2024 - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!
none

Friday, February 23, 2024

Kakkachi: The highest point inside Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

Kakkachi - the highest point in Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

It is home to a colonial era golf course. It is part of the catchment area of the Thamirabharani river and its tributaries. It is a gorgeous mix of grasslands, tropical forests and tropical evergreen forests. It is one of the wettest places in Tamil Nadu and definitely part of the wettest region during the North East Monsoon in India. This remote hill station, located at an altitude of close to 5000 feet above MSL is the highest point in the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve. I am talking about Kakkachi that is located above the hill station of Manjolai in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.

The gorgeous hill station of Kakkachi in Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

Everything about Kakkachi screams remoteness and beauty. Should I talk about the narrow and bumpy forest road that leads to Kakkachi from Manjolai or should I mention that you hardly see any people here. May be, a few tea estate workers who commute between Oothu and Manjolai. But, apart from that, all you have for company is the gorgeous nature and the rich wildlife here.

Kakkachi Lake view

If you happen to arrive here before 8 AM, you will most likely see this place enveloped in dense mist and only when the mist clears, will you get to see the rolling greens of the colonial era golf course and the beautiful man-made lake next to it. This golf course is not in use anymore as this place falls under the purview of the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, but you will certainly find lots of leeches here especially during the wet season or close to the lake shore.
 
The British era Kakkachi golf course

This highest point inside the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve is your remote hill station in the Western Ghats that is full of natural beauty and charm. Thankfully, the forest department requires prior permission to visit Kakkachi. Else, lots of visitors will change the sanctity of this place. If you like this offbeat hill station inside a tiger reserve, do plan in advance and prepare yourself to be bowled over by its rich nature and gorgeous landscapes.

Kakkachi bathed in gorgeous sunshine

Other tourist attractions inside Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve:

1) Manimuthar Falls: The herbal waterfall inside a tiger reserve

2) Agastyar Falls: A gorgeous waterfall on the Thamirabharani river

3) Manjolai: The offbeat hill station of Tamil Nadu

4) Kudrevetty: The remote and windy hill station of Tamil Nadu

5) Nalumukku: The wettest place of India during the North East Monsoon

6) Oothu: A quiet hilly village inside a tiger reserve and surrounded by tea estates

7) Scenic Iron bridge of Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve: Pristine nature overloaded

8) Karaiyar Dam: Offbeat wildlife and nature holiday destination in India’s deep south

9) Cycling through the backyards of Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

Continue Reading...

Monday, January 22, 2024

Festival of Thiruvathirai from a Traditional Tamil Nadu Village: A Photo Series

Lord Natarajar on Goratham takes to the streets of Kallidaikurichi on Thiruvatharai Festival

The festival of Thiruvathirai celebrates the birthday of Lord Natarajar (the dancing form of Lord Shiva). The festival is celebrated in the Margazhi Tamil month (December 15 to January 14) every year. It is a 10 day celebration that culminates on the full moon day (pournamasya) in the Margazhi month and that also happens to be the day when the moon is transiting through the Ardra nakshatra, the favourite nakshatra of Lord Shiva. During the first 9 days, rudra homam and other yagnam are done at the temple and each day the god and his consorts are decorated and taken to the streets on different vehicles (vahanam). On the final day of Thiruvathirai, festivities begin at 4 AM. All the temple gods are bathed in different spices, aromatic herbs and milk. Then, they are decorated. Then, the action shifts to a separate room in the temple, where Lord Natarajar and his consorts are given abhishekham, alangaram and maha mangalarti. The, they are taken to the streets in a large rath and they stop in front of each house so that the people of that house can give their offerings to the lord (fruits, coconut, vastram (clothes), betel leaves, etc.) and in return receive prasadam and the lord’s blessings. Somewhere during this rath yatra, the lord enacts a tandav (cosmic dance). The whole 10 days of this festival is full of intricate rituals, pomp, colour and glamour.

