Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Trip to Ambanad Hills


Hi again,
            This is about a short one day trip, that me along with my family made to Ambanad - a small village atop a hill near Tenmala. After multiple unsuccessful attempts to lure my companions for a two day trip to south - Kerala, I was forced to settle down to trek Ambanad hills this time again in our I10.

            Ambanad is a small village or more suitably can be called an estate atop of the chain of hills on the western ghats near Tenmala, Kerala. Major part of this area is owned by a private company and you gotta get permission from them to visit this place. It's situated at about 90 Kilometers from Tirunelveli City, the place where we started our journey. The route Tirunelveli -- > Alangulam --> Tenkasi --> Shenkottai --> Ariyankavu --> Palaruvi -- >Kazhuturutty --> Ambanad.

          With Dad, Brother in Law and Uncle along, we started from Tirunelveli at around 9:30 AM. Being much desperate to drive in ghat section, I asked dad to hit the roads initially to cover the plain flat stretch till Tenkasi covering around 50Kms.

           The stretch from Tirunelveli to Shenkottai is plain lands constituing about 60 KMS of the entire trip. From Shenkottai starts the marvellous and scenic ghat section of the Western Ghats, one of the gate ways to Kerala from Tamil Nadu. Recently a major facelift was made to this highway making this stretch as smooth as a hot kinfe through butter. Add ons were twists,curls and haripins perfect to glide your vehicle zig zag, giving one more reason to love my I10. Making a sharp turn was a breeze even at 60Kmph , credits to the EPS and zippy aerodynamics. After travelling 78 Kms we reached Palaruvi (Milk Falls).

The stall where a nominal entry fee is levied for persons and vehicle.

           I already had mentioned about this falls earler in my Trip to Thenmala. This time, the falls was short of water, however was ample enough for a joyous bath. There was pretty much crowd that day owing to the holiday season. Though a bit sunny, we were hardly able to feel it with the dense trees branching out all over.

        Having enjoyed in the freezing waters, we started again. Our next destination was Kazhuturutty, a small village from where one has to take a right turn to a road that leads to the Ambanad Estate. Kazhuthrutty should be hardly 8-10 Kms from Palaruvi. Not so accustomed to the place we had to break in between everytime for enquring the spot. Finally we reached Kazhuthurutty and took the road that leads to the estate. Hoardings of the estate helped in validating our route. This stretch from Kazhuthurutty to Ambanad is very steep, with nonmetalled road filled with gravels, cobblestones and humps. Yet this can be tread by a small car, with little more cautiousness. For SUVs, this stretch is a boon to provoke envy on onlookers.

       The road resembled as if the mountain was fastened with a black rope along its waist. We took a break at this spot to admire the plantations in the hills and to smell the essence of mother nature. Had the sunlight been adequate enough, I would have made another wallpaper for me desktop that day. Rubber and tea constitutes the primary plantation here.

       Dad and uncle was busy inspecting the rubber plantation and the way how latex was being collected in a coconut shell. Fed my camera some naturistic clips and proceeded. The road was too narrow for two cars to move at a time and was steep enough to resist my gear shift within 2. Ours' and a Bolero were the sole traffic in the dilapidated hills. The jeep was ferrying local labourers from nearby town to the estate.

       We were intercepted by a guard on the estate entrance, who noted down the vehicle number and reason of visit. You gotta inform the manager of the estate prior your visit to avoid quarrels at the last minute. However it's money that speaks finally.

We had our luch at a canteen (in pic bleow) belonging to the estate. Food was average though.

      The estate management offers resorts on this hill station, where you could unwind and live in coherence with the nature. We reached the office 'Travancore rubber and Tea company', where we met the manager only to know that the rate was way too high resembling almost a five star hotel package. However, he said he could provide us the best rates after speaking with his boss. Since we were not prepared for the stay we just did a sight seeing.

      We were insisted by the locals to visit a falls (Kudamutty falls) near by. However, we could not reach that place as the road to the falls was too much bumpy for a non-SUV. You have an option to reach the falls by a local trekker jeep by shelling out a few bucks. We were not interested in it as we already had a splash at Palaruvi.

     We planned to spend the evening at Thenmala. We descended down with dad on charge. Had few breaks to enjoy the scenery and for some cool snaps. Reached Kazhithurutty.  Thenmala is 8 Kms away from this place. Had a break in the Tenmala town for authentic Chaya (Kerala Tea). We reached Thenamala ecoturism centre visited the dam and look out area. More about tenmala ecotourism centre can be found in my previous post Trip to Thenmala
A few pics to cherish the moments.

View from top of the dam.

Sign board.

Shot from 'Look Out' point.

Finally we left the place around 6:30PM and headed towards Tirunelveli. Halted at Shenkottai to fill our appetite with the delicious parota for which the place is famous for. Reached Tirunelveli around 9 PM.
Overall this trip was a truly enchating experience, yet another trip to be remembered.
More about the bungalow

More interesing travelogues yet to come.
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- Ram Kishore K