65. That Long a Name

@Ilaveezhapoonjira, Kerala, India.

With that long a name which could shock many non-Malayalam speakers and that part of speech which signify the absence of fallen leaves, the place is a tourist destination which is not yet crowded and exploited by the overdose of modernity. As one might still wonder about the reason why the leaves won’t fall and relate some fiery Gothic stuff to it with a powerful supernatural story as a backgound, the simplest fact might the powerful wind which could leave nothing that light on the ground without taking it away like Shelley’s own West Wind, and the absence of the bigger trees around. Located at about 18 kilometres from Thodupuzha, 55km from Kottayam and 60km from Cochin, the place should invite more trekkers than most of the places in Ernakulam district. The route should take a right turn on the way to Vagamon from Thodupuzha, a few kilometres after the Malankara Dam which can be seen on the left. The right turn can be identified by a CSI Church on the left side. There are a few sign boards to help the cause too. The beauty of the mountains can be seen from the road too; theres also beautiful scenery related to the dam reservoir on the left side. The greenery doesn’t fail either, and they all combine together to give a preface to Ilaveezhapoonjira.

The road to this destination is not that good though. There are enough twists and turns supported by pretty huge gutters on a small road which is big enough only for a car and a motor-bike to pass each other at the same time, and the sides of the roads are not in that good a condition for parking either. There is a ninety five percent chance for any of those lower-middle range cars, and most of those hatchbacks to lose all the confidence on their ground clearance. I would surely not look under my car for a long time, as this was the biggest of all those ground clearance failures which haunted any of the cars I had driven before the occasion. Watching bigger cars getting attacked by the rocks and parts of broken road did make me feel less worried about the capability of my car though. The path has surely turned my car pessimistic, and I am hoping that the four-wheeler of mine is not that depressed to lose its brakes while coming across a monster truck. Luckily, only a jeep and two auto-rickshaws came opposite to us, and it was at that area where there were houses or open grounds on the sides – those few points of relief which were hard to come if we look at an overall picture.

The car could take a few more pathetic areas of the road and a little off-roading until there was that time when more of the journey in a smaller four-wheeler near impossible. The rocks had started looking like Scott Steiner’s biceps, with some sharp areas which could have resembled half a cone ice-cream, the lower side of that cold edible thing. There were many small waterfalls on the way, and it was near one of those falls that the car was parked in the end. There was another smaller falls nearby and both of them seemed to have given the car a look to suit the photography. There was still more area to cover and more waterfalls to see on the way, all of them significantly small and not large enough to be given pet names. The journey to the top was surely difficult, and the path was horrible even for walking. There is also the option to hire one of those jeeps which might be better even as I don’t know how much of a shaky journey that would be. Walking with nature surely seemed a better option at that time though. After driving for so long, the walk was tiresome, but the beauty of nature had to be seen and enjoyed, the bliss had to come and rescue the mind from its fallen state, and therefore there was no stopping, and the walking was done at a good speed except for a few stops in between for taking snaps.

There was a resort-like structure and a small tea shop quite near the top. With rain clouds everywhere threatening to fire the grenades of rain drops, tea was a much needed thing. But the clouds still hesitated except for a few drops, and it was another day of no significant rain; another day of monsoon failure or the curse of the Lords of the rain. The wind was strong though, and even the grass bowed down to it as if the master of that small world had arrived. The fog was powerful enough to make it all feel so unclear; the beauty of nature still showed its face in between. The green colour was not easily hidden and the rocks sometimes gave the effect of watching a black and white version. The uncertainty of rain still prevailed. The power of the wind was good enough to bring back the memories of “Ode to the West Wind”, as if it was also a destroyer and a preserver, and carried our words, our ideas all the way to distant areas of the hills. The world was still, and everything looked stuck like a newer Operating System working in an older computer, until the wind had arrived. The wind and the fog created that new scene of beauty; as if it was West Wind’s twin brother, or at least a cousin; even the possibility of a double role or re-incarnation cannot be ignored.

As the journey happened in the morning itself, there was almost a complete lack of tourists around there. It was only by the time we were leaving, that people started arriving, not in groups, but in two motor-bikes and three cars which were clearly checked for ground clearance by the magnificient tester that is Ilaveezhapoonjira. There is the need for better roads ending the tragedy of cars, and there would surely be more visitors – the need for pubicity is also there, but that factor is surely being worked on right now. But when the roads remain like that even at a time that there is less rain, one has to wonder what monsoon would do to it sooner or later. Even an alternative, a longer, but better road would be a better solution. But the practical solution would be to repair them immediately, or see a few mad tourists. Robert Frost might consider this route as the road not to be taken, rather than the road not taken; but in that part of the world where even the most travelled roads needs lots of repair, that would be so much to expect, knowing the negative results in advance.

