The world is getting more and more connected. Advertisements claim that all the time and make it look more desirable. Technology has advanced so much that almost every eager impulse can be turned into texts and images and shared with one and all. But despite all this connectedness, loneliness seems to be engulfing human lives more than ever. A way to overcome that is to unplug and seek solitude in nature.
And one such getaway is a tiny island - Veettikunnu - in the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, a protected area in Chittur taluk of Palakkad district in Kerala.
We set out early in the morning from Kochi, after booking the island beforehand. We were to be accompanied by cooks and caretakers to our cottage in the island but bringing the supplies for our stay was upon us. So enroute, at Angamaly, we stocked our car's boot with spices and meat, especially pork meat, which is not easily available on the island.
The next stopover was in Chalakudy, Thrissur,for breakfast. Destination was Kanjikada, a quaint place on the Athirappally route, which served Conjee or a rice porridge served with cooked tapioca, a stir-fry dry dish made of beans served along with curd and cut onions and spicy fish curry. All of this for Rs.30. We couldn’t hope for a better start to our journey.
Once we entered the Thrissur-Wadakkanchery-Sethumadai route to the Parambikulam Reserve, a thick canopy of tamarind trees lined up on both sides of the road. The final stretch was through the Anamalai Tiger Reserve in Tamilnadu.
Before entering Parambikulam, our vehicle was checked at three different spots by forest officials. Sandeep, our contact person with the forest department, was waiting for us.
We parked our vehicle, a Toyota Innova, on the edge of Parambikulam dam and walked to the boatyard. We saw droves of pigs among the bamboo groves. We were warned of wild elephants waylaying us anytime.
As we approached the clear waters of the lake, we spotted a herd of elephants on the meadows. They were precariously close to us but didn't bother to our presence.
We climbed the fiber built boat that was operated by Sulaiman and Chandran, the two persons arranged by the forest officials to help us during our stay at the island.
It was a warm day and they spoke of the many lores of the forest. The stunted tree stumps amid waters with cormorants on them reminded us of Thekkady in Idukki.
We stepped out of the boat and walked to the tourist cottage - officially known as Veettikunnu Island Nest. Sulaiman tied the boat to a teak stump in the water and joined us on the island by wading the waters on a raft.
There was still some time till dusk. At a distance, we saw a mountain, Karimalagopuram, and several eyots around the island. We climbed the bamboo steps to the house that was surrounded by a trench to protect tourists from wild animal attacks. A forest of smaller trees, bamboos and sandalwood lay beyond.
We decided to trek to the watch tower on the island before the night set in. From there we went down to the riverbed to click pictures. The torch in our cell phones came handy on our walk back to the house. It was dark and we were wary of alligators in the bushes or elephants traversing the waters.
At the daybreak, we rushed to the lake to click some more snaps. Chandran checked the net around the raft for fish. We spotted a piglet in the trench on our way back to the cottage. After a delightful breakfast of steamed rice cake and green gram curry, we set on our journey back to the mainland.
The weather had turned from bright and sunny to overcast. Karimalagopuram looked like a women resting on her back, its peaks resembling a maiden’s bosom. A lonely female elephant was feeding on the fresh grass on one of the smaller islands.
As we made our way to the mainland, a forest guard called on one of our phones to warn us of the herd of elephants. They were still in the bamboo groves near the human track. Sulaiman ran towards the herd hollering. His trick worked as the herd quickly pulled back into the dense forest. The path was clear for us to move on. I turned back one last time and saw the female elephant from the other island swimming towards Veettikunnu.
The astute care taken by the forest officials in the matters of safety and precaution makes Veettikunnu a perfectly safe spot for a quiet but adventurous holiday. The friendly behavior of the officials makes it a popular destination among women travelers, too.
(You may call for more information on 8903461060.)