Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tracking in the Thenmala - Shenkottai meter gauge route

I had travelled in the Punalur - Shengottai meter gauge route previous year along with my friend before it was closed down for broad gauge conversion. That trip was done during the summer time. At that time itself I had decided that I would go for a trek along these tracks when the scenery was much greener. Some months after that trip the plug was pulled on the meter gauge trains plying the route and the route closed for conversion to broad gauge. The trekking through these tracks was always there in the mind but it didn't materialise till now. But this Aug 28th things fell into place and me along with two of my friends, Pramod and Pradeep were able to trek in this route. The original plan was to trek upto Bhagavatipuram but the trek turned out to be difficult than we imagined and also due to time constraint we could trek upto Kalthuruthy only. It was raining most of the time and the tracks were overgrown with creepers and plants making us very cautious where we put our feet. I was able to take some photos when the ran subsided from time to time.
To start with, Thenmala railway station

Scenery from the station
Look yaar, no tracks
 Looking for tracks

Still looking

At last!                                                                                                                                

A small rivulet along the way

Pramod, are those yours?

Small bridge on the way

Foliage along the route

More tracks.

Signal post overrun by creepers


Aqua Natura, any one?

Tunnel No:1

Approaching the second tunnel

Inside of the tunnel

The famous "Kannara" bridge

River in spate

We spent some more time on the bridge. Some more photos from the bridge.

Yes, there is a way somewhere there.

 Some more close-up shots of foliage along the way.

The river was following us everywhere or was it the other way round?

The first station on the way from Thenmala

Some colour on the side

After some more tracking, we saw another bridge on the way.

The bridge looked small from a distance, but as we got closer & closer we realised that this is a dicey one to cross. It had no railings, the girders were full of rivets which made it especially tough to cross. In addition to that there was a stream flowing under the bridge.

Pramod stepped on the bridge and tried to cross it but the bridge was quite slippery and he gave up pretty quickly. A quick meeting ensued and we decided to end the day's tracking and tackle the rest of the trek on another day.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tracking in the Thenmala - Shenkottai Meter gauge route - Part II

I had gone for a trek along this route in the month of August along with my friends and really enjoyed the experience. But we couldn't go very far as it was raining and it was dangerous to traverse the bridges in the rain. So we decided at that time itself to come back and complete the trek some other day. Two months later me and Pramod were doing the same route, albeit with a slight difference. We decided to start from the Tamilnadu side of the tracks. We chose to trek from Bhagavatipuram towards the Kerala side. One of the reasons was that Bhagavatipuram was the most scenic station along the Thenmala - Shenkottai route when trains were plying this route. Secondly we didn't want to start from Thenmala again as we had already done that leg of the trek earlier. So on the 16th of October we parked Pramod's car near the station and both of us started our trekking or "tracking" as it may be from Bhagavatipuram station. The weather was looking good. The sun was out with no hint of any rain. But I got a rude shock as Bhagavatipuram station was completely torn inside out for construction activities. I remembered the tree lined station from my ride through this route earlier and hoped in my mind that some of that beauty would be restored at least.
There were no tracks on the TN side at all. The entire tracks has been removed for relaying the new broad gauge tracks. We started walking enjoying the vistas along the way.
Mountains, water bodies, paddy fields, mango orchards, we had every type of vistas along the way.
Although we were blessed with good weather, the recent rains had turned the route into a slush fest and an obstacle course at times.
We managed to clear the obstacles, although getting our shoes muddied in the process.
Ah! there comes the first real obstacle. A bridge over a stream. Looks very small in these snaps, right? At that time, it didn't look that small. :)
A close up view of the bridge.
Pramod went first across the bridge with me taking his photos.
Starting out gingerly
More confident now
Almost there.
I also crossed over without any incident, although I do admit if some body had taken a video of me crossing that bridge it would have been a horrible embarrassment to me what with the shaking knees and loud swearing going on.
The view from the other side 
These kids wanted their photos to be taken. I happily obliged them.
The scenery along the way
We continued to trek unhindered until we reached this place.
The whole track was water logged and there was no way we could go through that. A small discussion ensued and we decided to take the side route over the rocks. When we reached the top, we were greeted by this wonderful scenery.
We had to do this sort of detour again after some time.
Soon we reached a tunnel. This tunnel was very lengthy and construction was going on inside the tunnel.
I didn't take much shots inside the tunnel as water was dripping from overhead and I had to put the camera into the bag.
After reaching the other side of the tunnel, soon we reached Aryankavu station.
Washing away the mud 
Aryankavu station
Pramod is so happy to see the station that he is humping the sign post
I was so happy to have reached here. See the tired grin. :)
We decided to call it a day as both of us were tired. It had been a good day of trekking along the route. Rest assured, I will be back to trek along this route.
Some parting shots

Till next time, happy tracking!
PS: A special thanks to my friend Pramod who accompanied me on this trek and pushed me forward on several occasions to complete it. Thanks buddy!