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Muthappanpuzha to Swargakunnu trek in April 2008

After planning a few times and cancelling almost as many times I was back at Muthappanpuzha for a fourth time (twice for a Vellarimala Trek and later for a visit to Josettan's place) during a vaccation surrounding Vishu. Josettan had suggested trekking to Kalladi near Meppadi in Wayanad along a jeep track from Muthappanpuzha. I had only half a day and had to return home before evening. So, I thought of doing a preview trip to Swargakunnu / Swargakkunnu enroute Kalladi this time before the real plan ever materialze! @ abt 9.30 I reached Muthappanpuzha in my Versa and Josettan was waiting there to take me to Swargakunnu :) Swargakunnu is visible from Muthappanpuzha town to the left of Vellarimala ranges and Kuppippara. Though, the peak looked a little barren, the lush greenery around and the site of a house at those lofty heights was inviting!

The Stream
The Stream

Tree house
Tree house to watch out for Elephants

It was a hot and humid day to start and I was sweating like anything. After parking Versa in a nearby house (Josettan's aquaintance) and packing my bag we headed towards the river, crossed over and headed through the jungle, first towards a stream higher up, ideal for frolicking in the river. I didnt have any change of dress and didnt venture into the stream, but the place was so idyllic to spend a full day :) Next up was a tree house where the people spend the night watching out for elephants entering the estate. The place was locked and I couldnt venture in ... but I would surely do it another day!

With Josettan's Kids
With Josettan's Kids

Then we crossed over the river once again (there was a dilapidated hanging bridge, but we chose to cross the river since there was not much water) and reached back to the jeep track leading to Josettan's house. In between stopped in his neighbours house where we were served with a bowl of light tea to quench the thirst (I was already feeling dehydrated due to profuse sweating). I dont drink tea usually, but this was very light, without milk or sugar, very warm and I gobbled up a few glasses to feel rejuvenated. @ his house, his kids, Jobish, Josna and Daniel and a sumptuous breakfast, consisting of boiled Tapioca and spicy Chicken curry, prepared by MInichettathi were waiting for me. People who had gone trekking with Josettan would already know his culinary skills .... but trust me Minichettathi is better :) Ofcourse, Josna is a live wire and wanted my camera to play with!

Jeep Track
Jeep is the main mode of Transport here

After breakfast, I couldnt move an inch and we sat there chitchatting for some time! Finally, it was about 11.45 by the time we started walking again. At this point, I was not sure that I have the time to reach Swargakunnu, but decided to proceed as far as I could. In my last visit to Muthappanpuzha we had come along the same jeep track and then took a diversion towards a long hanging bridge. We proceeded along the same route, crossed the hanging bridge and then headed through a foot path to reach back the same jeep track about 20 minutes later. I continued to sweat profusely and emptied the water bottle we carried and refilled it once. When we reached near a house Josettan took me behind it and showed me a beautiful view of the valley. It was a beautiful site and I laughed thinking abt the various 'Hill View" or "Lake View" apartments available aplenty. This was the real "Hill View"!

All this while Josettan kept talking, reminding me of a comment made by Arun Rahim who had trekked with Josettan:
"He is one big motor mouth with something to say about everything. He kept us active through out the trek."

Kuppippara and Vellarimala ranges
Kuppippara and Vellarimala seen enroute to Swargakunnu

Apart from the views and Josettan's motor mouth, I found the flora and fauna interesting too ... numerous small birds, butterflies and flowers all arnd the place. I had already shifted to my macro lens and started clicking at whatever I could. In one of the occasions I made Josettan wait almost 10 minutes for shotting a butterfly! Actually, the butterflies got bigger and bigger as we climbed up!

A Butterfly shot

Timber business seemed rampant at this place as was evident from the occasional trucks that crossed us carrying wood. Looks like these were specially designed for carrying wood along this treacherous jeep track. Josettan assured me that everything is legal abt wood here :)

By abt 1'O clock we were climbing the last stretch and I suddenly felt a change in climate. Temperature dropped and a cool breeze had such a nice effect on my dehydrating body. One more turn and I could see the house at the top, overlooking Kuppippara and the Vellarimala ranges.

Josettan at the top

From the top
View from the top

After dreaming about staying here for a night and listening to couple of Josettan's elephant / snake sighting stories, he took me to another shelter were we could stay over. I decided that I am coming back as soon as I can with a larger gang, staying over at Swargakunnu for a night and then trekking up to Kalladi :)

Hanging Bridge
Hanging Bridge to Kalladi

At abt 1.30 we started climbing down along a shorter, steeper route. It is here that I spotted the biggest butterfly I've ever seen. A black and white giant which looked pretty much like a lazy bird. I waited for another 10 minutes for a good shot of this butterfly and finally realized that I am going to be late if I stay back further! Infact, there were couple of other large butterflies too in the vicinity, one bright blue one and a brownish yellow fella - all of them big and beautiful. Boy .... I had to come back!

The return journey was swift except for a brief stop to check out a unique supply system used by the villagers to transport things across the river. This was a pulley system built parallel to the hanging bridge, using steel cables. I could actually see a basket moving along this cable being taken to the other side :)

We made it to Josettan's house by abt 2.30 and after eating whatever I could (my stomach was still full after the breakfast and I kept drinking water) for lunch I said goodbye to Josettan's family and headed down towards Muthappanpuzha town. At the parking lot, I promised Josettan that I will be back with a bigger gang as soon as in May and headed towards Kozhikode town.

This was one journey were I was again hard-pressed for time and had too many things to see in too short a time. How nice it would've been to spend a few lazy days here without worrying abt getting back to Kozhikode or Bengaluru / Bangalore or work - I am sure it is the best thing to do!

© 2019 Sandeep Unnimadhavan