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  • Roshan Begum

To the World’s Highest Organic Tea Garden – Kolukkumalai

Updated: Jul 25

Once you start exploring the possible trekking spots around Tamilnadu, the options are limitless. I have started to experiment my limits. So this time I decided I wouldn’t settle for anything less than challenging.

Sometimes you don’t have to search for your needs. It will reveal itself when the time was right. That’s exactly how Facebook marketing works!

I found an event through Facebook suggestions which was hosted by TamilSelvan – someone I never know of . It was scheduled to happen at Kurangani, a village near Theni.

It was supposed to be 2 days trekking event. I was intrigued. From 3 to 4 hours trek in my previous Kodaikanal trip to continuous 2 days trekking seems to be quite challenging. So I decided to settle for it!

But this time I didn’t want to go solo. I asked Dileep, my boyfriend to come along. After all there are perks of bringing your boyfriend. Well, who else can take best shots of you ?😉

So we decided to reach one day prior to the trip. Taking our time exploring places around Theni before the event. But our organiser TamilSelvan was already in the town. To make arrangements for the following day.

He offered us a place to stay in the hotel where he was staying for the night. He was thoughtful enough to book extra rooms in case if any of us reach early.

After refreshing in the room, we started off to visit Suruli falls as suggested by TamilSelvan. We boarded bus from Theni bustand to Cumbam which was roughly an hour travel.

From Cumbam, Suruli falls is just 10kms away. So we boarded a Mini Bus. The bus travelled through the road with Grape Vineyards on both sides and stopped around 1km from the falls. One can opt for battery car service to reach falls or go by walk.

We unanimously voted on walking. It was a pleasant stroll through dense trees canopy, with the sound of stream running along the way. Though we would have loved to have our feet washed down by the stream, we were running out of time.

The entry to the waterfalls will be allowed only until 6pm. So we rushed. Unlike Courtallam (the only other public waterfalls I have been to) the Suruli falls was not crowded.

Few people were bathing using soaps and shampoos as if it was their bathroom shower. There was no restrictions on that too.

Eventhough going into the falls seems very tempting, neither of us did as we didn’t not carry change of clothes😞 Instead we just sat bathing in the view!

After the last call to return was made, we decided to go back by battery car. We were waiting for it to fill in for the last ride of the day. We shared it with few other ladies.

As they were munching on some snacks during the wait, they grabbed the attention of Monkeys around. And there came a bold one looking for his fair share.

These ladies at first were not scared and tried to shooo it away. But the Monkey was not timid. As it approached them without any change of course the ladies in turn were terrified.

One of the lady started chanting a mantra Rama Rama Rama (Monkey is considered as companion of Lord Rama as per Hindu epic) and encouraged other ladies to follow as if it gonna help them.

The ladies were disappointed as their mantra didn’t work out. Finally it was the battery car driver who saved the day. And we went on with our ride.

We returned to hotel and met with few other people who has arrived to stay overnight for the trip. Apart from me there was only one other woman who came.

I must say I was quite surprised to meet Sujatha, in her 40s but with 20s charm. Me and Sujatha shared a room for night and thereby happened to knew about her a bit more.

She have been to many treks organised by Youth Hostels Association of India (YHAI). But have stopped for a while now. And this is her comeback trek to test her fitness level.

The next day we checked out of hotel and started off to basecamp at Kurangani village in a private transport. In midway we stopped for Breakfast and bought our Packed Lunch and water bottles.

Our night stay was arranged in Forest Guest House in Kurangani village. Hence we dropped all our luggage’s and carried only food, snacks, water bottles and other necessities for trek.

When TamilSelvan went to clear out Forest Dept formalities, we met a Forest Ranger. He provided all the information we needed to take up solo trek to Kolukkumalai.

Usually he will be the one to take people into the hills based on the Forest Dept orders. Since TamilSelvan knew this hills like back of his palm, he was permitted to take us without ranger’s guidance.

Once TamilSelvan came we started our trek. As we mingle with other trekkers, we happened to know our batch has almost every levels of trekkers from amateur to pro who have even scaled Himalayas.

Very soon we started to gain altitude. It was obvious that we gonna continue doing so without any plain terrain to take rest. Just 20 mins into the trek I started nauseating.

I usually don’t have habit of having breakfast (Though I know it’s a bad habit 😞). But today I had breakfast very early in the morning to have stamina for the trek. It was a mistake. Thank God I didn’t throwup.

One of the guy named Dharma, who was part Chennai Trekking Club, provided me with Mango Bite candy to keep down my food. To my surprise it actually helped!

I got handful of candies from him and filled my pockets to last until the trek ends 😉 (One have to be prepared for anything!) Once my body got adjusted to the altitude it became cake walk (atleast for a while..)

