Few hours when WhatsApp, Insta and Facebook are inactive without mobile phone range. An Aanavandi( Public Transport local name) through the lap of the forest.
Got leave, where to go? Discussion started. Kollam, Thiruvananthapuram, Fort Kochi, Mattancherry, Alappuzha are the list of one day trip. Gavi is in mind but does not have much knowledge about the place. Decided to ask someone. So-called a friend in Pathanamthitta.
“Has ever gone Gavi, do you know the route and things??” “No yaar, once I planned to go by car with my brother and when we got there a little smoke came from the car. So we went back that day and never went that way again.”She replied, Crap! I’ve got a day’s leave, it’s good to go to the forest, I don’t know how to go… Let’s see, but I’ll call you later.” and i disconnect the call.
Then go to WhatsApp and ask someone ‘dear, have you gone to Gavi? Oh no! Do you know the route? No, she said. She suggested another friend’s name and ended the chat. Anyway, let’s go. Many of the planned trips have been spoiled. A minimum of one day trip is required. So decided to go Gavi confirmed. The first step is to call KSRTC Pathanamthitta and inquire. Searched for the number on Google and called Anavandi depot (KSRTC BUS STATION).
(0468 222 2366)
“Hello sir. When is the bus going to Gavi?”
“The first service to Gavik is at 5.30 and the second service is at 6.30, which will reach Gavi around 11.30” said the station master.
“Do you have a booking?”
“No no booking”
“Can you get a seat then?” (If you don’t get a front seat on the left side in the Aanavandi* to go through the jungle….oh it will be a disaster)
“You just need to come a little before taking the bus, you will get enough seats,” said the master. Hang up the phone. Reached Pathanamthitta at 6.30. I boarded the first Pathanamthitta bus from Tiruvalla and paid 45 rupees and bought a ticket to Pathanamthitta. Asked the conductor about the arrival time at Pathanamthitta. Got the reply that the expected time is 6.30.
“Can I get the bus to Gavi?”
“Usually the Gavi bus leaves after this bus. When you get there, the bus is full of people,” added the conductor.
“Again feel, so bad,” I thought to myself. The station master’s words the previous night that if you come half an hour before taking the bus, you will get all the seats was ringing in my brain). It is not easy to see the forest standing in a bus for five or six hours; Anyway, let’s see. When it was around 6.25, I started seeing Pathanamthitta written somewhere on the wall of shops. Will this bus reach there on time? Gavi bus will wait for us with an empty seat! heartbeat increases. Anyway, I took the number that I had called at the Pathanamthitta Anavandi depot the day before and called once more.
“Sir, two of us are coming to board the bus to go to Gavi. Pathanamthitta is almost near. Let’s take the bus after looking.”
“Well, the bus may be scheduled for 6.30. Anyway, let’s see till 6.35. I might tell the conductor.” Hang up the phone. Then the time is 6.28. At 6:30 a.m., our bus stopped at the Pathanamthitta bus stand and by the time we set foot towards the stationmaster’s office, the conductor came with a long mirror.
“Did you call?”
“This is the bus, come on. It’s started and parked.”
The station master came running and asked if the passengers who had called him had been carried. Yes, yes, I said, touching my chest and showing my thumb. As it is Monday, the bus is almost half empty. All the travellers must have come and crashed on Sunday. I thought to myself. Anyway, although I didn’t get a front-view seat on the left side as I thought, I got a window seat on the right side. More than enough. Remembering all the trip family gods in my mind, I fixed myseat. I have no idea where to get the ticket or how to get back. Anyway, you can ask the conductor to come. The conductor came and asked as usual.
“Sir, to tell the truth, I have no idea where to buy a ticket. I just want to see Gavi and get back safely. Okay, even if the traveler doesn’t understand, the conductor has got the idea.
“You can buy a ticket for Vandiperiyar and then eat all the food and go back by this bus. Otherwise, there are many Kottayam buses from there and you can go back. All set! So I paid 187 rupees and bought a ticket from Pathanamthitta to Vandiperiyar. Then the conductor sir said that there is nothing much to see at the Gavi stop.
Traveling by naping the forest, breathing in the fresh air, and immersed in the mist in the cool breeze, a journey through the tranquility of the forest. Chills just thinking about it. The Aanavandit is moving forward with us. I looked back every now and then and there were less than ten or fifteen travelers. The rest are people working in power stations like Angamuzhi, Kakki, and Pampa. They get off when they reach their respective places.
After about two and a half hours, the bus stopped for breakfast. Went there to a small nice hotel and had dosa and sambar and drank tea. ‘There is a toilet facility right there’ reminded the conductor. ‘There won’t be a toilet there anymore, use it here.’ After using the toilet, he filled a bottle with warm Karingali water and went down. At the nearby bakery, I bought corn fritters, fried kappa, and kapalandi mutai and put them in a bag, and boarded the bus. Now I am in the throes of excitement. The wildness and grace of the forest at every bend and turn. Do all forests have different appearances? Will the heirs of the forest be waiting for us by the roadside when we cut the forest? Is it time for the forest to bloom? So many questions arise in the mind. So when the bus was moving forward, when we reached a certain place, two passengers who were sitting in the front seat on the left side of the elephant got down and rang the bell. Good luck!
