Thursday, March 14, 2013

Aluvamkudi – Paakkalar : The Jungle Shrine & Silver Line

              In my explorations all these years, I've myself noticed remains of establishments deep inside thick woods, like dolmens in interior Palani hills, Mural work on rocky walls of caves inside Marayur sandal reserve, ruins inside Shenduruni wild life sanctuary etc. The jungle shrine of Aaluvamkudi would have been one such. The discovery is credited to a poacher of earlier century, who was up a tree, near a pond, deep in the woods, waiting for game.

And this is that pond
                He is said to be objected by a celestial voice, as he was about to open a fire, following which he inspected the premises and found the ruins of this shrine. It was later renovated and now controlled visit is permitted by the Forest department.

           The sector falls under the Vadasserikkara range of Pathanamthitta district and not- that- bad- a track, leads up to Gurunathan Mannu, about 30 km from Vadasserikkara. There is a forest station here and normally entry is restricted beyond the station. The track from Gurunathanmannu to Aluvaamkudi is about 6km and is to be done on foot or on a Four Wheel drive vehicle and the mud track would be treacherous, in rainy season. We reached Vadasserikkara Forest IB, by dusk and the staff in charge, arranged a Jeep, for the next day’s venture. It rained all night and we knew it was not going to be smooth.

                The Jeep was at our doorstep by 5.30 AM and we set out in no time. It was a pleasant morning and there was no sign of a shower, until we reached Gurunathanmannu. Mr.Chandran, a forest watcher, who was assigned to accompany us, joined from Gurunathanmannu and as we entered the woods, it started drizzling.

           Track up to Aaluvaamkudi was a smooth one, for our vehicle and it took about half an hour, to reach the shrine. The structure, though a new one, was amazingly beautiful and stood perfectly in match, with the pristine surroundings.

Locate  :
            It was located amidst a tiny patch of grassland, with the serene pool, in our early story, close to it, on the other side of the track. There wasn't a trench or even fencing around, to guard the shrine from pachyderms, whose presence in the sector was evident, from the premises. May be the Lord – the idol is Mahadevar – knows how to take care of him.

              It was also learned that the temple is accessible from Konni via Thekkuthode, by means of a jungle path which connects Thekkuthode and Aluvankudi. Large stone blocks, probably the ruins of the original structure, were found scattered in the premises, which had carvings on it. Hope, a study on it shall throw some light on the history and age of the era.


                   The shower acquired might by then and we left the shrine, for a deeper destination – Paakkalar. It’s a jungle rivulet, originating up in the Ghats and eventually joining river Pampa, near Vadasserikkara. The flow under goes some interesting twists and plunges, nearly the midway, and that was our aim. It was about 8 km, further deep into the woods, and the wet track really posed problems to our vehicle, though our chauffeur could manage it pretty well.

         Thus skidding and jerking, got to the flow, in about another hour. Couldn't resist drinking direct; such was the clarity.


          Followed the flow, on foot, Chandran leading, clearing the growth, and making way, not only for us, but to the sucking folk too, to have their day’s bite.

        The beauty of the sector was unexplainable, with the rivulet piercing the greenery, turning milky at plunges, struggling and surviving the loving hugs of the rocky bed, and our bleeding legs could gain no concern.

Locate :

           And to our surprise, all of a sudden, the rivulet disappeared into the depth of a gorge. It was as if the flow vanished into nowhere.

           Couldn't venture much, to measure the depth, as the rocky terrain was too much slippery.

     While trekking back to the vehicle, went through my snaps, and the scroll ended with the parting shot of the rivulet. At least here, I know its still there, though at a depth…..     

Pappilai Amman - The Deity Distinct

         Raj Vridhachalam, the man behind many of my trails, was the one to brief me on Pappilai Amman, the deity of a jungle shrine, deep i...