This is one of the finest or maybe the finest trek I had done to date...hardcore...it will take the guts out of you....no, its not a dangerous or tricky climb...however, it will kill your power and strength by the time you summit and return. But upon return, you would have attained BLISS, A NEW SELF CONFIDENCE, RENEWED WILL POWER and so on..
About Velliangiri : Kongu Nadu is situated on the western part of modern Tamil Nadu. It comprises the modern Coimbatore, Erode and parts of Dindigul Districts. Mount Velliangiri is the western border of this land. This place can be reached from Coimbatore town via Perur by road. Velliangiri is a part of Western Ghats containing natural herbs and all kinds of natural flora and fauna, can be enjoyed here. Here, on the top of the hill, under a natural cave, which is nearly 6000 feet above the sea level, Lord SHIVA is worshipped in the form of natural (Swayambu) Linga. This Linga is surrounded by adjoining four lingas. So it is named as "PANCHALINGAS". This cave can be reached after crossing seven hills. During the annual pilgrimage season, devotees in large number, throng this place day & night. The experience which one enjoys here can be compared with the "Amarnath Yatra" of the North. Here too, Lord SHIVA personifies in the form of Linga inside a natural cave. This place is also called a "Dhakshina Kailash", The pilgrimage season lasts for four months in a year (i.e) from February to May, corresponding to the Tamil month between Masi and Vaikasi.
Info source : www.poondivellingiriandavar.com/index.htm
I just managed to browse thru the net for my annual trek post Sabarimala pilgrimage which I do every November down south, and lo! I found Velliangiri or Vellingiri as some call it so... After gathering all the info from a few sites and from Harsha Bhatt, a trekker who had been there recently, I decided to trek to Velliangiri on 28th Nov'08. I took the 6.30am TNSTC bus from Coimbatore's Gandhipuram bus-stand and reached Poondi travelling a distance of about 40km, the base village for the trek. Just before Poondi Temple (last stop) is the famed Isha Foundation Ashram founded by Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev.(www.ishafoundation.org)
I reached Poondi temple, popularly known as the 'Arulmigu Velliangiri Andavar Temple' around 7.45am. It was cloudy, and mist covered the base village and the hills around...Finally, here i was ready to begin the trek...Upon making a few enquiries with the locals, I was severely disuaded from doing the trek primarily due the following reasons - Raining atop the hills, chances of landslide, movements of wild elephants, chances of bear attack, slippery due to rains etc etc... As I was alone, I did not want to take any chances...I simply did not know what to do...I was utterly dismayed...thought of returning back to Coimbatore...I stopped by at a local tea shop and wait for the next bus to return...While waiting there, I happened to ask the tea shop owner if I could get a local/guide who would show me the way upto Velliangiri...He replied in Tamil that I might get someone if I was ready to spend a few bucks...even though I could scantily understand Tamil, I understood the money part and readily agreed to pay for the guide as this was a god-send chance...I had to wait for about 15-20mins as the tea-shop owner and the people working there were discussing on who will come with me. All of them refused. Later on I realised that it was not about money that they refused but I guess it was because of the ardent and tough climb that one would have to undertake. Umapathy, a thin frail guy emerged from behind the tea shop and he agreed to accompany me...we immediately departed.
Time:9am. After paying obeisance to the deities of the Poondi Temple, we started our trek from the steps which start from the Shivling on the right side of the temple. A never-ending flight of steps led us into the forest above and we went on climbing and climbing and climbing...I was in high spirits and after about an hour we reached Vinayak Temple which is on top of the 1st hill. It would be difficult to say that if one has crossed the 1st hill as most of the region is densely forested. After praying to Lord Vinayaka there we proceeded further on...The steps were still there but each at a distance of a few meters. We reached our first water source. A small tricklet coming from the top...There is a Naga Statue here. Moving further on we ascended till we reached a flight of steps carved on a very huge rock portion of the mountain. Without the steps it would have been difficult to ascend or descend the mountain.
