The mind started feeling restless and I couldn’t really figure out why. The only remedy I could find is to head somewhere, regardless of what it offers. So when I got back home from work for the weekend, I called up my friend with a basic plan to go somewhere in a KSRTC. And that’s how, this plan of heading to Cumbummettu came into being.
The itinerary: Alleppey – Ernakulam – Kattapanna – Cumbumettu – Ramakkalmedu (optional) – Thookkupaalam – Cumbum – Kumily – Changanaserry – Alappuzha.
In a bus heading to Ponnani from Trivandrum via Alappuzha, myself and my friend Jayakrishnan reached Ernakulam Depot by 2.30AM. From the inquiry department, we came to know that our bus to Cumbumettu (via Kattappana) will start at 3:15AM. So we waited, waited and waited. Past 3:00AM, we saw our bus – RSE 269 (KL-15-9833) driven to the cleaning area. As they parked, we placed our bags in the front seats – just behind the conductor’s night seat and literally booked them.
The driver was seen washing the front glasses, cleaning his seat and interiors, taking off a garland which was hung across the name board etc. While he was busy doing these, I got busy shooting some video footages of the happening.
At sharp 3:15AM, he gave ignition to our much awaited ride. Tickets were taken up to Cumbummettu. In the course, I mounted the camera on tripod and started shooting footages. Seeing this, a man (who we later realized is a KSRTC employee) came towards and asked what am I doing. I told him that I’m shooting some video footages so as to make a travel video. He seemed interested and in a short while, we came into good company. He also suggested us to take the Wayanad route next time. Meanwhile, we also established a good relation with the driver Henry Michel, known as Manoj and Madhu, the conductor.
By this time, we reached Aluva depot – 3:50AM. Before leaving the town premises, the bus had a halt at Aluva Railway Station. To keep myself awake throughout the night, I sipped a cup of hot tea from a shop nearby. By the arrival of two trains (one among them was Kochuveli Express) the seats got all occupied. People were also seen standing. At sharp 4:20AM, we resumed the journey.
Passing Perumbavoor depot at 4:44AM and Kothamangalam Private Bus Stand at 5:08AM, we reached Kothamangalam KSRTC depot by 5:17AM.
Manoj drove pretty well and with good steering control. Myself and Jayakrishnan had a cat nap.
I woke up to see beautiful scenery to the left of us, down there, passing away swiftly. The morning Sun shined inducing positive energy into me. I got back myself to shooting a few more videos.
We reached Chelachuvadu at 6:50AM and Cheruthony at 7:19AM. After a break there, we resumed at 7:40AM.
The bus got almost emptied as we reached Kattappana by 8:29AM. With only us two and another passenger, the bus headed to Cumbummettu – which was our destination. Another one hour had passed and we reached Cumbummettu.
It was a junction and the place looked calm with a few small shops seen around. As suggested by Manoj, we had breakfast from a hotel nearby.
The nature’s call started getting high on me. Except for a small restroom seen at the backyard of some shops/house, nothing else were seen around to do my ‘things’. I enquired at the locale for the gate’s key, but it didn’t find any fruit. I roamed around a bit trying to find some alternate entrances to the place. That too, was of no use. I finally had to jump the gate and use the restroom. Heh, much of an adventure, eh?
Later, after an enquiry, we got to know that we can traverse to Cumbum via buses as well as jeeps. We moved a few meters further and waited at the border which was another tri junction. We got a Cumbum bus (Rs. 10/head) operated by the TamilnaduRTC – a KSRTC ride gave way to TNSTC. At first we thought it’s the roads and ghat section, but no; they drove slow. Compared to ours, real slow. We were standing for a while, but soon, Jayakrishnan got a seat next to the engine.
By 11:50AM, we reached Cumbum depot. Lazing around waiting, we got a TNSTC to Kumily at 12:10PM (Rs.15/head). This time the roads were all good and smooth, but the bus crawled like a snail. I still can’t figure out why they ride so – someone educate me on this, please?
Reached Kumily at 13:05PM. We decided to have some real good meals from any of the plenty hotels seen around and then head to Thekkady for boating. People say expectations ruin things and I think the same happened. The lunch, even though it was much of a Keralaite’s way, didn’t taste so well. The only good thing was the curd we ordered in addition to what they served initially.
We hired a shared auto to Thekkady. The driver was in his late 60s and explained about the various tourist packages offered by resorts and hotels around. There was an entry fee of Rs. 33/head. The driver asked us to say ‘Kumily Auto’ to exempt ourselves from the vehicle entrance fee.
Passing the gate, we entered the ghat section. Various boards relating to conserve and save wildlife were seen on either sides. The driver continued chit chatting – about his experiences over the past years etc etc. He dropped us at another gate from where we traversed by foot up to the ticket counter for boating – 1:50PM.
The queue was pretty short. We filled an application form which basically admits two. The counters weren’t opened, so we had to wait for around 45 minutes.
After getting tickets (Rs. 225/head) by around 3:00PM, we waited for another 20 minutes at the waiting area. The place gave a nice view of the whole place. Boats were seen far away, as tiny as buttons.
The place was filled with monkeys that jumped here and there neglecting the crowd. Someone among us threw a Maaza bottle and they were almost like fighting to get a hold of it. The effort went in vein when their leader came into the scene and grabbed the bottle from them. While all others failed in opening the bottle’s cap, this dude did it with ease. People started taking pictures and they were all shouting in excitement.
Moments later, we saw boats nearing the shore. Ours came last and we got occupied in the pre-mentioned seats. The ride started at sharp 3:30PM.
The whole place looked so calm and quite. Except for a few deers and some birds, nothing else were seen. We got back by 5:00PM after the not-so-worthy boat ride.
We walked back to the exit and hired an auto to Kumily bus stand. After an enquiry, we got into a Kottayam KSRTC – RAC 530, KL-15-7674 at 5:45PM and took tickets up to Mundakkayam.
The route seemed scenic with tea plantations shining in the evening Sun. Somewhere in the midst of the enjoyment, I fell asleep. By 7:30PM, we reached Mundakkayam and got another bus to Changanasserry. From there, by 9:40PM, we got our bus back home – RSC377, KL-15-9931.
Half an hour of ride and I got back home after an eventful 22 hours of bus journey. With Monday blues popping inside, I hit bed after having a shower followed by dinner.
Itinerary update: So in the end, what happened was: Alappuzha – Ernakulam – Kattapanna- Cumbummettu – Cumbum – Kumily – Thekkady – Mundakkayam – Changanasserry – Alappuzha.