We, that is my group of friends and I love exploring. We prefer places less visited, which are not so popular. And it was our quest for new places that led us to explore Chekkunnu in Kozhikode and Thollayiram in Wayanad.
And this time round, we wanted to go to Koomba Mala. Not many, according to the guide, had climbed right up to the top. And till we did, no one had ever wanted to camp in the hill. Our guide was baffled when we told him our wish to camp at the hill overnight. Trekking Permission from the Forest Department is a necessary prerequisite.
We reached Kakkad at 9 am – ten of us, with two guides. We had packed enough food to last us the night. We started trekking through the forest at 10-30 am. And very fast, our reserve of water was getting low. However, we were in the forests, and there was a clear stream of water flowing down the hill. We rested there before continuing our trek.
The climb became steeper thereafter. The paths disappeared, and we had to make our own. We refreshed ourselves with glucose powder. But as we proceeded, we had cause to be more afraid of leeches than of big beasts. However, that did not deter us. We trudged on for about thirteen kilometers through fairly thick jungle, and decided to rest and have our lunch. We cooked tapioca and beef.
The Peak: Koombu Mala is 2400 feet above Mean Sea Level. It was cool, and misty. We did not have any emergency lights. We gathered firewood from the forest and set up a fire. That was “three birds at one shot”. The fire kept off the wild elephants and bison. It kept us warm. And we roasted our chicken dish on it. Supper was, therefore, sumptuous. And we sang and exchanged stories. In the dim light, it was beautiful to watch the traffic from Kunnamangalam to the ninth bend of the road to Wayanad. Time passed easily. By midnight, we were asleep, on the rocks below the bright moon.
Early the next morning the guide woke us up. Our cameras ready, we caught the glorious sight - witness the photos we show. Why should we go to the ends of the world, when such sights are so plentiful in our own native Kozhikode district – we wondered.
We breakfasted off kanji and the remains of the previous night’s dinner. Starting back at 10-45 AM, we felt sad to leave. Many slipped and fell. But it took us only an hour and a half to reach the lake. We went on to the guide’s house where we had kept our motorcycles. And that was the end of our holiday.
Koombu Mala is near Kakkad in Kozhikode district.
It is mandatory to get permission from the Forest Department for this trek.
This trek cannot be undertaken during the monsoon season.
(This story was first published in Team Riders, a popular travel group on Facebook in Malayalam. Translated with permission by the author, IAm Shafi)