To be frank, none of these made the journey a failure, or a disappointment. All of these blended into a significant one-day trip which gave the mind much to remember for the next few days. There were not many different scenes, but just the same scene with frequent change of climate – with sunshine, clouds, powerful wind and the mystic fog supported by a little rain having a guest appearance. There was no shortage of that awesome poetic effect created by nature. I was being Ulysses or Odysseus, identified more by Lord Alfred Tennyson’s version rather than the others. I was also made weak, not by age, but by time and the world around me, and I was there to strive, to seek and not to yield. I had my small group of mariners, not of the sea, but of the land and the name nomads would suit us better, and on on that occasion, we were closer to that name both in spirit and also by the physical status. There were no Lotos-eaters though, not then, may be we could have seen similar people in the twilight, but that was not something this Ulysses had any interest in; as he was no war hero and his kingdom was absurd for many, for all the historians, poets and novelists wouldn’t have his name in their works.

Diving out —>



64. The Seven Faces

@Ezhattumugham, Kerala, India.

The beauty of Ezhattumugham is something which comes to close to making an impact similar to what Daffodils made to Wordsworth, but considering the beauty of Kerala as a whole, and for a Keralite who manages to see similar things every day, it might not be a big deal. Still, at a time when the nature is diminishing even in God’s own country and the nation as a whole, due to the materialistic tendency and the industrial nonsense, there is the need to witness the beauty of Ezhattumgham, the land of seven streams – the seven faces of a river which flows in a different style through different parts of the rocky areas. If the Spanish football team has eleven wonderful players who merge into one unit, this has seven. The pathetic losers who can’t admire the Spanish victory can also fail to admire the beauty of nature on this occasion, as the beauty and truth are the same here and also evident in the Spanish victory, in a simple selfless game, not brutal and ugly as Netherlands showed against Portugal in the 2006 FIFA World Cup and against Spain in 20120 FIFA World Cup. Those teams which play cannibalistic football, thus creating a Battle of Nuremberg and continued to do the same even in a big stage of World Cup finals, had to lose, and so should the people who see nature with a destructive eye.

The victory of Spain in UEFA Euro 2008, FIFA World Cup 2010 and UEFA Euro 2012 was a victory of both truth and beauty, and as John Keats said in this beautiful Ode of timelessness, beauty is truth and truth beauty. For the last few years, that beauty was Spain in football, and it will continue to be so and it wouldn’t matter if they continue to win or not. The game will continue from their boots with that same beauty as comparable to the flow of nature and anyone who speaks against it is surely a criminal to both beauty and truth. It will eventually cause the rise of the most evil souls from hell and the gate to inferno would open directly to Earth. The nature itself would have its revenge, something which it has been waiting for, ever since science started destroying its soul. The mocking of the best, just because of jealousy, is that evil which can come next only to the vanity which exists inherent within cricket that makes a few teams superior to the others, that is evident with the Nokia Champions League T20 and its partiality – 10 teams; 4 from India, 2 from Australia & 2 from South Africa; that is 40% reservation for Indian teams & 80% for teams from these 3 nations. When the other teams agree that they are inferior and promote the vanity of the so called ‘higher race of teams’, everyone has to give up and accept the superiority of those overlords. Feudalism and racism got many new forms for sure.

Euro 2012 might have saved Indian sports fans from listening to any more of Sania Mirza’s selfish comments which might be responsible for a possible fall of Indian Tennis in the future. But Ezhattumugham has been taken away from the people and the tourist map more by the Athirappally-Vazhachal Waterfalls which has always been a huge tourist destination. Its popularity has actually made Ezhattumugham a less significant place of interest. In the case of Kodanad and Paniyeli-Poru, the same thing has been working in a different manner, as Paniyeli-Poru has been rising above Kodanad as the new place of natural relief. Even the condition of the roads seem to tell the same story of neglect. There are no signboards either, except for the directions to Athirappally and two major water theme parks which are located nearby. The easier path from Cochin to Ezhattumugham would be a right turn at Karayamparambu, just after Angamaly, easily identified by the end of a bridge and the view of the huge white dome of Saint Joseph’s Church. A few kilometres later, the path is confirmed to be correct when you see the Mookkannoor church straight in front of you during a left turn. Then comes the time when you have to ask and ask for directions, thus clearing those uncertanities about reaching that world of serenity.

