Sunday, February 16, 2020

Holy visit to Shabarimale

Lovely big team, friendly atmosphere, long way journey in train, holy spirit, excellent management, unlimited snacks / food during entire journey and overall wonderful darshana of Ayyappa Swamy. Indeed, a long long pending visit to Shabarimale is fulfilled on 16th February 2020. Thankful to the entire team and special thanks to my beloved friend Sudhakar, who made it to happen.
Sometime it is unbelievable, in the first meet, when you feel a bonding friendship, which make you to feel long time with entire team. Neither there was age bar nor barricade of language. Spirit of the team is remarkable, co-ordination of the team members is extraordinary. Though they all from different location / industry / job, it is a live example of one united family.
Pampa River
Preparation of logistic initiated well in advance before 4 months. Journey is decided by Indian Railway. I came to know that, this is 12th year continuously travelling by train. The team is in touch with all friends and kept all updates. I was more eager to meet the entire new team, except Sudhakar & one more lovely friend Veerendra.

Below is the detailed itinerary / Trip schedule:

Day-1: 16.02.2020
- Pooja start from 8 am at Subramanya Nagar Temple
- Followed by Prasad around 12 Noon
- Reach KR Puram Railway Station at 5 pm
- Board the Garibrath Train to Cehngannur

Day-2: 17.02.2020
- Reach Early Morning to Chengannur 
- Chengannur to Pamba [Pampa] by Tempo Travel
- Hike Shabari Male [3.5 KMs]
- Relax at Dharmashala
- Have Darshana multiple time
- Prassada & relax for the day

Day-3: 18.02.2020
- Early Morning 5 am Swamy Darshana
- Start back towards Pampavana
- Board the TT to Chengannur
- Lunch & Shopping around Railway Station
- Board the Kanyakumari Express to Bengaluru

The planning was indeed very perfect. Not even a minute had any issue. This is my first travel where I have enjoyed journey without any hurdle.

Day - 1
Golden day arrived to meet all new friends on 16th February 2020 at Subramanya Nagar temple. Sudhakar asked me to wear Mala, but due to some unavoidable circumstances, I could not. Planning to wear in future soon.
Pooja @ Subramanyanagar Temple  Bangalore
Irumudi rituals is holy process which takes lot of time. Guruswamy blessed to all maladhari Swamy's. The process is continued till 1 noon, post Prasad is served to all.

                                         Pooja @ Subramanyanagar Temple  Bangalore

Now its time to move towards KR Puram Railway Station. We reached on time to KR Puram Railway Station. Final count is 25 friends out of 28 booked tickets. Garibrath train departed on time since the starting point. We all scattered in different bogies, it is quite tough to get tickets in one bogie for big team. Settled on our respective seats and small introduction among team members.

KR Puram Railway Station - Bangalore

                                           Team waiting @  KR Puram Railway Station 

Myself & Veeru are new to this group, rest are meeting regularly on Shabari holy trip. I am so excited to know about meeting yearly once without fail on this auspicious holy trip.

                                                  Selfie Before Departure at KR Puram 

Garibrath is completely AC bogies; there was very less movement of passenger between the compartments. Even the station stops were very less.

Journey is continued with lot of humors about previous travels / incidents. In between snacks added more joy to our travel.

              Lovely Dinner @ Coach 
Now the time to fill our hungry stomach with delicious parcel dinner. The captain of the team is assigned the responsibility to different volunteers. One team is taken the responsibility to serve the delicious food.

Variety delicious food made heavy and now the time to hug the bed. As the train is on pace towards Chengannuru, slowly down to deep sleep.

Day - 2

                                                         Sun raise

Day begin so early around 5 am, train was running on time. We all decided to get refresh in the train to avoid further delay to our journey.

We are in Kerala beautiful landscape of nature. Morning weather was pleasant, sun is raising across valley.

Reached Chengannur railway station at 7.15 am. I came to know that, Chengannuru to Pamba around 90 KMs and it is 3 hours journey in private vehicle.

