Meghamalai, nestled in the Theni district of Tamil Nadu, is a picturesque hill station that remains largely undiscovered by tourists. This mist-shrouded mountain range, situated in the Western Ghats of South India, boasts vast expanses of tea estates and cardamom plantations. The region is characterized by a diverse range of flora, including scrub forests and plantations, and is home to a precious array of fauna such as the Great Indian hornbill, Grizzled giant squirrel, Salim Ali’s fruit bat, White-bellied woodpecker, and various rare species of deer.
Recognizing its exceptional biodiversity, the government is contemplating the establishment of the Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary. Throughout the hill station, numerous breathtaking viewpoints await exploration, with Highwavy standing out for its stunning vista of the Varusanadu Hills. Leisurely walks amid well-spread plantations and around an artificial lake offer tranquil experiences. Six dams strategically placed on the hills further contribute to the region’s popularity among tourists.
At the heart of Meghamalai lies Vellimalai, cloaked in Silver-lined clouds, hosting diverse wildlife. The region is also significant as the origin of the Vaigai River. Meghamalai, with its untamed beauty and rich biodiversity, promises a unique and captivating experience for those seeking a retreat into nature.
Meghamalai, often referred to as the High Wavy Mountains, constitutes a mountainous expanse situated within the Western Ghats in the Theni district near Kumily, Kerala. Adorned with cardamom plantations and tea estates, this mountain range rises to an elevation of 1,500 meters above sea level, boasting a diverse array of flora and fauna.
Meghamalai, Where majestic mountains pierce the clouds, cloaked in verdant tea estates. This haven of serenity invites you to unwind, explore, and connect. Immerse yourself in village life, savor local delights, and let the breathtaking landscapes etch themselves onto your soul.
Cradled in the Western Ghats near Kumily, Tamil Nadu, the High Wavy Mountains, known as Meghamalai, unfurl like a verdant tapestry. Cloaked in emerald tea plantations and fragrant cardamom estates, these peaks crest at 1,500 meters, embracing a vibrant mosaic of life. Untouched pockets of evergreen forest whisper secrets, while windswept cloudlands paint the sky with ethereal swirls.The region, predominantly covered by tea plantations, encompasses cloudlands, high wavys, venniar, and the manalar estates affiliated with the Woodbriar Group. Restricted access to the area reveals mostly untouched remnants of evergreen forest.
Meghamalai, known as Paccha Kumachi in Tamil, which translates to Green Hills, lives up to its name once you embark on the captivating journey along the 18 hairpin bends to reach this destination. The landscape is truly verdant, and the name perfectly captures the essence of the place. The region is shrouded in fog almost perpetually, creating a magical atmosphere as it gracefully drifts over the hills, enveloping tea plantations and lush green ranges.
Meghamalai maintains a unique charm, untouched by the proliferation of buildings. The consistently pleasant weather, serene air, and breathtaking vistas contribute to making it one of the most sought-after destinations. Prominent landmarks in the area include the wildlife sanctuary, Meghamalai waterfalls, Suruli waterfalls, dams, Maharaja Mettu viewpoint, as well as tea and cardamom plantations. Vellimalai adds to the allure of this picturesque locale.
How To Reach Meghamalai
The Meghamalai mountain range offers two approaches — one from Theni via Chinnamanur and another from Andipatti via Kandamanayakkanur. Both routes are accessible by road from Madurai and Dindigul. The distance from Madurai to Theni is 76 km. The road from the turnoff near Chinnamanur, before Iravangalar, was previously maintained by the Woodbriar group; however, due to insufficient upkeep, the government has taken over maintenance responsibilities. Accommodations at the hilltop are limited to forest lodges and panchayath rest houses. For day-trippers, hotels in Theni, Chinnamanur, and Andipatti are available, with Madurai being approximately 130 km away.
- Nehru Ji Bus Stand, Chinnamanur, about 51 km away
- Madurai Airport, about 103 km away
- Madurai Railway Station, about 119 km away
Meghamalai Tourist Attractions
Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuary
For an extended period, a proposal has been pending with the Tamil Nadu Forest Department regarding the establishment of the Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuary, spanning 600 km² within the division. The proposed key tasks within the sanctuary encompass tackling poaching, employing pesticides to eradicate ganja (Cannabis sativa), and engaging in the cultivation and scientific management of watersheds. Positioned strategically, the Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuary could serve as a valuable buffer to the Periyar Tiger Reserve and Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary, significantly enhancing conservation efforts in the southern Western Ghats—the range of hills situated south of the Palakkad Gap.
The diverse wildlife inhabiting the High Wavy Mountains includes the Oriental honey buzzard, great pied hornbill, Indian brown mongoose, Jerdon’s palm civet, white-bellied short-wing, black-naped monarch, pied thrush, gaur, tiger, leopard, Asian elephant, mouse deer, Ghatixalus asterops, Raorchestes beddomii, Raorchestes ponmudi, Nyctibatrachus sp., Ramanella triangularis, Ramanella montana, Calotes grandisquamis, Hemidactylus anamallensis, Salea anamallayana, Kaestlea travancorica, Kaestlea laterimaculata, Uropeltis madurensis, Uropeltis liura, Calliophis nigrescens, large-scaled pit viper, and the elusive Hutton’s pit viper.
During the period when Hindustan Unilever managed the high wavys group of estates, the company initiated a non-profit organization known as the Megamalai Wildlife and Environment Association. Collaborating with the forest department, this organization aimed to protect endangered species and preserve the forest and its inhabitants. Their efforts included placing signs along the Ghat road of Meghamalai, advocating for the conservation of nature and animals. Unfortunately, a majority of these signs were damaged during an expansion project on the Ghat road. The forest department has since installed new signs to replace the ones that were compromised.
Megamalai Tiger Reserve
On April 6, 2021, the Government of India approved the establishment of a new Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu. Subsequently, on April 11, 2021, the Meghamalai Tiger Reserve was officially established, encompassing both the Srivilliputhur Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary and Tirunelveli Wildlife Sanctuary. This designation marks Meghamalai Tiger Reserve as the fifth Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu and the 51st in India.
It is noteworthy that the Meghamalai Tiger Reserve now serves as a continuous forest area, formerly a buffer zone, connecting the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary through the Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary. Furthermore, experts anticipate that the Meghamalai Tiger Reserve will play a pivotal role as a corridor, facilitating the movement of wildlife from the Periyar Tiger Reserve to the Meghamalai Forests.
Wildlife conservationists are optimistic that the establishment of the Meghamalai Tiger Reserve will provide enhanced protection to the Vaigai River, which originates in Meghamalai. The Tiger Reserve will also be recognized as the Meghamalai-Srivilliputhur Tiger Reserve.