It was a dream of one and a half years, yes! It was a dream as it is not an easy task to climb up the ridge of Mukoorthi. It is on the Nilgiri Plateau, the Kundah range of the Nilgiri hills is a ridge on the south-western side of Mukurthi National Park bordering Kerala. It is close to ——— ft from the sea level, I have tried to step on to the peak 3 times starting from the NWLA fishing hut but failed in my challenge against the wonders and magnificence of mother nature as it was getting harder and harder as I approached the edge. I decided not to give up this time as the urge to take a selfie on the ridge was pushing me towards achieving the heights of mukurthi. Slowly the motto was lost, it was more than taking a selfie, and every step taken ahead was to reach the peak.
This time we did not start from the fishing harbor for a change we started from Pandiyaaru, a place onroute to koodalur from ooty. Paandiyaaru it is a mesmerizing place with no trace of human habitance which is in the heart for a thick forest beyond a wide spread of tea estates. Nature would leave you dumb struck for some moment throwing her grace on you as a welcome gesture, paandiyaaru was such a place with majesty that froze my thought for some time. Spellbound deep in the beauty of this place I stand there glorifying nature’s beauty with thousands of words at the same time without thinking of my next step forward.
We stayed at the forest guest house, 1:00 PM was not in its usual there, scorching sun did not show his streaks, felt like we were on the reverse of time, it felt like 6:00 AM. In the next two hours clouds poured heavily, soon we felt like it was late evening already. Should admit that nature has its own will, no one – no one ever can control her, she will act like a dainty darling and next moment pour her blessings on you without you even asking for it, yes I was amused and impressed with her gestures again and again…….. I feel the damp breeze on me even as I pen this travelogue down.
Next day, couldn’t sleep beyond early morning, the push for reaching mukkurthi peak broke the passion for sleep (that I always have). In the next few minutes we were ready for our long yearned trek geared up with basic requisites. We were guided by Velu, a watcher on prior permission that we had obtained from the mudumalai forest department.
We started out trek with large steps, trekking was a luxury for people like us who are used to walking on jam packed roads of Chennai. We walked through pandiyaaru, towards the ridge of mukurthi, we walked past small streams and proceeded towards the mountain. The army of pine trees covered us as we walked, we felt guarded by giant soldiers, and we crossed a river in a short time. Every mountain ridge that we climbed over left us with unique experiences.
Though we started at 9.00 am, we were not even half the way by 11 we just finished 5 KMs engrossed in the beauty of the serene, every twists and turns on the way had something news for us. The serene kept shouting out loud that there’s nothing, nothing ever that would compete with natures beauty. Velu (watcher) showed us the remains of tiger’s excretions on the alley, and now we were told that this area was under frequent visits of magnificent tigers. Slowly fear creeps in each one of us, since we had walked a few kilometers without rest, now it was slightly difficult for us to move forward. We stopped now and then took some rest, refreshed out of small streams that ran all over the mountain like streaks of elixir of life.
I am taking a deep breath even while I am writing this down; it was definitely a big challenge for me to complete this trek. Am a person with lot of words (non-stop chatter box) the heaviness in the air kept me quite for some time, I was gasping for breath every now and then. The air got thicker and thicker as we climbed up, fog surrounded all of us. My friends who were walking a head of me were merged with the fog; I could just here their call and could not figure out their presence, that very instance there was a question in my mind, will I be able to make it ? some of my fellows were moving towards the peak even faster than before.
After few minutes of rest, we started again my heart would have ran 2 times faster than usual i put all my strength and effort in that last few minutes of the climb, it was tough it was narrow and steep. I did not give in to any of it; I just climbed with all my will and urge to reach the peak. Finally reached ridge, there I am gasping hard for breath, where is my selfie? No I don’t have the energy now to take one. I just lie down take a quick nap, I could hear people shouting out names to here eco’s, slowly I open my eyes after half an hour. It was a treat to my eyes all I could see was green…….. green…….. and refreshing green….. I felt like staying there forever….. I froze…..