Pandipathu is situated in the Peppara Wild Life Sanctuary bordering Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve of Tamil Nadu. In earlier days the Britishers exploited the regions such as Briemore, Ponmudi, Bonacaud, Athirumala etc to the full cultivating coffee and tea plantations. But these hillocks were not accessible by motor and so they used to travel in horses and these horse tracks still exists. Pandipath was once used as a breakpoint enroute Athirumalai and Bonacaud plantation sites from Ponmudi. There was once a shelter for the horses which has now been converted into a small concrete building by the Forest Department.
“Pandi” means Pandinadu which is local name of Tamil Nadu and “Pathu” means ten. Pandipath is 10 miles from Kallar region which might be the reason to name this place as Pandipath,
Pandipathu is almost 60KM from Trivandrum via Vithura –Bonacaud. Its almost 10KM from Bonacaud through the hillocks. One fine morning, four of us, Shinu, Nazar Sreejith and me reached the Kanithadam check post near Bonacaud and we were joined by Mr Varghese who is a 76yr old “young” man. As advised by Varghesettan we parked our vehicle in one of the Bonacuad tea estate factory office which is 4KM from the actual Bonacaud Bus Station.
A three hour trek is required to reach the top. The first half an hour trek through the plantation region too reach the horse track from Kallar region, almost made our lungs burst. Varghesettan, the “young chap” was seen smiling watching the apathy of four of us. On our way through we were listening to the history of place described by Vargheseattan and that made our trek enjoyable. We soon saw the first milestone showing 7th mile. 3 more miles to reach the pandipath region. It took almost 3 hours to reach the 9th mile point where the forest shelter is situated. We almost ran the last lap as we were welcomed by a sudden drizzle. The beauty of the place is something supernatural. It’s exactly Heaven on earth. We kept our bags and all in the forest shelter which is a small one with a single room and kitchen. The shelter is safeguarded against wild with a trench around. The utensils and other things required for preparing food was sponsored by an Advocate who is a frequent visitor here. There was no signal in our mobile but Nazar somehow got connection standing out of the shelter.
When the rain subsided we went for a walk through the hillocks. Vargheseattan was engaged in preparing food for us. He warned us not to move far as the place is dangerous for Bison. Once this place was notorious for bison hunting. We enjoyed the evening walking through the grasslands and the attack of leeches were least bothered. Cheemunchi hills are seen on the back side of the shelter from where the Vamanapuram river and Karamana river originates. When the daylight was fading Vargheseattan called us back saying that we can go for a walk in the morning. We were lucky that once we reached the shelter the rain started strengthening with heavy breeze. The sound of the breeze blowing through the heavy woods was threatening. We had a nice evening listening to Varheseattan’s stories and experience and we were happy not to sleep for that night.
Early in the morning when the sun rays embraced the water filled grasslands and reflected like in a mirror, Vargheseattan guided us towards the 10th mile which the pandinadu. This region has boundaries with Mundanthurai Wild life sanctuary of Tamil Nadu. We saw the 10th mile stone indicating that we are going to cross the boundary. The horse track route to Athirumalai enroute Agasthyarkoodam was clear. We walked further around 2KM in the Mundanthurai Reserve where there is a watch point of Tamil Nadu Forest Department. The presence of tiger in the region was evident from the pug marks shown by Vargheseattan
Our plans to go to Cheemunchi hills did not work as there was chances of rain and since we were all set for a revisit; we decided to return after having our breakfast. We reached our starting point in one and half hours time and as usual planning for the schedule of the next visit.