completing a tiring yet sucessful Pakshipathalam
trek yesterday ie. 12th Dec, it was time for another
ardous trek..this time to Chembra Peak situated
About Chembra : Chembra Peak is the
highest peak in Wayanad, at 2100m above
sea level. Chembra is located near the town of
Meppady and is 14kms west of Kalpetta. It is part
of the Wayanad hill ranges in Western Ghats, adjoining
the Nilgiri Hills in Tamilnadu and Vellarimala
in Kozhikode district in Kerala. Chembra peak
is accessible by foot from Meppady. A heart shaped
lake en route to the top of the peak is a major
attraction. The lake is believed to have never
I had been trekking continuously for the past
2 days (Dhoni Hills & Pakshipathalam) + travelling
about 200 kms between Palghat & Kalpetta towns...exhaustive
& tired feeling....but now this was the trek
that I was waiting to do since 2006....Trek &
Night camping at Chembra. I had carried my 3-man
tent for this trek.
12th Dec...my pickup time was
at 10am, Pavithram my guide got the jeep and picked
me up at 9am, brought all provisions (incl. chicken)
enroute...and we reached the local forest office
at Meppady. The route from Kalpetta to Meppady
is quite picturesque, tea estates lined up on
both sides of the road, far on the left we were
circling Manikunnu hill and on the far right one
could see the twin peaks of Chembra basking in
the morning light.
After taking permissions, we headed towards Chembra
Tea Estate which is situated
at the base of Chembra...This is the only route
to Chembra and our jeep climbed the narrow route
precariously winding up thru the tea estate. We
reached a point where there was no vehicle entry
further and this was our trek start point. From
this point one could see the forest watchtower
(a white structure) on the edge of the tea estate.
It was about 11am...After informing our driver
to comeback at 8am next day to collect us, we
started our trek....
Just after the no entry point, we took a left
into the bushes and started climbing upwards...Pavithram
was leading as he was aware of the area and the
route...Apparently he climbs Chembra twice a week
as he is a trekking guide...He says mostly its
foriegners, and just a few Indians (mostly from
Bangalore) who come to Chembra....He was quite
surprised that me being from Mumbai had much info
about the places around....Not surprising for
me atleast as I belonged to Kerala but nevertheless
you don't find much people from other parts of
India coming to Wayanad just to trek.
Anyways, we climbed slowly, steadily reaching
the lake in an hour's time... The lake is in the
shape of a heart and is also called as 'Love Lake'.
The water in the lake never seems to dry up....This
is the place where we will be setting up camp
after our descent back...Not wasting too much
time around the lake we hit the path to the peak....
There are five levels or rather humps one needs
to cross before reaching the peak.....We maintained
good speed & reached the third hump where
we decided to keep our sacks safely in the thick
vegetation on the slopes of the mountain. We were
awry of the fact that as there was raw chicken
in my sack and there seems a possiblity of a wolf
or a leopard getting a whiff of the meat &
tearing my brandnew Northface sack apart for the
same...However, taking all chances, we came back
to our path and continued the climb, reaching
the peak at 1:45pm.
The view from top is awesome and breathtaking.
Lofty Peaks of Ambamala, Kurchilmala, Vavulmala,
Manikunnu can be seen. The twin peak of Chembra
though lower in height
looks impreganable due to several vertical patches
near the peak and also the thick forest patches
surrounding the mountain. Most of the other peaks
were also covered with thick forests....We could
also see the core area of the forest which covers
3/4th portion of Chembra base.....The
towns of Vythiri and Kapetta could also be seen
at a distance though not clearly due to the noon
mist.... It was very chilly on top of the peak
inspite of the afternoon heat. After a quick photo
session followed by lunch (dosas and vegetable
curry) we started our descent at 2.30pm. Enroute
we returned back to the slope where we had kept
our sacks much to our delight no harm done...We
reached the lake around 4pm.
After clearing the camp area, we decided to get
water for all our chores....Though the lake holds
enough water we thought that it might not be potable.
Pavithram knew of a place where we could source
good water, hence we proceed to fetch the same....About
200mtrs from the camp area we went past thru thick
vegetation and reached a slope where there is
a tiny stream. We filled our bottles, washed the
chicken and brought back enough water required
for cooking. We collected firewood and set up
the tent (Sierra Designs 'Orion AST'
3 Seasons 3 Man Tent). This was
the first time I set the tent with the rainfly.
Rice, chicken & papad was on the dinner menu...Pavithram
turned out to be an excellent cook and we had
a sumptuous dinner at around 9pm. The weather
turned out to be very cold and by 10pm we were
fast asleep tucked away in our sleeping bags....
Woke up at 5.30am, Pavithram cleaned up the vessels
while I dismantled the tent. The early
morning view of the peak and surrounding areas
was absolutely mesmerising. Strays of sunlight
breaking thru the clouds and hitting the
peak thus creating a collage of colours on the
landscape. We cleaned the camp area and by 7am
left the place....Enroute during descent we took
several pics of the surrounding areas that were
covered with mist. We descended and in about 1/2
hr reached the no-entry point. Our jeep was already
there and we travelled back to my hotel in Kalpetta
reaching in about 45mins.
I bid adieu to Pavithram, thanking him for the
high team spirit and the wonderful trek support
he had organised. As I had a flight to catch from
Calicut, I packed my stuff in a jiffy and hurried
towards Kalpetta bus stand, to take a express
bus to Calicut, reaching there in 2hrs. The route
from Kalpetta to Calicut is again, awesome. This
time as I was travelling in the day, I could see
several tricky hairpin bends enroute. But the
bus driver drove with much ease and we did not
feel the slightest discomfort. Alas, my flight
was overbooked and I could not get a confirmed
seat, so had to stay back there for an entire
day....However, it was not so boring as I roamed
the entire day around in the city watching the
latest Malayalam movies and savoring the local
fish curry & rice though expensive compared
to mumbai standards.
In my amateur quest to trek in an around Kerala,
I take this sucessful as a personal milestone.
Many more treks are in the offing and I am sure
will go back next year to do more.....
For pictures of
the trek follow click this link : Chembra
Alternatively you may visit the photos section
to reach Chembra trek photos
'Lone Dravidian' Keeps Trekking...