Off you go on a thrilling offroad trip to Urumbikkara's colonial past

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Urumbikkara is like a mystical beauty slumbering in her enchanting castle of greenery. With the Enthayar village on its background, Urumbikkara lies majestically where the hearts of Kottayam and Idukki meet. An off-road trip through the rocky forest paths will definitely thrill the adventure enthusiast in you. The soothing sound of the pristine waterfall welcomes you to the unending sights of misty hills, green pastures, unique flora and fauna and huge rocks.

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One can reach Urumbikkara from Enthayar via Vadakkemala. But it would be ideal to visit the place in the accompaniment of a guide who knows the place really well. Enthayar is about 12 km from Mundakkayam in Kottayam district, and it is from Enthayar that the off-road trip to Urumbikkara begins. A four-wheel jeep is the best vehicle to enjoy the thrilling trip.

As we begin to climb upward through the rough roads, the beautiful Enthayar– Kootikkal valley could be seen below like an impressionist painting. The light drizzle and the soothing breeze accompanied us all the way to Urumbikkara. The Pappani waterfalls, which meander through the jet black rocks, beckon you to enjoy its mesmerising charm.

The tea shop

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The lone tea shop on the forest path at Urumbikkara has been a favourite evening hub of the locals for the last seven years. Saseendran would open his stall only after 3 in the afternoon and would keep it open until 11 am next day.

Urumbikkara was once laden with lush green tea plantations and rubber estates run by the British. An abandoned tea factory evokes the memories of its colonial past, and the ignored tea plantations in the area seemed like the remnants of a glorious era. Our jeep stopped in front of a colonial guest house, ‘Sayippan Bungalow', which once welcomed many European guests.

“The name of Murphy Saippu (white man) has always been associated with Urumbikkara. But the truth is that, other than an old estate that he owned in a part of Urumbikkara, Murphy doesn’t have much of place in the history of this place.

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The real owner of around 1,600 acres of land at Urumbikkara was in fact a Malayali. It was the private land of Vallyattu Raman even when the British had set their eyes on this pristine land. Raman had purchased this land from the royal family of Poonjar.

It is said that around 300 families of estate workers had lived here during the colonial times. Raman had arranged facilities like housing, school and hospital for the labourers. In order to facilitate the tea export, a British officer had to certify the quality of it. That is how Merpherson saippu reached here for inspection. Raman built a bungalow on the hills for his guest. That bungalow is now called the ‘Sayippan Bungalow’,” Anil Kumar, a descendent of Vallyattu Raman, explains the glorious history of Urumbikkara.

Unhindered view

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The rocky paths seemed endless, as we climbed upwards in our jeep; the sweet fragrance of wild berries welcomed us to much more scintillating sights. Lush green pastures adorn the sides of the road. We stopped our jeep in front of two huge rocks, and couldn’t resist the urge to climb upon one of them. An amazing 360-degree view of the low lands can be enjoyed from the top of one of these rocks. The brook which peacefully flows through the pastures adds to the charm of the entire place.

Our next destination was the small temple on top of the hill. Poojas (special prayers and offerings) are offered in the temple only on the first day of every Malayalam month. The temple remains closed on every other day. The huge rock with flat surface which lies beyond the temple is where the trekkers and adventure seekers set up their tents to spend the night.

‘Madammakulam’, a small waterfall, doesn’t show itself to the outsiders that easily, and one could reach there only with the help of a guide. The legend says that the waterfall got its name from a white woman (madamma) who loved to take a dip in its pristine waters.

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Urumbikkara never disappoints those who seek its captivating beauty. As we began our journey back, we stopped at Sassendran’s tea shop which was now beginning to bustle with activity. Sipping a cup of piping hot tea from the roadside tea shop seemed like a perfect end to an exhilarating outing.

How to reach Urumbikkara

Urumbikkara is 73 km from Kottayam town, and one can reach there by taking the Mundakkayam– Kootikkal–Vembly road.

For more information: 9995317073 (Manoj) – Planet Green (Urumbikkara trekking).

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