Ranipuram is somewhat an unleashed hill station situated in the Kasargod District of Kerala. Its old name is Madathumala. It is right at the North Eastern part of the state sharing border with Karnataka. It is rather difficult for the tourists to access the place because of the poor transportation facilities provided over there and also due to the restrictions imposed by the State Forest Department. The nearest railway station is Kanhangad, which is about 25 Km south of Kasargod. Ranipuram is at a distance of about 55 Km from Kanhangad. One has to hire a vehicle from Kanhangad or opt to travel by local transport buses plying towards Panathur, which is Kerala-Karnataka border. Regular buses are available in this route. Panathady is the nearest stop from where Ranipuram hill station is about 9KM. There are no other options than hiring a private jeep (Rs 200/-) to move to Ranipuram from Panathady. One Janakeeyam jeep service is available which is preferably for the locals moving for day to day needs. One bus service from Kanhangad is also available which is at 4PM and reaches Ranipuram at 6.30 PM. There are no established accommodation facilities available in Ranipuram. Kochettan’s home Stay is the only alternative. The Tourism Department has initiated a project of constructing a Yatri Nivas over there and the building is nearing completion.
In order to reach the top of the Ranipuram hill, one hour trekking through the forest is required. From Ranipuram there is a jeep road which goes up to the Karnataka Border. There is one forest IB at the top of the hill which belongs to Karnataka Forest Department. There are also trek paths to Talacauvery (origin place of River Cauvery) and Kottagiri from Ranipuram. During the 70’s Kottayam Roopatha arranged a settlement in Ranipuram which consisted of 45 families. Since the first settlement area was in a place called Rajapuram this place was named as Ranipuram. Now there are only 6-7 families left in Ranipuram. Due to the poor transportation facility and poor infrastructure development, families couldn’t survive there and they left the place. Moreover cultivation of crops also couldn’t earn much result due to the frequent attack of wild animals. There is still one small school and a church there. No network coverage for the mobile users! Only when the wind favours, signals from towers in Karnataka State comes and goes. It is known that BSNL is planning to install a tower over there in Ranipuram.
We a group of 6 started from
by Maveli Express and reached Kanhangad at about 7.30AM. We had arranged rooms in Government Guest House, Kanhangad. At about 9AM the vehicle (Tavera) arranged by us reached on time. We first visited the famous two Ashrams, Nithyanandha Ashram (4KM from Kanhangad) and Ananthashram (6KM from Kanhangad). These organizations are mainly engaged in charitable activities which is highly appreciable. Our first priority was to attend our friend’s sister’s marriage. After having heavy food from the marriage party we started to Ranipuram at about 2.30PM from Kanhangad. We were lucky enough to get the company of Madhu a local person of Ranipuram, who was also there in Kanhangad to attend the marriage. Trivandrum
Roads up to Panathady in the SH is in good condition but after that the distance of 9KM to Ranipuram, it is terribly damaged.We bought the requirements for our belly (meat and vegetables) from Panathady. Fahad, the driver of our vehicle was good enough to drop us up to the top in spite of the poor road condition. Our accommodation was arranged in the Kochettan’s (Joseph) house which he usually rents to tourists who are familiar to him. Madhu is the care taker. There are only two rooms with attached bath there. There is one private room with kitchen for the use of Kochettan also. The main attraction there is a small pool near the building. Kochettan is a gem of person at the age of 66 enjoying his life. He was a Government contractor and the road up to Ranipuram from Panathady was actually contracted by him. He got attracted by the beauty of this place, owned land over there and constructed a house for his summer stays.
In order to reach the top of the Ranipuram hill a 45 minutes walk through the forest is required. It is not only a test of your stamina but also a measure of courage in you because one needs to cover some distance through the kingdom of leeches. As it was drizzling through out the month the place was ruled by leeches. We started our trek at about 3.30PM. After 500 mts walk, as expected, two of us failed the tests both in terms of stamina and courage and returned to the room. Half of the trek route is through the Shola forest and the rest through the grasslands. We couldn’t even pause for a second for a deep breathe in the forest area due to the mass attack of the leeches. Somehow we managed to reach the grassland portion which is outside the boundary of the leeches’ world. We could only enjoy the beauty of the green hills covered with grass for some moments and soon fog covered the entire area. We found it difficult even to see each other. We spent about one hour there at the top of the hill taking snaps and enjoying the climate which was quite rejoicing. Soon it started drizzling again. Three of us enjoyed the scenario by getting wet in the rain two of us were “unlucky” to have umbrella with them. Our return trek was in a hurry due to the rain and the attack of leeches. We reached back to the bungalow in half an hour time.
