George Thengummoottil, a double post graduate in Computer Science and Mass Communicationm blogs on Technology, Travel, Lifestyle and Philosophy
One of the best treks in the Western Ghats from Coimbatore, through pristine forests to reach a Siva Temple@ 1800 meters above sea level. We stayed in a cave under a huge 25 meter high rock during the night.22-Feb-2007
The Vellingiri Hills / Velliangiri Hills
Vellingiri hills (Velliangiri Hills), a part of the Western Ghats 40 kilometers west of Coimbatore is one of the four hills surrounding Attapady plateau. Seen predominantly from Attappady and Coimbatore as a hill with a pinnacle on top, at an altitude of 1778 meters above sea level, it is considered holy and worshiped by the people of Attappady.
Our Trip To Velliangiri (Vellingiri) Hills
It was Friday afternoon, a weekend and we, Zachariah Mathews my classmate and I was looking for some new place for a week end getaway. While talking about this, my eyes got stuck at the tall pinnacle over a big hill seen to the west to our Hostel near airport. "What about his hill?".
We had no clue about the location of the hill. We asked a few local people, who convinced us that the hill is a few hundred Kilometers away and a few others were very sure that “It is a part of Ooty” ( A hill station in Tamilnadu 90 Kms North West). Thanks to the NASA`s World Winds through which I could track it and feed it into my Garmin Geko which said it was only 17 kilometers away from us.
VIEW OF THE SURVANI VALLEYSurvani Dam, source of fresh water to Coimbatore city is located at this valley, hidden under mist.
We continued further along the same road called Siruvani Main Road crossing Alandurai and reached Iruttupalayam. We took a right from the junction and continued along the main road called Pondy road, crossing Semmedu and a few towns, ignoring the intersection of small roads heading the hill seen to the front.
Trekking the Velliangiri (Vellingiri) Hills
That was the end of motor-able road and now we had to trek up along the trail. We parked our bikes near the temple and took a break and had a few doshas at one of the tea shop in front of Pondy temple.
The environment completely changed as we reached an altitude of 1200 MASL.The track was pretty much flat and the forest changed to grassland-sholas. There were no big trees and the hills in front of us was wrapped with Neela Kurinji (Strobilanthes kunthiana) plants spotted with its small beautiful blue blowers. The hill was open and the winds was strong. we could see the places around and down the hill clearly : occasionally hidden by mist.
Neela Kurinji is a plant endemic to Western Ghats and most of it blooms only once in 12 years (next bloom in 2018). There a few species which blooms once in a year or sometimes once in three years. Nilakurinji is found along the high altitude slopes of Munnar in Kerala (Eravikulam National Park) and Palany Hills in Tamilnadu.
After trekking for another two hours we reached Sitamala: We could see the Coimbatore City to our east, down the hill. We were also able to get a birds eye view of Survani Dam to our South West, half way down the hill. Survani Dam, is the source of fresh water to Coimbatore City.
We had our lunch and slept for some time enjoying the cool breeze and the nature`s music. We were refreshed by the fresh cool mountain water from the stream nearby. We could see the pinnacle a few hundred meters away but it another hour to reach at the top trekking along the very steep track.
Sights At The Top
By 4 PM we reached the food of the pinnacle: a hug rock which is about 20 meter high and 10 meters in diameter. It was a huge rock, with two other rocks, almost half the size of ir. One of the rocks resembled the head of a king with crown and there was another resembled the head of a dog which was separated by a big cave of about 20 meters in diameter.
It was getting late and chill; the beauty of the hill forced us to stay at the hill top, inside the cave very much interested in staying in the cave for the night. We collected a bunch of firewood to keep ourselves warm during the night. By 8 PM, we had our frozen food sitting near the fireplace and slowly crawled into our sleeping bags. During nigh, we could see the city lights of Coimbatore and Tiripur down hill and the street light of the roads connecting the cities.
Our early morning wake up was blessed with the view the spectacular sunrise. It seemed to me like looking down from heaven, with cloud base below us (Inversion) and the sun crawling up like a big orange thrown out from a huge ocean of milk. The scene lasted for about half an hour until the heat of the sun accelerated the clouds to ascent to the atmosphere.
Then we had a good chat with the Adivasis from Attappady, working in at the temple, learning several things about Attapady and returned back by noon reaching Coimbatore by evening 6.
PN: Women below 45 are not allowed to climb Velliangiri (Vellingiri) Hill as per religious rules. Please keep the ghats clean and carry back home all the trash. Feb to May is ideal to visit and try trekking at night, to escape from hot sun. Ascent is steep and take sufficient breaks.. Carry torch and warm clothing and sufficient food. Fresh water springs are there at the end of 2nd (Paambaati) hill, end of 3rd (Kaithatti) hill and end of 6th (Haandi). Never harm or feed wild animals and feed on plants on way.
How to Reach : You can take a taxi or public bus (Number 14D) from Gandhipuram, Coimbatore to Isha Foundation (1 hour / 38 kms). Poodi/ Vellingiri foot is just 2 km by walk before Isha Foundation(direct Coimbatore-Poodi buses is available every two hours usually during festive seasons).
I love traveling and I have made the most of it while working in Bhutan.By traveling zig-zag all across India from North to South between Kerala and Bhutan for holidays. The mercy of many editors combined with my enthusiasm to photography and (re)creative writing has filled up the pages of several glossy magazines, newspapers and books...read more