Monday, July 18, 2016

Two days trip to Chembra Peak, Suchipara falls, Banasura dam, Edakal Caves, Phantom Rocks in Wayanad

The Beginning of Trip: 
It has been a long time since we had gone out from PG(last time being Shettihalli,sakleshpura trip)and the previous one was a story in its own way :-) In the last week of June i happend to visit Vytri in wayanad as part of team outbound and was mesmerized by the distant view of Chemra peak while we were going to Pukoot Lake. But that day we could not cover Chemra or any other places in wayanad due to other team building activities. So, was planning to visit Wayanad again and my PG mates were interested in this plan as well. Initially it was 5 of us who were interested. To make a Tavera we needed 7 or 8. So, i started asking my other friends and it turned out to be 7. But when i was about to book the Tavera on wednesday, 8th friend joined and also brought 2 more !. 9 is a dam count for a tavera and very small for a TT. There were 3 more in dilema whether to come or not and finally one of them joined making the count to 10 and TT was booked :-)

Route Map for the trip: 
1.Day 1: Friday Night:
Kundalahalli Colony in Bangalore--> Bandipur--> Sultan Batery--> Kalpetta--> Meppadi(breakfast)--> Chemra Peak--> Kalpetta(Dinner)
2.Day 2: Kalpetta(breakfast) --> Banasura Dam--> Edakal caves--> Phatom rocks(lunch)--> Sultan Bateri(lunch)--> Bandipur--> Mysore--> Bangalore

Initial plan was to cover as in . But could not cover all the places planned for first day due to large time taken in trek of chemra peak and meen mutty waterfalls, Kuruva Island being closed due to rain.

Trip Expenses:
Total distance:752 KM(considering pickup point as Hulimavu TT office and drop point as last drop point)
per km=12.5 Rs
Driver bata=350 per day and 350 per night and
4 batas(night batas of friday night and today,2 day batas of saturday,sunday)

So, total costs:
Diesel charges=9400
Driver bata=1400
Road tax=3600
Fresh up charges at Hotel Paris in Meppadi=500
chembra peak entry charge+cam=790
soochipara entry fee+cam=540
Snacks and soda=185
Baba dormitory fee @Kalpetta=1300
2 water bottles=40(Each had brought his own waterbottle during the trip and could refill during chemra trek)
Driver breakfast=80
Banasura Entry fee+cam=200
Banasura Parking fee=60
Edakallu entry+cam=290
Bamboo payasam+snacks=120
Total cost excluding food
=18640. 1865 per head.

Road tax details for Kerala Entry

Marathalli matters:
It was a rainy friday night and TT planned for the trip was struck in traffic due to the heavy rain. It was planned to arrive at Kundalahalli and arrived at 11:05 thanks to the traffic which was less that night. Had to pick up Sandesh,Sunil, Santhosh,Bala from my PG and Madhava from Colony. Harish,Srikanth came to the Chef bakers stop and boarded the vehicle in the same location. After picking Madhava, we headed to Marathalli  to pickup Krishna and Rajesh. It was 11:45 by the time we left Marathalli.

Tea stop:
Rain had reduced by the time we left Bengaluru and were driving continuously till we reached Ramanagara at 1:10 where we had to stop for Tea break for the Driver.  People in the back could sleep easily and those in the front seats had to stay awake to keep the driver awake ! After Ramanagara Driver put a music to keep everyone awake ! We reached Mysore at 2:30 and Bandipur at 3:45. During the journey we felt that it would have been good to take the bypass in Mysore instead of entering the city although it was night. The main roads are being repaired and journey was not so great because of that.