The cosmic dance of Shiva represents five activities – creation, protection, destruction, embodiment and release. In essence, it represents the continuous cycle of creation and destruction. This cosmic dance takes place in every particle and is the source of all energy. Thiruvathirai festival celebrates this ecstatic dance of Lord Shiva.

Kali and Thalagam is the main food offered to the lord on the festival day and it is later enjoyed by the devotees. Kali is prepared using rice, jaggery, moong dal, coconut and ghee. Thalagam is a vegetable broth that is prepared with the following vegetables – pumpkin, ash gourd, broad beans, sweet potato, potato, brinjal, colacasia, yam and plantain.

I got to experience all of this for the entire duration of the 10 day festival at the Chidambareswarar temple in the village of Kallidaikurichi in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. This village nestled at the foot of the Western Ghats offers you a traditional experience of this fairly lesser known festival. I hope you can enjoy some flavour of these 10 festive days through this photo series. Detailed articles will follow soon.

Above photo: Lord Natarajar is taken on a goratham through the agraharam streets of Kallidaikurichi village. This is the only time during the festival that the lord graces his presence during the day. During this rath yatra, Lord Natarajar also enacts his tandav nach or cosmic dance by doing three fast rounds at the junction of two streets.

Lord Shiva on Vrishabha vahanam - Thiruvatharai festival, Kallidaikurichi

Above photo: Lord Natarajar takes to the streets of Kallidaikurichi on his favourite vrishabha vahanam (vehicle of the bull). Every evening at around 6 PM, the lord takes to the streets of the Kallidaikurichi village on the first 9 days of the festival.

Lord Shiva as Ganganadharanathar - Thiruvatharai Festival, Kallidaikurichi

Above photo: This is the final evening ratham where Lord Natarajar poses as Ganganadhanathar where he carries all the tools required for carrying out daily work and he comes along with a small vessel seeking alms from his devotees. This also happens to be the biggest evening ratham.

Beautiful Lord Natarajar Statue at Chidambareswarar Temple, Kallidaikurichi

Above photo: Lord Natarajar at Chidambareswarar temple is all beautifully decked on the day of Thiruvathirai. As Lord Natarajar was born on this day, he is also known as Athiraiyan after the star on which he was born.

Lord Natarajar and his consorts all decked up on Thiruvatharai Festival Day

Above photo: Lord Natarajar and his consorts after the abhishekham and alangaram on Thiruvathirai festival day. Literary and historical evidence in the form of stone inscriptions state that the festival has been celebrated on this day for more than 1500 years.

Getting the Maha Mangalarti ready on Thiruvatharai festival day at Chidambareswarar Temple, Kallidaikurichi

Above photo: Lighting the lamps for the Mahamangalarti. Attending this festival in a small village temple allows you to see and understand all the things that go behind the scenes. Such things get missed when you are a bigger temple due to larger crowds and more noise.

All the powders kept reading for the abhishekham and bathing the gods

Above photo: Different spices, aromatic herbs and cooling powders are added to the water prior to bathing the gods. Each of these powders make the bathing process a sight o behold as these rich colours perfectly contrast the pancha loha utsava moorthy or the black statues in the temple.

Lord Natarajar in Goratham takes to the streets of Kallidaikurichi on Thiruvatharai Festival

Above photo: On Thiruvathirai day, Lord Natarajar has left the temple premises on his goratham. This big rath needs a lot of people power and coordination as it makes its way through the streets of Kallidaikurichi agraharam.

Goddess Sivagami decked up in dry fruits on Thiruvatharai Festival evening

Above photo: Goddess Sivagami is decked up beautifully with dry fruits, raisins, turmeric and flowers. Her face and is annointed with turmeric.Her body is made up of almonds and cashews. Her bindi, eyes, and crown (kreedam) is made of black raisins. Her ear rings and other decorative jewellery are made up of dry figs. This was all done by a skilled artisan from a nearby village.

