Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Nelliyampathy - an unexpected Nature Haven

A bike trip from Coimbatore towards the Mallu land had always been pending in my list when I came across this small little place called Nelliyampathy in one of the blogs. It was pretty surprising to find very little information about the place but whichever information available further enforced my impression about this place. The place is supposed to be one of the off-beat lesser known and a lower altitude hill station with little or no facilities, but certainly worth checking out if you prefer the isolated stretches of view points and land scapes, road rides and calmness.

With very little knowledge and almost no expectations just two of us - in one bike started out on an early morning 'one day' expedition - 8.30 am - towards the keralan border.  With almost no route details in any websites, the good old google maps came to the rescue and helped me figure out that there were two routes towards the place - one via [Coimbatore - Palakkad - Nelliyampathy] and the other [Coimbatore - Pollachi - Nelliyampathy]. (I have put up the map and routes at the end of this write up). I am sure anyone coming from north kerala or Calicut should also be taking this route - via Palakkad. Our plan was to go straight towards Nelliyampathy in the shorter Palakkad route, spend whatever time available in the day and if we had enough time return via Pollachi, if possible check out the other two reservoirs Meenkarai Dam and Chulliyar Dam on our way back - which are in the Pollachi road.

I have to admit that the road from Coimbatore till Palakkad were pretty bad, messed up with all those trucks, cement lorries, college buses almost filling up the road and leaving just patches and pot holes for bikers to get through. A nice sumptuous breakfast of Appam, kadalai (all time favourite kerala breakfast)  along with some Puttu and Noolappam (Idiyappam in tamil) at a wayside mess after Palakkad, was one of 'the best' satisfying part of the trip. The way and the route beyond palakkad were indeed difficult to identify. There were some particularly awkward and funny malayalam conversations with road side people which almost ceded as there were lesser and lesser people and more and more crossroads in the route with many of the directions and sign boards written only in malayalam. However a GPS enabled mobile handset proved a life saver. The route we took was from Palakkad - Koduvayur - Nemmara - Nelliyampathy.

The roads were much better and had two lanes most of the time, with reasonable traffic along the way. The way side green paddy fields and some interesting houses and coconut trees gave nice backgrounds to our cameras. At 12.30 pm we reached the Pothundi Dam, an almost abandoned park and a reservoir which had a reasonable amount of  water and sightseeing spots. The only visitors were ourselves and a couple who were cuddling behind one of those old park benches. We spent about an hour in the place and after some pictures left toward Nelliyampathy.

The road was indeed a pleasure to ride, freshly laid tarmac and a serene road without almost any traffic - a biker's paradise. The forests were thickening and we found quite a few water streams though it was not a particularly rainy season. A few hair pin bends and plenty of beautiful view points were crossing us by as well as the nice chilly wind as we were climbing up along the road. We reached the Nelliyampathy bus stop at 1.30 pm and had a mallu meals at ITL restaurant which looked like the only credible looking hotel over the entire place.

After some enquiries I got to know that there were indeed many view points and places to check out and regretted that we had'nt landed here early enough.
Below were atleast the main places to cover with each of them worthy of taking an afternoon's time if you are intent on exploring.
1. Poab's estate view point (Sithargunde estate)
2. Manpara
3. Kesavanpara

Among this the last two required a minimum of a 4x4 wheel drive- the good old Mahindra jeeps were available on hire. Manpara seemed to be the most exotic spots of the above and the ride is supposed to be entirely breathtaking with steep climbs in jeep over the rocks. However we settled for Poab's estate view point which could be reached by bike. After a brief ride along a narrow but well laid twisted roads via 'Munnar-ish' looking tea estates and coffee estates we reached the Poab's entry point which infact resembled the famous 'Jurassic Park' entrance gate. The place is owned by private and they were indeed particularly concerned about public visits and strayings inside their estate, however were kind enough to direct us to the route and explain about the place. We parked our bike after a 45 mins ride from Nelliyampathy and started walking towards the view point.

The place was quite beautiful and the landscape was nice. We didn't settle for the early spots and kept going ahead along the view side expecting greener pastures and almost were trekking for about 45 mins when indeed we spotted a big water falls. However the foot track kept going and we didnt have much more time to explore as it was getting late about 4.30 pm. After some pictures we started back towards Nelliyampathy. As it had already darkened by the time we reached the Meenkarai road (towards Pollachi) and we did not stop for checking out the Meenkarai and Chulliyar dams. However we did find a decent mallu hotel and had the famous 'Kerala Parotta and Eratchi curry' and which was as good as it can get. We managed to reach Coimbatore back at 9 pm.
Nelliyampathy - Nemmara Road
Enroute -roadside after Palakkad

A cut road that we entered after vithanassery  relying on GPS's shortcut -
In India GPS does disappoint at times

Poothundy dam

Gen Next :) --  kid picking stray bottles for money

park nearby Poothundy dam

Poab's estate entrance

View point - poabs estate

The waterfalls after the short Trek off Poabs estate view point

Heavy hearted return :)

The ITL hotel - this aint the resort - ITL resort is located ahead of the bustand

Nelliyampathy - Nemmara road

The place did turn out to be a good discovery, one of those places that would give the 'lingering feeling' of not having spent enough time to catch a breather and explore those lovely spots.I would recommend the trip only those looking for a 'difference' and the place is certainly worth exploring two days if you get accomodation in a good resort or local home stays (ITL resort is quite famous there - a google search on ITL resort will give contact information). And make sure you go only during winter or post monsoon as its not those 'evercool' hill retreat and might get warm during summers.

Please note that the route from Vithanassery to Nelliyampathy (the last stretch) has to be covered via Nemmara and not as indicated in the map.

Small Request to readers: Please do comment in the below comment section in case you had visited the place or if you find the article useful.