Our problem, where to go during the holiday, was solved as soon as we heard the name of the place – “Kattoothimedu”. In local parlance, it translated to the 'mount where the winds whistle'. This little-known peak 1000 meters (3000 feet) above mean sea level in Senapathy Panchayat, Idukki district, is fringed with rivers on three sides. We started from Muvattupuzha without a second thought.
We reached Senapathy, a little junction with a few shops, all closed for the holiday, by noon. A tiny tea-shop was our sole refuge. There are two approaches to Kattoothimedu, one fairly smooth, and the other fit only for four-wheel drive vehicles. We chose the latter, just because it “was the path less traveled”.
Where water lilies bloom
The path wriggled through cardamom plantations. Three-fourths of the Panchayat is under carda-mom cultivation. Swaying and swinging, we covered four kilometres to reach a small mountain po-etically called “Manithukkam medu”, the mountain where the bell may be hung. It is a beautiful place, worth a visit by itself. All around are massive hills separated by deep valleys. There is a temple dedicated to lord Siva at the summit of the hill. And the clouds guard the sky above.
We walked on to our destination. Hectares of grasslands spread all around a lovely pond, water lilies blooming, beside the temple. Full of flowers and little fishes, it never goes dry. A light drizzle greeted us, ridding us of the travails we had been through. The drizzle ceased, but a fog came up obscuring everything.
And then, the winds whistled, wafting the fragrance of the forests. Tatters appeared in the veil of fog, hiding and revealing the surrounding greenery that looked brighter for the change. Like scenario in some Hollywood film, the views varied from scene to scene - Chathurappara, Ramakkalmedu, Suryanelly, Chinnakanal, and even distant Devikulam.
Folklore links the Muduvan (Scheduled Tribe) people with the recovery of an icon of the deity Karuppaswamy from the pond. They installed it in a shrine, to become their guardian deity. He stands sentinel, long mustaches bristling, sword flashing in hand held high.
There is also an installation of the apsaras or the seven virgin deities. Folk believes that they dance in the court of Indra, king of the gods, and rush to bathe the fatigue away in the pond here. The icon representing them too was recovered from the tank. On the tree bending its branches over their shrine, the devout hang miniature cradles in the hope that it would bless them with babies.
Combined with the lyrical beauty of the site, these charming tales lend mystic fascination to Kattoothimedu. As we left, the winds still whistling around us, we imagined that the rising moon was lighting up the pond, veiled in mist, for the divine damsels to disport themselves.
HOW TO REACH: From Ernakulam, via Muvattupuzha, Kothamangalam, Adimali, Rajakkat, Rajamalli. Distance: 138 km.
From Idukki: via Adimaly, Rajakkat, Puppara, distance 58 km.
From Kottayam: via Thodupuzha, Neriyamangalam, distance 144 km.
Nearby places of interest: Munnar (38 km), Adimaly (50 km), Idukki (57 km).
(This story was first published in Sanchari, a popular travel group on Facebook in Malayalam. Translated with permission by the author, Mujeeb Anthru. Photos by Sumod)