Beautifully decked Lord Natarajar in Goratham on Thiruvatharai Festival

Above photo: The beautifully decked up ratham of Lord Shiva. Once upon a time, it was pulled by bulls and hence its name ‘gau ratham’. Today, there are no bulls, but the ratham is pulled by humans. It is still called gau-ratham or goratham and the sight of Lord Natarajar on the goratham is a highly anticipated event of the year for the people of Kallidaikurichi village.

Continue Reading...

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Scenic Iron Bridge of Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve: Pristine Nature Overloaded

Beautiful nature at Irumbu Palam enroute to Nalmukku, Tamil Nadu

Imagine this! Mist plays hide and seek in this dense jungle. The sun shines bright at times basking all of nature’s beauty in its glory. The constant gurgle of water bodies and the calls of the wild give it a sense of tranquillity. There are many signs of it being a thriving ecosystem. The water is crystal clear. The air is as pure as it can get. The flora that grows here is found only in the most pristine of environments. And everything about it seems to calm your senses. Overall, it is a biodiversity hotspot.

The Irumbu palam or the Iron bridge between Kakkachi and Nalumukku in the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve is one such location where pristine nature seems to exist and thrive in an overload mode. Located in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, this bridge is located deep inside the tiger reserve and is accessible only via a single lane forest road after getting necessary permits from the forest department for yourself and your vehicle.



Wild elephants frequent this place as they seem to absolutely love the bamboo that grows near this bridge. Apparently, the elephants find this bamboo plant to be like the sweetest dessert. Medicinal plants and herbs grow all over this place and that is what makes the herbal waters of this place a prized commodity. Wild ferns adorn the sides of the bridges and the water bodies. And just so you know, ferns grow wild only in the cleanest of ecosystems and they seem to be thriving here.

The mountain stream below this iron bridge is actually two streams, one that comes in from Kakkachi (the highest point of Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve) and the other seems to come from Nalumukku (the wettest place of India during the North East Monsoon). Both of them join just a little bit upstream and together they empty themselves into the Manimuthar dam, which later becomes the Manimuthar river, which joins the Thamirabharani river just before the village of Kallidaikurichi.

The Gorgeous Iron Bridge of Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

This iron bridge or irumbu palam of Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve is a treat for the eyes and just being here for 30 to 60 minutes is enough to charge your batteries. Such is the concentration of nature at this place. It is also the perfect pit stop while exploring the hill stations of Manjolai, Kakkachi, Nalumukku, Oothu and Kudrevetty. This destination is totally offbeat and remote and makes for a special experience in the wild western ghats of Tamil Nadu.

Spectacular panorama at Iron Bridge, KMTR

Best season to visit:

Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve is open all year round unless the roads are closed due to heavy rains or landslides. Monsoon and post monsoon months are best to enjoy the best views.

How to reach there:

There are three options.

1) Take a local bus, but only if you happen to be a local resident

2) Opt for a forest van. The rates are fixed and they move only when the van is full or if you book the full van. They follow a specific route and don’t deviate from it.

3) The best option is to take a private vehicle with you so that you can stop and explore the area that interests you. It is also the only option to reach Kudrevetty. No 2 or 3 wheelers are allowed inside the tiger reserve.

How to get permits:

If you wish to travel to Manjolai, Kakkachi, Nalumukku, Oothu and/or Kudrevetty, you will have to get permits in advance from the Forest department office at Ambasamudram. The permits cost INR 200 at Ambasamudram and you will have to pay the vehicle fee and per person charge at the Manimuthar forest check post. If you book a room at the Kudrevetty forest rest house, then that booking is good enough and you don’t need to get the permits in advance.

The iconic Iron Bridge of Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

Where to stay:

There are only two stay options at Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve.

1) The forest rest houses at Kudrevetty, Mundanthurai and Kalakad. You need to book them in advance either at the forest office in Ambasamudram or online on KMTR website.

2) The EB guest house at Kodayar dam. You will need to know someone in the electricity department to get a booking here.

