THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In the journey through the verdurous forest, the chilling breeze imparts a soothing touch to body and soul alike. Passing 22 hairpin curves, we reached the check post at the upper sanatorium of Ponmudi hill station. The entry is restricted through passes which are issued from 8 am to 5 pm. Crossing the check post we entered the hilly vegetation offering lovely scenes and memories to be carried throughout life. Bundles of white clouds appear as if they stay just beneath the greeny hills. It is almost similar to a bird’s eye view as we watch the lush green landscape which spreads across to infinite distance.
In the morning, you will find lunch bags hanging on tree trunks, left by women who pluck tea leaves in the nearby estates. After a certain distance, vehicles are not permitted and visitors need to tread on foot. The tarmac road comes to an end after a short walk and greener pastures welcome us from there. Though the merciless sun starts sending fierce rays from above, the ice-cool wind thwarts the sweltering heat refreshing us.
Pointing to the vast expanse, S Selvamani, a guard appointed by the Vana Samrakshana Samithi, explained in detail the places that are of interest to the visitors. Though it is summer, he says, the number of visitors to the place increases by afternoon. Staying there for some time, we set out to see ‘Seetha theertham’, a small pond, which has a sacred legend associated with it that Lord Rama’s wife Sita had taken a dip in it during ‘vanavasa’.
Reaching the place was a bit arduous as one needs to walk through thick forest and later plod the hilly path. At the end of it we see the tiny ‘Seetha theertham’ on hilltop. A few yards away from the pond, you will find a makeshift arrangement made of bamboo, grass and sticks. It has four deities inside it, supposed to be Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshman along with Hanuman. There are stone hearths in the vicinity with charred embers where people come to offer pongala at the temple on special days. As we started our trip downhill, the tea pluckers were back from hours of labour and were happily having lunch from the packets.