Pilgrim's progress

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MISTY MOUNTAINS The thick mist and biting wind makes climbing Amrithamedu a challenge
MISTY MOUNTAINS The thick mist and biting wind makes climbing Amrithamedu a challenge

Amrithamedu is for ardent nature lovers and pilgrims

The journey begins from Kuttikkanam. The drive to Amrithamedu is chilly despite the morning sun. The jeep soon reaches the base of the mount. The place looked uninhabited. As I descend from the jeep, I notice an abandoned cemetery.

Pilgrimage centre

Amrithamedu, also known as Kurisumala, is a pilgrimage centre. During Easter, hundreds of devotees climb `the way of the cross.' Although there are 14 stations to be covered by a pilgrim while following the `Way of the Cross,' the driver asks if I will turn back after I reach the seventh. "But aren't there 14 stations?" I ask. "Yes, but you won't be able to make it," replies the driver. We soon reach the third stop and pause to savour the beauty of Peerumedu. The white buildings of a tea factory amidst undulating green tea estates was charming. The sight of the rolling Kokkad hills in the distance under the deep blue sky was breathtaking. We resume our journey chatting nineteen-to-a-dozen. By the time we reach the fifth station, our conversation stops abruptly. We empty a bottle of water, look at each other, and turn our heads wearily towards the next cross at the top of a distant hill.

Arduous trek

The beauty of nature loses its charm on us. Silently, we labour on, panting as we note with dismay that the distance between the crosses were increasing as we climbed. We spy a cross on a distant hill. "That's the seventh one," says one of the group members. However as we had told the driver we would not be turn back after the seventh cross, we tread on in silence.At the ninth cross, we reach a kind of plateau. There is no green pasture. We are surrounded by a white mist. The cold bites through the sweater and the wind gets louder, fiercer. This is the highest peak in Kuttikkanam. Suddenly I see the white screen lift to unravel a hillside on my left carpeted with blue flowers, "Neelakkurinji... ," I screamed, only to be hushed by my guide, "No it is some other variety of mountain flower." The magical moment ends as another white curtain covers it. The last station is a challenge as you have to climb against the wind. The way down also proved a challenge. As there was a thick mist around us, we had to wait it out to find the path down. An arduous trek, it is meant for ardent nature lovers and pilgrims and not for the faint-hearted. How to get thereAmrithamedu is two kilometres from Peerumedu. As food will prove a problem at Amrithamedu, it is best to pick up eatables at Peerumedu.MANU REMAKANT




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