                                                  Chengannur Railway Station

TT guy welcomed us at station. Team has booked one TT and Innova considering team size. We all settled in vehicle and chanting "Swamiye Sharanm Ayyappa" begin our journey.

                              Tempo Traveler - TT  journey to Shabarimale

After 30 minutes of journey, reached Arnamula, bank of Pampa river. Water level was not much, however, many devotees are taking holy bath. 

Spent couple of minutes to capture in camera. Noticed that, local people taking small boat to cross the river for everyday routine works.
                                                 Best Buddies 

Our leader gave us 15 minutes to finish the holy dip. One by one, dive in the river and finished the holy bath. The yummy breakfast [parcel] was ready, Chapati different curry filled our hungry stomach.
Yummy Breakfast
Now, we headed towards Arnamula Parthasarathy temple. Guruswamy briefed about this beautiful temple.

Old monument structure temple is very beautiful. The crowd was not much, had wonderful darshan and spent sometime in the premises. Indeed it is very beautiful temple.

Now times to move towards Shabarimale. Guruswamy enquired with someone about the Shabari darshan timings. It is knew that, temple closes at 12 Noon. We have decided to take relax drive, on the way pit stop for small break. Journey is continued with chanting of "Swamiye Sharanam Ayyappa".
Short Break on the Way
Reached Pampa [Pambam] at 12 noon. Weather hot with crowded devotees Pamba welcomed us. Police are not allowed the vehicles beyond barricade. Very hot weather made very tough challenge to bare foot Swamy's.


We all rushed towards Ganapathy temple of Pamba. Shabari is around 3.5 KMs ascend. Guruswamy briefed about next journey, performed rituals before proceeding towards Swamy darshana.

Now the real hike begin towards Shabari. Hot weather, challenging hike, open to sky place made tough time to all. 

On the way, in between tree shadow and shed gave little relax. Watermelon, juice, buttermilk, Pineapple gave lot of energy to fight with hot weather. 

Taking multiple breaks finally reached the most awaited holy place Shabarimale.
                 Way to Civil Darshan                                          Way to Maledhari Darshan 

There are two different ways for Maledhari & non one. Maledhari get golden opportunity to pass through the 18 holy steps. Myself and Veerendra are non-Maledhari, we have taken different (Civil) route to take Swamy darshan. Finished the first Darshana of Swamy.
Inside the Temple
After Darshan we moved towards Dharmashale where pre-booked our accommodation. It is basic amenities of big hall, ideal place for trekkers like me.

We all taken one more round of bath. Humidity was more, fans were running in the hall continuously. Now the Guruswamy is in preparation of rituals.

Evening Rituals
It is very special and curious rituals for me, never come across or known by anyone. Guruswamy performing the pooja so patience. After rituals once again headed towards to Swamy darshana.
Collecting Prasada
After Jyoti darshana, temple keep open 5 days of every month. We are here on 4th day, Usually crowed will be more on season. 

CrowedOn Peak Season
We are very much lucky since the rush was very less . we had taken multiple swamy darshan . We roamed around the premises, spent good time.                 

Evening Pooja
Now the time to have Prasad and retire for the day. There are different Trust offering free Prasad. Finished the Darshana and retire for the day.
Guruswamy in Different Avtaar
Day - 3

