The nephew and niece have a painting competition to attend at Pala, Kottayam. Mom wants to visit temples around Pala but could not go due to health issues so we decide to go. So, attired in clothes suited for visiting temple, we set out in the morning. And end up going for a hike, without reaching anywhere. That sums up our attempted hike to Ilaveezha-poonchira near Thodupuzha, Kerala.
We finish the temple visits and reach back to Pala, pick the kids and their mother, and have lunch. Instead of driving back home, we head to Ilaveezhapoonchira, about 40 km from Pala. Ilaveezha-poonchira translates to ‘lake where no leaves fall.’ We follow signboards, ask people, and keep driving. The road condition turns from good to bad to worse to non-motorable.
Seeing us contemplating to take the car further ahead, a woman comes out of her house and warns us that only four-wheel drives can go further. She says it’s only 2 km up to our destination. We park the car there and set out enthusiastically. The half litre water we had gets over fast. Luckily, there are a few houses on the way. We go to one, chat with the old lady, and get the bottle refilled. The unpaved road changes its face periodically—from scree-strewn to rocky patches to plain rock. And it goes uphill mostly and downhill at some places. Remember, we are not dressed for a hike like this. Especially, the sandals with no grip do not offer any support.
After almost an hour, we meet another woman who informs us that Ilaveezha-poonchira is only 2 km from that point. It is as if we have not moved at all or the earth turned to a treadmill and moved with us!
Further up, another woman says it’s again 2 km. We almost give up but this woman says her family owns a shop a little ahead so we can have lemon juice there. So there we go in search of lemon juice. But no shop in sight even after half an hour. We sit by the road, considering turning back. Kids are still energetic so they decide to walk ahead till we don’t lose sight of them. They notice a cow, and then human inhabitancy, and beckon us. Thankfully, we spot the shop soon enough and order lemon juice.
The old man at the shop-cum-house points ahead and says the elusive Ilaveezha-poonchira is another half an hour walk up. It is already 4 in the evening so we decide to give it a miss. The old man also mentions that Ilaveezha-poonchira is easily accessible through another route that takes us to the other end of the hill.
After one more round of lemon juice and also filling the bottle with the juice, we start our return hike.
Halfway through, we take a detour to a small stream and freshen up. While we climb down, another equally unprepared family is on their way in search of Ilaveezhapoonchira. We wish them good luck.
The drive back is more interesting as we take a roundabout route to Pala. The winding roads, wilderness, and mountains excite us so much that we forget the disappointment of not reaching Ilaveezhapoonchira.
Ilaveezha-poonchira is in Kottayam district, at about 55 kms from Kottayam. It borders Idukki district and accessible from Kanjar or Melukavu village. From Ilaveezha-poonchira, one can get the panoramic view of Malankara Dam and also the districts of Kottayam, Idukki, Ernakulam and Alappuzha. It is also said (source: wikipedia) that this one of the places where one can see both sunrise and sunset. (All of which we missed.)