Kudukathupara: A climb to serenity


Mesmerizing Kudukathupara is located 840 metres above sea level. You can walk up to as high as 780 metres. The sights that you see once you reach the top is breath-taking indeed. You can view four districts of Kerala and a bit of Tamil Nadu as well. In the dense forest ranges of the Alayamon Panchayat in Anchal, Kudukathupara stands majestically. For those of you heading at the drop of a hat to Munnar or Ponmudi to revel in the beauty of the Western Ghats, Kudukathupara will certainly be a revelation. With a treasure trove of majestic sights, this grandfather rock will amaze us. Almost 4 districts in Kerala can be seen from the top, and a small part of Tamil Nadu. It’s a sad fact that the Tourism Department completely ignores the potential that this spot holds. When you look at Kudukathupara from various directions in other districts, this sole rock formation appears to take on different shapes and forms. This is a distinguishing factor in itself. The place is so silent, that the wind will carry the sound of even the slightest quiver of your lips. If hearty treks through dense forests is your thing, then Kudukathupara will not disappoint you. To get to the Kudukathupara Eco tourism Project, you need to reach Aanakulam from Chanapetta in Anchal. From Aanakulam, you can travel only by jeep for around 2 kilometres till the foot of the Kudukathupara. The journey to the top is through a dense forest path called Chenkuthaya. When it rains, you can see the fog lift up from the rock like smoke. The end of this path takes you to the Kudukathupara forest check post board. From here the walk continues. Nobody has till now scaled the top of Kudukathupara, of the 840 feet, you can cover as much as 780 feet. From the check post, there are about 360 stone steps for you to climb. Little concrete benches are provided at intervals, when you grow weary of climbing so many steps. Once you have climbed 100 steps, you come across the _Sayipinte Guha_ or the white man’s cave. A little ahead is the Conference _Para_ (literally translated to conference rock). So named by the villagers as this area is sort of like a clearing that can hold 500 people at a time. There are iron railings on all sides and so it is quite secure. The view of the mountain ranges from here is very beautiful. Alstonia or the Devil Tree, locally known as the _Gandharvan Pala_ is at its flowering best at this time all around the conference para. There is also an abundance of the _Arogyapacha_ plant which is an herbal immune booster. According to some legends that surrounds this area, it is believed that when Ravanan was on his way after capturing Sita, he is said to have stopped here to collect some _Arogyapacha_ plant. Tribals even believe that regular consumption of this plant prevents ageing. The next stop from here is the _Adukalapara_ or the kitchen rock! This is a corner where tourists halt for cooking their food and hence the name. In the middle of this route, the forest department has provided 6 entry points to the forest—this is for wild animals to cross effortlessly. You can cover almost half of Kudukathupara on foot. Beyond this point, it is impossible to go any further. Go as high as you can and take in the view. On the southwest direction, there is Jatayapura, on the east, there are the Palaruvi ranges and towards the southeast, you can see the Ponmudi ranges. If there is no fog or rain, from here you can see parts of the Kollam, Thiruvananthapuram, Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta districts. If you have carried ample water and food, then this is an ideal picnic spot, where you can spend the entire day taking in the glorious sights. **How to reach Kudukathupara** From Anchal, travel along the Chanapetta route to reach Aanakulam. From there, its 1800 metres of pastoral land. Until the foothills of Kudukathupara, you can travel by either a jeep or a two-wheeler. From the Kudukathupara forest check post board, proceed uphill on foot. As of now, there is no entry fee for the tourists visiting the spot. **The miraculous white man’s cave** Next to the forest check post, there are about 100 steps that will lead you to the White man’s cave or ‘Sayippinte Guha’ as it is locally known. It is believed that a German man hid in this cave during the Second World War. But nobody knows who he was or what his motives were. He left as mysteriously as he had arrived. The villagers also think that he must have been a spy. Anyway the cave is huge enough to comfortably accommodate 5 people, without being affected by the sun or the rains. The cave is also rumoured to have hid Naxalite revolutionaries during an uprising. **A wake-up call for Tourism Department** The Tourism authorities are yet to realize the immense tourism potential of Kudukathupara. What you can find here is a rock walkway with steel railings, 4 thatched shops and 2 huts that the Forest Department built using the Eco Tourism Fund. The Forest Range Officer, P. Subhash, informs us that the building for the ticket counter is almost complete. The Forest Preservation Department has already started to work on providing drinking water and lights on the top of Kudukathupara. The road from Aanakulam will also be repaired. But this is not enough facilities from the tourist’s point of view. The villagers’ dream of a comprehensive set up that is planned by roping in the Tourism Department. You can get to Kudukathupara, from the Jatayupara, a rock named after the mythical bird located in Chadayamangalam, via the Thenmala ecotourism project and en route to Palaruvi Falls. If only Kudukathupara featured in this route map, then more number of tourist would come visiting. There is also a project in the pipeline that calls for a rope-way connecting Kudukathupara with the nearby mountain ranges. With the aim of developing tourism in the area, the villagers have come together to form the 'Kudukathupara Eco-tourism Promotion Council'. The President of the council is Charlie Kolathu, Vice-President Babu Thadathil who is also a writer, Secretary Aanakulam Sajeevan, Treasurer S. Rajiv and other members like Varghese Thenginal, Ajose Chanapetta, Raju Jacob Kalukulam & Surendran have been striving earnestly to let the world know about the pristine beauty of Kudukathupara. They got the Vartha Vandi to visit Kudukathupara. While we were there, the Forest Watchers Joy, Balan & Indiran helped us find our way around the place. The following are some of the recommendations put forward by the council for promotion of tourism in Kudukathupara, 1 The Tourism Department should actively involve with the promotional activities in Kudukathupara. 2 Kudukathupara should be included in the Jatayupara – Thenmala Eco tourism – Palaruvi tourism developmental roadmap. 3 More basic facilities for the tourists should be set up at Kudukathupara. 4 The flora here is rich & diverse and so a Botanical Garden should be set up for the preservation. 5 Introduce Rope – way to encourage Adventure Tourism in Kudukathupara. **Vartha Vandi can come to your village too!** Does your native place have any quirks or interesting locations that could catch our interest? Any long-forgotten developmental initiatives? Do write to us about them and 'Vartha Vandi' will be there in a flash. We love stories! Who doesn't! We'll be hearing from you at Vartha Vandi, Malayala Manorama, Kadapakada, Kollam-8 or email to jayachandrang@mm.co.in

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