Gavi is the perfect getaway for anyone wanting to escape from the drudgery of everyday life. This village and hill station lies in the lap of nature.
Where is Gavi? Well, this is what some of my friends asked when I told them that we were planning a trip to Gavi. Until a few years ago, Gavi was a relatively unknown tourist destination in Kerala. Today, this picturesque village and hill station attracts lakhs of tourists. They come to listen to the music of the wilderness and to savor the fresh air. Mobile towers are yet to reach this part of the world and I guess that is a good thing. Gavi is a place to connect with nature.
Gavi is only about 60 kms from Thekkady, another popular tourist destination in Kerala. This village reminds one of exotic foreign locales. Its beauty is beyond words. The hills, the valleys and the lake remain wrapped in mist throughout the day. The misty lake might even make you wonder if you are at a European destination.
A journey with rain
It was raining when we started from Kochi. Actually the rain was the only annoyance. We were worried that the incessant drizzling would rob the joy of the trip. It didn’t. Drenched in the rains, the forests looked more enchanting. There are two guesthouses in Gavi. The Royal Mansions is run by KFDC. The other is privately owned. This is where we had booked accommodation. We were received by the caretaker of the Bungalow. He also accompanied us on our journey to Gavi.
The first check post after Vandiperiyar is at Vallakkadavu. Before you can enter the forest, you need to obtain permission from the forest officials. Gavi is part of the Periyar Tiger Reserve. At the Check Post, they have written the rules travelers need to observe while driving through the forest area. Do not make loud horns or noises as you would disturb the wildlife. Also, do not exceed the speed limit. Wild animals may cross your path at any time. You need to be mindful of this possibility. Actually we felt excited when we read these guidelines. We knew an entirely different experience was awaiting us. Gavi is famous for its wildlife.
The sights and sounds of the jungle
It was still raining when we reached Gavi. There were puddles of water on the road. We drove through those puddles splashing water everywhere.
Gavi is about 17 kms from Vallakkadavu. The quiet that you experience inside the forest isn’t something that mere words can express. The air is fresh and cool. Gavi remained wrapped in mist even at noon. Piercing that misty envelope we went ahead.
Gavi is about 1000 meters above sea level. The area constitutes thick forests spread across 18 kilometers. The air is chilly and there is greenery everywhere. These are the biggest draw for most travelers. Pulachimalai from where the holy river Pampa originates is just 10 kms from Gavi.
Gavi is rich in wildlife. In addition to its enchanting greenery, the hill station has an impressive population of elephants, leopards and bison.
Lovely streams, beautiful valleys and dangerous curves – surprises await the traveler at every turn. You need a sturdy vehicle to reach Gavi. The forest path has steep ascents and descents.
Beware of leeches
Gavi is incredibly beautiful. And as you immerse yourself in its beauty, it is easy to forget yourself. That is okay, but you must still be mindful of the presence of leeches. They are everywhere. They will attach themselves to your body and suck your blood. You wouldn’t notice their presence until they become noticeably big. If you find a leech on your body, don’t panic. You can remove it with your fingernail. Pouring some salt on it may also help.
We were tired by the time we reached Gavi, but the lovely breeze and the misty air refreshed our body and mind. The path ends near the lake. KFDC has a guest house called Green Mansions here. The lake is beautiful. We went for boating and absolutely loved it. Gavi is one of the best places to savor the beauty of rains. Actually, it has infinite potential as a monsoon tourist spot.
When it was time to leave, we vowed that we would return. Yes, Gavi is worth visiting again and again. While driving back, we were lucky to find a bison near the path. And trust me, the one that I found here looked mightier than the ones I had seen on Animal Planet. He disappeared into the jungle before we could fully admire his robust frame and the white horns. That bison still remains fresh in my memory even after we descended the hills and returned to our mundane life.