Pristine nature at the Iron bridge enroute to Nalmukku from Oothu

Where to eat:

There are only a few places to eat inside the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve. You can can find some basic tea, vada and biscuits at Manjolai during the day time. But, if you want a meal, you have to call and order in advance. The places where you can find such meals are at Manjolai, Oothu and/or the forest rest house at Kudrevetty. The forest rest house at Kudrevetty will serve you food only if you are staying with them. If you want non vegetarian food, you need to ask for it explicitly in advance.

Elephant bamboo zone near Iron bridge, KMTR

Other tourist attractions inside Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

1) Manimuthar Falls: The herbal waterfall inside a tiger reserve

2) Agastyar Falls: A gorgeous waterfall on the Thamirabharani river

3) Manjolai: The offbeat hill station of Tamil Nadu

4) Kudrevetty: The remote and windy hill station of Tamil Nadu

5) Nalumukku: The wettest place of India during the North East Monsoon

6) Oothu: A quiet hilly village inside a tiger reserve and surrounded by tea estates

7) Kakkachi: The highest point of KMTR and home to a colonial era golf course

8) Karaiyar Dam: Offbeat wildlife and nature holiday destination in India’s deep South

9) Cycling through the backyards of Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

Continue Reading...

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Manimuthar Falls: The Herbal Waterfall inside a Tiger Reserve

Photographing the gorgeous Manimuthar Falls, Tamil Nadu

This gorgeous waterfall starts in the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats and flows through medicinal plants and herbs. It is located inside a tiger reserve and it empties itself into a massive dam. It’s herbal waters are considered therapeutic and those who bathe under it find immense relaxation. I am talking about the Manimuthar waterfall that is located inside the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.



The Manimuthar falls is not a tall waterfall, but it is more like a wide forest waterfall. It is surrounded by dense tropical forests on its three sides and on one side is the Manimuthar dam. The Manimuthar falls carries the water of the Manimuthar river that starts somewhere in the Manjolai range of the Western Ghats. This part of the Western Ghats is pristine and totally untouched. Beyond the Manimuthar dam, the Manimuthar river joins the Thamirabharani river a little downstream at Kallidaikurichi. A little bit away from the Manimuthar Falls is the Vanapechi Amman temple.

Manimuthar Falls during the monsoons

As the waterfall is located inside a tiger reserve, the location is clean and the only sounds that you usually hear are the gurgling of the water, the sound of the birds and may be a few calls of monkeys and other wild animals. This tropical waterfall offers a perfect location for a waterfall holiday inside a forest. Its rural access with canals, coconut plantations and paddy fields adds additional charm to its location. I recommend this herbal Manimuthar falls with multiple thumbs up! 

Manimuthar Falls, the lush green forest and the cloudy monsoon weather

Best season to visit:

Manimuthar falls has water all year round, making it a perfect place to bathe almost all days of the year. The waterfall and its surroundings look the best during the monsoons, but this is also the time when there is copious amounts of water in the waterfall and hence bathing is banned. Bathing is only allowed when water is below a certain level.

How to reach there:

If you are traveling from Tirunelveli, head words Cheranmahadevi and Kallidaikurichi. Just before Kallidaikurichi railway station turn left and take the road leading towards Manimuthar. You will cross Golden Nagar, Thekku Pappankulam, Tamil Nadu Special Police IX battalion and Manimuthar village. If you head straight from Manimuthar village, climb the narrow road, you will reach the forest check post and the Manimuthar Dam. You will have to pay the entrance fees at the check post and then you can drive straight to the waterfall.

How to get permits for this place:

If you plan on visiting just the waterfall, you can get necessary permits after paying the required fees. The forest check post opens at 7 AM and closes at 6 PM.

If you wish to travel further to Manjolai, Kakkachi, Nalumukku, Oothu and/or Kudrevetty, you will have to get permits in advance from the Forest department office at Ambasamudram. The permits cost INR 200 at Ambasamudram and you will have to pay the vehicle fee and per person charge at the Manimuthar forest check post. If you book a room at the Kudrevetty forest rest house, then that booking is good enough and you don’t need to get the permits in advance.

