Ranipuram Trek: Our Last Pre Covid-19 Hike

Continuing on our exciting road trip in early March 2020, Ranjana and I reluctantly pulled ourselves out of the cottage we had grown so fond of at the coffee plantation in Coorg, now to proceed to a secluded beach in Nileshwar on the Malabar Coast (another dream locale in our itinerary). As we crossed states from Karnataka into Kerala, we chanced upon Ranipuram in the Western Ghats, which was enroute and boasted of a thrilling and scenic trek to Ranipuram peak. Impulsively, we took an impromptu decision and stopped here to be able to mount the summit next morning.

Compelled by our strong desire for adventure and experiencing wild nature we put up for the night at a nondescript lodge, for want of any better dwellings, surrendering many a comfort and gourmet cuisine which we had gotten quite used to during the last week. Yes, it certainly was a far call from our usual choice of an abode. But that is what travel is all about – from opulent resorts to at times just a bed somewhere!

The next day sure did make up for the discomfort of our digs.
It was an exhilarating 3.5 hours round trek through rocky trails, scree slopes, canopied forest trees, open meadows and small hilltops. We ultimately reached the rocky summit at 3373 feet (high for a coastal region) and were rewarded with a breathtaking 360 degree view of the surrounding plantations, forests and hills!

Delighted to have discovered this gem, we have fond memories of it, our last hike before the nationwide lockdown in India caged all of us within four walls.

Enjoy the felicity we felt albeit only with pictures.

We were at the base of the peak a few minutes before 8 AM when the ticket window opens.
The area under Ranipuram is protected by the forest department of Kerala.
(Pic Credit: The forest guard!)
After paying the nominal entry fees we started walking along the electric fence, strung across the edge of the forest to ward off wild animals particularly elephants.

We were the first ones, the only couple, to enter the forest, having planned it such so that we could enjoy the soul soothing peace of the morning as we walked through the umber undergrowth. The mild sunlight, not from high up in the sky yet, formed dappled patterns breaking the monotony of the uphill trail.

After the initial climb the forest came on its own, ancient trees welcoming us as if into another world.
Gargantuan roots wreathed the jungle land, twisting like the gnarled backs of pre-historic creatures.
Convoluted serpent like trunks and the intermittent chirping of the birds deeper in the forest added a mystery to the circumambience.
Hikers don’t only use sun shades and caps to ward off the scorching sun!
The canopied trees on this leaf-strewn trail, awash with a soft glow, stood serenely like silent sentinels of the copses.
We were still all by ourselves in the wild vastness as we walked through a dark tunneled cluster of trees our hearts missing a beat being unsure of what lay ahead.
Well, the trees fell away, revealing the cerulean sky.  Hiking for us is not only about the destination, but also about enjoying every adventitious experience and diversity of nature along the way.

 The sun was now high up in the sky, yet, there was nothing more blissful than walking on this trail in the wilderness all around.
Though we did take the odd break. Here, we could just plonk anywhere we wished.
Imagine a sit-down in the middle of the road in the city to rest tired feet!

Soon we sighted a verdant hilltop and nothing beyond which made us believe that we were about to approach our destination.
Peak number one!
But beyond this one we saw another craggy pinnacle, again believing this to be our port of call.
Peak number two!
As we skirted the trail to the right, behold….

….actually the final peak. This we will call the Ranipuram Peak because so it was.
It was facile to mistake the mountain as just its pinnacle, for in reality the earth was rising around it since we had started our uphill hike before it evolved in just a rocky outcrop reaching for the fleecy clouds.

The final ascent – an exhilarating feeling!
In other seasons, instead of the sand brown ground resplendent under the sun’s rays, Ranjana might have had under her soles a carpet of emerald turf
and after a fresh shower, no haze to curtail the splendorous view of the sweeping myriad vistas. Also perhaps the deafening silence broken by the trumpeting of wild elephants, the reek of its fibrous dung slicing through the sweet fragrance of the monsoon grass.

At the Ranipuram peak!

Yes, we were the first ones that day to summit having enjoyed the trek in complete isolation lost in the wilderness and beauty of nature.

A few steps down from the top we saw an approaching gang of four young boys chatting animatedly. One of them obliged us with this picture.
The background of the view contained many crisscrossing mountains in mixed hues of greens. Gently undulating, steep, grassy knolls, verdant slopes, wooded forests. The track from here snaked around the side of the mountain with a sheer drop on either side.

A final selfie of the triumphant hikers!
Before setting out on our way down we stole a short snack-break (of biscuits and juice from our backpacks), enjoying the unparalleled panoramic beauty of thick unending forest on one side and rolling hills on the other.

Now when memories are becoming repetitive, the body wants to take over to create new ones.
Now the feet are itching to hike up another hill, trek up another mountain, summit another peak!

“You pass through places
and places pass through you
But you carry ’em with you
on the soles of your travelin’ shoes.”
Lyrics from a delightful song, The Littlest Birds in The Be Good Tanya’s album Blue Horse.

Article Authored By: Achal Bindraban.
Page Design By: Ranjana Achal.
Pictures By: Achal and Ranjana, unless otherwise credited.

2 comments

  • Ranjai Singh Rathore

    Very nicely compiled and designed the page Ranjana with crisp pictures.
    Achal you have all the qualities of a great writer or a poet. Sometimes I wonder your choice of becoming an Engineer vis-a-vis your capability for journalism. Great description from the start till you hit the peak. After going through it till the end, it seemed as if I have reached the peak 🙂 Thoroughly enjoyed the vivid description !!!

    Liked by 1 person

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