One can easily combat today’s overstimulated and chaotic lifestyle by coming close to nature. You are sure to bounce back with enthusiasm, after rejuvenating amid the tranquillity that nature can provide. And one such place that can help is Kerala that offers options like serene hiking trails, ayurvedic treatments and much more for a relaxing trip. After all, it is famously know as ‘god’s own country.’ By Moyena Parikh
The southern state is known for lush greenery, varied flora and fauna, breathtaking waterfalls and scenic paths ideal for spending the day walking or trekking. While exploring these hiking trails in Kerala, there are chances that you will get a whiff of aromatic tea buds from the plantations nearby. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?
Kerala is an ideal destination for hikers, nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.
Here are some of the best hiking trails in Kerala for the nature lover in you
Kolukkumalai Peak trek
Whether an early bird or not, you should definitely set on an adventurous hike, early in the morning to catch the sunrise amid the Western ghats and tea gardens, which is one of the best views that Kolukkumalai Peak trek offers.
Situated at an altitude of 2160.12 metres above sea level, it lies near Tamil Nadu border, with TN on the left and Kerala on the right, as one goes uphill. It is a trail that passes through the world’s highest tea plantation, Kottagudi Tea Plantations, which technically falls in the Theni district of Tamil Nadu.
However, the route to Kolukkumalai Peak starts from Munnar. It takes about 30 minutes to hike from the base camp or the starting point that is Upper Suryanelli Estate. Once you walk for about 1.25 kilometres and reach the top of the trail, you can witness one of the most beautiful sunrises— the crack of dawn through the cottony clouds is a sight to behold.
As you take the trail downwards, for 15 more minutes, you can spot the naturally-shaped Tiger-Faced Rock, along with the second highest peak in the Western Ghats called the Meesapulimala Peak. Further down, you can see the beautiful hills covered with morning mist.
It is an easy hike which can be done by anyone at any time of the year, except monsoons as the route is slippery. But the best time to hike to the Kolukkumalai Peak is just after monsoons to get the most picturesque views of the lush greens amid the fresh air around.
If you are looking for a moderately difficult hike that passes through dense forests and high grasslands, then you must consider Chembra Peak for your next adventure.
Located at an altitude of 2100.07 metres, it is not only the highest peak in Wayanad district but also the third highest peak in South India attracting hikers and tourists every year.
The hiking trail starts from the Forest Office in Meppadi. As you continue climbing, you can witness the tea plantations, thick forests and overgrown grasslands along rocky terrains. The two and a half hour hike ends at a heart-shaped lake, Hridaya Thadakam, which is a popular tourist attraction. Add to it the gentle breeze that causes ripples in the water, which makes the atmosphere more serene.
Even the panoramic view of Wayanad district from the top of Chembra Peak is surreal. The lush green valley with misty clouds is a visual treat for nature lovers. This four-kilometre hike is best enjoyed between September to February.
Dhoni hills is a popular picnic spot in Palakkad district that is loved by all. It is a forest reserve engulfed with misty mountains that is sure to excite lovers of wilderness as it is home to some interesting flora and fauna too.
The three hour popular trek begins at the foothill near the Teak plantations. Along the rugged terrains, you get to experience stunning views of the thick forest envisions. Meanwhile, you can also spot elephants, tigers and deer on the way. So, make sure to keep your cameras ready for the perfect shot especially if you like wildlife photography.
This four kilometre trail ends at the Malampuzha and Meenavallam waterfalls. The gushing sound and the cool splashes are sure to refresh you after the hike, though it is comparatively easy.
The best time to visit this hiking spot, which is also known as Dhoni falls, is the monsoon season, if you want to experience the waterfall at its best along with the little cascading streams.
Silent Valley National Park
Located in the northeast corner of the Palakkad district, Silent Valley is a stunning national park that has the only rainforest in Kerala. Covering an area of 237.52 square kilometres, it was declared as a national park in 1984 and was officially inaugurated the next year.
Silent Valley National Park was also included in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve in 1986 and it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012. It is one of the most popular trekking spots in Kerala that has a varied species of flora and fauna.
With over 1,000 species of flowering plants and another 110 species of orchids; 47 types of amphibians, 41 species of mammals, 49 kinds of reptiles, 12 species of fish, 164 kinds of butterflies, 211 types of birds and 400 species of moths, visiting the national park is a must for all biophiles.
Silent Valley offers hiking and trekking facilities through the village of Bommiyampadi. The 13 kilometre trail starts from Mukkali, the base camp. And as you move forward, you can enjoy the dense forest throughout the hike.
This hike ends at the Bommiyampadi’s ‘forest front’ cottages, where you can opt for an overnight stay right in the middle of the jungle and visit the tribal areas of Attappady, the next day.
The ideal time to visit the national park is between December and April. Since it is an eco-tourism initiative promoted by the forest officials, hiking inside Silent Valley National Park is open for all types of hikers and trekkers.
Tucked in the Nilgiri mountain range, Anamudi Peak is a popular hiking destination in Munnar that is known for the breathtaking views of the surrounding hills and valley. At 2695 metres above sea level, it is the highest mountain in South India and is a part of Eravikulam National Park.
The two hour trek begins from the Eravikulam National Park entrance. Along the way, you can see tea plantations, spice plantations and pristine rivers flowing through the valley and many endangered animals such as Asian elephants, gaurs and Nilgiri Tahrs. Once you reach the top of the peak, you can see lush green mountain slopes and evergreen forests, which are found especially in this region
This exciting trail is best done between the months of November to May. While in winters, the temperature is cool with mild winds, during spring, Anamudi Peak looks gorgeous with flowers, which are in full bloom.
Anamudi Peak is one of famous hiking trails in Kerala suitable for experienced hikers but it also depends on your fitness level and eagerness to explore.
If you are new to hiking and want to explore nature on foot, then you must start with a hike to Chokramudi Peak. At an altitude of around 2194.56 metres, it is one of the highest peaks in Munnar that will definitely satisfy the thrill-seeker in you.
It falls under the Eravikulam National Park division and it takes about five hours to climb Chokramudi Peak. The trail begins at Pothamedu and on the way you can see rich grasslands, rocky terrain and dense Shola forests. Once you reach the Chokramudi Peak, the scenic view of the surroundings is sure to make you forget the fatigue experienced after the hike.
You can also spot Idukki Dam, Anamudi Peak and the huge tea plantations from the top of the peak and the view is nothing less than breathtaking.
While the level of difficulty of this ten kilometre trek is rated between easy to moderate, it entirely depends on your fitness levels and prior hiking or trekking experience. Avoid monsoons.
Originating from the Pambar river, the majestic Thoovanam Waterfall has a height of 25.60 metres and appeals to hikers a lot. It is a hidden spot that is nestled in the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary.
It is one of the best hiking trails in Kerala begins from Alampetty check post and while you walk through the sanctuary, you can have an interesting wildlife adventure as well.
You may even spot elephants, langurs, giant grizzled squirrels while hiking. As you near the place you can hear the pleasant sound of the gurgling falls. A refreshing swim in the clear waters is the best way to experience the raw nature, up close. Anyone who visits this spot is sure to agree to the fact that it is one of the most beautiful places in Kerala.
This moderate hike of eight kilometres is suitable for both beginners and experienced hikers. Visit this place post monsoons if you wish to soothe your mind, body and soul.
(Hero and Featured Image Credit: Kerala Tourism)