The day started so early around 4 am. Finished our morning core job, and headed towards one more round darshana. It not took much time, had so relaxed darshana.
Different Poses with team
Everything was going as per schedule, now its time to turn back towards Pamba. Trusts are offered morning breakfast too, few of us had it. After the group photograph, journey is continued.
Getting ready to departure
Morning weather was cool, descend was pleasant. We come across many Doli's where the devotees are carried by four people.
Doli Service
This time we decided to take one more route to Pamba. Essential goods are carried out on Tracktor. Enjoying the route, taking many photographs reached the Pamba.
Cargo on Peak
We did not feel any tiredness, soon reached Pamba where our TT is waiting for us. Boarded the vehicle, journey is continued towards Chengannur.
Back to Chengannur
Slowly weather was getting hot, taking break reached the town Chengannur. Its time to fill our stomach with yummy lunch. Tamilnadu style hotel served yummy food.
Lunch Break
Kanyakumari Express scheduled at 4 pm. We had enough time to board the train. All went around station for shopping of Kerala popular snacks of different chips.
Shopping Time @ Chengannur
Most memorable journey is coming to an end. We all boarded the train and settled on our seats. As train run so fast on track, the golden memories rounding in my mind. Just thanked to everyone before taking a departure and missing such a wonderful lovely team, hoping to meet again soon.
Lovely Team
Special Thanks to
  • Guruswamy (Krishnan KR) is our guide, mentor and well wisher for Shabari trip
  • Shnakar P & Raj Shekhar R key pillars who organized wonderful trip with excellent planning & arrangement 
  • Gopal Krishna, taken care of all Pooja responsibilities, TT, Accommodation & Home made Food arrangement which is unforgettable. 
  • Sujithran, Raghu , Karthik & Shankar P for sponsoring the lovely food during journey
  • Karthik who Volunteered for food arrangement & parcels
  • Vandan Kumar P who volunteered organizing the Pooja at Blr temple
  • Finally to all friends who are part of our holy trip 

1. Reaching Sabarimala

The Ayyappa temple on Sabarimala lies 184 km away from the international airport in the Kerala's capital city of Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum). Similarly, it is      214 km from Kochi (formerly Cochin) International Airport. The nearest railway stations to Sabarimala are at Kottayam and Chengannur.

During the pilgrimage seasons, devotees proceed to the temple through Chalakayam, or they hit the mountain trails that start from Erumeli and ascend the Karimala    hills barefoot. The total distance covered is approximately 50 km.

Three main routes to Sabarimala currently exist and they are,

      I) Kottayam to Pampa (via) Erumeli, from Pampa to Sabarimala (by foot) - 136 km Kottayam to Pampa (via) Manimala, from Manimala to Sabarimala by foot - 116 km

     II) Erumeli to Sabarimala (via) Kalaketty, Azhutha, Inchippara, Karimala, Pampa - 45 km From Pampa to Sabarimala by foot.

    III) Vandiperiyar to Mount Estate by vehicle, from Mount Estate to Sabarimala by foot.

     IV) Vandiperiyar to Kozhikkanam, from Kozhikkanam to Sabarimala (descent) - 15 km Kozhikkanam to Uppupura -10 km. Uppupura to Sabarimala - 3.5 km (Vehicles can be utilized for travel till Uppupura).

Vehicles cannot proceed further beyond Pampa which is located in the Pampa river valley; the final five kilometers are best covered by trekking, but for the aged and handicapped, porters and chairs are available.

2. Temple timings (Monthly Five Days)
Opening: 4.00 a.m.
Closing: 1.30 p.m.

Opening: 4.00 p.m.
Closing: 11.00 p.m.

3.Accommodation : Many Guest Houses are available, we can book the Accommodation in advance 

4. There are also other holy temples in an around the Sabarimala Temple, which is stunning as well. 

5. Parking : From 2019, no private vehicles will be allowed to park beyond Nilakkal.

Nilakkal (20Kms away from Pampa) would be the base station for pilgrims. Private vehicles will not be allowed between Nilakkal and Pampa.

Only KSRTC will be allowed in this route. 

Saturday, January 11, 2020

MG Trek around Western Ghat

MG Peak
Half murder is more dangerous, similarly the incomplete / shortlisted trek also itch you to attempt it soon. 

Distance was not much, shade walk was very less, open to sky in grassland is 90% trail, no flat surface since beginning, no water source on entire trail, consumed water like a medicine, lips were dry, packed lunch brought back to base camp due to non-availability of water, a lesson to carry enough water / fruits, motivate to conquer one more time.

Beautiful Valley
This is life time experience during MG Western Ghat trek on 11th January 2020. We wanted to hike this peak last year during our VG trek, but due to guide issue it got cancelled. 

Grand opening of 2020 trek is one of the toughest trail me as on today. In my view, description of the toughness is, not the trail difficulty, it is about overconfidence of preparation/precaution. It taught a good lesson and realized the water essential during trek.