At the Bandipura National Park:
At the Bandipura Entrance Gate
We had to wait till 6:00 AM at the Bandipura National park as it is closed between 9:00 PM to 6:00 AM, There were lines of vehicles waiting at the gate already and had a light sleep for couple of minutes before I was awakened by the group of girls who were talking loudly and started taking selfies and pics at the entry gate ! More than the talk, the lights of their torches and flashes of cams were disturbing the sleep !. Did not get sleep after that as well although they had gone back to their TT and could not resit taking this first pic of the trip ;-)

 Journey through Bandipura Forest was nice as we could spot an Elephant and couple of deers on the way. We have many chances of spotting them in the morning compared to afternoon as they would not be disturbed by the sound of vehicles and would be roaming freely after the stop of vehicles in the previous night. Once we crossed the Bandipur part and entered the Kerala border, had to stop again to pay the Interstate Road tax which turned out to be a huge amount !

Coffee Break at State border
 After the break there, we reached Sultan Bateri and headed towards Meppadi for the Chembra Peak trek. We took the bypass before Kalpetta instead of entering that town and reached Meppadi by 8. In the net, Kerala tourism website it was informed to take permission from Forest office at Meppadi and that was closed by the time we reached Meppadi. From the localites we got to know that it opens by 10 ! So, what to do for next 2 hours ? We Found a hotel by name Hotel Paris and thought to  fresh up in the meanwhile. By 8:40 we were ready and headed in search for a veggie Breakfast 

Finding a Veg Breakfast was indeed difficult in Meppadi as it was filled with multiple Non veg and Veg-Non Veg hotels . Finally we found a small hotel with all its board in Malayalam and a glass tray with Dosa, Poori in display. Just by instinct we asked if we can get veg breakfast there and he managed to say yes ! To make double sure, we asked if we could get non veg there and he said NO. After searching for a hotel for sometime, we had hit the bulls eye ! We have to satisfy ourselves with Kerala Breakfast over there

Kerala Breakfast:
Trip details would be incomplete if i don't mention the Kerala Breakfast. There is Udupi hotel in Kalpetta, Sultan Bateri where you would get North Indian, Karnakata food. But if you wish to have your veg food in any other places, need to explicitly ask for Eggless, Veg food and veg subzi as well ! We took Tellappam(kind of Dosa) and Noolputtu(kind of semiya) for breakfast and could find the Bajji made of repined banana as well. But the strange part is that there was no chatni/sambar for those ! We had to buy green peas subji for an extra cost. Strange enough for a south Indian hotel ! When we ordered for the breakfast we were thinking that  the items at the glass window is only for display and hotel would prepare it freshly. But were more surprised when he had brought the same things which we seen in display ! Probably i need not mention that  Poori,Subji  were cooked in coconut oil.

During the breakfast we  no permission is needed from Meppadi Police station !  Later we learned that Trekking is open for timings from 7 AM to 2 PM ! Sometimes its good to hear from the localites rather than believing the google !

Chemra Peak Trekking:
There were multiple Jeep guys who were scaring our TT that TT will not go till the top and we need to take Jeep. Still we insisted the TT to go till wherever possible and reached a place where multiple TTs and cars were parked.
There Jeep guys were forcing us to enter into the Jeep again. Jeep charges are 750 per jeep.
on the way to Chemra
If you trek from the bottom, you need to trek for 3 km before you reach a checkpost.There we need to buy group ticket or individual ticket for the trek and walk for 2 km till a watch tower. If have you have taken the jeep, the jeep will take you there as well.

Individual Fee: It is 20 per head and 40 per cam. We can walk for next 2 km on the road till watch tower. but can't go for trekking

Group Fee with the guide:
Group Fee is 750 for a group of 10 which includes the fee of a guide as well. We need to take 40 Rs extra for cam as well. Guide would wait for us near the watchtower.
At one of the waterfalls

You would find a waterfall and multiple tiny streams while you are reaching the checkpost and spend some time over there. We took the group ticket and started climbing up again.  Surprising thing is there is a post office and post box as well near the checkpost ! We can order for the food over there which would be ready by the time you get down. But if you are a veggie, better not to order there :-)

Near the Checkpost
The whole environment is neatly maintained as we are not allowed to throw any plastic bottles over there. Near the watch tower they count the waterbottles with us and take a fee of 100 from us. They would return us if we come back without throwing any of the waterbottles in the hill ! what a way to create awareness and conserve nature

Trekking of Chemra peak is moderately difficult as guides will be there with each batch of people trekking and path is well marked by the frequent trekkers. But it is slippery during rain and need to have shoes with good grips or slippers.
With the loose grip running shoes, you have all chances of straining your legs, ankles as happened to Rajesh in our group

Trekking Chemra Peak
 You would get a flat surface after trekking for 1 to 1.5 hours. There is a tiny lake formed with rain water and a photographic/water spot before next session for trekking.

