Wayanad district is located north east of Kerala State. There are a couple of stories regarding the evolution of the name “Wayanad”. Once Wayanad is said to be called as Mayakshethra (Land of Maya’s) and finally derived the name Wayanad. According to Folk etymology, it is said that the word is a combination of “Vayal” (Paddy fields) and “Naad” (Land). As you could see a lot of Paddy fields here.
The land of Wayanad always invites you with a bunch of explored and unexplored fantasies of the Western Ghats. Take a look, take a trip, and land looks all different from all the angles for a traveler/photographer like me who can never stop reciting the splendors of Evergreen Wayanad. I am born and brought up at Karadippara near Ambalavayal, which is a small village in Wayanad district. Being a villager working at an IT company, my life between computers and raging Metro City like Chennai is so hostile, especially for someone like me who likes to travel and photograph.
I have been planning for a long time to get away for a while from the pressures of my job and the faces of people who considers me only as a genie that came out of the Magic Lamp to do all the tasks. I was waiting for the right time to go on a backpack and there came the Diwali holidays. And the train, with me loaded, stopped at Calicut Railway Station. After a tiring journey of twelve hours, I heard with grief that there is a strike going on in wayanad district against the blocking of Night time transit through the forest, by government of Karnataka. But still I didn’t want to lose grip on my plans for a travel and started planning to explore any nearby places where i have not been, before. And finally my effort to find a nearby place where I can trek for one night, breathe some new air and to sleep on the laps of nature, ended at Muttil hill.
Muttil is not a favorite trekking spot for many enthusiasts and travellers in our locality or outside, since it is not too far or mostly untouched by promotional activities of our government bodies. I wanted all the thrills of an expedition to follow me at this part of time and it was chiseled into my heart. This is what made to decide to stay one night up the Muttil hill with all its glory. My Camera, tripod, Tent, Lantern, a Knife, Woolen, food and water for the night stay was packed up.
Muttil is hardly an hour’s journey by bus from my Home. I had to take an Auto rickshaw to reach Muttil orphanage where the trekking should start. A fact that kept Muttil hill different from other trekking destinations is the ease of reach for vehicles till the foothill. But i didn’t want to miss any fragrance of my trip by moving about in a motor, and so I decided to walk, leaving behind the huts on the way.
Everyone on the way was a bit startled and a bit doubtful seeing someone walking the way all alone towards the hill. And many a one even found time even asking about my whereabouts and even my address was asked by someone and my tripod was doubted to be a gun. But I won’t complain at such a place where visitors/trekkers are very less in number and when I came to know that the Maoist activities in the nearby forests was the reason for their doubt, laughter broke inside me along with a spark of fear.
Even though the people who live here are really lucky to be woken up daily by the forest streams, to see eyeful of greeneries and to enjoy each and every resource of forest, it takes them big effort to bring up necessities up the hill for their living. On one side, I thanked god for not bringing in infrastructure developments to this beautiful place.
It was almost four when I reached the foothill was full of trees which formed a canopy that gave me great relief after a tiresome walk. I did a check there for my food reserve and my packages. I became hunger stricken, but didn’t want to take anything from my low food reserve. The thoughts of a dinner up the hill made my spirits up by a thousand times.
I decided to have a brief rest and then start trek once the yellow start crouching in. My decision to start late was for fear that I might descent the hill because of fear, if I reach there early. This decision was just to overcome my fear and plug me up there for the entire night, and my decision was proved right. On the way I stopped by a creek, washed up myself and filled up my water cans. Since it was just after a rain, I was sure about the kisses that I would encounter from the leeches. And I was almost running, since I didn’t take any preventive measures to get rid of the bloodsuckers. But slowly I got diverted from the leeches, once I reached up the hill, by the long spread of green grass, Medicinal Herbs and rock hills. I wondered why the tourism department of Kerala didn’t sight this place and it is high time that Muttil hill to be developed up to standard of other tourist spots of Wayanad. And I really felt sad that it took me so long to visit Muttil, even though this was a known place to me for long. Even on Google I couldn’t find any information about Muttil hill, about its geography, history or Flora and fauna of this place. Not even a single travelogue I found on the web that could have helped me on my lone trip.
Roaming around in the thick bushes and trees was felt like a kind of retreat for me, keeping aside the thoughts of the world, I was in heaven. I didn’t even see my chronometer running at a high pace. Suddenly I realized that I needed to erect the tent for my night stay and started searching for an apt place where the thrust of the wind would be less and a bit unnoticeable to keep myself away from the creatures of the wild. At last, I found a rock and started erecting tent behind it to get away from the powerful wind, at night. After the tent was up, I gathered some country wood which can stay hot till morning.