Manimuthar Falls - the stunning forest waterfall of Tamil Nadu

Where to stay:

If you wish to stay within the tiger reserve, you can book the forest rest house at Kudrevetty through the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve website.

If you wish to stay in traditional agraharam houses, you can try the home stays and guest houses at Kallidaikurichi village.

If simple, yet modern hotel rooms are your thing, you can try Hotel Ambai Grand at Ambasamudram.

If you wish for a wider variety of hotels, you will have to try looking at Tirunelveli.

A scenic walk near Manimuthar Falls, Tamil Nadu

Where to eat:

There are a few shacks in Manimuthar village that offer you basic tiffin items like idli, dosa, puri, eggs, vada, etc. along with tea/coffee. If you want slightly more elaborate meals, you would need to go to Hotel Ramanas or Hotel Gowri Shankar at Ambasamudram. For much richer variety, you would need to go to Tirunelveli.

Manimuthar Falls inside Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

Other nearby tourist attractions:

1) Agastyar Falls: A gorgeous waterfall on the Thamirabharani river

2) Manjolai: The offbeat hill station of Tamil Nadu

3) Kudrevetty: The remote and windy hill station of Tamil Nadu

4) Nalumukku: The wettest place of India during the North East Monsoon

5) Oothu: A quiet hilly village inside a tiger reserve and surrounded by tea estates

6) Karaiyar Dam: Offbeat wildlife and nature holiday destination in India’s deep south

7) Courtrallam: The herbal bath holiday destination of Tamil Nadu

8) Papanasanathar Temple: 1000 year old temple by the river Thamirabharani where you can wash all your sins away

9) Sivasailam Temple: 1000 year old temple surrounded by the lush mountains of the Western Ghats


10) Mannarkoil Rajagopalaswamy Temple: Magnificent 10th century temple with an Ashtanga Vimana

11) Kallidaikurichi: The village of the saaral season

12) The hidden gem called Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

13) 10th century Kailasanathar Temple at Brahmadesam

14) 10th century Valiswara temple at Thiruvalisvaram

15) Kallidaikurichi to Manimuthar Dam: A top scenic and rustic cycling route

16) Cycling through the backyards of Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

17) Kakkachi: The highest point in Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

Continue Reading...

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Vintage Pathimoonu Kannara Bridge: Colonial Charm of the Indian Railways

The beautiful railway bridges near Punalur, Kerala

It is a colonial era bridge that was the first of its kind in South India and connected the then Travancore kingdom with the Pandya land of Tamil Nadu. This 13 arch stone and concrete bridge is a 120 year old architectural marvel. It was made out of stone, wood and limestone mortar when this bridge used to support a meter gauge. Today, it has been strengthened with stone and concrete to support a broad gauge line. This bridge that is a part of the lesser known mountain railways of Kerala is a treat for nature lovers. Many movies have been shot here. Katradhu Tamil, Jayam, Vettam and Megham to name a few. I am talking about the Pathimoonu Kannara bridge or the the 13 arch bridge at Kazhathurithi that is a part of one of India’s oldest mountain rail lines.

13 Arch Aryankavu Railway Viaduct - one of the oldest mountain railway bridges of India

Running parallel to the Kallada river and the Kollam – Sengottai road highway, the vintage pathimoonu kannara bridge (13 arch bridge) is a sight to behold. Standing on 13 granite pillars that is almost a hundred feet tall, this bridge is 337 meters long and is surrounded by tall mountains and lush greenery. On either side of the bridge are dark tunnels that have been cut through the Western Ghat mountains. In fact, most of the Kollam – Sengottai rail line is famous for its tunnels. The longest one on this route is the 892 meter long Aryankavu tunnel, one of the longest railway tunnels in Kerala. It connects the Aryankavu railway station in Kerala with Bhagavathipuram railway station in Tamil Nadu.

