Place: Moozhiyar, Pathanamthitta, Kerala
Date: 20th Feb 2007
Getting there: We took the Kanyakumari express (one of the slowest trains i have traveled in) from Bangalore to Chengannur, Kerala. Local bus from Chengannur to Pathanamthitta, duration 2 hours. Pathanamthitta to Angamoozhi again local bus, duration 2 hours. The routes are quite bad, the buses are almost always crowded, but the speed still breakneck. From Angamoozhi to Moozhiyar there are only two buses per day. People can hire private jeeps from this point, we did see a few jeeps available rent parked there.
We started our journey on 18th night at 9:30 PM. Kanyakumari express, claims to take not less than 14 hours to cover a distance of 500 km, and to top it this train is given least priority at all crossings and signaling, so one can safely add another 1 to 2 hours for this duration. We were travelling AC, as a result we could not even sit near the windows and gape endlessly outside, to compensate for this we spent a major part of the morning journey standing near the doors. We finally reached Chengannur at 2 PM, decided to skip lunch as this would have further delayed our progress towards our final destination. By the time we reached Moozhiyar it was 6:30 PM. I was filled with awe the first time I saw the place – the valleys, the dense forests and totally convinced that it would be a vacation unlike any i have had till date.
Moozhiyar is not a tourist spot, this place is more famous for the Sabarigiri Power station. The KSEB colony (colony for the power station workers) is situated in this place, as a result entry is restricted and one needs special permission even to enter the place. We stayed at the IB (Inspection Bungalow) which thankfully was not occupied. The bungalow had a cook and this solved our worries about food.
19th Feb: By the time we reached the IB the sun had already set, the tiredness of traveling the whole day lugging the heavy luggage from one bus to another without any food was clearly showing. Food was ready by 8:30 PM, meanwhile, we had enough time for a cold shower, cold because we did not have enough courage to switch on the geyser with the dilapidated wiring, anyway, cold water was fine enough for the humid climate. After having food, we went for a leisurely stroll, did some star gazing and breathed in sufficient mountain air to make us sleepy.
20th Feb: Tired as we were the previous day, the next day we got up before the first rays of the sun to walk around and also if possible to view a sunrise. Our IB was situated almost near the top of a mountain, but the Sun, from where our IB was situated was to rise from behind another mountain which made it visible only later during the day. Anyway we walked down to the only temple, it was a temple for some local deity (amma).
My friends colleague’s father, who works in a nearby News Print Ltd had offered to take us around in the forests, in his jeep. His job was basically to inspect the Reed extraction and take care of the procurement of Reeds through sub-contractors. We accompanied him on his inspection tours. He took us to the catchment areas for the Sabarigiri Power station – Kochu Pampa, Anathode and Kakki, which are quite far away from the power station (~20kms) and at a higher altitude. These visits were very useful to appreciate the whole dynamics of how a power station is planned when we got a guided tour of the power station the next day. Also, as his work demanded, our jeep had to go into deep jungle where we could never imagine a Jeep can possibly traverse. I was totally impressed by the jeeps performance, its all terrain capability. A word of caution here, these kind of jeep rides are not for the week stomached!
The small speck in the middle mound is the colony in which we stayed, our IB should be just above that speck. On the right hand side of the above picture the faintly visible slant line is the Penstock which carries the water from the catchment area to the hydro electric power station.
We were back at our IB for lunch. After having the back breaking, stomach churning journey in the jeep, it was hard to say whether we were feeling hungry, but eat we did, as we knew that dinner would be another 5 more hours away. Resting for a while we again did some walking down the hill to explore the surrounding areas.