Many Keralites make the yearly pilgrimage to Sabarimala. Here’s Ian Lockwood giving a different perspective to that trek. Ian Lockwood, describes his Sabarimala trip as that of a curious observer intent on discovering and recording the natural history, personalities and emotions of the pilgrim’s path. Ian Lockwood is an educator, photographer, and environmentalist with a passionate interest in the natural history, geography and cultures of South Asia. He was born in Kansas in 1970 and has old family roots in Boston, USA. Visit his blog to read about his journeys or visit his photography website . The photography website has details about his techniques, photography enthusiasts would find it interesting.
My journey to Sabarimala started in the early hours of a winter morning at the Kumily bus station near the headquarters of the Periyar Tiger Reserve. My initial destination was Uppupara, the elevated roadhead leading to Sabarimala from the east via Vandiperiyar. It was still dark when I boarded one of the tomato-red State transport buses that services Uppupara during the pilgrimage season. It was moderately full with shopkeepers and several pilgrim groups.
The bus crossed over the Periyar river and then headed into the heart of the tiger reserve’s western borders. Here there are expansive grasslands intermixed with neglected eucalyptus plantations and patches of evergreen rainforest. Uppupara is little more than a line of shacks along with a forest checkpost, set amongst stunning grasslands. It was bustling with activity as shopkeepers geared up for the groups of pilgrims going to or returning from the temple, about half a day’s trek away.
I stayed overnight at Uppupara since I wanted to enjoy a full day’s time to descend slowly to Sabarimala. I was interested in meeting and photographing groups of pilgrims and the unique grasslands landscape. I was also on the lookout for the rare broad tailed grassbird (Schoenicola platyura), an endemic Western Ghats species that is found in such mid-altitudinal grasslands. In the end I had more luck with the pilgrims than the grassbird and was also rewarded with the sighting of a very shy sambar stag on an adjoining hill. At night the temperature fell and I was happy to have shelter at the forest department checkpost. [The journey is the destination - Click here to read to full article]
Image courtesy : Srejj’s Flickr photostream