One place where the startling blue of the sky meets the blue of the waters surrounded by the green of coconut palms is Kerala – the land of scenic beauty. It has been named among the ten paradise of the world by National Geographic Traveler. You can’t leave this exotic, elegant, eclectic, ethereal place unraveled as it is truly an epitome of beauty with the lush green forests, beautiful valleys and undulating hills. Blessed with the verdant mountains of the Western Ghats with its evergreen tropical forests and tranquil climate, this state is dotted with more than 50 hill stations, which makes it a perfect repository of hill stations. Here is a list of the top five hill stations in Kerala that you cannot give a miss:
Welcome to the world of twisting hill tracks and wild romantic valleys sprinkled with bright floral carpets of red, purple, pink, blue and yellow that was once the summer resort of the British. Once when you step down the hills of Munnar, there is nothing incomparable to this dark, cool and vibrating magical place. Located at a height of 1,600 meters above sea level in the Western Ghats and situated at the confluence of the Mudhirapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundaly rivers, it is bounded by South India’s highest tea gardens. Thatched cottages painted in red in the deep green valley form a delightful view just like red cherries on a green tree. It is also home to Anamudi, the highest peak in south India (2690 meters), surrounded with black wood and teak trees, ideal for trekking. Topstation, located 32 Km away from Munnar, is the highest point on Munnar-Kodaikanal road. While greenery is one thing that fills the corners of your heart, here you will be spellbound by the Nellakurinjini flower that blooms once in every 12 years. It is out of this world to witness the wilderness of blue again the backdrop of blue sky.
Tata Tea Museum where you can taste exotic flavours from all across the world and Eravikulam National Park which has highest number of endangered Nilgiri Thar and 26 species of mammals are sites to explore. Photo point (most photogenic place in Munnar) with its silver oak trees appeals to be heavenly. From Echo Point you can hear the thrill of your own voice echoing the reservoir and coming back to you. Indulge in grand boating, natural strolling and trekking here. Chinnakanal waterfall known as Power House waterfall offers picturesque sights when it cascades down a steep rock 2000 meter above sea level. If you are a history bluff, go to the Muniyara Dolmes of archaeological importance. Pothamadu (6 Km), Devikulam (7 Km), Pallivasal (8 Km), Attukal (8 Km), Nyaymakad (10 Km) and Mattupetty (13 Km) are some other places to visit in Munnar.
Wayanad is a perfect setting for a hundred great adventures. Imagine yourself as you climb over a ledge of rocks to reach a high point while the wind blows the bundles of grasses to their tunes and birds flutter their wings in slow motion. And drenched in the shower of pristine water you come across ant’s eye view of the cloudy-kissed, foggy hilly tea gardens gently swaying and dancing around. What could be more exciting than this secret hideaway which is a perfect harmony of human and mankind with its fascinating legends, tree houses, jungle trails? The green medley of rice paddies and spice plantations of tea, coffee, vanilla, pepper, cardamom and other condiments make it a green paradise. The land of emerald woods with hills, rocks and valleys contribute to the unique terrain offering confluence of wilderness, history and culture.
With 26% forest cover, it has exotic range of flora and fauna in the two major wildlife reserves-Muthanga and Tholpetty. Muthanga, part of Nilgiri Biosphere, is a rainforest reserve with moist deciduous vegetation and stretches of teak, swamp, bamboo. It has been declared as project elephant site. At the height of 2,100 meters, Chembra peak (tallest peak in the region) unfolds great expanses of wilderness. Banasura Sagar dam, largest earth dam in India and second in Asia, makes a perfect starting point for trek to Banasura peak. Witness the magnificent rock caves at Eddakal caves (a cranny of 30 ft depth) and Pakshipathalam which is nestled deep in the forests of Brahmagiri hills at an altitude of more than 1700 meters. Kuruva Island with its quiet, exclusive and remote evergreen woodland makes a great picnic spot. Trek to the top of Neelimala View Point to view the splendour Meenamutty Falls.
Cuddled in the green, Idukki will meet you with a spectacular landscape as 97 percent of its area is covered with mountains and forests, one of the richest expressions of nature on earth. The picturesque views hold great appeal for those who crave to experience exquisite beauty. Derived from Malayalam, Idukki means narrow gauge. It is home to more than 13 peaks which exceed a height of 2,000 meters. This landlocked region is girded by the rivers of Periyar, Thodupuzhayar and Thalayar and their tributaries. Also known as the Spice garden of Kerala, it is famous for elephant rides, plantation tours, gushing streams and valleys. Idukki Dam, world’s second largest and Asia’s largest arch dam, across the Periyar river powers Kerala with one-third of the state’s electricity. Kuravan and Kurathi are the two huge rocks between this dam. Another famous attraction, Hill View Park, offers view of Cheruthoni and Idukki dam.
Spread over 105 sq. Km, at 450-748m above sea level, Idukki wildlife sanctuary is home to Sambha Deer, Porcupine, Malabar Gaint Squirrel along with variety of snakes and rare birds. Take a stroll in the company of overhead tropical evergreen, moist deciduous and semi evergreen forests to unwind and relax. Also, Idukki is dotted by a number of protected areas – Periyar Tiger Reserve, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Thattekad Bird Sanctuary and others. Eravikulam and Devikulam lakes along with Elavizhapunchira lakes are some of the natural lakes to visit.
4. Silent Valley
Kerala’s best kept secret exudes a quiet grandeur that will open up a whole world lying unseen before you. This 90 sq. Km precious chunk of dense forest is perhaps India’s largest and oldest tropical rain forest remaining undisturbed and half concealed that is part of a story older than the mankind. It is core of Nilgiri Biosphere reserve and part of Western Ghats World Heritage Site recognised by UNESCO. Being home to rare and endemic species of flora and fauna, it is part of world’s 34 wildlife biodiversity hotspot. You cannot miss the chance to see 34 species of mammals which includes endangered lion-tailed macaque and Nilgiri Langur. You can enjoy your stay at the cosy cabins of treetop resorts. Silent Valley has never been silent. Towering bamboos whistle when you pass through them. There is a unique song and fragrance that fills the air which makes it easy to fall in love with the forest.
In the land of Nelliampathi, where the sun glows with its last weak rays and the sky resonates with hues of red and orange, be blessed with grand sight that awaits you. This splendid sight across the horizon will leave behind unforgettable moments. What could you possibly ask more than this-to be as close to heaven as you can get? The hills ranging from 467m to 1572m with their cloud caressed peaks create an enchanting and hypnotising atmosphere hard to describe in words. Bounded by tea and coffee plantations, it offers panoramic serene spots for trekkers and voyage buffs. Green Land farm houses in the hills offer perfect getaway in the company of nature.
On the way to Nelliampathi, you come across majestic Palakkad Gap and several viewpoints that open the green stretches of paddy fields. Pothundy dam of 19th century serves as welcoming entrance to Nelliampathi. Go for boating at this shimmering reservoir to have a pleasant sightseeing. Seethargund viewpoint (8 Km) is a part of Indian mythology as it is believed to be the rest place of Lord Rama, Lakshmana and Seetha during their exile. Palgapandi estate famous for an old bungalow, Kesavam para viewpoint and Padagiri (the tallest peak of Nelliampathy hills) are must visit places.
As you voyage into God’s own country (Kerala) through these places, a vignette of captured images and countless memories will be collected by you.