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Manjur Dam - Penstock A Winch with a View

I first hear about Penstock amid the cacophony at the bus stand in Manjur. My first reaction: how did it earn itself such a name. There are diverse explanations. Someone speculated unconvincingly that it was because "it looks like the part of a pen holding the ink." Another suggested, only slightly more accurately, that "it is nothing but a water tank."

A penstock is a sluice or floodgate to regulate the flow of water. The word originated in the early 17th Century from Pen (in the sense of `mill dam') and Stock (presumably of water). The penstock I visit is said to be one of the ten in the Nilgiris and is located in the quaintly named Nickval Town. The energy from the water, channelled through cast-iron pipes, is used to run a turbine and generate power at the Canada power station in Geddai.

Located seven kilometres from Manjur and at an altitude of 1,885 feet, the place is a picture of calm. Five main pipes snake down the hillside before emptying the water at great force into the Geddai power station. This is Electricity Board terrain. There is a view point, somewhat ill-maintained, which provides a panoramic view of the Nilgiris from the comfort of a concrete bench with flaking green paint.

Winch Station

Down below are acres and acres of native shola forests, an overwhelming view. The winch station is only a five-minute walk away. From here, a car makes its way down a four-stage route, dropping engineers and workers off to check the pipes every day. The winch station is a sight by itself. The old machinery that lowers the black, oiled steel coil that holds the car has been working continually since 1956. A grease-specked board in brass announces the country of origin: England.The three-kilometre trip by winch to Geddai takes a total of 80 minutes, 20 minutes for each stop. Once the winch at Penstock reaches the next stop, the next winch car there takes over. To hop aboard one, you need permission from the Electricity Board. A little away from the winch station is a Forest Department trekking shed, also with a view point. From here, you can see a body of dirty brown water swirling near the power station. The route to the view point is fragrant with blooming jaadi malli and roses. From here, you can trek to Kundah, Edakadu, Avalanche, Pandithopal and Parson's Valley. For permission to stay in the trekking shed, write to the District Forest Officer, Nilgiris South Division, Udhagamandalam.

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