Photographing the scenic mountain railways of Kerala near Punalur

This railway line and the 13 arch bridge was conceived by the Maharaja Uthram Thirunal of Travancore and constructed by the British in the foothills of the Western Ghats to transport forest products, spices and cashew from Kollam to Chennai. This route was once the lifeline for the people of South Kerala and South Tamil Nadu. It supported the plantation economy in this region. Today, this 13 arch bridge, the umpteen tunnels and this mountain railway line is a treat for nature lovers. On one end is the herbal waterfalls of Courtrallam, the forest waterfall of Palaruvi, Thenmala forest and on the other end is the backwaters and beaches of Kollam. In total, it makes for a fabulous weekend trip in the Western Ghats of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Aryankavu 13 arch railway viaduct and the Kallada River, Kerala

There is a flight of steps that allow you to climb to the top of the bridge. These steps are primarily kept for maintenance purposes, but tourists are generally allowed to climb up during the dry season. During the rains, the steps get slippery with moss and water and hence it is closed. If you climb up to the bridge, you can enjoy the spectacular vista of the Kallada river and the Western Ghat forests and mountains and you can also take a sneak peek into the tunnels. Do remember to keep an eye out for the trains plying on this route.

So, if you happen to be in India’s deep south in either Kerala or Tamil Nadu, do remember to drop by this vintage 13 arch bridge and soak in the colonial charm of the Indian Railways.

One of the many tunnels in the scenic mountain railway route of India's deep south

Best season to visit:

The pathimoonu kannara bridge is open all year round, but it looks the prettiest during the rains and right after the rains (June to December). If you wish to climb to the top of the bridge, opt for the dry months between January and May.

How to reach there:

The best way to explore this bridge and this route is to take the Kollam – Sengottai passenger trains that ply every day. You can stop at any of the stops enroute, do your exploration and then take the next train to your other destination.

There are also regular buses that ply between Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Most of these buses stop at all the stops, though frequency of buses might vary during the day or night.

The most flexible way to explore this route is to have your own vehicle. It will allow you the comfort of spending more time at the location of your choice. Cars, motorcycles and cycles are all equally good choices on this mountain route. Each offer different benefits.

The scenic railway ride in India's deep south - Thenmala to Punalur, Kerala

Where to stay:

If you like to stay within forests, opt for the forest guest houses located inside Thenmala forest.

If you like properties surrounded by paddyfields and mountains, you should look at the resorts in and around Courtrallam.

If you wish to stay within traditional Tamil Brahmin agraharams, opt for the home stays and guest houses in the villages of Kallidaikurichi and Sengottai.

If you wish for luxury properties, do look at the ones in Thiruvanathapuram and Kollam.

The tunnels of Kerala mountain railways, India

Where to eat:

There are some places to eat near Thenmala forest eco tourism center, but the food options would be basic. If you wish to find better quality restaurants, you might need to go to Tenkasi in Tamil Nadu, Punalur, Kollam or Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala depending on the direction you are heading.

13 arch Aryankavu Railway Viaduct Bridge, Kerala

Other nearby tourist attractions:

1) Courtrallam: The herbal bath holiday destination of Tamil Nadu

2) Kasi Visvanathar Temple: 13th century temple located at Tenkasi that is famous for its large gopurams

3) Aryankavu Saastha Temple: Famous temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa

4) Thenmala Forest and Palaruvi Falls: Offbeat nature and wildlife getaway

5) Punalur suspension bridge: Historical gem of Kerala

6) Ponmudi: The offbeat hill station of Kerala with a a 360 degree panorama

7) Kappil beach: Sandy beauty hemmed in between the sea and the backwaters

8) Varkala beach: Stunning cliff beach of Kerala where you can wash away all your sins

9) Papanasanathar Temple: 1000 year old temple by the river Thamirabharani where you can wash away all your sins

10) Sivasailam Temple: 1000 year old temple surrounded by the lush mountains of the Western Ghats

11) Mannarkoil Rajagopalaswamy Temple: Magnificent 10th century temple with an ashtanga vimana

