Each destination is destined to be explored. Take the effort and explore as much as you can. YOLO!
I guess there is a change in the beginnings after all…
This one’s from my first year days in college(May 2015). Aah the good ol first year days, scary people everywhere and an unsettling sense of freedom (me coming from a CMI managed CBSE school had never seen or felt this free). That was when I made some friends in a strict private hostel with a bunch of not so disciplined guys (putting it lightly). By the end of the year we moved out of the jail and into a rented apartment near the college.
New place meant no time restrictions, no looking over our shoulders and immense happiness. The final exams started and study mode was on (first year illusions). Only one exam remained it was EVS(yeah the same one from 8th standard) and TCN (Technical Communication – Basically it’s just English Grammar and stuff).
I know it’s kinda boring the finals so it was decided we didn’t need 3 days to study this shit.
And that’s when we decided to hit Boothathan Kettu (a not so famous travel destination at that time), camp a night and do some treking.
The day came when the second last exam finished. Me and my buddy rushed to a rental car dealer rented a small hatchback at around 1pm (plan – to hit the road right after lunch).
Here we sit in this small hatch back barely large enough to accommodate the five of us, enroute to Kothamangalam(We started the drive at 3pm). The drive was pleasant for most part until the rain set in when all hell broke lose, as we reached corners it was the rear tyres swiveling and drifting on the tarmac. Luckily we just made it through several corners nearly hitting a scooter going couple ending up in a straight stretch of tarmac with trees and paddy fields on both sides.(the tyres of this car were so worn out and we didn’t notice it in our rush to hit the road).
Finally we made it to Bhoothathan Kettu, located at the Eastern corner of Kothamangalam. First impression – was just another new generation boring hydroelectric project (it was not the best impression but things change). It was when the sun was going down behind the blue hills that we reached the big arch inscribed – Bhoothathan Kettu.
We decided it was best we head to Edamalyaar Dam for the evening in the hope of spotting some wild animals enroute the guarded forest roads. But fate was not a team player and we were forced to turn back as the sun had now set completely and darkness had set in on the empty forest road. (Forest roads normally don’t have street lights so as to prevent light pollution which can disturb the nocturnal animals)
Back at the entrance of the new modern Bhoothathan Kettu with the park and the tourist attractions like the tree house and so on (Boring). That’s when we met this Chai wala who told us the story of the name Bhoothathan Kettu and about the mythical and magical place called the the Old Bhoothathan Kettu.
(Boothathan Kettu – Bhootham meaning demon. Kettu meaning Dam.)
The Myth of The Bhoothathan Kettu
It is believed that a group of demons planned to submerge the Thrikkariyur temple by making a Dam across the Periyar River. The presiding deity of Thrikkariyur temple Lord shiva knowing the trickery of the demons faked the next dawn with a Rooster. Demons fearing the approaching dawn (light) left the partially filled river bed with huge boulders. (these boulders can still be seen at the place Old Bhoothathan Kettu)
Psyched about the next day hearing the Chai guy we had some food from a nearby Toddy shop and decided we were gonna see this mythical place Old Bhoothathan Kettu early in the morning.
This place Bhoothathan Kettu has an added attraction that sets it apart, this place is literally devoid of noise pollution after the streets close after 9pm and the street lights are switched off. That’s when the real magic of the place comes to life – The street lights are now replaced by a more natural light. The fireflies… Millions – Billions covering the tree canopies surrounding the entire Dam site synchronously blinking like a billion stars brought together by some deep forces of the universe. (and I thought I was high for a moment there)
We were 5 guys traveling with literally no money (story of lending money renting a car and again lending money and fueling it will be told at some other time) So the one choice was made 3 of us were sleeping in the car and 2 on the park benches. I slept on a bench and watched another fantastic view of the airplanes to and from Nedumbasseri airport gaining and losing altitude swirling up and down. (I would love to add sleeping under the stars and stuff but the truth is this time it was a bit cloudy and it started raining like hell at around 2am – I know Shit Happens)
The following morning woke us up with the golden rays hitting our a**. It was 6:30am when we went in for the 1.6km long trek to Old Bhoothathan Kettu via a small trek path near the old forest Rangers office. (the permitted time is 7:30am – again we went in early hoping to spot some Wildlife but as I said nothing not even a macaque passed through the trek path.) The trek although, was as refreshing as ever walking through the forest calm,quiet and peaceful . The trek ended up in a rubble of big rocks and insanely huge boulders. We walked around, explored a bit and found a safe entry point into the cold waters of the morning Periyar. (This region of the river is notorious for deep underwater wells and currents that could easily suck you in and shoot you out the shutters of theextra caution recommended!!!).
We hit the road again at 10am enroute Thattekkadu Bird Sanctuary that’s were I bored the rest of the team trying to be quiet and patient wasting a lot of time to click some pictures of some real endemic birds. But after hours walking around spotting and clicking we ended up back in the car covered in Leeches.
Next spot was Paanankuzhi a small clearing in the Periyar with crystal clear water and little to medium depth ideal for a dip. (that was necessary to clean all the mud off from all of us after the thattekkadu trek).
Finally starting our return was – actually this part was boring and so I forgot that part. We drove back peacefully reaching back at 5 pm at our humble abode with a pocket full of memories and experiences.
Maybe it was the fresh air, the sense of freedom or the magic of the fireflies – that made this road trip great. But thats just how travel is, each destination engraves a piece of it in the heart n soul of the traveler…