Off the Beaten Trek

Kukkal near Kodaikanal offers the trekker in you a dramatic adventure.

Kukkal Kodaikanal

Located at about 6200 ft above sea level, Kukkal village enjoys more rainfall than most of Kodaikanal. This in turn sets forth a nice symbiotic balance between the weather and the increased biodiversity of the region. The residents are a hardy and a self-sufficient lot, and the village is easily identifiable by the profusion of terrace farms carved out of the neighbouring hills. Another consequence of the heightened biodiversity of the region is its multi-faceted terrain, ideal for trekking, with the trek from the beautiful Kukkal Lake to the village being the highlight.

From the picturesque surroundings of the lake, the trek almost immediately leads straight into the thick canopy of the surrounding forests. During spring, the sunlight which filters down through the forest glades makes the leaves shimmer with an ethereal tangerine shade, and the cool breeze plays the part of a whimsical lover, teasing when you need her the most. The trek is a descent for the most part, and as the trail suddenly opens up, the breathtaking view which greets you owes a lot to the elevation. The azure blue of the sky is endless, and as you peer into the horizon you realize that you are in the heart of the mountains—the courtyard of the titans. A short hike ahead is a small temple, an ideal location to set up camp for the night.

The uniqueness of the trek is in its ability to deceive. For the first few hours, the trek seems to be quite literally a walk in the park, a rather beautiful park, but a park nevertheless. Considering that more than half of the trek is a descent, you might also presume that it gets easier as it progresses. On both counts the trek is quite the contradiction. The descent gets significantly steeper and gradually survival becomes dependent on desperately hugging rock faces or grappling with sharp blades of grass and thorny bushes. On the opposite mountain, a cascading waterfall is visible, but enjoying that view will not be a priority as you fight with the treacherous topography! At the bottom of this seemingly never-ending chasm is a stream, with fresh cool waters that you might just be in desperate need of. It would be advisable to shift a little further downstream, where the flow of the water is stronger, to avoid the leeches which might seek comfort and nourishment under the shelter of your skin.

The trek amidst the jungles of Kodaikanal promises sightings of beautiful birds and smaller jungle animals. Once in a while you may come across a bison, and it would be advisable to walk away even though they are more afraid of us than we are of them.

The climb henceforth to the top is nearly as long as the descent made earlier, but significantly less hazardous and definitely not as steep. The hike up to the soporific village of Kukkal is decorated by beautiful cottages and reassuring signs of civilisation which would give necessary strength to the tired mind, and replenishment to a weary body.

 

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