Monday, 21 April 2014

Thirunelly – Wayanad – Taking Divinity and Adventure to the next level...


In religious term, divinity is the state of the things that come from a supernatural power or deity, such as god, or spirited beings, and are therefore regarded as sacred and holy. Such things are regarded as divine due to their transcendental origins, and/or because their attributes or qualities are superior or supreme relative to the things of the Earth. Divine things are regarded as eternal and based in truth, while material things are regarded as ephemeral and based in illusion. Such things may qualify as ‘divine’ are apparitions, visions, prophecies, miracles and in some views also the soul, or more general things like resurrection, immortality, grace and salvation. Otherwise what is or is not divine may be loosely defined, as it is used by different belief systems.

Every single trip we had was focussed on some prime concepts like God, Buddhism, friendship, family, love, hope, etc,. The reason we had focussed on these virtues were primarily aimed at understanding them. The next question which everyone would be thinking about is: why these virtues? When we had trip to Kushal Nagara and Yelagiri initially thought them to be simple trips but, later we really understood the true meaning of these virtues while we were in these trips. There is a reason behind every single trip we had. Our previous trip was filled most of our vigour, but we needed one more trip to make the whole 2months to be a memorable one – which would be icing on a cake. The atmosphere was really gloomy. The clouds were darker than usual. It was nearing the onset of monsoon with continuous rainfall across the South-Western coast of India. Monsoon is a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation, but now is describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with the asymmetric heating of land and sea. Usually monsoon is known to be the rainy phase of a seasonally – changing pattern. In India, monsoon is mainly caused by the westerly wind originating from the Indian Ocean. This monsoon is usually called to be South-West Monsoon. The South – West Monsoon usually starts by June 1st or 2nd week.

Since it was the onset of monsoon we had to carefully plan the travel. The highways were damp and other main roads were flooded because of torrential rains in the area for the past few days. We drove at constant speed of 40 – 50 kmph in main roads and 60 – 70 kmph in highways. We decided to leave home at 6 am in the morning and headed towards Mysore Road. We didn’t take the NICE Ring Road this time around as the dampness would cause the car to topple on the four lane road. Our main aim was to cover maximum distance in rain so that the traffic would be less. We drove at a constant speed on the Mysore road (SH – 17). We reached Mysore by 11 am. We stopped at Aryas in Channapatna on the way for our breakfast routine. We didn’t get into the Mysore. Instead we decided to take the Mysore by-pass which was 10 km road. From Mysore we drove nearly 50km in Hunsur highway to reach our old destination – Nagarahole – longest drive through national park in south India. We reached there by 12:30 pm. We decided not to make too much stops inside the national park because it will sabotage our next pit stop. We drove at a constant speed of 30 kmph. By the time we reached Nagarahole most of the rainfall had disappeared. The land was dry and arid which meant we had lesser chance of animal sighting. But to our surprise we had a deer crossing on the way. We took some videos & pictures of the crossing.

We moved on after the crossing was done. We had to move quickly because we were reaching our deadline sooner than we thought to be. But we moved quite quickly than we thought. We reached Tholpetty Range at around 3 pm. The safari inside the range was closed due to the start of the rainy season. We decided to have our lunch in a wooden tent beside the gateway to the range.

But to our surprise we had to face the wrath of a little soldier (monkey) who was mocking at us. 

We decided to tow him some food so that he will stop his mock. But to our surprise he started mocking again. We somehow had our food by making one person stand guard of the food. We managed to escape from his clutches. By the time, we finished our lunch it was almost 4pm. We had to travel about 30 odd kms in the same road to take us to the next destination which was Thirunelly.

On the way to Thirunelly...

We had booked an accommodation for my family at KTDC rest house – Tamarind Thirunelly. The place was really awesome. The atmosphere was really natural and green. The rooms cost were about 2000 rupees without tax and food would cost extra. We had two double rooms. We refreshed a bit and decided to head towards our next destination on our cards – Thirunelly Temple....

Thirunelly Temple is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu on the side of Brahmagiri. The temple is at an altitude of 900 metres in north Wayanad in a valley surrounded by mountains and beautiful forests. It is 32 km from Manathavady. There is no proper record of the exact dates of establishment of temple exists, though it is beyond dispute that Thirunelly was once an important town and pilgrim center in the middle of inaccessible jungle valley surrounded on four sides by mountains.