Moving further on together with a few stops we reached a clearing area after about 3hrs. Here we saw a trishul fixed to a rock...This was the first vantage view point of the region and yes we had indeed climbed high up...The view was mostly marred by mist and clouds. It was 12pm and without wasting any more time, we proceeded hastily towards our destination.
Crossing the 4th,5th hill we steadily climbed the 6th one and descended into the forest. Here there's a small pond, supposedly sacred...A dip in the water was much needed however there was just ankle deep water so we decided to wet our feet and let out the tiresome, haggard feeling and prepare for the final climb. After spending about 10mins there, we moved on, crossing a small thicket and started the final climb. Enroute we got to see huge boulders / rocks precariously jutting out of the ground. There are a few abandon huts here. Umapathy told me that the huts turned into busy shops during Jan-Mar when devotees came here for their annual pilgrimage. As we moved on, we found two very small temples and a couple of trishuls placed by devotees... Now the peak was so close, yet we were finding it daunting and tiresome to reach the top. We took a few more stops and finally reached the top at around 2pm.
And lo! what a view..The surrounding atmosphere is so serene and tranquil. Only peaceand silence prevails. ..I could call it by different names - 'Heaven on Earth', 'A Place in the Clouds', 'God's Home'. The view - mesmerizing, breathtaking, fabulous and what not...Only if I had an English dictionary with me.... There are huge rocks/boulders on top. How these boulders managed to stay there without ample support is a miracle.
We entered thru a overhang where there is a small Vinayak (Ganesh) statue. On the opposite side there's a Nandi statue. Umapathy said that the mountain and the peak was very sacred hence I should remove my shoes and so I did...We moved past the overhang and reached the cave which is perched in the rock...The cave housed the Swayambu Lingam with Nandi. At a time 3-4 people can sit in the cave. We got into the cave and after praying there, moved on circum-navigating the peak and reached a cross section between 2 mega-boulders.
Here we were greeted by 3 Shaivite Sadhus who were under-going their 48-day penance on the peak. Actually there were 5 of them in all - 2 sleeping in the cave. They were most cordial and since it was mid-noon we were offered black coffee followed by the most delicious porridge (kanji) with lime pickle. The sadhus were staying in a cave like area which I guess was the huge space between the boulder and the ground. As I mentioned earlier, how the boulder stood there in such a precarious position should be termed as a miracle. Inside the cave, the sadhus had made their humble sleeping arrangements, kept their food reserves and most importantly the sacred light (diya) alive which they planned to keep till the time they were there. On a clear day, one can get a clear & better view of the Valparai Mountain, Attapadi (Kerala), the Siruvani Dam, Lake and the filter plant (main water supply to Coimbatore). After clicking a few pics on top and thanking the sadhus for the lunch we started our descent at about 2.30pm.
Enroute we got some better pics since the clouds and mist had now cleared. The descent seem to be never ending. My legs had given away and I must say that I was going down just with the sheer intention of reaching Poondi. By about 5.30pm it started raining and we were completely wet. However, since it was getting dark we decided to move on and finally reached Poondi at around 6pm. I refreshed myself and thanked the Poondi Gods for taking care of us. Paid handsomely to Umapathy, my guide who most happily acknowledged what he got.
We reached the Tea Shop and Umapathy asked me if I could show the trek pics to the rest of the villagers there as he was too thrilled about the whole thing. My bus arrived at 6.30pm and I reached Coimbatore's Ukadam bus stand at 7.30pm following which I took the 8pm interstate bus to Pallakad, Kerala.
Umapathy said that a much regular visitor to Velliangiri would take 3hrs to climb and 3 hrs to return... It took me 5hrs to climb and 3.5hrs to descent. I would still consider this timeframe as a personal achievement, and I think most of the people who have been to Velliangiri will agree with me.
I will always remember the endurance and success of this trek...A sheer test of will power. 'Velliangiri is truly God's Abode - Heaven on Earth'....Hope to go there someday again...
Click the following Link for Velliangiri Pics - http://www.flickr.com/photos/75454952@N00/sets/72157610953496242
'Lone Dravidian' Keeps Trekking...