Where Karikkum puzha sprays down
Our journey was through the bamboo forest where the elephants spread a shadow of fear. Since the elephants usually attack from their hiding places, the bushes were being removed under the supervision of the forest department. When we continued our walk passing the Kattunaykkar colony in Punjakkolli, we saw the disgusting scenes of the rubber plantations which was planted by the people who migrated to the forest. That is why the elephants come down from the forest to destroy the plantations.
By travelling 14 kilometers through the Nilamboor - Ooty road you will reach Alakkal where the Cholanaykkar colony is located. Now they have moved from there huts to new concrete houses. A place inhabited by 30 families . Chathan Mooppan received us.
You must see the Karikkummpuzha water falls in the thick forest. A trekking with the Cholanaykkars. We got Vellakkarian as guide. He was going to the forest to extract honey. 'I will take you there, but I won't be coming back. I will be returning only after one week. We can take Sujith and Ramesh with us. They will help you to come back.' Kariyan said.
We started our forest journey after passing the Punnapuzha beyond the colony. There was very little water in the river. The water was very clear. On the way we saw their hut. A hut beneath a big rock near the river bank. Now a days the people who come here to catch fish stay overnight in this type of huts.
The path became more rugged. You will have to climb the steep heights by catching creepers and branches. Karian climbs this even with out wearing any chappals. Thorns and stones never give any problem to his feet. 'Why don't you wear a chappal?' 'You won't be able to run or climb a tree when the elephant comes' Kariyan's explanation. But it seems that there are no elephants or wild animals in the inner forest Even the elephant dung has become old and is being eaten by termites. It seems that all these are camping near this place. We saw only some black monkeys and green snakes. There are python and hamadryad in this place.
There were no paths to be seen. The trail made by Karian is the path. Sometimes we slip on dry leaves. If you leave your hold you will be stopping only some where in the valleys We were a little bit worried about our return journey. Since we have started, any how we have to go. Photographer Saji is struggling to walk with his fat body. 'If you go like this we won't be reaching the water falls today'. Then we will have to bring the water falls here.'. Kariyan asked us whether you would like to take a photo of the small water falls on the way and go back. ' No it won't be fair. We are here seeking the unseen world'.
Occasionally Kariyan is making some marks on the large trees with his big knife. Are these marks a for finding the right path while returning. Hey no. There is honey on the top. If the tree is marked, nobody will claim the honey. This is also a symbol of the trust among the members of the tribes. They will tie small trees with grooves on the big trees which are about hundred meters high. During nights they will climb to the tree top by stepping on this. The honeybees are evacuated with smoke before taking the honey and they will come down through a rope in hand.
You can hear the rythm of the water flow from the valley below. Is the water falls nearing? ' No , this is only a small water fall in between. We will have to go further to see the main water fall'. We worshiped the iguana in our mind. We can climb upwards catching the creepers and branches like an iguana. We thought about the 'utumperimaram' when we talked about the iguana. A tree with a bark with projecting scales. It is said that the iguana cannot climb this tree. Like that, you will feel feverish when you touch the tree anaviratti. You can see a lot of pageants like that in the forest.
We started hearing the roar of the water falls closer. We came down through a slope on the hill. Stepping on the pebbles, we looked ahead. The pebbles looked like chopped pieces of a mountain thrown on to the ground. A big rock like a huge wall of a fort. A small slightly spread water fall on the top. Just below you can see a high water fall which sprays down without touching the rock. Again below there is a small water fall. Then the milky surf river which flows squeezing between the pebbles.
The second watter fall is more attractive. A beautiful view of a river spraying down. That sways when the wind blows. It changes it's direction. It loses it's continuity in the strong wind. The place where the water falls keeps on changing. A dancing feast of water in the rythm of the forest river. The height will be about 120 meters. This will be the highest water fall in Kerala. We don't know whether there may be many more unknown water falls like this in the deep forests.
We came down along with the river, In some places we descended in sitting position like the elephants. This is a journey in which we will have to act sometimes like iguana or an elephant or a monkey. When we reached down at Alakkal it was dark. Putting the rice and beans for cooking we went to the river for bathing. Here the Karikkumpuzha is called Punnappuzha. But the water in this river never loses it's clarity and purity. When we finished our lavish bath, a breeze came from the west as a relief.
Next day we stared walking and reached Aanamari. Before reaching Kozhikode via Vazhikadavu, Nilamboor, Manjeri, and Ramanaattukara, we saw this river again in Feroke. The river which sprays down in Karikkumpuzha is a vast river here. She has become salty by the kisses of her lover, the sea. The water in which we took our bath in the forest would have reached here yesterday itself.
Text : G Jyothilal
Photos : Saji Chunda