When Mohanlal explored the home of glorious sunsets

Noted writer R Ramanand accompanied actor Mohanlal on a trek to Kodachadri in Karnataka and in a detailed online post, he shared the experiences as well. Photo: Facebook/R Ramanand

It's often said that the best views come from the hardest climb. As for Kodachadri aka Kudajadri Hills in the Western Ghats of Karnataka, which is surrounded by dense forests, trekkers love it for this exact reason. Recently, noted writer R Ramanand accompanied actor Mohanlal on such a trek and in a detailed Facebook post, he shared the experiences as well. Interestingly, the actor had scaled the hills before too, about 38 years ago. He had also visited the village named Chitramoola located at the foothills of Kodachadri.
Trekking with Mohanlal
Ramanand says, “I was in class ten when I read his experiences of visiting Kodachadri with Chandukutty Swamy (the founder of Kollur Ramananda Ashram). It was indeed a splendid account that inspired me greatly. Later, I got the chance to trek the Kodachadri hills many times and even had steaming puttu and kadala (Bengal gram curry) from Thankappan chettan’s quaint eatery in the area.” The writer apparently couldn’t help but ponder over Mohanlal’s experiences, every time he went there.

Recently, Ramanand visited Thiruvannamalai with Mohanlal and from there, they decided to make an impromptu trip to Mookambika. “It was almost noon when we reached Kollur on April 16. Some of our friends and many respectable persons whom we see as our gurus were waiting for us at the village of Mastighat. The serenity of the dense forest and the might of Mookambika Devi had overwhelmed us. We folded our hands, prayerfully, in front of the ‘Guardian’ of the Amba forest. We saw the Garuda Cave where Garuda or Suparnan did penance to please the Goddess. Meanwhile, the sweet sound of the flowing water in River Souparnika was music to our ears,” narrates Ramanand.

A humble journey
From there, the group headed to an eatery called Amma mess where they had food and rested for a while. The jeep that would take them to Kodachadri was ready by then. Carrying just a cloth bag full of essential items, they stepped into the jeep. “Everyone, except me, requested Mohanlal to sit in the front seat. I had witnessed how humble he can be, especially while travelling, many times. When they kept insisting, he said with a smile, ' Well, I am Appu’s father (referring to his son and actor Pranav, who is often hailed for his simplistic travel habits).' While having food, our companions had spoken, in awe, about some of the exciting trips that Pranav had been to,” the writer says.

Taking the traditional path
The off-road trip through the forest path in a jeep was apparently extremely jerky. The Kodachadri summit where the Goddess receives the offerings from the beautiful nature is also believed to be the dwelling of Kalabhairava, her immortal lover. The iron trident that is said to be used by the Goddess to kill Mookasur (demon) mesmerizes us. The trident that hasn’t rusted yet is a mystery that owes its credit to India’s incredible metallurgy science.

Interestingly, many Malayalis and people from other states recognized the actor and were eager to snap a picture. “However, he had completely surrendered his heart to Mookambika Devi,” says Ramanand. Leaving the regularly used forest path, they decided to scale the heights through the traditional path that isn’t used today. “Lalettan said that Chandukutty Swamy had taken him through that path. We walked towards Agastya theertham; we listened to the flowing water somewhere in the distance. We lost our way many times as night began to fall. It was difficult to see the forest path in the darkness.” At some places, they used creepers and vines to climb down. Ramanand says he felt the group might get lost in that dense forest, but Mohanlal was unfazed and told them that they could spend the night in the forest if lost. After a while, they spotted the holy stream of Siddhayogaraja Sri Agastyeshwara. “We drank from the stream to our heart’s content, washed our faces in the refreshing water and spent a few moments there without even thinking about the arduous journey that awaited us.”

They knew they could reach the Ganapati Cave if they scaled a little bit more. Mohanlal, refreshing his memories, also assured them they were closer to the cave. “We trekked through the difficult forest path to reach the jungle abode of Lord Vigneshwara. We lighted the lamp, offered puffed and flattened rice and prayed in front of the idol,” he says.

Leaving the traditional path, they entered the path to Sarvajna Peedam or the seat of knowledge. Though it was growing darker, they kept walking. Visitors are apparently supposed to get out of this path before 6 pm. “The Sarvajna Peeda, against the starry night sky, looked as majestic as the head of Sree Sankara adorned with the crescent,” Ramanand says. The statue of Adi Sankara, in meditation pose, is the central point of attraction in the garba griha. “We lighted the lamp here, placed our offerings and closed our eyes to pray,” he recalls.

The comments posted here/below/in the given space are not on behalf of Onmanorama. The person posting the comment will be in sole ownership of its responsibility. According to the central government's IT rules, obscene or offensive statement made against a person, religion, community or nation is a punishable offense, and legal action would be taken against people who indulge in such activities.