Gavi is an evergreen forest in the Pathanamthitta district. The Gavi Forest is also part of the Periyar Tiger Reserve in the Western Ghats. At an altitude of about 3,400 feet above sea level, Gavi is said to reach 10 degrees in the evening even during the peak of summer. Another feature of Gavi is the bald patches rich in grasslands. The rare flowers and trees attract nature lovers who come here. Environmental researchers have concluded that there is a collection of 323 types of birds such as mountain hornbill, woodpecker, etc. The region is also home to wild animals like tigers, elephants, tigers, and bears.
Anyway, even though we could not see any tigers and tigers, we were able to see wild buffalo, elephants, mountain squirrels, black monkeys, Lion-tailed monkeys, Mlavu, etc. It was an experience that thrilled any traveler.
Moozhiyar, Kakki, Anathode, Pampa dams, meadows, streams, small waterfalls, and Eko Para of the Sabarigiri and Kakkad hydroelectric projects are a sight to behold. In one word, Gavi is a colorful sight. In between, the elephant cart stops for five to ten minutes at some wild animal viewpoints and locations for trippers and traveler to take photos. When reaching a beautiful viewpoint, the conductor will give an indication and the driver will slow down the car. So the car crossed the forest and reached the place called Gavi around 11.30. Most of the people on the bus got off there. The tourism department has prepared a small eco-tourism boating and garden for tourists. Anyway, we did not go down there because there was no plan for boating, etc. After dropping the tourists there, the conductor rang the bell saying that those who want to go back should wait here at 2.30.
The carriage moved towards Vandiperior. If till Gavi there were wild forests on both sides, now the forest has changed its appearance and the meadows and wildflowers on both sides are warm and beautiful. She has beauty and charm at every turn. Later, the elephant cart went through the forest and went to the country.
Around 12.15 the bus reached Periyar stand. While getting down, the conductor said that the bus will go to Kumali at 2 o’clock and come back by then. While getting down, the driver took his phone number with him. You can call if needed. From there we went back half a kilometer towards the tea plantations which we saw while sitting in the car. I sat in the shade of a tree in the tea garden and took some photos. Wandered through the street of Vandiperiyar and turned around at the nearby petrol station and visited the toilet facility. There, I had lunch at a hotel that I saw right next to the bus stand and came back to the bus stand. We boarded the bus and started our journey back.
If the journey in the morning was warmed by the sun in the warmth of the snow, now nature has changed her appearance and turned into rain. The forest bathed in rain is not as beautiful as the forest seen in the sun. Weather mixed with rain and fog. Different beauty in every state. I remember that it was with the Sabarigi project. By the time we reached there, the rain had stopped and the forest was covered in fog on both sides.
If you can’t experience all this, then what kind of life is it? As Charlie says in the movie, he didn’t enjoy seeing all this and tied it up..?
Now nothing can be seen on either side except the ocean of ice. The bus goes with headlights on. is descent and bend. Since it was the early dark equinox, it was almost dark by four o’clock and five o’clock. On the way, the first service of 5.30 broke down and our bus was lying in the forest waiting for its arrival. When the train arrived, all the passengers in it piled into our train and the train was full. Most of them are people who have to go down to Kochupamba and Sitathod and the rest are tourists. At a forest station in between, the carriage is kept for use by those who need a toilet.
So, he took the pedal and moved forward with a little speed. As he was enjoying the coolness of the fog as he could not see anything outside, the driver suddenly stopped the bus. heart screamed for a moment! ‘What?’ ‘What’s up?’ Questions came from behind. Everyone sticks their heads out. When the conductor ran from behind and reached the front, he realized that the heir of the forest was about to come down for a walk. The conductor gave instructions that no one should make noise, flash the mobile flash, etc. In front of the bus, 5 meters away, A wild elephant is standing alone in the middle of the road! There are big bends in the road in front and behind the bus. Where does the bus go? The pulse of life is now in the trunk of the elephant. Anyway, travelers got into a ‘selfie with elephant’ mood. After looking at it for ten minutes, he had no intention of changing. She is as if no one should feel the sadness of not seeing an elephant after entering the forest. She didn’t change from ten minutes to fifteen to twenty. The love of elephant lovers started to change. Everyone wished something had changed. Anyway, the driver took the bus back a little, if he wants to go, let him go. The conductor stepped outside. She slowly shifted and started going down. Anyway, after half an hour of driving in the forest, the vibe of seeing the elephant so close was different. Anyway, she retreated now and went into the forest. I said to the conductor ‘What a risk!’. Moreover, the presence of mind of the driver is terrible. They said, ‘they won’t do anything like that, if we don’t provoke them, if we just sit there and don’t make any noise, they will go away.’ Anyway, the rhythm of breathing became normal. By that time, the forest is covered in darkness and you can’t see anything anymore, you can only see what you want to see. Bus speed picked up.
After entering the forest, we stopped to drink tea for 5 minutes. Perhaps because of the fear of darkness, no one came down to drink tea. Only the conductor, driver, and one or two passengers drank tea. The bus flew towards Pathanamthitta at the highest speed. Around 8.30 the bus reached Pathanamthitta. I whispered in my mind that Gavi is far away and boarded the bus home. The bus conductor and driver will be remembered with the most love, mercy, and gratitude. What love and care were throughout the journey. It was sad that the names of the two people were not asked and a photo was not taken with them.
If you want to experience the paradise in the forest where there is no mobile phone range, just take a drive from Pathanamthitta to Gavi. The cost of the ticket is only 500 rupees including food. Now if you bring food from home, only Tikarkash will be enough.
Nb: Tourists please note that please don’t put plastic bottles and covers in your bag and throw them away thinking that they are not the forest and destroy the forest.