The name Thirunelli derives from the nelli, the Tamil/Malayalam word for Indian gooseberry of the Amla tree. Veda vyasa wrote the 18 existing Puranas. The Matsya Purana, Skanda Purana, Narasimha Purana, Padma Purana, and many other Puranas and Hindu texts mention the beautiful Vishnu temple as being built by Lord Brahma, located in the picturesque Sahya valley, deep in the middle of forest of unmatchable beauty, and in these texts, it is referred to as "Sahyamalaka Kshetra." According to tradition, Lord Brahma was traveling round the Earth upon the Hamsa, when he became attracted by the beauty of the area now known as Brahmagiri Hill. Descending on that spot, Brahma noticed an idol set in an Amla tree. Brahma recognized the idol as Lord Vishnu Himself and the place as Vaikuntha (Vishnuloka) itself. With the help of the Devas, Brahma installed the idol and called it Sahyamalak Kshetra. At Brahma’s request Vishnu promised that the waters of the area would wash away all sins. (Thus, the spring and river near the temple is called Papanasini: “washes away all sins”).
Even today the head priest of the temple leaves a portion of the worship materials in the belief that Lord Brahma Himself will come and perform pooja rites deep in the holy hours of morning.

Dad's description About Thirunelli Temple (in malayalam)

We were really amused by what we saw before us. The beauty of the surroundings was unmatched and priceless. We understood that it was not simply Brahma chose this place, it was a real beauty. We took some amazing pictures of the temple with the background landscape.

We then moved on to the location close to the temple – Papanasini.

Emanating from the heart of Brahmagiri flowing through roots, leaves and flowers of ancient trees and medicinal herbs, Papanasini is a holy mountain stream accessible around 1 km northwest of the temple premises. One dip in the cold Papanasini waters is reputed to wash away all sins committed in a lifetime. It is further believed that Papanasini is the confluence of the rivers Ganges and Saraswathy.

We decided to take a dip in the holy water. Its holiness was engraved with deep chillness in its temperature. Taking a bath in the holy water really made our day. The initial entry part of the Papanasini River is banned for public from taking bath. To preserve the purity of its emergence from stones and rocks, the pilgrims are allowed to take bath after a check point which is marked by a few sand bunds. We took a relaxed and chilly bath in part – frozen waters of Papanasini. We emerged from it after ½ hour. The bath in chilly waters of Papanasini made us think that we have been purified. We felt the divinity in those waters. We took some snaps of the river from different angles.

On the way back to the temple we had a chance to witness another mystical place – Panchatheertham. Panchatheertham is the holy temple pond. One notable feature of the temple is the lack of a temple well. Hence water is transported from a perennial mountain stream deep in the valley by impressive stone aqueducts right into the priests' room. Thirunelly is famous as the destination to perform last rites of the deceased at the rock close to Papanasini stream. We took some pictures of the pond.

We quickly moved towards the temple ground as it was getting dark. On coming around the temple grounds we noticed something really interesting used up for irrigation purposed. It was the use of Ancient Roman based Aqueducts. Bridges for conveying water, called aqueducts or water bridges are constructed to convey watercourses across gaps such as valleys or ravines. My brother gave a short account on topic Aqueducts.

We then moved deeper into the temple surroundings. We statues inside the temple showed signs of origins in 9th or 10th century. Inside the srikovil (the main temple inside which the deity is kept) the way the statue of Lord Vishnu was placed and decorated made the whole temple look divine. I was really mesmerized by the surroundings and inside of the temple. The only other temples, which were really amazing, were the temples in Sabarimala and in Guruvayur. Bro took some amazing pictures of the surroundings. We didn’t take pictures from inside the temple. As in South India, photography and videography is strictly prohibited inside the temple. They it will spoil the purity and divinity of the place.

I believe that capturing something like Thirunelly should not just be with videography or photography – it doesn’t define its serenity or mesmerism. It has to be experienced with naked eyes (meaning you should be there to watch it...) to get the feel of it.

It was getting late and the guy at Tamarind Thirunelly had informed us to get back before it got dark. He said that after dark you could expect Wild Elephants and Gaurs on the road (Which is not good at all especially at night...). We started moving quickly and we reached by 7:30 pm. The day’s trip was really continuous and was a bit hectic. We felt tired a bit. We had our dinner and retired to our respective rooms. Hopes were overwhelmed by this amazing day’s trip. Will it be the same or different the next day? We had to really look out for it....


