Idukki, the most enchanting holiday destination in Kerala, serves up a rich platter of amusing places. For those who believe that variety is the spice of life, Idukki is the clear favourite with its wildlife reserves, hill resorts, mountain treks, spice plantation vistas and elephant rides. Renowned for its large arch dam, the other interesting places in Idukki are the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Thekkady and the refreshing hill stations of Munnar and Peermedu.
Places to visit
Idukki Arch Dam: Constructed across the Kuravan and Kurathi Hills, this huge dam is the first in Asia and second in the world.
The Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary: Spreading out over the Thodupuzha and Udumpanchola taluks of Idukki District, this wildlife sanctuary is around 450 – 748 m above sea level.
This popular district is at an altitude of 900-1800m above sea level. Though Thekkady is well known for one of the best wildlife reserves in India, the rest of the district is well endowed with sprawling green estates and hill stations that provide the perfect setting for mountain treks and scenic walks.
By road: Frequent buses ply from Kumily, which is 4 km away to various destinations.
In and around Thekkady
The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary:
Locked in a tight embrace with the rocky hills of the Western Ghats in one of the world’s richest bio-diversity spots is the natural wildlife sanctuary of Thekkady. This protected Periyar Tiger reserve lying along the Periyar river is open from 6.00 am to 6.00 pm.
The Sanctuary Watch Towers: Inside the deep forests of the sanctuary proudly stand two watch towers. Reservations for a tour of the same can be done at the Divisional Forest Office at Thekkady. Permissions can be sought from the Wildlife Preservation Officer of the Periyar Tiger Reserve at Thekkady.
Pandikuzhi: (5 km from Kumily).
This ravishing array of exquisite flora and fauna coupled with bubbly, gushing streams lay safely nestled in between the Chellarkovil and the Tamil Nadu border. Pandikuzhi, a mystical spot is visited for its trekking opportunities and scenic value. The stunning locale is also a photographer’s dream.
Pullumedu: (43 km from Thekkady, 26 km from Periyar).
Journeying along the Periyar river up a twisting, turning road that leads to this hill town unravels a hypnotic view of the mountains covered with rich, lush foliage on either side.
Things to do in Thekkady
Plantation tours: Hand in hand with the District Tourism Information Office at Thekkady Jn. in Kumily, tours to the impressive tea, coffee and spice plantations, tea factories, tribal colonies and other such places can be arranged.
Elephant rides: Exciting elephant rides through the green jungles can be organised through the Forest Department of Thekkady.
Trekking areas: The rocky terrains of Kurisumala near Kumily, Pullumedu, Ottakathamedu, Grampi.
Boat cruises on the Periyar Lake:
Boat trips that start from Thekkady are conducted by The Kerala Tourism Development Corporation Ltd.
Timings: 07.00, 09.30, 11.30, 14.00, 16.00 hrs.
Village tour – Sight seeing rides on bullock carts costs Rs. 500 per head.
Ecotourism Programmes: Mountain Walk including guided day trek costs Rs. 100.
Periyar Tiger Trail – Protection-focused trekking at the protected tiger reserve followed by a camping programme costs Rs. 3000.
Border Hiking – Trek along the border of the tiger reserve with conservation focus costs Rs. 750.
Bamboo Rafting – An entire day of trekking and rafting activity costs Rs. 1000.
Jungle Patrol – Night patrol programme in the jungle costs Rs. 500.00
Tribal Heritage – Trip to the tribal heritage museum inside the Mannan settlement costs Rs. 100.
Coracle River Rafting & Bullock Cart Discoveries – Tour of the farmlands of a tiny hamlet with an optional coracle ride costs Rs. 1000.
The Jungle Inn – Enjoy an overnight stay at the Jungle Inn, Rs. 2000 per cottage.
Bamboo Grove – Ecolodge & experiential skill learning centre, Rs. 2000 per cottage.
Indian classical dance theatre: Talks and demonstrations on Bharatanatyam, Kalaripayattu etc. are organized at the Natyagriham, Karthika Tourist Home, Thekkady. Bharatanatyam performances are conducted daily from 1900 to 2030 hrs. at a ticket cost of Rs. 150 per head.
Mudra Kathakali Centre: The Kathakali programme is held here daily.
Spices: Quality spices can be bought at the Peermedu Marketing Cooperative Society Ltd., Thekkady Jn. in Kerala.
At an altitude of 915 – 1100 m above sea level is the green town of Peermadu, well reputed for its sprawling plantations. This picture perfect town is named after Peer Mohammed, a Sufi saint who was a close confidant of the blue blooded Travancore family.
By road: Jeeps are the ideal means of conveyance to this hill station which is at a distance of 25 km. from Vagamon and 35 km. from Thekkady.
In and around Peermedu
Vagamon: (25 km from Peermedu)
With grass-covered hills, lawns of green velvet and the fresh scent of the misty mountain air, Vagamon is nature at its optimal beauty. The perfect paradise to retreat into when one is stressed out.
Kuttikanam: The perfect place for those lovers of adventure tourism and trekking.
Peeru Hills: (4 km from Peermedu; 1 km from Kuttikanam)
The favourite hill station of trekking buffs and tour enthusiasts, Peeru Hills is as close as one can get to nature.
Grampi: (5 km from Peermedu; 10 km from Vandiperiyar).
The high peaks of Grampi offer a stunning bird’s eye view of the surroundings. That is why this place is also called Parunthupara which means eagle rock.
Things to do in Peermedu
Peermadu and its locales provide exhilarating experiences for those visitors who get a kick out of trekking, cycling and horse riding.
Trekking sites: Peeru Hills, Kalthotti, Vagamon, Karandakapara Hills, Grampi (Parunthupara), Memala and other rocky areas.
