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  • Roshan Begum

Top Station – A Trek from TamilNadu to Kerala

Updated: Jul 25

I was in a sleep-like trance state after the day long hike to the Highest Organic Tea Estate in the world, well how can I even expect an uninterrupted sleep? I was still sore from the never ending climb in my dreams.

I woke up to the sound of Dileep pounding on my door. I knew I was late. But I was in no mood to get out of my bed. All I needed was a day long rest so I gave in to the pleadings of my body.

I opened the door only to shut him out saying no am not up for today’s trek. I told him that I can’t even take a step further. My body is throbbing in pain every inch of it. I thought it would be stupid of me to put my body into another treacherous hike.

But Dileep was not ready to take NO for an answer. Atleast from me😜 Somehow he have already convinced me to take up this. I got ready in no time and we gathered around for a group picture as few people were already leaving.

After the group pics and good byes we started off leaving all those who are not joining today behind. And for breakfast we stopped at a crammed local hotel.

Having learnt the hard way from the previous day’s experience, I didn’t have stomach full. We started off in a different trail than the preceding one.

Unlike the trail leading up to Kolukkumalai, which was completely outgrown with flora all along the way, this trail was very well maintained.

There was even a trekkers trail with paved stones leading up for few kms. But that only added to the distance rather than the shortcuts with no defined paths.

Not even a hour ago that I thought I couldn’t walk a step further, here am leading my way up step after other competing with other guys. Am glad that Dileep convinced me to take this trek. I already started to enjoy every second of it.

Very soon we reached a small settlement with nothing but few mud houses and a big banyan tree. We stopped for a while there to soak in the beauty of Kolukkumalai that we hiked.

All I could focus was the “Lonely Tree” standing majestically. It was still visible for very long time until ofcourse we changed our direction and other hills hidden it from our plain sight.

I must admit the terrain was getting steeper as we go on and on. And we were purely at the mercy of sun that drenched us with sweat and sucked out all our will power.

It was at that point in my 25 years of life did I experience what dehydration actually means. And how even a slice of orange could make a great deal of difference between life or death (Yeah! Am not even exaggerating)

We almost traversed on top of two adjacent hills completely exposed to sun. Only one more hill was left to climb. Except for one guy named Dharma, who was hyper active from the day 1, we all agreed to go around the hill covered in shade even though it increases the trek distance.

I would say it was the best decision ever. Away from the scorching heat, under the canopy of trees felt like heaven in disguise. We settled down for a while munching on last of the snacks left out.

Once again Dharma tricked us into taking a shortcut through chilly plantation. But soon we realized that the climb was steeper and ground was not keeping up steady. So we carefully climbed by holding each other’s hand then and there.

The best thing to happen through this shortcut was a small hut that was supposed to be watch tower. We were excited to know if someone is there in. But unfortunately nobody was found. Still we clicked few photos inside the hut buying us few crucial seconds of rest.

The rest of the way up became a cake walk. And soon we were there at Top Station.

Ever wondered why the name Top Station? (Because I did) It was a transhipment point for delivery of tea from Munnar to Bodi.

The tea chest arriving at Top Station were transported by a ropeway to kottagudi (Central Station) which was 5km downhill. And from there to Bodi by cart for 15kms.

Well, enough with history… As we were completely famished we treated ourselves with Kerala Fish Meals. It felt like the best food I have ever tasted (yeah I know it was my hallucination)

We actually skipped going to the Top Station viewpoint because we have enjoyed the panaromic view of the western ghats all along our way and settled no man made viewpoint could provide us the view as beautiful as the one we have witnessed already.

As we were gathering up our makeshift wooden cane that we picked up along the way and used as trekking pole, the restaurant owner exclaimed “Did you guys really make it here with this piece of wood?”

And asked one of the employee to provide us with the best wooden canes that they use as firewood. I chose the lightest cane and Thanked him for the kind gesture.

For downhill trek we decided to take up the trail that pass through central station. I personally prefer downhill trek to uphill (Well who doesn’t?). I was already on cloud nine for finally making it to the top as single piece.

So all it left was steady downhill trek to complete my journey. We took almost 4 to 5 hours for uphill trek of 12Kms. We moved on slow as we were exposed to sun most of the way.

But the downhill trek had different elements in its box from ever changing weather, low- hanging clouds to strong winds it was completely an enjoyable hike down I ever had.

Within an hour or so we reached Kottagudi village better known as Central Station. As we have not stopped anywhere else, we decided to stay put and have lemon tea from “Akka Kadai”

Lemon tea came as a much needed refreshment both to body and mind. We were later told that there is small waterfall with stream on our way down so whoever reach there first will have time to spend until others catch up.

Myself, Dileep, Dharma and one more anna Siva teamed up and almost raced to the spot. As expected Dharma was the first one to reach. As others where nowhere to be found, Dileep dared to take a dip in the mind freezing water.

I removed my shoes and dipped my feet to make all my pain numb away. It Seriously helps.

We were waiting for others to catch up and let some breath. Then hiked all the way down non-stop for another 30-40 mins and finally reached the flat ground.

We gathered to have final group pic with those who have made it to both Kolukkumalai and Top Station trek back to back. To our surprise we are very few. But I was proud to make it this far!

We went to guest house, refreshed and checked out. Travelled back to theni and from there back to our places. The farewell was heartening though. Because we have been through so much together now!

It took almost 10 days for me to recover from the trek physically. But I got addicted to this already and went a step deeper into the clutch of WANDERLUST…