Shades of yellow started giving way for the strokes of dark, and I could see the electric lamps lightening up one by one at the far away town. Once the dark spread everywhere, it started pumping out my fear and I started turning around again and again to confirm, none was behind me. I lighted up the fire and my small lantern, which I hanged on a nearby bush, and I felt some warmth and fear started spilling out from me.
Wind started whistling high making the fire start flaming high. I was trying to keep it low, since I need it till morning for I didn’t want to be a hunt for the wild. Because of the long walk and the efforts for setting up my night stay, hunger started striking me soon. I had a reserve of a Corn, a couple of tomato, carrots and Capsicum for my dinner. I grilled them in the fire salted them, soaked in vinegar and had it. I was still feeling hungry and wanted to have the remaining bananas which were kept for the breakfast, but somehow I kept my self and cleaned my hands. Even though I have had grilled vegetables before, this was truly delicious and something different from what I have ever had before. After dinner I climbed up the rock and lied down there listening music, thinking of seeping there itself. But later the biting cold made me run to the tent and sleep there. Everything around me was silent as if they were thanking me for sleeping on the lap of beautiful land.
Air was so silent and I woke up before a single ray of sun fell on the grass land. It was after a long time that I felt such a kind of refreshment in my life. I ran up the rock to see how beautiful it was, all around. And I was not at loss, it was splendid that what I expected when I climbed Muttil hill. I Made a cup of tea using the remaining pieces of log. “Meele poomala.. Thazhee Theenala” song was playing mild and the beautiful Valley stretched before me like the wings of an Angel. This was a truly remarkable morning in the history of Shajahan.
I roamed about here and there in search of nice clicks, took a few, took more and that was it. I had the remaining plantains and pieces of bread for my breakfast and started packing for descend. I made sure the fire was fully put out since I myself didn’t want to destroy the serenity of a place like this. And I started walking slowly.
I reached the foothill by 3 p.m. On the way back I stopped at Karappuzha dam for fishing. Karapuzha is one of the tributaries of Kabani River which flows eastwards and joins River Kaveri in Karnataka. Karapuzha Dam is one of the biggest Earthen Dams in India. It took 27 years to complete the construction of this earthen dam, which started in 1977. This Dam was built in Wayanad district for irrigation purpose and a tragic part regarding this Dam is that the Right and Left Bank canals are still under construction, throwing light on to the Red Tape syndrome and the realism of bureaucracy that rule our state. Kabani and the tributaries of Kabani are always Red.
A Nice view of Muttil covered with fog and mist was seen from Karapuzha. Fishing in Karapuzha is famous among people of Wayanad. Many people used to reach this place for fishing and finally me too. A bit of luck and good expertise could pull out a really big catch here. But I had neither of these and so I had to satisfy with my small catch. Let it be big or small, long or short, I set up a fire and put my catch on fire. It was too good, even without the usual masalas. The sight of the small reservoir was marvelous from the top of the Dam. I really wanted to camp there for the night, to do more fishing and to capture the place when the golden get spread over. My heart too was pounding like the little fishes in the river to stay back there and enjoy one more night with Nature. But I knew that camping at river bank needs extra armors to shield me from attacking mosquitoes and I didn’t have any.
My evening catch which was on fire was getting ready by the time and I took out one and tasted it. Looks good! Awesome! Sun was peeping out from behind the hills as if it was laughing at my small catch and the big fire. I just winked at him!
The sight of perching flock of birds, frogs sitting still and closing their eyes forgetting the prey just in-front, skies slipping in the sword of light into the scabbard and fluttering of Bats reminded me, who got impregnated to the Nature’s beauty, that it is time for me too to get back to the roost. I folded my camera tripod and loaded my backpack and moved slowly into way down. I had to walk the way down with my almost empty backpack and a heart full of joy filled to the brim and my camera full or colors that I haven’t seen so close, before.
My experience at Muttil always stays distinct in my life and felt happy that I went up the hill despite of the Harthal and lack of time. Now what I feel is that, let Muttil be unknown to many, so that Muttil will remain the same all the time with all its sparkle for me to visit again. Even though I knew that a cup of tea I prepared at the Hill-top was a usual one and my catch at Karapuzha had nothing so impressive, but there was a topping for all these, which was the essence of Muttil. And that is what made me feel the difference in what all I did here. And I was sure that I will be back again at Muttil later for a big stay and explore each and every corner of Muttil.