Trek to Meesapulimalai and Topstation(Munnar)
After I had moved to bangalore, I have been looking for places in western ghats to explore. It was another unplanned weekend, and when one of my friend mailed, me and Nobal about his last weekend trek in western ghats I was excited to try something. After some searching I suggested this plan:
- Starting the trek from Kurangini village.
- Reach kolukkumalai tea estate which they claim as the highest organic tea garden in the whole world.
- Trek to Meesapulimalai peak(2662 m above MSL), which is the 2nd highest peak in south India.
- Trek down to Topstation(near Munnar), a tourist destination.
- Trek down again to Kurangani village using a village trail, completing the loop.
The plan seemed excellent and three of us, me, Karan and Nobal agreed and booked the bus tickets.
Friday night, myself and Karan boarded the bus to Theni from Bangalore and Nobal boarded the bus to Theni from Chennai. We reached Theni around 7 am. Nobal’s bus was 2 hours late and we had to kill our time telling each others trekking stories. For some reason I didnt feel that bored.
Once Nobal reached, we got a bus to Bodi which was 16km from Theni. We reached Bodi in 30 mins where we took heavy breakfast and ordered some poori and Dosa parcel for lunch. It was 10 am by then, and the next bus to Kurangani village was at 11 am(the last bus was at 8 am). We couldnt afford to lose any more time, so we took an auto for Rs 220.
It was getting pretty sunny by the time we reached Kurangani. We started the trek by 11 am. Since its June end, I thought it would be raining heavily and expected a wet trek. Last time I have been in the same route and the sun was exhausting. I was a little bit disappointed seeing the same situation.
Anyway we quickly started the trek. The village was at 750 m altitude and the tea estate was at 2050 m. It was a heavy climb, but we had a village trail. Initially the climb was covered with trees around which opened up later when we reached grass lands. The ridge was amazing, and gave us lot of superb views to click on.
At around 1 pm Karan found a dripping water source in a small valley. I hadnt seen this last time. We decided to take lunch there. We took around 30 mins rest and then pushed ahead. No time to sit around. We were already late and our initial plan was to camp at the peak. Nobal had brought his 2 man tent preparing to beat the cold. The ridge was very steep at the end and we gained altitude pretty fast, some times 300m or 400m per hour. We reached the tea estate by 5 pm.
Myself and Nobal had some tea and biscuits from the tea shop at the tea factory. Rs 10 for a tea. I asked around the people about whether there is a trail to Meesapulimalai peak and as usual they said “Its very difficult and risky, but you can hire a guide here”. We said ok and didnt bother to ask any more questions.
It was too late by then, and camping at the peak wasnt possible without a night trek. So we thought of camping some where in the boundaries of the tea estate. Google maps had a route from tea estate to the peak. I had loaded it into my gps. But it was wrong and last time when I went there, I couldnt reach the peak for that reason. This time too we were about to go in the wrong trail, and with God’s grace we met some villagers on the way. They were really nice people and said you have to go back a little and there is a village trail to the peak. They said there can be elephants on the way, so be careful. Thanks to that villager everything turned out well. I thank him from the bottom of my heart.
In the new trail we saw some elephant dung, even inside the estate boundaries. We didnt want to take any risk, by camping in its territory. So just before entering the forest, we set up the camp on a flat space. Nobal and Karan read the instructions and set the tent in less than half an hour. It was getting cold by then. We opened up the chappathi packets and MTR curry for our dinner. We covered all our backpacks with my tarpaulin sheet, in case if it rains. The tent was amazing. Warm and comfortable for 3 people. In another 30 mins we were in deep sleep.
Karan was the first to wake up in the morning, he was busy taking pictures. I too wanted to see the views but was too lazy and cold to get out of the tent. But before the estate people come we had to leave there. So we quickly packed up, and started climbing towards the peak by 6.45 am.
On our way to the peak there was another big peak which was at 2640 m altitude. To reach the peak we had to climb this one up, then go descent another 100m down and then again climb. It was steep but the trail helped us to save some energy. The views where superb all around us, we could see the zig-zag route we took on the previous day. By 8.40 am we reached the Meesapulimalai peak. I was happy that the mission was accomplished. We took some food there, clicked some pics and decided to move down.
Our plan was to trek down and reach the SH 17 highway between Munnar and Topstation and then get a bus to the Topstation as there was no point walking on the tar roads. This part of the trek was totally new to me. We guessed that there should be a trail, but wasnt sure if it continues till the bottom and will be in good condition. We kept moving, and to our surprise we saw a waterfall on the way. The water was so chill, I didnt dare to take a bath there. We filled our tummy with ice chilled water, took some rest, clicked some pics and continued following the trail.
The trail was wide and in good condition in the beginning but soon it disappeared. The next one and half hours we trekked down with the leeches in a terrain where everything around us was rotting. Plants you grab for support came of so easily and there wasnt anything called solid ground. It was like stepping into a rotting Forest. Out of all this the most irritating thing was an itchy plant. I have never came across this plant before in any other trek and I consider myself lucky for that. This small plant has many miniature poking stuff, and when you touch the plan it pokes really nasty. It really tested our mind.
We were relieved when we reached the tea estate. I removed my shoes, which had some leeches inside it and put on my slippers. By 12.30 pm we reached the Yellapatti tea estate factory. The bus stand was nearby. Luckily the bus came in 15 mins. We reached the Topstation by 1.20 pm where we took lunch. Had some tea and by 2 pm we started walking on the village trail towards Kurangani.
I didnt like this trail much. It was covered by trees most of the places obstructing any descent views. But since there was no bus from Topstation to Kurangini we had no other option. On the way we reached a small water falls, where Nobal and Karan took bath. We reached the village by 5.45 pm, Had some time and waited for the 6.15 pm bus to Bodi.
I wont say this was my best trek. But it was one of the best camping nights I have ever had. And this was my first trek where I tried enjoying the trek rather than simply physically pushing myself.