Monday, September 6, 2010

Ranipuram - A Travelogue (by Ramesh M.)

People are known to have travelled across the globe from history immortal. It is not only for knowing about others, but it is to know oneself, one’s strengths and weaknesses. Ranipuram is surely not a well known place for any travancorian. She is at least 630 kms from Kerala’s capital city, difficult to reach, and little known for hospitality, still I chose it for a solo trip during this summer, notorious for its sun strokes and burns. The idea was to look into myself, to strengthen resolutions, and to build up energy and vision.

Ranipuram is 35 kms away towards East from Kanhangad in Kasaragod district in Kerala. Panathadi is the nearest civilized place
to Ranipuram. Catching a bus to Pānathur, a city which borders Karnataka, ensures a stop at Panathadi. The entire stretch is about 35 kms and passes through Rajapuram. Interestingly both places are not connected to any king or queen; instead Ranipuram gets her name with respect to the Malabar Christian migrants’ Goddess of worship Mariam. A bone shaking jeep or auto trip will take one to the entry point of Ranipuram which is about 15 kms from Panathadi.

The view from the entry point, Coorg forests at East and grassy rocky hill top in the West, is spectacular in any weather. Probably Thalakaveri, the starting point of Kaveri river, is separated by just one mountain range. At present facilities for staying and food is available only in two houses but eco tourism is developing its own facility for visitors. No one should expect a hotel there but if you are lucky you will find a snacks shop open there. One can see the apex of Ranipuram from here. It will take about 90 minutes walk to reach the summit. There is a stream which has water all year around. Half of the trek goes through a semi evergreen patch with lots of birds and the rest goes through grassland.

The topmost point has an altitude of 1035 m which provides a good view of the surroundings. Precaution must be taken since the rock face is steep and may become slippery during monsoon moreover it is windy at all times. Sitting there and watching the blue sky will take away all fatigue due to the steady climb. There is an abandoned house in the middle of grassland protected with tall rubble wall. Hope the house will become hospitable in years ahead. It is not known whether anyone has done a study on bio diversity there, but it is a spot which can provide valuable results. Presence of elephant, reptiles and animals found. A casual observation for 4 hours gave about 30 species of birds and 20 butterflies. Crested Serpent Eagle and Black-Shouldered Kite were the birds of prey that day. Nesting of Red Whiskered Bulbul and an opportunity to watch Nilgiri White-eye at close quarters were other notable things that happened. Malabar tree nymph and Blue oakleaf were the interesting butterflies among many. Presence of shola forest is a promising factor for doing a thorough observation there. Apart from this the jeep driver told that there is a cave nearby, but didn’t get a chance to see it this time.

Those people live nearby are the migrants who came from central Malabar region in early 1950s. The surrounding area is rich in various agriculture activities and still we can find first generation farmers living there. Local tourists swam the area during weekends but don’t seem to like the place due the lack of facilities available. Plastic waste is found in the forest region in an old elephant trap. It is now an undisturbed area but how long it will continue like this is a question which only time will be able to answer.

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