When nature calls ( Part I ) : Ponmudi Hill Station, Trivandrum
It was Saturday Evening and after reaching home I had decided to unwind from the pressure and long office hours at desk. So we decided to go somewhere nearby as there was no much time to relax & we had to get back to work the next day. May be some hill station or beach which was less crowded. I had a number of places in mind and zeroed on Ponmudi. It had been a while I travelled to Ponmudi and I also knew my wife had never been to Ponmudi. My wife was a little sceptical about the trip as our Zavian was having a slight cold. Thats when I heard "DADA DADA..!!!" It was my Zavian, who was already agreeing for another trip. He was so excited. We decided to pack up the food & necessary water and was ready to start the engine early next day. Thus Zavi's second road trip was about to be materialised.
If you have not read his first road trip then feel free to read COORG : ZAVI'S FIRST ROAD TRIP, and come back.
Those who do not know where Ponmudi is, here is a quick intro. Ponmudi ( the Golden Peak ) is a hill station in the Thiruvananthapuram ( also known as Trivandrum ) district of Kerala in India. It is located 55 Kms north east of Trivandrum city at an altitude of 1100m. Ponmudi peak is a part of Western Ghats mountain range that runs parallel to the Arabian Sea. It is difficult to find beaches & hill station under such short distances. Kovalam & Sanghumugham beaches are very much accessible from the city while Ponmudi is also not far away from the city.
I had visited this place a lot of time both with my friends and alone. As I love to drive, this was the first place I had visited when I bought my first car. Even when I got my first DSLR camera, Ponmudi was the place I went first to click some beautiful landscape photos. But this time it was all different, it was going to be a family trip with my family including my In-laws. We started from Ayoor, via Kadakkal > Palode > Vithura > Pondmudi Peak. The route map is shown below.
The road condition was not that great till Kadakkal and from there it is was better. I never actually expected well maintained roads till Ponmudi Peak ( road condition as on Jan 2018. ) If you are traveling from Trivandrum city, then it would be like City > Kowdiar > Peroorkada > Nedumangadu >Vithura > Kallar > Ponmudi.
We decided to take food along with us as we were not sure about the quality of food we could find at the hill station. So Laya's mom did the cooking early morning & we boys, myself dad and our little Zavi were all ready to roll by 0600 hrs with packed food and water. Zavi slept as soon as we crossed the gate of our home. Thank god, he loves to sleep in his baby seat as soon as he jumps into the car.
A little past an hour, we decided to step down for having breakfast. We were all hungry by then. We had reached somewhere near Vithura and started looking for some parking space off the road, however it was diffcult to park Isuzu Dmax Vcross in such small roads. And its not recommended even if its any other car. We stopped as soon as we reached a deserted bus stop and stepped down at that spot. Everyone jumped out & felt the cold air breezing through. Laya and Mom started to unpack breakfast for us. In the meantime Zavi woke up and jumped out to see the scenery and he was very much excited to see stray dogs wandering around.
We had a wonderful breakfast and hoped in for the final lap. We had 22 hair pin curves up ahead from Kallar. The roads were winding between thick forest, the smell of wet soil and sound of birds chirping made it a wonderful ride. We reached the gate where we had to pay an Entrance Fee. I believe it was 20 INR for each person and another 20 INR for the vehicle. Also if you plan on taking photos using a camera, there was a charge of around 50 INR. Those who want to spend a day or two will have to depend on the Govt guest house, which is somewhere near the last checkpost.Once we reach the top station, we can see a newly built refreshment point, complete with restaurant , restrooms and a kids play area. For those who love to depend on public transport, our KSRTC has a route bus till Ponmudi top station. And this is the place where the KSRTC bus stops at the peak. Usually its difficult to park my Dmax while travelling around the city centre, but this time I was jumping around with joy that I got lots of space to park my pick up truck.
Shola Trail is a kids friendly place with a decent kids park. Unfortunately, when we reached there the park was deserted and no other kids were there to play with my little Zavi. That didn't stop him from enjoying the climate & the play area. He was happy to run around the park and played very well( always adult supervision is recommended ). In monsoon season, it would be wet and one would be able to find leeches. Do consider carrying salt and lighter which will help to remove the leeches if they find their way to your body. However, in summer one wouldn't have to worry about leeches. It was so calm & the place gave us a very pleasant welcome. Climate, nature and the atmosphere helped us to relax and get rid of our tension & pressure.
Ponmudi was not usually considered ideal for family trips especially because of lack of comfort zones and security. Those days are gone, and I believe the Govt., has uplifted the trust and tourist operations at Ponmudi and near by attractions. Although when we reached on top only the employees who had just come in KSRTC bus were there. Soon there were other families joining us at the top station.
Zavi was enjoying the cold breeze and loving the deserted roads. He started to run with the wind, hands wide spread, and removed his hoodie to let the cold air touch his head. Was absolutely loving it. I was worried and asked him to use the hat & his hoodie. But he started complaining and pointed to the other side of the mountain. Zavi wanted to explore more. He was insisting that we walk towards the peak. Laya and Mom took over Zavi and he was allowed to walk holding hands. Dad was silently watching these and enjoying his grandson having fun in this environment. He also wanted to let free our little Zavi so our little one could enjoy the nature.
After a long walk enjoying the scenic nature and cold weather Zavi was ready to go back to our car. He wanted to have some food. He started to be restlessness and we decided to walk back. While we were walking back to car, Dad took a deviated tour via the hills to see the other side of the mountain. I was clicking amazing clouds and the footpaths leading to the other side. After spending an hour or so we were all relaxed and our mind was clear to observe the beauty and freedom the nature presents. I sat down to see how the clouds flew by, how the birds & insects made clam and stress free music. It was so awesome.
After reaching back to our car, Zavi had lots of water and food. He was very fussy and adamant that he only wanted to open his tiffin box and have food by himself.
As it started to get more and more crowded, we rolled down the hill to the next pitstop. It was the Meenmutty falls, Kallar which is located near the Neyyar Reservoir area. Stay tuned to our next edition for our trip details to Meenmutty falls ( WHEN NATURE CALLS ( PART II ) - MEENMUTTY FALLS, KALLAR, TRIVANDRUM ).
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