From Munnar’s expansive tea gardens to Vagamon’s unspoilt meadows, there are plenty of places to visit in Kerala that are far removed from urban chaos. Home to dense forests which are marked by walking trails and scenic verdant valleys, these hill stations have spectacular landscapes and a salubrious climate throughout the year. If you’ve had your fill of the snow-clad Himalayas, then head down south to explore the hills in God’s own country—Kerala.
Pluck tea leaves while you explore Munnar’s dense tea plantations; prance about in gurgling brooks while hiking on cloud-covered slopes; or wander through the hill town’s winding lanes—Munnar is an idyllic escape into the natural wonders of God’s own country, Kerala. Perched at the confluence of three mountain streams—Madhurapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundaly—the charming hill town lies about 130 km east of Kochi and 100 km north of the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Thekkady. A haven for bird-watchers, photographers and wildlife-enthusiasts, the Eravikulam National Park is just a short drive away from the hill town. Thrill-seekers can go hiking to the highest peak in the Western Ghats in India—Anamudi—located about 13 km away from Munnar. At an altitude of 1600 m, Munnar is a delight for adventure-enthusiasts, honeymooners and families.
Located between the Kannur and Kozhikode districts in Kerala, Wayanad is a sparkling green emerald sprawled across the slopes of the Western Ghats. The monsoons persevere here—the rainy season starts in June and lasts all the way till mid November—during which the already lush landscape takes on an even more vibrant shade of green, and everything is washed squeaky clean. The most enjoyable way to experience it is by checking into a jungle resort—even better if it has a treehouse. During the occasional dry spells in between, venture out and enjoy everything else the region has to offer. Wayanad ploughs tourists with some interesting prehistoric archaeological sites, tea plantations and thick forests, and is home to some of the oldest (and most insulated) tribes in India.
PERIYAR NATIONAL PARKPeriyar National Park is a protected area in the districts of Idukki and Pathanamthitta in Kerala, south India. Famous as an elephant and tiger reserve, the Park is often called the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary or Thekkady. Set high in the Western Ghats, the Park surrounds a picturesque lake and is home to several speices including the Gaur, wild pig, Sambar, barking deer, mouse deer, Dole or Indian wild dog and the ocassional tiger. The bird life here comprises of darters, cormorants, kingfisher, the great Malabar hornbill and racket-tailed drongo.
Still untouched by the kind of commercialisation that mars many hill towns, Vagamon’s allure lies in its scenic lush valleys, cascading waterfalls, enchanting pine forests, verdant tea gardens and gushing rivulets. This quaint hill town perched at 1100 m above sea level sits between the Thangal, Murugan and Kurisumala hills. Abundant trekking trails and adventure activities like paragliding, mountaineering and rock climbing attract hordes of adventure-enthusiasts to the valleys of Vagamon. Located near Kottayam-Idukki border of Kottayam district of Kerala, the hill station houses Kurisumala (a Christian pilgrimage), which is frequented by pilgrims especially during the holy week of Good Friday. If you’ve had your fill of Kerala’s beautiful backwaters and stunning beaches, then head to Vagamon for its misty mornings, warm sunlight and chilly nights.
Surrounded by thick coverlets of tropical forests, Ponmudi is another addition to stunning hill stations in Kerala. Connected to Trivandrum by a narrow winding road, Ponmudi is one of the lesser-explored hill destinations of the state and an idyllic escape from the trappings of city life. Admire its gushing water streams, verdant hill slopes and picturesque hilltop spots, as you explore the hill town on foot. If you’re an adventure-lover, then head to Agasthyarkoodam—the highest peak of the district—for a strenuous hike. Located in the outskirts of Ponmudi, Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary, is home to Asian elephants, sambar, leopards, lion-tailed macaques, Malabar grey hornbills, and makes for a good day trip from Ponmudi.