If at all I felt tired and guys were not stopping I found a trick to make them stop. Selfie! How can someone say NO to selfies.. So we had many such selfie stops 😁

Also we paused to have better views of the breathtaking surroundings whenever we were in clearings devoid of trees.

It felt peaceful to just sit in the silence with only the wind wizzing into your ears and observe everything else that the nature has to offer. We came across many such viewpoints.

Soon we were famished. Gone were the food we had for breakfast. We gathered in a shaded place and had our Lunch. We were careful not to litter plastics and hence carried our trash along.

After around 2 hours of the trek, we reached Lonely Tree point (The name was given by TamilSelvan). It was very breezy as there were no other trees to take cover except for the one.

The tree itself was magnificent to look at. We all sat in its shade and prepared ourselves for the next half of the trek which was expected to be tougher terrain than what we had traversed by far.

Sujatha who was very energetic in the beginning of the trek soon became exhausted. She gave up at lonely tree point and told she wouldn’t want to continue and wait there until we return back.

Few other guys who came just for fun were also decided to stay back along with her. So we carried on without them.

My foot started to throb in pain. It was too much for me. I have imagined the endpoint would be the hill top leading up from lonely tree. But we didn’t climb up to the top but started taking the side track that connects the nearby hill.

Eventually we reached another hill via narrow path. It was kind of scary to look below. We just kept our focus on the next step and walked one after other.

When I thought finally we have arrived to the destination, the tea estate was nowhere visible to the plain sight. I was told that we have to climb up 50 more bends to reach the estate.

I convinced myself that the guys were just messing up with me. And the destination would be very near than they mentioned. I struggled hard to put one feet in front of the other.

After crossing around 20 bends the realization hit me hard. The guys were not lying! So I have no other way but to fix my mind for 30 more bends and it gave me strength to go on.

Somehow we all managed to cross the remaining distance by giving hands to one another. Atlast! the tea estates slowly came into the visibility from the long sight. I could not have asked for better treat than this…

As it grew nearer I was literally jumping out of joy. All pains forgotten. There was welcoming stream running along the tea estate. When I removed my shoes and dipped my feet in, it was pure bliss, eventhough the water was freezing cold.

I sat there with my feet still in the water until I was numb and didn’t feel pain anymore. Finally we were there. To the world’s highest organic tea garden.

Though I would have preferred Coffee, it would be sinful to not taste the tea! So we all had tea (few more than one!) to heart’s content and purchased for personal use as well.

When it was time to put on the shoes and trek back to the base we had our final group picture taken and dispersed. One guy named Vamsi was completely exhausted so he decided to take the bumpy jeep ride back to base camp.

Others started our trek down as we had only few hours of sunlight to reach the basecamp. Downhill trek was not as difficult as uphill but it needed more caution on each step.

We didn’t run into anything unexpected until the lonely tree point as we were covered under dense trees for protection.

The lonely tree was situated in an open field of nothing but small shrubs. Hence we were caught up with adiabatic wind.

I was very scared to the point I imagined that I would be flown away if I leave the shrub that I was holding very dearly.

I couldn’t see anyone before me or after. I was sure Dileep came somewhere close behind me with another guy. So I waited for them to join me in the path.

They never came. I stood in the same place with no cover for almost 15minutes. Still holding the same shrub afraid to leave it even for a second to catch better one.

Then came my saviours. They suggested to cross that slope by buddy system. We all held each other’s hand as if our life was depending on it (Which literally was..) and started walking towards the place where wind was not strong.

The guys had tough time keeping me in my place. Finally they left me at a safe place and asked me to wait as they went back to rescue Dileep and other guy.

Eventually the wind subsided after 30mins. As we climb down. None of us talked until we were safely under the cover of trees again. It was one hell of an experience. I was never scared to death until that minute.

In this chaos we got separated from TamilSelvan and others from the group. We thought they would have reached basecamp by now and went on with the path we climbed up in the morning.

But somewhere along the way we lost track and were into places where we had never been in the morning. As we were discussing which path to take, we noticed a man who was carrying firewoods.

We came to a conclusion that he must be heading to the village and just followed him. We were not wrong. He lead us straight to the village. Once we reached the guest house we came to know TamilSelvan was terrified that we were lost and went looking back for us.

Mobile signals were completely out even in the basecamp so we had no other way to communicate him than to wait.

Finally he came back. Relieved and surprised to know that we were back already. At once we felt sorry for making him worried.

When all the confusions settled down, we took the much needed bath and had our simple dinner with rich tales to tell from the trek.

We were soon tired and longed only for bed. We bid goodnight to each other and went to the allocated rooms for sound sleep. Afterall one more great trek is waiting for us in the morning…

More favourite shots!

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