We discover a hidden world of green carpets and misty views

The journey, they say, is the destination. This was a journey that started in down south Tirunelveli at a village called Kallidaikurichi one sunny morning. We crossed the Tamiraparani to neighbouring Ambasamudram and walked into the rather welcoming office of the Forest Department to get permits to enter the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve. My journey was to take me through the biodiversity reserve with its endemic flora and fauna, and home to several rivers, rivulets and reservoirs. But the forests took me on a road not taken to the land where ferns grew in abundance.

We drove without a destination in mind and without an agenda. No tigers or leopards crossed our paths, nor were we looking for them. The trees cast long shadows, wrapping us in a green world. And then in a little clearing, I saw it. With the mountains of the Western Ghats bordering it, the little Manimuthar that has its source in the hills flowed and cascaded down as a waterfall. Manimuthar tumbled down as a lady in white and a dam greeted us on the way.

The mountains gave us company. A herd of spotted deer crossed our paths. Monkeys glared at us, a crested serpent eagle posed for us. The landscape kept changing with every turn on the road. Dense evergreen forests, open grasslands, little streams and dams followed us whereever we went. The skies were a distinct blue and the clouds came down to touch you. But it was not just the beauty of Nature that fascinated me, it was also the absolute silence everywhere. There was no tourist or even a local around, but for a tea shop near Manjolai tea estate.

We drove on without stopping and crossed tea plantations at Manjolai until the Upper Kodaiyar Dam interrupted us. The landscape changed again and we saw open grasslands, but the mountains were still with us. Sometimes, road trips are just about aimless journeys moving from one scenic spot to another. But finally we paused.

There was no milestone or board that announced our destination. It was just the wind that swept across our faces. There were no roads or houses. There were just open grasslands with the mountains circling us and a viewing point on a corner. We climbed the steps and waited for the mist to clear.

This was Kudrevatti — one of Tamil Nadu’s best secrets. The mountains got closer, as the entire canopy of the forests spread itself around me, almost embracing me in a carpet of green. But in the middle of the green cover was a sea of blue as we could see a couple of dams. While Manimuthar dam was clearly visible, Karayar dam seemed to be in a veil of clouds. We stood there for what seemed like an eternity until the mist soon descended, wrapping everything in its fold, ensuring that Kudrevatti remained a secret.