A night under the stars at Venmanimedu in Idukki

Photos: Aravind C M

There are usually some undiscovered locations near every popular tourist attraction and Venmanimedu in Idukki is one such pristine spot. Many avid travellers would have visited or heard about Kottappara, from where the view of sunrise is indescribable. At the top of the hill, one would feel as if in heaven, with the sky above and clouds below. To enjoy this sight, visitors have to arrive at Kottappara before daybreak.

Kottappara lies on the Vannapuram-Mullaringad route in Idukki district and exploration beyond Vannapuram towards Idukki takes you to Venmanimedu. Travel to Kattadikadavu and pass Balanadu to reach Venmani Junction. There, you would notice a signboard pointing to the road to 'Kattilpara Kanana Guha' (Forest cave in a rock shaped like a cot).

Adventurous travellers can explore this route before venturing to Venmanimedu. However, be prepared to tackle the threat of wild elephants and leeches. Initially, the path is laid with concrete but the track becomes difficult as it enters the forest. There are some houses along the route and the residents engage in farming. While most have small landholdings, others own cultivated areas extending to five or six acres.

Soon, there is no path at all and the way ahead is hardly motorable. In short, the only way to proceed is on foot. Follow the course of a two-feet-wide irrigation canal. The path is flanked by a stream that flows along rocks and thickly-growing bamboo groves. A way has to be cleared between the bamboo to reach a check dam, from where the canal originates. Spectacular greenery of different shades surrounds the area but the attack of leeches could pose a problem. So, salt may be carried during the trip to remove the leeches.

From the check dam, the cave is another two kilometres ahead. Unless you are a daredevil, return to Venmani and continue along the main road.

A thrilling trip

Further along, the road lies Pazhayarikandam from where a deviation towards the left along a concrete path uphill leads to Venmanimedu.

Freshwater streams line the path and after some tricky driving, you can reach the base of the big rock named Venmanimedu. Below one section of this hill lies Venmani Junction, while spectacular scenes unfold before visitors from the top of Venmanimedu – there are numerous green hills lying next to each other.

Some farming activities could be noticed in the area and the local people can guide you to a cave below the rock.

One would be tempted to spend a night under the stars on that rock and the attempt would be rewarded handsomely. Carry tents, torches, food and other items to the cave, which can easily accommodate ten persons. The cave would protect you from the rains and when the skies are clear, pitch the tents on the rock.

Sleeping with nothing but the stars above gives you a heavenly feeling and waking up to amazing dawn is a big bonus. In fact, the sun rising above a sea of clouds surrounding the countless hills gives travellers an otherworldly feeling.

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