Aliyar dam

Aliyar reservoir is located 20 km from pollachi. It is nestled at the foothills of the western ghat mountains. Driving past spot at leads straight to the entrance of the Annamalai tiger reserve.

Aliyar dam has a sprawling garden with a children’s park. Towards the end of the park, winding steps lead the way up to the reservoir. There are boats operating on the reservoir on select days.

Canals go sit zag around the garden. The garden is old, statues are faded and do not interest today’s youngsters. But it is still a sprawling place for family picnics and children’s play activities.

Beyond Top Slip

A trip to Top Slip is what we planned initially. This is what Wikitravel has on Top Slip: Topslip is located near Pollachi in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, at an altitude of 800 feet from the sea level on the Anamalai mountain range. It stands majestically with Green Spread Mountains and forest all around. The unique teak forests, Bamboo Forest also located near Topslip.

We boarded the early morning local bus at Pollachi for a long journey. We knew the path was through forests and mountains. We were expecting lovely green sights and occasional sighting of wild animals. But the grandeur and beauty that unfolded is beyond description.  

The initial journey was through farms and coconut grooves. Then came a rugged path (in fact there was no path at all) that led to the foothills. After this, started the mountainous terrain with thick forests.

It was first normal forests, similar to the ones on way to Valparai. But as we ascended further up, instead of tea plantations that we saw on way to valparai, here we were greeted by dense forests. Bamboo plants rose to unimaginable heights. thick clusters of  flowering teaks, surrounded by huge bamboo bunches were a common sight. Every inch of land was covered by thick undergrowth and huge mighty trees. Devoid of all signs of human civilization except for a lone bus trudging along.

As we neared Top Slip, there were forest guards and pretty animal statues. This place was a tourist attraction and had the normal tourist crowd sporting sun-glasses and cameras. We decided not to get down at Top Slip and continue further in the same path.

After Top Slip, the topography changed to pleasant lawns and pretty greenery.

But not for long.. soon after started the same dense forests. We were trying to guess names of at least a few trees we saw on the way. But apart from the old flowering teak trees and massive bamboo clusters, we were able to identify only the occasional Neem, Peepul or Banyan.

This is one of the huge sprawling trees on the way. Most of the trees are covered by climbing plants that reach up to their tips and spread through their branches.

We finally reached the last stage in our journey which was the Parambikulam reservoir. It is a heavenly place with two tea-stalls, a statue and a small park around it. By the time we reached, visitor hours at the reservoir had long gone 🙂 So we spent time walking around the place and boarded the same bus to return back 🙂 Buses are very rare with only three buses in 24 hours.

On the way back, it started raining and a lone elephant passed. Missed taking a picture of it due to the moving bus and rains.  On the way back, we saw this tree… It was split in to two by lightning.

We loved every moment of the journey back… the moist wind, heavy downpour, sound of animals and birds… everything remains etched in my mind. This picture was taken on the way back where the mountainous path ends, leading to the plains.

All the grandeur and beauty of these dense forests are a remainder to the fact that Nature is far from being tamed, but can support and protect us if treated with respect and care.

Tea and Mountains

The word “Mountain” is not always about rocks, forests and wild animals. Man has brought about a revolutionary change in it. He has cleared bunches of enormous mountains to make way for…. Tea!

Yes, they look lovely. Evenly cut greenery for miles. Rising up and dropping down, making waves of happiness dance around the place.

Small little tea shops dot the way. They have pretty little bamboo look-out cottages. A temptation for passers-by to stop and have hot tea with spicy vadai.

Who would miss it especially when there is a beautiful view to enjoy and fresh air to refresh and relax.

Beautiful trees make the place even more beautiful.. This one was covered with lavender coloured flowers, spreading its fragrance, mixing it with the cold wind.

We had to make a stop on our way back, to make way for a lone elephant taking a leisurely walk down the scenic route 🙂  Since it was too dangerous to meet a lone elephant, could not take a photo of it to share it here.

Owners of these tea estates have beautiful scenic bungalows built on scenic hill-tops with un-matchable views adorning their windows.  The many labourers who work on these estates have small houses in closely knit communities. They are mostly migrants from nearby plains, who find the pay and life in hills more comfortable than the mad rush in cities where they have to struggle everyday for a living.

Men and woman folk work here in peace, spraying medicines, plucking tea leaves and tending to the lush green tea plants.

Children growing up here are so happy. Tea and its aroma is all around. Houses, pathways, Cricket grounds all carved between tea plants.

Life is not all that easy here… transportation is difficult. People have to ascend the hill and pass through forests to reach the plains for shopping or for medical care. Rain and storms cut them away from the plains, blocking the supply of daily commodities.

While these beautiful tea estates stand testimony to mankind’s progress, they also show his attitude in destroying forests and damaging the ecosystem. Tea estates themselves are not harmful to nature. But destroying vast expense of forests at a rapid pace is harmful to the world.

Destroying thousands of trees, wild undergrowth, wild animals, insects, reptiles, birds and all other living beings to clear the land for tea cultivation is a sorrowful story. While we enjoy the beauty of tea estates and visit them for a break from the mundane city life, let us not forget that too much of it is harmful to nature.

The wild and untamed

It is journey time again….to the wild and untamed forests and mountains. Called “Kovai Courtallam”, this forest reserve is a part of the mountains of Western Ghats. It is famous for its waterfall, which also goes by the same name “Kovai Courtallam”.

The way to Kovai Courtallam is marked by small towns and villages. No hurry here, everything here is calm and slow. A typical village morning, with people greeting each other, discussing newspapers and chatting away under a huge tree at the center of the village.

Leaving behind the villages, rest of the way is dotted with farms and coconut grooves. Welcoming visitors to the forest is a small creak. When water flow is less, this creek can be crossed by cars. But on other days, it is too forceful to let vehicles pass by. 

Tourist crowds and noises keep away wild animals. During heavy tourist inflow, it is safe to walk into the forest by ourselves. Duirng other times, wild animals frequent the trekking paths. Having a tribal to guide the way is the safest bet when tourist flow is less.  

Signboards like this dot the entrance… This one is a poem written the regional language, on the importance of  forests and protecting them.

Path to the waterfall is a small trek along a narrow path on the mountaneous terrain. There are rows and rows of tall trees on either sides with dense under growth.

Tree barks here are pealed away here and there… reason being elephants 🙂 These tree barks are elephants’  favourite food.  They stripe away bits and pieces of the bark as they walk through the forest.

Variety of trees in these forests are amazing… They are all huge, growing on rocks or  soil, fusing with one another, racing to reach the sky. They grow wild without any restraint.

It takes a 30 minute walk to the get a glimpse of the waterfalls…  Gushing and flowing down, the falsl seems to be alive with a spirit of its own. She is as wild as the trees around, winding her path around big rocks and eroding small ones to pave her way.

Starting as a small canal of water on top, widening as she flows down…

and down…

This waterfall is the source for River Noyyal that flows through Coimbatore. This river merges with River Bhavani, which in turn merges into River Cauvery before reaching its ultimate destination, the Bay of Bengal.

This is a view of River Noyyal a little below the mountains. View of the samr river as it flows through the insustrial towns of  Coimbatore, Tiruppur and Erode is a contrast to this.  Pollutants and dyeing effluents pollute it beyond recognition.

Fortunate are those who get a glimpse of the river close to its source. Its pristine beauty sourrounded by coconut trees, with the trumpeting sound of elephants from forests afar… It is sheer bliss.