Thursday, December 22, 2011

A family getaway to Idukki dam: Open for visitors this holidays

A family getaway to Idukki dam: Open for visitors this holidays

More than a travelogue, this is just a short description and collection of tips from our visit to Idukki dam last Onam holidays. The dam is open to visitors only during Onam, X'mas holidays for a fortnight. Today's news paper report on the dam being open this X'mas, till Jan 8th, prompted me to put this up as a quick guide. I would suggest the dam visit to be taken as a leisurely trip with the family, to be bowled over by the deadly combination of man and nature, rather than a hardcore holiday destination. This is mainly because the Idukki dam is not an year round tourist destination. Still, I think you can have some trekking explorations, going through this thread Most of the description below is present on t! he internet elsewhere, penned down by me.

We were a group of four in a Maruti Swift. From Thodupuzha town, take the road to Arakulam, 3 kms before Moolamattom. A dozen hairpin curves welcome you on your ascend from Arakulam. The Arakulam-Kulamavu stretch is wide and empty and KSTP built (read as excellent condition). The roads themselves are inviting for a laid-back picnic with the family, though it is better to leave small kids at home as there is a lot to walk and moreover, they wont be able to fathom the depth of how man tamed nature and nature not complaining much. Food can be had if prepared and taken along with, but we let our taste-buds relish the fish curry meals at one Pappans restaurant at Cheruthoni town after getting exhausted walking at the dam top. You can have a quick pit-stop at the Kulamavu dam (one among the trio that holds the water of the Idukki reservoir), en-route to Cheruthoni town.

On reaching Cheruthoni dam site, facility for speed boating has been provided on the reservoir waters for 350/- for 5 for 15 min, though not with hair-raising speeds. Entrance to the dam top is 10/- per head, but do remember to preserve the ticket to show at the dam bottom. It is a highly secured place and police is camping at many places. Are we a better communicators using the camera than the mouth? At least me think I am. But sadly, the govt. seems to be followers of the theory 'for your eyes only' at the dam. The dam visit might not be a photographers delight as we will be thoroughly checked even for mobiles at entrances, leave alone cameras. It is better to leave them in the car in the first place itself, rather than walking to the car park, when instructed, on finding a mobile in your pant pocket.

The pictures captured by us are taken from public roads and not from any photography restricted areas. If the mods seem appropriate to delete the pics, please go ahead.

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Be prepared to walk ~4 km on the dam top, from Cheruthoni dam to the arch dam and back. An umbrella, few bananas and a bottle of water can save you a lot from getting tired. Do not miss the man made tunnel, on the farthest end of the arch dam top. And do care to think aloud, the measurements mentioned on the information boards, once you reach the arch dam. The Cheruthoni dam is 650m long on the top. All the 3 dams are meant for water storage and only 5 numbers on top part of Cheruthoni dam alone, is provided as shutters!

It became noon when we were done with the dam top, so had lunch from Cheruthoni town a couple of kms near. The dam bottom was the major attraction of the whole lot, especially when you know what is at the other side of the arch. To get to the bottom, you have to take the Narakakanam route from Cheruthoni town and travel a few kms and be on the look out for the arch dam on the right. One cannot miss it. Just one word to describe it. Humongous! When we walked towards the dam bottom, it was like giant robot walking towards us! Unbelievably huge. You will be asked to show the tickets you purchased from the dam top, by the police officials here. Please leave all your cameras and mobiles in your car, or else, be prepared to leave it with the police or walk back to the car to leave it inside.

Lift your head and look straight up only after you touch the dam, and not within 100m of dam, then you are in an entirely different world - the double parabolic structure is offering itself as a huge umbrella for you and it is mind blowing to stand UNDER such a huge column of water, provided you've visited the dam top before the bottom.

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Dash to the dam before it closes or else I think you can obtain a special permission other time of the year, depending on your contacts with the Kerala State Electricity Board, who owns and runs the dam. But then you will miss laughing at the booers in the tunnel suddenly stop booing once they get to know that police is camping at the other end of the tunnel:)

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