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. Indeed, Thirumurthi is kind of a package tourism spot with a temple and a water fall for the pilgrims, hills for the adventurers and trekkers and the dam site for boating and picnicking amidst a scenic location.
If you are looking for a dose of tranquility even on a crowded day, just head for the cool and still water without blinking. 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 across the small rippled sheet of blue water.
No other sound infiltrates now except for a few fading bird calls that seem to be coming from 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. There is an irregular trickle of tourists coming for boat rides. And picnickers too are mostly the pilgrims who actually after temple darshan come to the lake and more often than not mess around in the lake bed by cooking and eating there.
Whereas the combination of interesting spots in the area with the reservoir adding beauty to the location can turn
With interesting tourist spots around, Thirumurthi can become a popular destination. The administration is trying to beautify the place. There are no such signs now, but then there is always an underlying hope. Like the one I began with. And look what I enjoyed after kicking it off with an undesirable cacophony of a huge congregation - it was absolute tranquility at the end, zipping on the waters with an element of adventurism and sighting a few birds (albeit unidentifiable) perched on tree tops at the edge of the Thirumurthi reservoir.
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.