. It was 11:00 AM by the time we have reached the valley of the mountain, and we could see this 4000 feet high mountain smiling at us, challenging us to conquer him. It is a 2 kilometers trek to reach the mountain, before the start we filled up our jars with pure mountain water rich in minerals and untouched by humans or animals, which oozes out through the cracks of the mountains. Local people uses the long pipes to collect it, it’s a never ending flow of water. The area is inhabited by some local tribal people, they were nice and friendly and most of them have coffee bean plantations, pepper plantations and some other spices from which they have earned their bread.  The small path way looked like a snake, we stopped by a small stream, hidden behind the patches of bamboo to wash the meat and to clean the tapioca, and the water was ice cold and crystal clear.

 

A dead mountain crab 

After almost 15 minutes of walk the real hike started through the Cardamom plantation, the mountain began to show his real character, the slope was getting steeper and hiking got really hard, at that point we have realized the hidden truth behind the smile of the mountain.  We met some local people who were on their way back from the top after collecting the long flowery sticks of the lemon grass , good for making broom, one more way through they have made the money to survive. The food, water supply, the heavy cameras and the firewood on our back really pushed us to the limits of our endurance. The walking trail began to disappear, as we could see the hard, black rock rising in front of us. The muscles started shivering begging us to stop, but we couldn’t because we hated the mocking smile of the mountain.

After one hour of trekking, we have covered the half of the way, legs were shaking really bad and we had to stop for couple of minutes to regain our strength. As we all sipped on to the toddy, rich in sugar and other essential elements we started getting our energy back, the heart rate slowly dropped, muscles regained its strength with each gasp of hair and we have decided to climb the rest of the mountain. Once we have reached the 3/4th of our way, the steep got really bad as it was 60-70 degree angle. With each step, we were gasping for air, and I thought now the sun has a partnership with the mountain, as we could hear booth of them laughing at us now, but we are travellers, we are explorers, we never stop until we are done. 

There were patches of lemon grass and some dried grass, we felt the rock is barren and empty without no plants. It’s only hard black rock as far as we could see and the angle of the slop made it difficult to see what is in front of us, it felt like a pathway to the sky. After two hours of trekking we were totally exhausted, covered in sweat and gasping for air as I could hear my lungs working hard to come up with the demands of the muscles.  But there was a treasure, which the mountain hid from us, it was nothing but a small patch of rest on the top of the solid, black hard rock, it was an astounding discovery and we were thrilled to see the forest.

Nature always tricks us, and it offers the best of its treasures, only to the travellers with passion, such a great feeling. Once we have reached the top, we could see the whole area mountains after mountain covered in fog, the Kaliyar River looked like Amazon River pushing its way through the gap between the mountains. The Meenoliyan Para provided us with a panoramic view the surrounding area, we could see the Thodupuzha town and the other small streams and waterfalls. 

After few minutes of rest we started cooking our food. Chopped up the meat, the tapioca, rubbed the masala on to the meat, found some more wood for the wire from the small forest. The sun slowly turned red, as the beef began to lose its red colour and smell of the masala was making us hungry. The barbecue was ready so as the tapioca, the slowly cooked beef was really good with and the smoke fire from the wood increased its taste such a great combination with the rum.

We talked about the nature, the sun, the people and the world as the bottom of the rum bottle gradually emerged.  Suddenly the rain could started appearing, and we began to pack up but all of a sudden the nature offered its last and most precious gift, the evening sun and the water droplets in the air drew a prefect rainbow, a spectacular colour of display, such an amazing gift from the rugged, black, tough prehistoric man.

The fire was chewing on to the last piece of wood, the stars appeared in the sky and we have decided to descend. On our way back we have lost our way but had a good supply of light and the previous climbing experience helped us to find our trail back again, even though it took couple of more hours than we expected.

  We said good bye to the Meenoliayan Mountain, who has coloured a page of our life, offered us with the finest treats and some terrific memories to cherish.  I believe, we have given the millions of years Old Mountain, the best company he could ever get. The long trek and the cooking made us little tired but a dip in the small stream took the tiredness away. It was one of the best trips; the tough, black, hard Menoliyan and his elusive smile is one heck of a story we could brag about for the rest of our life. Trips like this, makes us feel alive. Travellers who love some tough trekking must visit the Meenoliyan Para in Thodupuzha.  

                                                                                     

Some safety tips: Drink responsibly do not drink too much as the rocks are hard and  dangerous and steep, an injury could be fatal as it would take at least two hours to reach the valley. Do not visit the Meenuliyan during monsoon as the area is prone to heavy lightning and the rocks get slippery.Start the descend before its dark , it’s easy to get lost , do not walk if you are can’t see the way in front of you , poisonous snakes and wild animals are common, make sure you have good torch light. It’s better to spend a day up in the mountain rather than risking your life. Must have a good supply of water and make sure you are in good shape before you climb this mountain, heart and lungs patients should avoid this place. 

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