The cool breeze foretold of the sparkling waterfalls tucked away in the wilderness we were headed towards.
The drive to Mankayam was one that called for many a halt, so we could feast on the rolling hills rising on the horizon, the windswept trees stooping over thick foliage and the naughty squirrels and many-hued birds who flitted about to check on the trespassers.
Past an idyllic setting on the wayside, where a mosque, a temple and a grotto of Mother Mary shared a large patch of tree shade, our car sped up the winding road. It pulled up to stop at a check point where Vanasamrakshna Samithi employee Valsala handed us entry tickets and it wasn’t yet more than an hour since we had started.
We got down near a bamboo hut that stood in a clearing awaiting visitors and weary trekkers to take a quick brunch. Soon, we were off to explore the sparkling waters tumbling down into a natural tub downriver. On the steps leading uphill, we met 77-year-old Japamani, carrying plastic waste he had picked up from the surroundings of ‘Kalakkayam’, the mighty falls we were warned to keep off from. And daunting it was with the Chittar river gushing in all glory to fall into the cavernous ‘Kalakkayam’. But for the roar of the cascading waters, a cathartic
silence blanketed the still forest.
Those with an inkling for adventure have the option of going for treks to Iruthala Moola and Ayampara which has another scenic waterfall. The ‘Varayadin Mottai’ trek is another highlight and if lucky, one could spot the endangered Nilgiri Tahr grazing along the inclines of the peak. Visitors can seek the assistance of guides for the treks.
There is not much by way of amenities except for a toilet at the Vanasamrakshana Samithi’s outpost. It would be best to carry some food with you as you would not find a hotel or tea shop within the distance of one or two kilometres.
The cool water had done wonders to our senses and the world looked blissfully fresh as we journeyed back from the verdant grove.