After resting for a while, we resumed our journey and reached the peak around 12:30.

There is a heart shaped lake at the top and couple of view points. As i learnt from the guides, earlier we could trek even higher. but now that is prohibited as that is affecting the birds and other wild animals who are present in the upper hills
Heart Shaped lake at the top of Chemra peak

Our Group at Chemra Peak Top

It started raining heavily and we had to start our downhill journey as well.
So, after enjoying the cloudy weather, photography at the top, we started descending and reached the 2.5 km mark by 2:45. The roads were in a good condition till there and any TT could come with ease. The Jeep Drivers were simply lieyieng for their business and although we called the TT driver and asked him to come up, he was afraid to come up because of localites ! Then we had to tell him that there are TTs with TN, KA number already at the top and guide also talked to him over the phone and finally he got ready to come a bit far near to the checkpost atleast, saving us 3 km . So, our journey ended up with trek for 12 km(3+2+2.5 uphill and 2.5+2 downhill) and casting almost that day for a single spot.  Although we spent too much time in single spot, i would recommend going by walk itself to enjoy the cloudy weather, marvellous greenery amidst the tea estates and forests. The Chemra is open from 7 AM itself. So, you can make it as early as possible if you have the plans to visit other places after this.

Trekking down to Soochipara falls:
Soochippara falls and Kanthapara falls are near(<15km) to Chemra peak and people visiting Chemra often visit them. We thought of Soochipara for first day and Kanthapara for the day 2.  Soochipara would be open from 8-5(not till 4:00 PM) as written in net and exit time from the falls is 5:30 PM

Soochipara waterfalls

Entry Fee:
We need to pay an entry fee of 50 per head and 40 per camera in Soochipara falls. They check for the number of cams here and we need to deposit extra cams before entering the falls !

We need to climb down for almost 1 km here in the steps and unfortunately we could not enter into waters because of huge rains. We could walk till the base of the falls and return back as the steps next to that were closed :-(
There are couple of view points here. But nothing could be seen due to the heavy rains.
At one of the viewpoints in Soochipara falls

In First day we planned to cover Lakkidi View point, Banasura Dam as well.
But by the time we came out of Soochipara waterfalls, it was around 5 and had to cancel other plans for the day as all the places in Wayanad would be closed by 5 !!

Baba Dormitory and Udupi Hotel:
We returned to Kalpetta as that is in midway between Banasura and Edakal vaes which we planned to cover next day. When we were searching for place to stay for a group of 10, seen a board about Rest home, Dormitory and just stopped our vehicles to enquire about the rates.Mr Krishna who was the in charge that day offered per head cost for the dormitory as 150. Toilets and rooms looked clean and safe as well.  Just for bargaining we asked for a group discount Mr Krishna reduced the cost for 130, much to our surprise ! We were offered a room which had almost 30-40 beds and empty as we have reached by 6 PM(quite early for a booking). It is almost like end of Kalpetta town and many might not know that place as well . Couple of families came later. But they were offered different rooms in the dormitory and we were on our own in the entire big room ! Had been for a shopping as i had to buy a Kerala saree for my mom and in search for a good veg food as we did not had any lunch in the afternoon. From the friends who visited Wayanad last time, we had heard about Udupi hotel and walked almost 1 km for that. Dinner was good indeed. All were tired because of trekking and were asleep by 9:30. The earliest time ever i have slept in the recent past !