Hopes were envisaged and our vigour had reached to new levels. Expectations were higher for the day’s trip as the first day seemed brighter than we thought it to be. The day’s climatic conditions seemed to be cloudy and rain – like. We got up a bit late – we were a bit tired due to the hectic trip – the previous day. We had breakfast. It was steam cake with banana. The food was sensational. The hotel guy showed us a trek point away in the top of the mountains. The place was called ‘Pakshipathalam’. It was a guard tower which was a trek point while trekking in upper Brahmagiri hills.

By the time we left Tamarind Hotel it was nearly 11 am. We decided to leave to our next destination on our cards which Banasurasagar Dam.

It was nearly 20 – 25 km journey from Thirunelly. On the way we had a small pit – stop near the Pazhassi Raja’s Tomb. To our amazement we saw a spectacle outside the tomb. It was bats hanging upside down from the bamboo trees. We took some pictures of this spectacle. We then moved to our main destination.

Banasura Sagar Dam, which impounds the Karamanathodu tributary of the Kabini River, is part of the Indian Banasurasagar Project consisting of a dam and a canal project started in 1979. The goal of the project is to support the Kakkayam Hydro electric power project and satisfy the demand for irrigation and drinking water in a region known to have water shortages in seasonal dry periods.

In the dam's reservoir there is a set of islands that were formed when the reservoir submerged the surrounding areas. The islands with the Banasura hills in the background provide a spectacular view. It is the largest earth dam in India and the second largest of its kind in Asia. The dam is made up of massive stacks of stones and boulders.
It was a half a kilometre trek to reach the dam top. The dam was humungous. It was real treat to watch. We took some amazing pictures of the dam with Banasura Hills in the background. Some of the sites around the dam made me realise why Kerala was called the God’s Own Country. I would say this place was his backyard. There were no words to describe the beauty of the place. You have to see it yourself to understand the true beauty of the place.

Banasura sagar dam...

My bro took my solo picture with the true beauty in the background.

There was boating in the place. We were unlucky that bookings were done for day. So we had no choice but to take some photos and head to our next destination. But I was not ready to go ahead. I took few pictures from the boating area and took a solo as well.


best pic I had ever taken so far....

We then moved on to our destination which was Kalpetta. The reason why we opted for Kalpetta was that it was the only route through which we could exit Wayanad and head to Kochi.

We started moving as it was getting late and it was nearly 2 pm when we left Banasurasagar Dam. We stopped near Meenmutty Falls. The falls was closed as it was rainy season.

By the time we reached Kalpetta it was nearly 3 pm. The problem with the time was that most of the restaurants would stop serving lunch. Luckily we got into a restaurant – Udupi Hotel before the time. We had Kerala meals served with payasam. The food was delicious compared to all other restaurant food we had in those previous trips. We quickly finished lunch by 3: 30pm. We had to leave fast as it will be difficult to ride through the mountain passes in Thamarasery which was considered to be the most challenging rides of all. On the way we saw a road roller parked on the side of the road which, reminded us of the movie scene in the movie “Vellannakallude nadu” – Malayalam movie acted by Mohanlal.

Road Roller....

My brother took the initiative of riding through Thamarassery. After we passed the Thank You board in Kalpetta we were exposed to one of the most exquisite sites in the world and one of the most dangerous mountain passes. We took the most amazing pictures of our life.

We left the place after a while. We started moving towards Kozhikode which was nearly 60 – 70 kms from the mountain passes. It took us nearly 2 hrs to reach Kozhikode. We switched places to drive from Kozhikode to Edappal. It took us nearly 2 hrs to reach Edappal. It was almost 7 pm. We then decided to move towards Thrissur so that we can catch upto NH 47 which was a 4 lane road rather than the NH 17 being a 2 lane narrow road. We had a pit stop in Thissur for our dinner. We reached Thrissur by 9 pm. We then headed towards Mannuthy which was the entry point to NH 47. It took only 50 mins to reach from Mannuthy to Elamakkara which was like travelling nearly 65 kms in 50 mins. The highway was that good. We reached Elamakkara at 11 pm.

Our journey was a memorable one. It was the most amazing trips we had in our life after Valparai trip (Megatrip). The trip taught us the key virtue which was “HOPE IS THE COMPANION OF WISDOM”. My Trips in the Tech city had reached its pinnacle and ended really well. I hope I would have such memorable trips in my life very soon or later. Remember opportunity knocks on everyone’s door. But only a few answer them and they turn out to be Winners...

Hope I have more Adventurous Trips in my life.... ‘Venture Continues.......