At a time when the glory-hunters supported Germany (unlike the true German fans who have been supporting their team for years) and the physical people supported Netherlands, the true football lovers had stuck with Spain. For the exact same reason, Ezhattumugham is a place to be stuck with. It is comparable to Paniyeli-Poru on many occasions. The first thing is the absence of sign boards, even as Paniyeli-Poru has directions towards one side. There is also the flow of water between those rocks which is a wonderful scene. Both are not exploited that much, as they are not the most popular tourist destinations yet. They are rising, and will soon reach the major list of Kerala’s tourist attractions. A few bad and narrow roads are to be made better and the sign boards are to be effective. Then the rise would be quicker, and they would reach that higher level; as both are not too distant from the Cochin International Airport. Athirappilly surely has glamour and might continue to win many hearts, but Ezhattumugham is what wins with its beauty of variety. Nature rules over individual beauty of waterfalls. In a world of scientific reasoning, people may argue with facts, but as nothing of this world is real, one has to wonder what they are trying to prove with their God particle instead of using the money to save the poor and treat the diseases.

The path through Chalakudy and many other shortcuts should also reach there, but the previously mentioned route should be the easiest as well as the most beautiful. There are palm trees on the side too – something you don’t see very often in Kerala. It was as if the Coconut trees took a break. There are also the mini-waterfalls – or should they be called micro-waterfalls? There is significant beauty in there, and it doesn’t really matter how small they were. All those underrated places of beauty, the same as the Spanish team. They said Spain will never win any tournament and will choke in Euro 2008 and they supported the team with most chance of winning. They felt that Spain is not World Cup material and for World Cup 2010, they supported the teams which had the best chance. At a time when Spain was not considered favourites and was weakened by the absence of Villa and Puyol, they still supported the team with the best chance to win. Now the question would be – who are the glory-hunters? It is them who say that Spain won’t win and support a team with maximum chance to win, and after that team loses, they will support every team against Spain. This is exactly the same feeling, a few people had against Brazil sometime ago – the same itching people have against Roger Federer and Sachin Tendulkar envying their achievements. They would also speak against Who Wants to be a Millionaire’s Malayalam version Ningalkkum Aakaam Kodeeswaran, and their action would be part of another story of blind celebrity worship and a form a typical story of envy against people earning money more by knowledge rather than those silly reality shows.

Ezhattumugham is not a place to fade away due to some people preferring only the places mentioned in the list; it will live on and it will gain more and more strength by the people who strive, seek and refuse to yield. They will find these new places and bring them to light; they will find the truth behind everything fake. They will rise like Spain and win their battles, not in a rough, pathetic path of some negative teams; but like a poetry in motion. For now, the glory is with those who play a selfless game and not with the mindless goal scoring machines of selfishness. Portugal and Netherlands would also rise to get to glory for the first time, if they keep closer to the beautiful game as it is called. When the Prakriti Gramam, the park at Ezhattumugham becomes better maintained with superior security, its rise will be comparable only to the Spanish rise; there is so much talent in nature which is total in itself just as the Spanish team of Total football. The people who can’t appreciate beauty will continue to be those hurdles in the path of truth and greatness. They will succeed in their path, but will eventually destroy the world around them, like science destroyed faith, belief and true love. But the thing to be kept in mind is that perverted ideas of beauty are not to be included. It is not something to come from a drunken state either. There is no beauty without truth and vice versa. Ezhattumugham asserts it in the right manner. For those who are wondering about the content, this was written just a few days after Euro 2012, a month after the Ezhattumugham visit. This is a quick impact of Euro 2012, and do forgive the writer for the overspeed.

Diving out —>


61. A Few Miles to Go

@Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India.

