Thirumurthi has everything to make it a popular tourist destination, says Soma Basu
If maintained well, dams and reservoir sites undoubtedly make attractive picnic spots. Thirumurthi in Udumalpet is one such fine excursion destination. As a forest guard at the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary says, “there is something for everyone in the family here (waterfall, dam, trekking paths and a temple).”
I board a bus at Udumalpet. Crammed with people and their cacophonic conversation, the 45-minute journey seems longer than ever. Rows of kiosks on either side of the narrow sand and pebbled track are doing brisk business. It is an auspicious day and the Amalingeswar Temple, at the foot of Thirumurthi hills from where emerges the Panchalinga waterfall, is flooded with pilgrims. I steer out of their way and walk towards a location that throws up three peaks in the distant blue canvas. Noisy people are no less in number here but soon the sight of a shimmering sheet of water soothes the nerves. The water is muddy brown near the banks and children are splashing about in it. But as I look beyond, a beautiful shade of blue glistens. This is the Thirumurthi lake or the reservoir adjacent to the dam.
After a quick bargain, I strike a deal with a motor boat driver. At Rs.50, he promises to take me for an hour around the reservoir. Tempting enough to escape from the overflowing masses. Mentally blocking the whirring sound of the motor boat, I enjoy the ride. Now only the bird calls from trees in the surrounding hills reach me. On either side of the reservoir bed are scrub and bushy forests.
The forests are not enticingly green yet the landscape is attractive. A cool breeze sets in and loving the solitude, I decide to double my boat ride time. The happy driver starts a conversation of how there are days when the boats remain anchored. The administration is trying to beautify the place. There are no such signs now, but then there is always an underlying hope. The farther one moves from the lake, towards the forest, it’s a different world altogether. And what can be guaranteed is a happy change in mood.