Day 2: 
Were planning to wake up by 6.But were awakened by Harish at 5:30 itself ! All were quick and got ready around 6:30 itself as we did not wanted to get late at any cost and miss any places planned for that day . But had to wait for the Driver to get ready and wait till 7:00 AM when the Udupi hotel opens. We were not sure about the afternoon lunch . So, wanted to have a good breakfast before a long day and could not find a better hotel than Udupi as per last night's experience. After Breakfast we headed to Banasura Dam and reached there by 8

Entry Fee: Entry fee is 20 per head and 40 per camera. But the security is not very strict here and they might not take any entry fee for the early comers ;-)
At Banasura Dam
The Viscinity was empty and shop keepers were getting ready for the day as we were the first set of people to enter for that day. Even the entry gates were closed and gatekeeper came after that and excused himself for 5 minutes.

Journey to the top of Banasura Dam

Photography of the photographers ;-)

Side view of Banasura Dam

Places to See in Banasura Dam: 
Banasura Dam has multiple places to see other than generic viewpoints like
1. Boating with speedboats
2. Botanical Garden
3. Play area for the kids and elders with swings
4. Philately collection area
5. Bird area

It also houses multiple species of butterflies like 3 spotted common yellow, common sergent, red pierrot and many new species as well

Edakallu Caves:
We left from Banasura at 10:45 AM and reached a place with 7.5 km board to  Edakallu caves around 11:40.  Compared to the other places which we have seen so far, this is more commercialized and has obtained much hype although it is not so great kind of place.

Entry Fee: There is no entry fee here. We just need to give parking fee

Surprise meetup with Vishwa during the trip

There are many carvings of the age of stone age and the cave was discovered during 1901 by the British Archeologists. But the journey to the hill has been made comparatively easy for all seasons due to well planned iron railings and steps . One could also enjoy the beauty of the nature surrounding while climbing up, coming down there.

Carvings at Edakallu caves

Phantom Rocks: 
In Edakallu caves we met with a group of Bikers whom we have seen during trek to Chemra and in shoochipara itself. From them we got to know that they had been to Neelimalai viewpoint in the morning  and that has an entry fee of 750 which they did not find worthy. Kuruva Island,Meenmutty were closed as well due to heavy rains as per the information obtained previous night. Muthanga wildlife sanctuary was after Sultan Bateri and just before Bandipur and we did not wanted to visit one more Jungle safari during the trip. So, thought of visiting Phantom Rock instead and head back home

At a quarry Near Phantom Rock which is wrongly marked as phantom Rock !

When we went to see phantom rock, there was a board about Phantom Rock 0 km.  Infront of that was a quary where some digging was going on ! When we got down, got to know that Phantom rock is actually next to it and we need to walk almost 200 meters for that inside an estate.

We walked for 100 meters from there and found a closed gate of an estate.After confirming with a local stall over there, we entered inside and after walking for almost 300 meters more, found Phantom rock finally.

Phantom Rock
Initially it looked impossible to get near phantom rock. But on close observation, we found a path covered by many people to reach till Phantom rock and went near that.

Our team at the phantom Rock, Wayanad
We had Buttermilk and light snacks at the local stall over there and left Phantom rock at 3:15.  We had the choice of covering Kanthapara waterfalls which was the last destination for that day. But driver was saying that it would take another 3 hours to drive till there ! We realized that it's a lie. But wanted to cross the Bandipur gate  before it closes and reach home early anyway.So, headed back to Bangalore. Found Udupi Hotel again in Sultan Bateri and it was around 3:50 when we reached there. Meals were just over and were being served to people who ordered just before us. Had to satisfy with Keral Parotta and Paneer curries which were good as well. But it was not a match against  the Kerala Parotta, Ghee Roast, Curries , Water mixed with padhimogam which we had at Udupi
hotel at Kalpetta previous night. There were increased traffic as expected due for a sunday eve and we could reach our place Kundalahalli by 11. It has been 24 hours now and the trip memories appear as if it happened few minutes back :-) Hope to catch up the friends once again in some trip somewhere, some time :-)


  1. Replies
    1. Yes it is. Shocking.but true. It varies with number of ppl. 3600 for 10,3400 for 9,3800 for 11 and so on. Its for a period of 7 days !