Manjolai - A Hidden Jewel

Tripoto

I took a walk from Oothu to Nalumukku, about 4 kms away, amidst the lush green tea estates. The roads were nice and winding. Finally, the 1130 bus arrived and I boarded the bus at Nalumukku towards Oothu and then down to Kallidaikurichi. Upon return, I got an opportunity to see Kakkachi, the It was a long weekend and there were two things to celebrate. One, my own birthday (well, i never celebrate it myself, but decided to treat myself with a ride this time), Two, friend and colleague George's son, David's Baptism. The Baptism was to happen on Saturday, so the addicted rider set off on friday (April 28th) towards Kollam to catch up with George's family and also enjoy a nice ride of 670 kms. The ride was nice until crossing Thenmala by evening, around 4 PM. The roads narrowed down and riding became a challenge. Hey, you are in Kerala, how else do you expect the roads to be. The event went well as the addicted rider attended the Baptism function and the brunch arranged for at The Raviz Resort. After some chit chatting with friends, it was time to check out from KTDC and leave Kollam. Original plan was to meet up with Balaji Mohan and other friends at Kodaikanal for camping but plan changed at last minutes as a couple of riders could not make it. I was left with a couple of options to travel out to, from Kollam, Manjolai near Ambasamudram and Kolukkumalai, near Munnar. Munnar was too far from Kollam and it would've taken a hell lot of time to reach. Ambasamudram was pretty close by, about 140 kms. I remember, back in 2013, I had been va Ambasamudram as part of my "Tour of TamilNadu" and had stopped at the Ambasamudram Forest Ranger Office to obtain permission. Unfortunately, permission was not granted then. This time I was determined to do that and take my motorcycle up. The addicted rider left Kollam at 130PM and reached Tenkasi outskirts at 400PM. Google maps recommended going via Kutralam (Courtallam as named by the Brits). On the outskirts of old Courtallam, rain gods opened the floodgates from nowhere. The hill running parallel to the road suddenly disappeared and a heavy wind occupied the atmosphere. The motorcycle wouldn't move freely on the road and there was a chance of falling down. The Addicted Rider somehow found a tea shop and managed to take shelter until the breeze and rain came down. Still 30 kms more to go. After a long wait at the tea shop, the addicted rider decided to continue towards Kallidaikurichi, the town just after Ambasamudram. Finally, reached Kallidaikurichi ata 630PM and checked into Bhaskar Lodge. Being late into town, on a saturday evening, there was no chance of going to the forest rangers office requesting for permission. Decided to take a bus, but wait, I don't know the bus timing yet. After a quick change over, i took a small walk across the Kallidaikurichi main road enquiring people about bus timings to Manjolai and Kuthiraivetti. Some mentioned 3AM, 330AM, well, I wasn't too convinced. I asked people where to board a bus to Kuthiraivetti. After dinner and an hour long walk, finally found out where to board the bus, what time to reach, etc. etc. The hotel guys asked me to check out early in the morning as rooms had been booked for the sunday morning I anyways had to leave early, so I decided to check out at 215 AM. Informed the hotel guys and left my saddle bag and riding jacket at the reception. The first bus was scheduled for 3:30 AM. After a rickety ride up hill, I reached "oothu" by 6:00 AM. Stopped for a quick tea at one of the 2 tea shops available and decided to walk towards Kuthiraivetti. Oothu is the last point where buses normally stop, where there is a tea-shop. Food can be ordered there in advance. One can take a walk down to Kuthiraivetti and return to Oothu to have breakfast. 5 kms away, being the only sole character walking down a path of bliss, I reached Kuthiraivetti view point at 745 AM. A few minutes to roam around, clicking pictures and it was time to head back to Oothu. I began walking back. After about 1.5 kms, I realized that I was getting hungry. The road was heading upward and the trail was getting tough. I was so lucky to see a truck loaded with wood load. Took a lift and reached Oothu by 9 AM. Time for breakfast and then someone recommended going to Nukkodu view point. Unfortunately, there was not much time to visit Nukkodu viewpoint. The next available bus was at 1130 AM from Oothu down to Kallidaikurichi. This time, when heading downward, i noticed the road and its condition. No wonder, they did not permit motorcyclists to go uphill. Such was the path. It took another 2 hours to reach Kallidaikurichi. Near the Kallidaikurichi RS, I got an opportunity to speak to the bus driver. He mentioned that the same bus again goes towards Kuthiraivetti from Ambasamudram at 8PM. He even asked to take down the bus conductor's phone number, though i did not have the time to do it and the bus had to move on. Next time, one should take the bus at 8PM and head to Kuthiraivetti to stay for the night. A government guest house is available, that can be booked, I believe, at the Forest Ranger office at Ambasamudram. Tenting is also possible, the only reason why it is not recommended is because of the possibility of wild animals being cited in the night.natural golf course. Bus Timings - From/via Ambasamudram / Kallidaikurichi Please verify these bus timings with the locals or at the Ambasamudram Bus Stand. 3:30 AM - near Kallidaikurichi RS towards Oothu For pictures, check the album: 8:00 AM - Ambasamudram Bus Stand towards Oothu 8:00 PM - Ambasamudram Bus Stand towards Kuthiraivetti Bus Timings - From Kuthiraivetti / Oothu / Nalumukku 4:30 AM - from Kuthiraivetti towards Ambasamudram 11:30 AM - from Oothu towards Papanasam 4:00 PM - from Oothu towards Ambasamudram Bus Stand

· By Road: From Bangalore - kallidaikurichi - Approx 600 kms

· By Air - Bangalore to Tirunelveli and from there by bus

Name: Manjolai

Address: Near Kallidaikurichi, via Manimuthar Dam and Water Falls

More address info: Tirunelveli District

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