The thumping sound was hard to miss as the car wound up its way to the lookout point overlooking the spillway of the Idamalayar dam on Thursday around 5.30 a.m.
The sound of the gushing waters knifing through the silence of the early morning hours was the first clear indication that water has indeed been released even before actually seeing it storming out through the spillways.
Balancing precariously on the parapet of the lookout point and letting the eyes accustom to the lighting around the spillway, the misty droplets came into sight initially followed by that foamy tube of water, which was as ferocious as it was alluring. The water slammed into the bottom of the spillway and rose up in curvy pattern before roaring downstream.
If the frightful movement of water through the spillway send a chill down one’s spine, the quietness of thin, flat sheets of still waters on the reservoir storage space on the other side was no less intimidating. The water level was so high that a relatively tall man with a pole in his hand could probably stir the water by leaning over the separating wall.
Adding to the menacing environs was the constant rain. And then as the daylight broke, the misty water flowing out through the spillway was matched by the shallow fog hanging over the mountain surrounding the dam giving the overall ambience a ethereal touch.
On to the left of the reservoir storage space was a road, which was hidden under waters cutting off the two tribal hamlets tucked away into the hinterland. The ride up to the Idamalayar dam site itself was an adventure of sorts right from the check post at the Bhoothathankettu barrage. The easiest route to the Idamalayar dam was out of bounds either by a snapped power line or an uprooted tree.
The alternative route turned out to be spooky with fallen woods and tree trunks bordering a road that was too narrow. With only the light from the car headlamps to pierce the darkness ahead, the precariously positioned trees threatening to fall any moment, the low hanging electric lines, the sudden jet of water across the road, and ditches filled to the brim with water leaving any assessment of its depth a matter of conjecture, all appeared more ominous. Boards warning of elephant crossings didn’t help either.
Even the short drive from the check post at the entry of Idamalayar power project up to the dam spillway was a tough one with the climb to the top seemingly endless.