Every trekker has a dream and every dream has many millions of hidden aspirations deep inside the bearer’s heart. One such wanderlust dream from a peripatetic soul is the thirst to reach one amongst the highest peak in South India through legs. It was just a dream until we toiled hard to bring it to reality. Being an amateur in exploration I wanted to take up this challenge along with few like minded friends and there were numerous challenges which we had to face one instance was to take a trail without any guide’s help and navigate by self being the paramount.
From my limited journeys I have realised the success of a good exploration is not in the destination but in the journey itself. Therefore, I have always made it a point to enjoy the journey more than the destination. Here is the brief description of this journey - the supernatural mountains engulfing us; the harmony in the atmosphere; the pleasantry melody of the birds; the morning fresh breeze relaxing the mind; the beautiful village Kurangini all conspired and impressed my inner self to take this journey.
The astonishing trail leading to Kolukkumalai tea estate from Kurangini:
The initial steps of the trek was taken along the beautiful farm lands of Kurangini village although taking the wrong trail leading inside the farm lands towards few beautiful streams and waterfalls hidden deep inside the magical mountains we soon realised that we are heading towards a different destination and quickly took the appropriate trail heading towards Kolukkumalai. Indeed, taking an incorrect trail is also part of exploration and I enjoyed that as well.
The sun was on top of us draining every bit of our energy but this could in no way stop our dream to reach the peak. We paraded through the mountain trails; we marched through the grasslands; we hiked the steep trails just for a sole cause to summit the peak. My mind was completely engulfed with the sole thought of summiting the peak.
Once we reached the zigzag trail leading to Kolukkumalai tea estate the sun’s influence on us slowly reduced and we started feeling the chill breeze hitting us gently. After reaching a certain high altitude we had to take steep climbs making our heart to beat faster and our thighs cry out of pain. Draining all the water, which we carried most of us found it very difficult to trek. Slowly and steadily with strong determination steps were taken towards water resource and reaching the day’s target.
Accomplishing world’s highest organic tea estate i.e. Kolukkumalai:
After hard struggle to find water source and with the dream to reach peak. Slowly and steadily one after other trekkers started showing up the Kolukkumalai tea estate. From the Kolukkumalai peak I was able to spot most of the trekkers haven’t climbed half the distance. Yet, I could realise their determination and strong will to reach the day’s destination – come what may. The sun slowly started to rest for the day and almost all the trekkers reached the tea estate.
Lying, at an altitude of 2,100 mts the peaceful and lush green tea estate is a picturesque spot for a tiring body and was a gift for the eyes. The tea served at the hill station shop for Rs. 10 had unique taste, great flavour and refreshing qualities.
But, the trek for the day was still not complete and we had to reach the Nagamalai tea estate to camp for night. Caught in the exquisite sun set view from Kolukkumalai we headed towards our destination for the day. We trekked and trekked for almost 3 hours and finally reached Nagamalai just to find some place on the veranda of a school to escape the cold night. Overall we trekked for 10 odd hours continuously for the well deserving rest for the day. Since there was a local festival the entire village sported with beautiful colours, decorations and we could even witness some great folk dance and songs. The tiring trek and the chill weather gave us a very sound sleep and we slept like a log of wood underneath the twinkling stars filled sky.
Early morning beautiful views of the Kolukkumalai valley and the nearby peaks:
We were woken up to the early morning chillness and to the melody of the birds to witness the pristine and beautiful morning views of the Kolukkumalai valley, slowly realising the pain running through different parts of our body caused by previous day’s trek. It was declared that the day’s target was to reach the highest peak in that region and those of us who want to summit the peak can join and others can take the top station to Kurangini trail to reach the base station. 15 daring souls wanted to summit the peak and create history. However, enjoying the energising birds melody we set up to proceed towards the trek’s target.
Summiting - Meesapulimala the second highest peak on the Western Ghats:
Hidden deep inside the Western Ghats Meesapulimala is a marvel by creation; it’s a miracle by birth; it’s a wonder by design; it’s a paradise for trekking; it’s a beautiful poetry lying on the laps of Mother Nature. The striking grasslands, the mind-boggling valley, the thick Shola forests, the exorbitant peaks, the impeccable views of the adjoining peaks. All these make this mountain an exotic location far away from human reach but still one of the most eco-sensitive hot spots in the world.
As per the version of local people the word “meesapulimala” is derived from the resembling view of the ‘face of a tiger’ it offers to the onlooker. I realised that the local people are very good observers - It did appear to me like a face of a tiger when I saw it from Suryanalli a village which lies on the base of this peak.
None in the group had ever ventured to summit this peak earlier and the only source we had to rely in order to summit Meesapulimala was a GPS device and the determination to reach is the second highest peak (my GPS also recorded 2,640 mts) after the Anamudi peak (2,695 mts). Gaining all the confidence we headed along the directions shown by the GPS.
Although initially we were trekking along a trail soon it vanished and left us on the base of the peak that was basically a dry stream. We had no other option expect to take this rocky trail to reach the peak. As far as our eyes could reach we were only able to see the height and magnitude of the peak and nothing else. Gaining all the confidence we slowly headed towards reaching the peak.
Trekking along the Shola forest, grasslands and spotting wildlife:
The team initially trekked along the Shola’s and I went ahead of the team following the directions of GPS. I was able to easily spot the marks and waste of Nilgri tahr. The distance between me and the team became wide and after reaching the grass lands we very blessed with watching the beautiful Nilgri Tahr running inside the Shola’s. With that beautiful view we got energised and felt really lucky. Shortly, we spotted two big black monkeys - initially; we mistook it to be panther and soon realised that it is the beautiful monkey belonging to the Shola’s.
After the Shola’s if we were to reach the peak we had to climb the 75% sloppy grasslands to summit. Every step was a pain - making our heart pound hard and harder. But, the views were spectacular and worth every bit of pain which we under went. Indeed, the impeccable adjoining peaks, the beautiful grass lands and Shola’s below us encouraged to march ahead towards the peak.
After reaching the peak I realised that the trek along the grass lands; the zigzag dream trail leading to Kolukkumalai; the mind boggling views of the Rodo and neighbouring valleys; the impeccable beauty of the Anaerangal lake; the fabulous views of the peaks penetrating into the sky; the melody of the beautiful birds; the lush green tea estate; the chill mountain breeze that went though my nostrils; the gorgeous Shola’s; the trail never taken before to summit the peak all these will stay deep rooted in my heart forever. Indeed, this is what we call it as an “explorer’s feeling”. Yes “I am an explorer”.