Poombarai Village A little further to the west the road forks. Straight one leads to Mannavannur & Kavunji and the right deviation is to Kukkal village. Another 8 km and just before the road ends, is the Kukkal lake. There are only 2 cottages near the Kukkal lake, and we had a contact that came through for us to get a room in one of those cottages. It wasn't anything fancy, just a huge room big enough for all of us.
Manavanur-Poombarai.Another untouched heaven"Berijam" 30 kms ride from Kodaikanal town. This place is less traveled and now a restricted one.You need to get a permission from Kodai forest Department to enter here and visit is time bounded and you need to return by 3 pm. Berijam caught the attraction of artists, nature lovers, musicians and tourists.The lake is a source of pure natural mountain water.Its deep inside the forest and far away from civilization.civilization. Munnar another famous hill station in Kerala is around 40 kms from Berijam.There is also a trekking route through forest to Munnar which takes 3 days.There is a dormitory in Berijam which is a base for trekkers.
Nirmal and Sumant leave for Kodai on their bike and we four hire a taxi. We almost lose them but finally we get down near the Kodai lake and walk towards the bus stop. We wait for a long time for the local bus. We were waiting for the blue bus. We were going to Poombarai. Poombarai is a village located in the heart of Palani Hills in the Western Ghats. It is 18 killometres from Kodaikanal. We four got on the bus and none of us knew Tamil. The conductor charges us 10 bucks each. Everyone else in the bus were local villagers. The bus went on with a neck-breaking speed through the twists and turns of the mountains. I could barely hold on to the railings of the bus seats. The bus enters the Pine forests. Huge thick Pine trees surround us. Everywhere i could see, i saw lines and lines of Pine forest. It appeared that everyone in the bus knew everyone else. All of a sudden all the women in the bus would start talking. It was as if i was lost in a huge birds nest. Through the winding and turning paths of the forest, we finally reached Poombarai. It takes us 2 hours. We meet Nirmal and Sumant there. We sit outside a temple and eat egg pakoras. Nirmal tells us that going to Pundi is not possible so we must go on to another village. He meets a village elder and jumps into a long animated conversation. The rest of us just pretend to look interested. We keep waiting for some bus to take us to this next village. The village elder takes us to a local view point from where we witness the surrounding mountain ranges. The whole of Palani Hills seemed to greet us. The hills were cut into steps for farming. We stood on the edge and smoked a joint with the village elder. The mist of the air filled our lungs. We stood in awe looking at the clouds play with the tress and if the hills were on fire. It was 2:30 and my plans of catching my bus to Bangalore seemed very bleak. We climb back down to the village center. We walk to the booze shop and buy "Honey Dew" brandy. This was for the night. Nirmal had talked to some guy and the guy agreed to give us a lift to about a kilometer from the other village in his goods jeep. I got on with Sumant on his bike. Nirmal and others got on the back of the jeep. We crossed through lines of Eucalyptus. We crossed broken down roads and few paths so steep that i had to get off the bike. The jeep followed us. We would stop at the T-points and smoke cigarettes. We would wander into the forests. Every spot seemed like a magic place. After an hour of travelling, the jeep dropped them off and went into the forest. Then they had to trek. I too got down off the bike and trekked for a while. But Sumant got bored of riding alone so again i was on bike. We made a stop on a small bridge over a stream. It was raining really hard. We all were soaked. We stood under a bent crooked tree and smoked a chillum. After 45 minutes we took the final turn and came face to face with the most awe inspiring lake. It stretched out as far as i could see. The water was so pure and everything around it was peaceful. We crossed the banks and sat on the concrete divider and smoked. The soft sunlight glimmers from the lake. A steep winding path leads from the lake to the village hamlet. We walk towards the village in total silence.We are greeted by village kids like rockstars with lines of stretched out hands. "Welcome to our village", they kept repeating. The evening fell soon. We were looking for a place to stay. One local invited us to use a potato shed on the hill steep. Not anticipating the night, we agreed and went in search of fire wood. An old women chided us for being so careless. She lets us stay at the government shed. She gets us Eucalyptus bark for firewood. We light the fire. Sumant and I go to the only local bar. It is a small room and people sit around drinking. We drank few pegs and packed 'sapar' from the only kitchen and went back to out camp. I keep drinking and sitting near the fire. The wind rises and crashed against the tin shed. Everyone is shivering in the room. I open my bag and share my clothes with everyone. Nirmal is shivering and quiet. We all fall asleep. In the morning Nirmal and Sumant go in search of Mushrooms . Realising i have very less time to catch the bus from Kodai, I rush to the lake (which is also the bus stop) and catch the direct bus to Kodai.