It would be nearly impossible to find a reason not to be anywhere near Ooty at a time when Vulcan breathes fire like a dragon without a fire control system or the support of firefighters within a few kilometers radius. Even Volcanalia would not have the opportunity to see its own red marking on calendar in a land of working Gods if the heat would just continue to go high. This is that time of the year when the Shrine of Vulcan would love to miss its worship by its favourite element of nature. As his Greek counterpart could bring something like Talos to life, talking about it could possibly bring another reason for the people to believe in whatever to happen on December 21, 2012, which means that there is the need to stick to “Welcome to Ooty, nice to meet you” kind of stuff which would bring that superior nostalgia to the mind which rests on nothing other than that wonderful Malayalam movie Kilukkam. That would be the right thing in the absence of Jason, Medea and those Argonauts. Colossus of Rhodes would take an earthquake to rest and leave its story behind, but the same cannot be said about the man of heavenly ichor.

In the case of Ooty, this ichor should run deeper; also sharing the Greek gods’ own liquids with the beauty that is around, making the place immortal as the survivors of Mount Olympus who have not faded away into that eternal absence created by their non-existant worshippers; those people of legends currently existing only through the works of Homer and whoever followed him, as well as those allusions which came later and spread with the help of colonialisation and due to the power of that international language in which this is being written. Considering the temperature of the place, the existance of Vulcan in about a twenty five kilometer radius has to be a thing of eternal doubt, which would stretch beyond the knowledge of any mortal and his science which would find a volcano instead and wait for the end of days, always contributing to Global Warming and thinking in vain that it would help him find a solution and survive when his so-called inventions will consistently keep falling on his head even after the time for his epitaph passes by.

The thoughts of science bringing that Doomsday mentioned in the Holy Bible, the scene has to switch to St. Stephen’s Church, one of the oldest churches in the district and a good example of simple colonial architectural work. It is undoubtedly the most well-known Christian worship centre in Ooty, may be due to its longer history; ask for a church and it would be were a cab driver would stop for any tourist. Belonging to the first half of the nineteenth century, it has lived long and currently stands with yellow paint on the outside and white in the interior. Except for the painted glass in the front area on both sides, it is quite simple and small a structure even as the colonial elements make it something of further importance, along with its wooden parts. The graveyard and the celtic style crosses on the backyard gives it another view from that side. There is enough natural beauty around to add to all that exists in the house of God, and the cool breeze would continue to certify the significance of that old structure.

The Sacred Heart Cathedral is another nineteenth century structure, but of the second half of that century. Along with the peace and beauty of the surroundings, the church structure stands tall, not that far away from the famous attractions of the town. The church itself is an attraction as well as a place of spirituality, and it is a thing of religious and spiritual serenity; painted yellow and white, and seen even from a distance as a tall structure, not only due to its own height, but also due to the elevation of the ground itself. The scenic delights would surround it, especially the Government Botanical Garden and all which surrounds the same. Being in a church in this cold was something which I last experienced in Nuwara Eliya, a long distance – kilometres away from the current structure; but it was cooler during that time at that hill station of Ceylon and the situation was different; still spirituality and its side-effects were just the same. The same couldn’t be said in case of a sudden enlightenment though. The places were hallowed in both cases, and what made the difference was simply a gap of one and half years.

Coming back to all which concerns the beauty of nature, The Nilgiri Mountain Railway, one of the oldest mountain railways in India remained untouched, considering how crowded that time of the year happened to be. It was not in any way like that off-season trip to Kanyakumari to watch a cloudy sea which covered the sun; this was more of a trip right on target, even if there were too many targets which would mean that a few were in line just to be missed by a good margin. As Ooty is only about eighty kilometres from Coimbatore and eighteen kilometres from Coonoor, they provided great resting places and the need to go by any transport other than bus was completely out of the equation, and I would say it worked perfectly. It would have been great to travel by train through the scenery though, but it was still to be too slow. Well, the journey by road not anything that inferior in nature exploration, as it has its own sights of happiness which spreads and creats poems through the minds.

The Goverment Rose Garden, the largest Rose garden in India, and the Government Botanical Garden remain two of the places to be first visited, and they were indeed well-maintained places of beauty; the verses from Lord Tennyson’s Maud suited the former magnificiently, as one can see it among the roses, as if to improve its beauty by literature. The Ooty Lake with its boating facilities would be of significance to many, and what they call the highest peak in South India would be astonishing, but I found more attraction to the tea factory and museum. It was not something I didn’t see in Nuwara Eliya, but I was closer to tea this time and the chocolate factory had its role to play in making it that good an experience. The tea was superior throughout the stay at Ooty and so was the factory’s addition to it, which was the satisfaction of being at the highest elevation tea factory in India as they claimed, and being that close to tea and all those things which preceded it.

Diving out —>