Oct 28, 2008 - Diwali Day. A normal tele-conversation between me and Rithwik gave birth to our trip to Silent Valley National Park. We jotted the date of visit to be Nov 8 & 9. Palghat was decided as our meeting point.
Even though we had heard about these rain forests before, the info was not sufficient for the travel and the final hunt to all the details needed was launched. Browsed through lots of blogs, editorials, and travelogues to get a clear picture of the preparations required for the trip ahead. Remya Naresh helped me with the details on the accommodation as well as the procedures to get the permission for entry at the reserve forest. Rithwik was also at his side trying to get in touch with the warden of the reserve forest. The site www.silentvalleynationalpark.com was of a great assistance to us. You get all the contact details for permission, stay, etc on the portal.
We called the contact no listed on the portal and booked our stay. As all the suits were fully booked to capacity we were given the dormitory. But we had requested for an up gradation to suite if any cancellation happens. Tickets were booked- towards journey in KSRTC Volvo bus (in train there were no seats available) and return in Train.
Nov 7, 2008 –Boarded the 2030hrs Bangalore – Palghat Volvo from Bangalore. The journey was horrible. The driver was driving the bus like he was competing in F1 rally. Sudden brakes were like adding insult to the injury. Honestly was not able to get a wink of sleep.
Nov 8, 2008 - My bus reached at 7:00hrs at Palghat. Rithwik was already waiting for me there. Without wasting any further time we continued our journey to Mukkali. We boarded up the direct bus to Anakatty, via Mannarkkad. If you don’t get a direct bus also, nothing to worry. You can board the Kozhikode buses and get down at Mannarkkad. From there you will get lot of buses to Anakatty. You need to get down at Mukkali where the base camp is located. We boarded up the Anakatty bound bus by 0725hrs and by 0945hrs we were at the base camp.
Located in the Kundali Hills of the Western Ghats, the Silent Valley National Park holds a valuable treasure of rare plants and herbs. The Park is rich in its wildlife, and elephants, lion-tailed macaques and tigers are the most common residents of this park. Perhaps, nowhere else can you also find such a representative collection of peninsular mammals, over a 100 species of butterflies and 400 species of moths and other fauna like the ceylon frog moth, great Indian hornbill, the Nilgiri laughing thrush and the lion-tailed macaque. It is proudly Kerala’s 7th national park. It has a mystical history linking back to the Mahabharata. The caves here were said to harbor the Pandavas when they were in this area.
The forests of the Silent Valley - christened so because of a perceived absence of cicadas (tropical insect with a loud, chirpy sound) - are home to rare mammals, birds, reptiles and fish. They are also home to a variety of creepers, ferns and orchids. Some say the valley got its name from Macaca Silenus - the scientific name of the lion-tailed macaque.
We reported to the base camp and to our good luck, the stay was upgraded from dormitory to suits. The suit was named as Siruvani. We got freshened up fast. Got ready by 1100hrs and went out for breakfast as the camp didn’t serve any food. We found a small hotel at a walk able distance. Being a vegetarian was a negative point at Mukkali. Rithwik was enjoying his Porata and fish curry and poor me managing with green peas curry! We got ourselves stoked with the food and water needed during the trek at Sairandhri.
We returned back to the base camp and did the formalities for entry passes, jeep booking, camera charges, guide charges etc. The jeep took us to Sairandhri through the buffer area. On the way we spotted the lion-tailed macaque and the Indian giant squirrel. The road was really bad and only jeeps were allowed.
Nearly after 90mins drive we reached Sairandhri. There we got a briefing on the reserve forest by the forest officials. After the briefing we started our trek towards Kunthi River. The trail was really amazing. We got lot of good shots of varieties of flowers and insects. River Kunthi, with its clear water untouched by man was a sight to be remembered life long. We got some very nice snaps of the river. At about 1500 hrs our guide reminded us that we need to get back to the base camp before 1800hrs and hence have to hurry up. We started trekking back and since it was uphill and with all our equipments hung on to our body it was very tough. But we managed back. There is a watch tower which gives you a good view of the whole valley. By 1830hrs we reached back to the base camp. Later when I removed my shoes feeling some pain, I found out that I was bitten by a leach . Sodium Chloride (common salt) came to my rescue. So beware of this tiny little enemy!
We had our dinner at the same hotel where we had our bf in the morning. Rithwik had a great supper with a side dish of beef and me with the same old faithful sambhar curry. Still I survived. Night we waited for long to try shooting star trails but were not lucky enough as the moon was in its full glow. Tired and exhausted we retired to bed by 2300Hrs.
Nov 9, 2008 – 0630hrs we were out with our cam and tripods shooting the macro subjects like the flowers, insects etc. Could not shoot the river Bhavani as the sun was in its full glory by the time we reached the spot. We took a break and freshened up ourselves. Had our break fast and started again to explore the buffer zone. Time was like running away from us. We were only left with 2 more hours!
We met Mr B.N.Nagaraj, the Forest Ranger at the base camp. During our discussion we were really feeling jealous for him as he was so lucky to be in close contact with nature. We saw some of the photographs taken by him of rare species of flora. Meeting him was really educative for both of us.
The clock was ticking and it was time to say Good bye. We packed our stuffs, thanked Mr Nagaraj and the other forest staff for all the support extended and left the place by 1630hrs . In our minds we were sure of coming back soon!
The greenery, the freshness and the purity has not left our body and soul. This in itself is testimony to the beauty and grace that India needs to remember more and more. It’s high time for our country to lead the way for a new green revolution. Sharing some pictures to share more words as the pictures would itself speak the greatness and the wisdom of the nature in the country that holds so much wisdom in it’s ancient texts singing to nature and singing to her protection. Please Click here .