As we sat around the centre table, talking of adventure and challenges, my friends Aneesh agreed to tell us more about his trekking trip to Meesapulimala – a hill top that became a tourist’s favorite destination after the success of the popular Malayalam movie – Charlie. It is the third highest peak in the Western Ghats and a popular trekking destination in Kerala.
What is special about the Meesapulimala hill top?
Meesapulimala is the third highest peak in the Western Ghats (Anamudi is ranked as the highest peak in the Western Ghats followed by Mannamalai. Both these hill stations are located in Kerala’s Idukki district). It is situated approximately 8,661 feet above sea level. The base of the trek is located approximately 16 kilometers from Munnar, in Idukki district, Kerala, India.
Kolukumalai, pines and tall grass
While pictures did speak a thousand words, Aneesh’s story did transport us to a different world. Here’s what Aneesh had to say:
Unlike most treks, the trek to the top of Meesapulimala was more or less a walk through the tall-grass. We began our journey in the morning at around 7 am from Kochi. My friends and I decided to board a bus to Koviloor, which is approximately 16 kilometres from the base of the camp. The total duration of the bus journey was approximately 4.5 hours.
At Koviloor, a few authorities of the forest department had escorted us in a jeep up to the base of the trek. We decided to camp at the base. To our surprise, it was the most economical way to explore the area. The following day, we set out to the first phase of the trek – Rhode Valley. This place is situated approximately five kilometres from the base camp.
After catching our breath, we continued to climb uphill. The temperature was as pleasant and cool as one could imagine. In about four hours, we had reached the top of the hill. The view was unique in its own sense. One could see the hills of Kolukumalai and the dense forests that surrounded the area. Not to mention the misty view of a landscape in the distant oblivion.
If you were looking at an adventure with a twist, this could be one of them. I am not denying that the climb uphill was challenging. But, personally, the journey downhill was trickier than some of the previous expeditions. My friends and I had to walk through the pine forests and vast areas covered with tall grass. Hence, it was truly a ‘slippery’ way down to the base camp.
Nonetheless it was fantastic.
An interesting fact
About a decade ago, tourists could trek to Meesapulimala via Kolukumalai. Today, however, the two hill stations are subject to many regulations and hence, many adventure enthusiasts are denied of yet another experience of a lifetime!
The downside of the trek
Aneesh felt that the experience could have better had there been a ban on the use of plastic. “It was a wonderful trip. But I was taken aback by the way in which tourists and other trekkers had littered the place with plastic. Gestures, such as discarding garbage in the most appropriate manner, may be simple and small. Then again, they do play a crucial role in enhancing the experience of climbing up the hills.
Location: The base of the trek to Meesapulimala is located approximately 16 kilometres from Munnar, Idukki district, Kerala, India
Means of transport: It would be wise to make your own arrangements for transportation. However, if you are unable to do so, you could board a bus to Munnar, preferably one that travels via Koviloor. Upon reaching Koviloor, you could avail other services like a jeep safari organised by the forest department or even through other sources up to the base of the camp. These services could be availed even while returning from the base camp.
Closest airport: Cochin International Airport, Nedumbaserry, Ernakulam district, Kerala (approximately 6 hours to the base of the trek)
Madurai International Airport, Madurai, Tamil Nadu (Approximately 4 hours from the base of the trek)
Closest railway station: Kottayam, Ernakulam, Madurai
Time taken up to the base of the camp: Kochi to base camp – 4.5 hours (approximately)
Thiruvananthapuram to base camp – 8.5 hours (approximately)
Kozhikode to base camp - 9.5 hours (approximately)
Total duration of the trek: 7 hours (to and fro)
Ideal trekking season: September to May. The temperatures are quite low during the months of December and January.
Nearby attractions: Chokramudi, Thoniyam Kadu, Kolukumalai, Mathupetty Dam, Munnar, Vagamon
*Note: The treks to Meesapulimala are organised by the Kerala Forest Development Corporation (KFDC). Several restrictions have been imposed with regards to the number of people exploring the sight per day. These rules were implemented after receiving many complaints about the thoughtless exploitation of the area. One MUST SEEK THE CONSENT OF THE FOREST DEPARTMENT BEFORE SETTING OUT ON A TREK TO MEESAPULIMALA.
The expenses that you would incur for accommodation would not be more than Rs. 2500 per head. This is inclusive of tents and three-meals a day.
Things to remember
Here are a few tips that could be useful for those of you who wish to climb up Meesapulimala:
1. Carry a first aid kit at all times. The trek is worth the struggle. Then again, it is better to be safe than sorry.
2. Carry a thick jacket or a woolen sweater for the temperatures are bound to get lower at higher altitudes.
3. Avoid carrying materials made of plastic. You could keep them aside or dispose them at the base of the trek.
4. There aren’t many local inhabitants in these areas. Be cautious. Try to explore the hills in groups (at least three people per group).
5. Leeches are yet another major concern. Carry a bottle of salt, or wear a pair of leech socks.