Hill Stations in Kerala
Narrow roads wind up through jungle-thick vegetation providing dizzying views over deep peacock-green tea plantations. Spindly betel nut trees sway in the breeze and flame of the forest provides splashes of red.
Kerala's hill stations are set in sumptuous natural landscapes, where to visit and hang out for a few days in a plantation hideaway is an incredibly soothing way to escape the cares of the world.
The northern area around Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary has shimmering green rice paddies and plantations of coffee, cardamom, ginger and pepper everywhere you look. The rolling hills are fragrant with wild herbs and punctuated by mammoth clumps of bamboo.
It is one of the best places to spot wild elephants, but besides visiting the sanctuaries in the area, there are plenty of opportunities for trekking, such as up the area's highest mountain, Chembra Peak (2100m).
Around Munnar, further south, it is tea as far as the eye can see, with the clumpy green bushes carpeting the sculpted-seeming hills. This is tile tea growing heartland, but also a great place to trek and discover viewpoints across epic mountain scenery.
There are some wonderful remote places to stay hidden in the hills, tucked deep into spice and flower gardens, or cardamom and coffee plantations.
High Points: Activities in Kerala Hill Stations
Towering thousands of metres above sea level, Kerala's hill stations, carpeted in zilliion shades of green paint the never-ending moods of the vibrant land.
With their excellent topography, the hills are every day adventure enthusiast's dream. From trekking to paragliding, rock-climbing to rafting, the options here are endless.
South Kerala Hill Stations: Trivandrum
60 km north east of Trivandrum city: An idyllic hill resort with narrow, winding pathways and cool, green, wooded environs, Ponmudi is located 1000 m above sea level. Along with a variety of beautiful mountain flowers, exotic butterflies, small rivulets, and springs, this hill station also has excellent trekking trails.
Central Kerala Hill Stations: Idukki and Palakkad
Munnar is 120km east of Cochin: Munnar is situated at the confluence of three streams - Mudirapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala. 1600 m above sea level, this hill station was the summer resort of the erstwhile British Government.
Sprawling tea plantations, picture- book towns and winding lanes make Munnar a popular hill station. Among the exotic flora found here is the Neelakurinji that blooms once in every twelve years. Munnar also has the highest peak in South India, Anamudi, which towers over 2695m.
Hill station of Munnar is the town that tea built. It was developed by the British, who controlled the nearby tea plantations, some of the world's best.
Though the town itself is shabby and unprepossessing, the wider are contains some of Kerala's most incredible scenery. The neat rows of tea bushes that form the plantations themselves have another worldly quality to them, while the town's elevation ensures tremendous views.
96 km south east of Cochin and 62 km from Kottayam town: Situated 1100m above sea level and surrounded by beautiful meadows, valleys and tea gardens, Vagamon is a trekker's delight.
Thekkady is 142 km south east of Cochin and 107 km east of Kottayam: Located 900 to 1800 m above sea level Thekkady is a land of unending chains of hills and spice-scented plantations, and is an ideal place for treks and mountain walks.
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is the main attraction here. Snuggled in the Western Ghats, one of the world's richest bio-diversity spots is the fascinating natural wildlife sanctuary of Thekkady - the protected Periyar Tiger Reserve.
The Sanctuary Watch Towers: There are two watch towers inside the forests. Reservations can be made at the Divisional Forest Office, Thekkady. Permitting authority: The Wildlife Preservation Officer, Periyar Tiger Reserve, Thekkady.
Peermade (Peerumedu) is 130 km south east of Cochin and 75 km east of Kottayam: Situated 1000 m above sea level, Peermade was once the summer retreat of the Maharaja of Travancore. Here you will find sprawling plantations side by side with natural grasslands and pine forests.
NelliyampathyThe location of Nelliyampathy is 134 km north east of Cochin, 70 km east of Thrissur and 52km south of Palakkad: This fascinating hill station is at a height of 500 to 1500 m above sea level. Seethakundu at Nelliyampathy offers a panoramic view of Palakkad.
North Kerala Hill Stations: Wayanad, Kannur and Kasargod
Wayanad is 60 km north east of Calicut. Nestled high up in the Western Ghats, stunning Wayanad is a gateway to a bygone India. Populated still by tribes, the area's lifeblood is agriculture.
Coffee is the big one, but the tea, cocoa, pepper, plantain, rice, rubber and vanilla that are also grown are responsible for the idyllic, misty plantation scenes. Dense, virgin forests add to the allure.
If follows that many of Wayanad's attractions are of the natural variety, and the wildlife that it's relative seclusion offers are indeed a big draw. But humanity too has left its mark on the district and the cultural stops are also well worth making. The district is also known for its waterfalls.
Pythalmala is 65 km from Kannur town: This enchanting hill station, situated 1300m above sea level near the Kerala-Karnataka border, is rich in flora and fauna. It is a 6km trek to the top of the hill.
Ranipuram 55 km from Kasargod: Situated 750 m above sea level, Ranipuram is famous for its trekking trails and varied vegetation -evergreen shola woods, monsoon forests and grasslands.
Kottancherry is 30 km northeast of Kanhangad in Kasargod district: Covered in lush vegetation and surrounded by undulating hilly terrain, this area is ideal for trekking and is a favourite with nature lovers.
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