The untold tidings
A trekking to the beauty of Kottancheri which shares the borders of Karnataka.
Konnakkadu is located at the eastern villages of Kasargod- a small agricultural village between the -mountains. The way to the Kottancheri forests starts from Konnakkadu. Kottancheri forest, Kumpanmala the trekking point and Pannyarmala are under the control of Kanhankad range.
Our journey to Kottancheri was during the festival of Wayanad Kulavan Theyyam. Mrigavetta (animal hunting) is a custom connected with Wayanad Kulavan. Preventing this hunting is the duty of the Forest department. Due to this, no guards were available to accompany us to Kottancheri. Since there are elephants in this forest, the Forest department won't allow the tourists to enter Kottancheri without guards.
Finally the Range officer himself found a solution. He sent two local people with us who knows the forest well. You won't get any food in Kottancheri. The base camp is Konnakkadu. We packed six meals from Konnakkadu for our gang including the helpers and kept it in the jeep. We also bought water and bananas. The jeep moved to the Vazhathattu through a forest road. Within twenty minutes we reached Vazhathattu. There was a chain gate fixed by the Forest department at the three road junction just before Kottancheri. The jeep journey ended there.
We got down from the jeep. From the junction the road parts to two directions. The road to the right leads in to the Mundrot forest division in Karnataka. You can go to Kumpanmala in the same route. The way to the left parted in to two directions in the forest. One goes to Thalakkaveri. If you walk through the forest path, it will take eight hours to reach Thalakkaveri for freshers. The next path is to Kanthanpara. A forest covered with big trees like huge umbrellas. The road made by the forest department ended after a small distance Fallen trees. Cane in plenty. The bushes destroyed by the elephants. A walk for one hour. The forest ends at a big ditch. The big trees slanting to the deep ditch. Big rocks here and there. The bottom is beyond our view.
Almost every day it rains in Kottancheri. The river Chaitrvahini starts from Kottancheri. Our next journey is to Kumpanmala. This journey gives you the excitement of trekking. Years back this place was filled with cardamom plantations. The road to this place is kept in good condition.
After travelling for half an hour we could see hills far away. Half way up the hill you can see an old wall built with forest stones. On the other side of the wall the forest belongs to Karnataka. Mundrot forest division. This is a part of Koorg forests. The road intersects the wall and goes ahead. Since you can reach this Karnataka forest only through Kottancheri Forest, there were no gates on this wall. There was only a board warning you that there will be sure punishment for trespassers. From here the path to the right leads to Kumpanmala. You can see the trekking path very clearly.
The ascending is a little bit difficult. There were bushes here and there. When we were going ahead, the the views behind became more beautiful. When looking down you can see the wall separating Kerala and Karnataka coming up from the bottom towards Kumpanmala like an ornamental waistband. The other end disappears behind the mountains. You can see a beautiful garden and a small building 300 meters away from the entrance to Karnataka.
Now you can see The kumpanamala. We climbed the firest small hill with out any dificult. Then the huge Kumpanmala. You will have to toil a little to climb the rock.
Surrounded by small green hills, Kumpanmala is a very attractive tourist spot. Hills after hills. On the eastern side, you can see the wind mills of Thalakkaveri from there. The clouds blocked the view of the light house in Kasargod for awhile. Lonely Planet has pointed out that you must see this place when you visit Kerala. A few villages in the valley. You will get a distant view of the villages Thayyeni, Muttomkadavu, Athiyatukkam, Chittarikkal and Paranpu from there. Buses running on the road looked like soap boxes from that distance. We spent hours on Kumpanmala enjoying the the evening breeze. The sky was clear. Occasionally you will feel the tickling movements of the fog.
Now there is one more place to visit on the other side of the three rod junction. That is Panniyarmala. Another exiting place in Kottancheri forest. Instead of trees there is a vast grass field about four kilometers long on this mountain. There you can see animals during dawn and dusk. You can reach Pannyarmala by taking a right turn from Vazhathattu when you come from Konnakkadu. It was an exiting trekking experience.
1 Kottancheri is the best trekking route in north Kerala You have to travel only 13 kilometers through forest from Kottancheri to Thalakkaveri in Karnataka. The road built by the forest department is not that bad. If you start your journey at 7 AM, you can reach Thalakkaveri before 3 PM. On Kaveri Sangama festival day the natives of Konnakkadu and Kottancheri area depend on this route to Thalakkaveri.
2 You can reach Kottancheri via Odayamchal, Vellarikkundu and Konnakkadu from Kanhankadu and through Cherupuzha, Chittarikkal and Vazhathattu from Kannur district.
3 You can reach Ranipuram from Kottancheri through forest, but the trekking path is not completed. You should conduct this journey only with a person who knows the forest, and you must avail permission from the forest department. There may be wild animals.
4 here are canes in the forest. You are not allowed to brake them. You must be bevare of wild pigs. You should wear only light colored dresses. You should talk in mild voice.
A well noticed area, Kottanchery forest and trekking hack lie in the south east side of Kasargod; bordering on east side with Karnataka and in the south with Kannur district. Beautiful hills and greenish valleys adorned the area. The forest support elephants, sambars, wild boars, hornbills and monkeys
Konnakkad, Kasaragod Dt.
How to reach
By Air: Mangalore 152 km
By Rail: Kanhangad 62km
By road: from Kanhangad 63 km. From Konnakkad 9 km . Frequent bus services from Kanhangad to Konnakkad. Jeep service available from Konnakkad to Kottanchery (Rs. 500-800). Kottanchery canbe reached from Kannur through Payyannur-Cherupuzha route (53 km) Buses available from Payyanur Busstand
DTPC 04994-256450. Kanhangad Forest Range Officer: 9447935088, Office: 0467-2207077.
Text : K. Sajeevan
Photos : NM Pradeep