Plantation visits: Tea, coffee, rubber and spice plantations comprising cardamom.
Sightseeing: Trips to Meloram, Nallathanni, Panchalimedu and Valanjamkanam Waterfalls. Also worth seeing are the remarkable tea factories in and around Peermadu.
Set at an altitude of 5000 – 8000 ft above sea level, Munnar rewards the weary traveler with a stunning spectral array of vast green tea estates, post card towns and smoothly curving lanes. The immense holiday facilities together with the perfect climatic setting, makes this pleasant resort the numero uno of all holidays in Kerala.
By road: the distance from Munnar to different tourist centres in Kerala are as follows-
Mattupetty: 13 km, Rajamala: 15 km, Anamudi: 20 km, v Idukki: 60 km, Thekkady: 110 km, Kottayam: 147 km, Thrissur: 158 km, Kumarakom: 160 km, Alappuzha: 200 km, Palakkad: 226 km, Kollam: 252 km, Kozhikode: 289 km.
Tourist information offices:
- District Tourism Office, Kumily.
- DTPC Information Centre, Old Munnar.
In and around Munnar
Pothanmedu: (6 km from Munnar)
With rocky hills and mystic mountains, Pothanmedu offers the ideal scenario for amateur trekking and unforgettable mountain walks.
Devikulam: (7 km from Munnar)
This picturesque hill station with its green expanse, exquisite flora and fauna and the fresh mountain air is a rare visual treat. The scenic Devikulam Lake is popular for trout fishing.
Attukad: (9 km from Munnar)
Located between Munnar and Pallivasal, Attukad is a ravishing place with frothy waterfalls and impressive hills covered with greenery. The place is ideal for long treks.
Nyayamakad: (10 km from Munnar)
The land of the gushing waterfalls, Nyayamakad is located between Munnar and Rajamala. In a solitary corner of the Nyayamakad Estate is Gravel Banks, a fun-filled spot for trout fishing.
Mattupetty: (13 km from Munnar)
Renowned for the Indo-Swiss Livestock Project, which is a high-end dairy farm, Mattupetty, is a delightful destination locted at a height of 1700m. The Mattupetty Dam situated a short distance away from the farm is a favourite picnic spot.
Lockhart Gap: (13 km from Munnar)
This is the idyllic location for adventure tours and treks. The cool mountain breeze, the mist-covered mountains and breath taking visuals make the visit worthwhile.
Rajamala: (15 km from Munnar)
Estimated to have a total number of 1317 Nilgiri Tahrs, Rajamala is the natural home of the endangered Nigiri Tahr.
Eravikulam National Park: (15 km from Munnar)
Situated in the Devikulam Taluk, this park attracts tourists for its Nilgiri Tahr and the Neelakurinji flowers that bloom just once in 12 years. Ananmudi, at a height of 2695m, and considered the highest peak of South India is situated in the southern part of this park. Visitors are not permitted inside during the Monsoons.
Visiting time: 0800 – 1700 hrs.
Entrance fee: Adults: Rs. 10; Children below 12 yrs: Rs. 2; Foreigners: Rs. 50.00.
Permitting authority: Wildlife Warden, Munnar.
Trekking areas: Anamudi and Rajamala. Treks are location oriented. This is one of the best places for adventure tourism.
Marayoor: (40 km from Munnar)
A thick, natural growth of sandalwood trees is found here. This is the only place in Kerala that has such a unique thicket of these fragrant trees.
Thommankuthu: (17 km from Thodupuzha)
Renowned for its seven-layered waterfall, Thommankuthu is an excellent spot for adventure games. Pedal boating, forest hikes, night camping, playing in the waterfall etc. are the forms of recreation possible here.
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary: (60 km from Munnar)
This wildlife reserve is situated on the Tamil Nadu border. The Rajamala-Udumalpet Road (SH 17) cuts right through it, enabling a close view of the animal life at the reserve throughout the journey.
Timings are from 0900 to 1600 hrs. Fare: Rs. 300 per head
Things to do in Munnar
Daily Sightseeing Tours:
Timings: 10.00 to 16.00 hrs; Fare: Rs. 250 per head.
For bookings, contact: DTPC, Information Centre, Munnar.
Tea Valley Tour: An exciting tour of Mattupetty, Echo Point, Kundala, Top Station, Rajamala, Eravikulam National Park.
Timing: 1000 to 1800 hrs. Fare: Rs. 250 per head.
For bookings, contact: DTPC, Information Centre, Munnar.
Sandal Valley Tour: A fun-filled trip to Nyayamakad View Point, Lukkom Waterfalls, Vaguvarai View Point, Coffee – Tea Plantations and the Sandalwood Forest.
Munnar – DTPC organizes boating facilities at Old Munnar. Contact no: 231516.
Fare for the different boating options: Rowboat: Rs. 30 per person per hour. Motorboat: Rs. 200 for 9 persons for 30 min. Pedalboat: Rs. 40 for 2 seater and Rs. 80 for 4 seater for 30 min. Water cycle: Rs. 100 per person for 30 min. Surfbike: Rs. 50 for 15 min.
Different boating facilities include: Speed launch: Rs. 300 for 15 min. (max. 5 persons); Safariboat: Rs. 700 for 25 seats for 30 min.
Timings: 0930 – 1500 hrs for Indo-Swiss project.
Cycle Rental: DTPC provides cycling facilities at Munnar at a nominal rental of Rs. 10 per cycle per hour and Rs. 75 per cycle per day.
Tea Museum: The only tea museum in India and maintained by Tata Tea, it throws light on the developmental milestones of the tea industry in Munnar from the 1880s. On display are a unique collection of relics, and artifacts related to the tea industry from the past.
Timings 10.00 – 17.00 hrs
Entrance fee: Rs. 50 per head.