A national park among the mountains
|Munnar – 3 Immediately, we left for Eravikulam National Park (popularly known as Rajamalai) which is a distance of 14 km. The 97 sq km park lies along the high ranges of the western coast in the Munnar Forest Division of Idukki district and straddles the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the north where it extends as the Anamalai National Park.The area of Rajamalai was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1936 and Eravikulam was upgraded to the status of a national park only in 1978.The park is divided into three regions – the core area, the buffer area and the tourism area. Visitors are allowed only to the tourism area, which is in the Rajamalai region (which is perhaps the reason for its popular name).We were asked to alight at the park junction and take the forest bus after buying a ticket costing Rs 15. We found travelling along the Ghat road with hairpin bends quite thrilling but were soon disappointed when asked to alight where the motorable road ended.From here it involved a trek through the rocky surface to reach the top of the park from where we could have a spectacular view and also take a close look at the Nilgiri Tahr, one of the rare species which freely roamed in the area.
The suggestion didn’t appeal to us as it was already mid-day with the blinding sun scorching our skin. While talking to some of the tourists who returned from the trek drenched in sweat, we learnt their effort had been futile excepting for one who said he sighted what looked like a very small Nilgiri Tahr.
Though it came as a poor consolation, I was pleased to capture a splendid view of the rising mountain shining in all its natural colours in the mid-day sun.
While returning to the junction, we spotted rare species of birds perched on trees and managed to click a few pictures.
It was a long drive of over 20 km in the enervating heat to our next destination – the Lukkam Waterfalls, one of the many beautiful falls Munnar boasts of.
Once there, we realised that the falls were not visible from the roadside and it involved trekking a considerable distance .We proceeded though with some trepidation but were amply rewarded at the sight of the foamy waters cascading down the rocks forming a stream down below. A few people stood amidst the pebbles enjoying the cool waters.
When I mentioned to the woman who sold us the tickets that the stream was quite thin, she said during the rainy season it was dangerous to even venture to visit the falls as people are known to have been washed away by the force of the gurgling waters.
N. Meera Raghavendra Rao