Call of the Nilgiris

Nilgiris 02

Nilgiris 03

This morning when I started off from Pune, I had quite forgotten how beautiful and bountiful is Kerala. I have been to Kerala several times in the past decade, but every time the aircraft flies into Kerala, the dense, natural environment holds me mesmerized.

This afternoon my five-year-old son and I both looked down in awe as the dense green forests, low-mountainous terrain and the dark, grey waters of the Periyar River peeked up at us through the blanket of snow-white clouds. For several minutes, there was no talk or chatter as we kept descending, seemingly into dense forests and fields. Finally, with the aircraft almost level with the ground, my son declared: “We are landing in a football field! This is so cool!”

The Cochin International Airport is a marvel in this day and age, as is Kerala: the airport complex looks and feels like Kerala, with typical architecture, red-tiled roofs, and acres upon acres of coconut and other trees all around.

Which is all very well but what does this have to do with Mountain Walker?

For starters, the highest peak in India – outside the Himalayas – happens to be in Kerala.
And am on my way to that very vicinity at this moment… just entered the Neriamangalam Forest in the Nilgiri mountains. The first close sight of the Periyar River (before the ascent to the Cheeyaparra Falls) was enchanting and hypnotic.

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