Once again thankful to Lokesh who organized and executed so well this trek. He taken care entire responsibilities and experienced us wonderful trek.

Beautiful View
This time again, decided to keep team size by max 5, travel by public transport. Lokesh and Chandru confirmed to join at base camp, myself, Sudhakar and Nagesh left from Bengaluru.

Journey begin

Early morning around 4.30 am reached the base camp forest guest house. Chandru & Loki were ahead of us, taking rest. We too joined them and had short nap.

Our Camping Palace
Guide, the young and energetic the same Tatha ready at 7.30 am who took us last year VG trek. 

Young & Energetic Guide
We all finished the breakfast nearby hotel and carried packed lunch. Breakfast is yummy.

Breakfast filling Station
Guide warned us to carry enough water since there is no water source. Moreover it is January month. After selfy of the group begin our journey

Team is ready
To begin the trek, we have to walk on highway tar road about 500 meters. It is always irritation to any nature lover, but there is no option. 

Initial trail on tar road
Took deviation from highway, entered in to real adventure path. Cool to our eyes and body.

Entered into Forest
After couple of yard, forest dense become thick. absolutely there is no path, just we have to follow guide. Making path our journey continued.

Thick Vegetation
Only initial trail around 2 KMs will provide you shade, rest is grassland with open sky. Making way in forest reached a small rock.

Break time
We decided to take a small break for snacks. Friends were brought cucumber, carrot and other eatable things. Shared the snacks each other, continued our journey.

Journey continued
The gradual ascend took us to open area of grassland. This was the last place of shade. Almost all western ghat trails are similar.  

Monkey Man - snatching Amla
On the way, we found plenty of Amla trees. Our rambo boy Sudhakar snatched enough of Amla and also filled our bags.

Destination far away
Now the peak is just in front of us, however it will test our stamina a lot. We all felt it is so easy to reach that place, but the reality was totally different.

Tough trail
When we reached the open area, cool breeze made us relax. It tempted us to take more and more photographs. We can see many more popular peaks of Western Ghat.

Pic Time
After spending some good time, continued towards the peak. Each step become very heavy to us. Sun was harsh on us merciless, water bottles getting empty, the trail and peak much ahead.

Many more popular peaks
Since the guide tatha is old, we asked him to take rest in mid of trail. He warned us not to take any deviation which may lead to adverse trek. Shared couple previous experience where trekkers wanted adventure exploration and ended in mystery treks.

Tough trail
The forest is habitats for many wild animals. We have noticed the Elephant dung and Tiger / Leopard shit on the way.

Elephant Dung
We assured him and continued our journey towards peak. The misery of this trail is, peak looks in-front of you, but it take more and more time reach to hug it.

Far Away
Water completely getting empty, we had no enough water to have food. I had never experienced and realized, a drop of water how so important to human life. To beat the thirsty consumed all Fruits and cucumber. Kept quarter bottle water for extreme emergency.

Journey continued
Now we are just 500 meters away from the final hike. But it was almost 70 degree altitude. I have lost the battle, mind and body was not ready to move ahead a single step. This is my first trek where I completely exhausted. The reason is not because of trail, it is non-availability of water.

Final stretch
Myself decided to stay back and not to take risk, along with me Nagesh and Chandru too expressed the same. Appreciate Sudhakar & Lokesh taking challenge with half bottle water to finish the final stretch.

Relax on peak
We found a rock with little shadow to relax our tiered body till both of come back. Food was waiting for us, but no water. Considering scarcity of water, decided to take it back.

After half an hour they both returned with load of golden memories. They briefed about adventurous trail. "The visible one is not the final peak, there are two more which need to cross to reach the final one".

Countless peaks
First time in life wanted to descend fast and drink enough of water. Obviously our steps become fast, taking small breaks reached the base point.

Had multiple tender coconut to beat our thirst, after sometime we become normal. Reached guest house and refreshed our body.

Victory Joy
This trek is unique in many aspects for me. I decided to take one more challenge in October 2020 to hike with well preparation.

Tiered soul