Our next effort then was to remove the leeches from our legs. Madhu was quick in removing those leeches using salt. We then enjoyed a bath in the chilled water of the pool. We had a nice time talking to Kochettan and listening to his stories. After having a heavy dinner we went to bed very late. Some of us even had sleepless night as leeches troubled even in their dreams.
The next morning sun was shining bright and that enabled us to catch the views of defrosted Ranipuram and its bewildering beauty. Madhu soon turned up with our morning tea and breakfast (Poori masala). Intermittent showers made us lazy and we were late to get ready for the return journey.
In order to avoid delay we hired a jeep to Panathady (Rs 200/-) and Fahad also turned up there on time. After having lunch from Kanhangad, we went to Bakel Fort. As it was drizzling, we could survive from the extreme heat during that time and enjoyed the beauty of the fort and beach with a unique ambience. The fort is now under the control of the Archeology Department. The history of the Fort and the details of its construction are written outside. We spent about 2 hours having fun and sharing jokes. Our friend Tarun was seen pumped up by taking snaps and singing the song” Uyire Uyire” all the way. By evening we settled in the Kasargod Guest House.
The next morning all were ready by 7.00 AM and setting aside all the other activities, we completely transformed ourselves to Pilgrims and visited the following temples
Mallikarjuna Temple: (1KM from Kasargod); more of Karnataka influence.
Madhur Sidhivinayaka Temple: (7km from Kasargod); a “U” shaped temple which is pretty old.
Ananthapura Lake Temple: 10KM from Madhur. Temple is the in the middle of a pond. Padmanabha Swamy is the main deity (total 7 deities). The temple is considered as the “moolasthanam” of the famous Padmnabha Swamy temple at Thiruvananthapuram. There is a crocodile aged 68 yrs, as told by the priest, inside the pond. There is a special kind of calm and quiet atmosphere inside the temple premises which makes it an ideal place for meditation. The approach of the priest and temple authorities to the pilgrims was also appreciable. The landscape where the temple is situated is really attractive and from the top of the hill we get a perfect view of the Kasargod district. Posadigumpe, a famous picnic spot shooting place is nearby.
Within no time we were again distorted to wandering tourists from the sanctity of pilgrims. Everybody pulled up their socks and waited eagerly to move to our next spot, Chamundikkunnu, the land of our friend Sasidhara.
CHAMUNDIKKUNNU- THE VALLEY OF LOVE
A lovely portrait painted by an artist on the wall of nature-that is Chamundikkunnu. It is almost 10-15KM from Panathady. You will find each and everything that you expect in a village. Hills, rivers, streams, ponds, cultivated lands, fields, temples, innocent lovely people and everything that one would dream about an ideal village. We could see the children, way back home after the school; having fun by throwing stones at the mango trees and picking the roadside stuffs as collections and running behind vehicles making noises. The atmosphere around the place made us nostalgic about the experiences that we had during our childhood days, which our kids are really missing.
The kind of reception that we got from Sasi’s family was amazing and unforgettable. The scenario from Sasi’s house was simply eye-catching. We were all like naughty kids enjoying each and every moment we spent over there. Some of us had a nice bath in the streams and some were on top of the trees. Each of us devoured like horses and was finding it difficult even to move. We were rather upset with the time we got there as we had reserved train tickets the same day evening. For a moment we even thought of cancelling the tickets and staying back for one more day. We somehow managed to leave our thoughts and desires behind on decision that we will again come for a 2 day stay afterwards. We needed two hours drive to reach Kasargod Railway station. Luckily we were on time and so was the train. After an overnight journey we reached Trivandrum again into the busy schedules.