12) Kallidaikurichi: The village of the Saaral season

13) Iruttu Kadai Halwa: Icon of Tirunelveli

14) Nellaiappar Temple: A 7th century cosmic dance wonder

15) Pattamadai Pai: GI tagged beautiful handwoven mats from a tiny Tamil Nadu village

16) Thamirabharani river delta: A motorcycle route full of rustic gorgeousness

17) Karaiyar Dam: Offbeat wildlife and nature holiday destination in India’s deep south

18) The hidden gem called Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

19) Tiruchendur Murugan Temple: Sea shore magic

20) 10th century Kailsanathar temple at Brahmadesam

21) 10th century Valiswara temple at Thiruvalisvaram

22) Kallidaikurichi to Manimuthar Dam: A top scenic and rustic cycling route

23) Garuda Sevai from the agraharams of Kallidaikurichi

24) The festival of Karthigai Deepam from a traditional Tamil Nadu village

25) Cycling through the backyards of Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

26) Manjolai: The offbeat hill station of Tamil Nadu

27) Kudrevetty: The remote and windy hill station of Tamil Nadu

28) Manimuthar Falls: A great forest waterfall

29) Agastyar Falls: A gorgeous waterfall on the Thamirabharani river

30) The exotic fruit shops of Puliyarai

31) Thenmala Dam: A monsoon pit stop view

Continue Reading...

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Thenmala Dam: A Monsoon Pit Stop View

Thenmala Dam and the Kallada River, Kerala

Almost everyone knows the charm of Kerala in the South West monsoon. The consistent pitter-patter, the lush greenery, the vibrant environment and the freshness in the air. Such an atmosphere is created again during the North East monsoon, but it mainly happens in the Southern region of the state. One such gorgeous location is the Thenmala forest area in South Kerala bordering Tamil Nadu. This forest is home to many waterfalls, Kerala’s longest reservoir and so much more. This region is perfect for a lazy weekend drive as you explore all its beautiful attractions. This is one such monsoon pit stop on the bridge overlooking the Thenmala Dam and with the flooded Kallada river in the foreground. I stopped at this place while returning from Thiruvananthapuram and going towards Palaruvi Falls, a tall forest waterfall.

Kallada River during the monsoon season near Thenmala Dam

While I did not enter the dam premises, there is a whole lot of stuff that one can do inside the Thenmala Ecotourism zone. There is boating available on the reservoir, winding pathways through beautiful forests where you can walk, a suspension bridge over the Kallada river, a butterfly park, traditional tribal houses and many adventure options like trekking, mountain biking and rock climbing. In addition to all this, the entire place is super scenic, which means that you can certainly take home a lot of pretty photographs. So, what is stopping you from planning your next weekend trip to Thenmala dam in South Kerala?

Continue Reading...

Monday, January 08, 2024

The Exotic Tropical Fruit Shops of Puliyarai

The exotic fruit and vegetable shops of Puliyarai

The climb to the top of the Western Ghat mountains begins at this village. It receives copious rainfall during both the monsoons and hence is full of lush greenery and rich agriculture. I am talking about the village of Puliyarai that connects the village of Shencottai in Tamil Nadu with Thenmala in Kerala. It basically connects Tenkasi district of Tamil Nadu with Thenmala, Punalur and Kollam of Kerala. It is a very popular pit stop for people traveling on this route. The reason being the exotic tropical fruits that are sold here.

At the foot of the Western Ghats at Puliyarai on the Shencottai - Aryankavu (Tamil Nadu - Kerala) border ghat roads

This whole region in the Western Ghats is known for its locally grown exotic tropical fruits. Plantation owners in the region both in Kerala and Tamil Nadu grow exotic fruits like dragon fruit, mangosteen, pomelo (locally known as bumblimass), star fruit, passion fruit, plums, custard apple, cherries, berries, soursop, rambutan, longan, java plum, malay apple, rose apple, jelly fruit, strawberry, durian, jack fruit, beach fruit and many more. In addition, there are many fruits that grow wild in the mountains nearby. They are wild guavas, wild mangosteen and wild bananas.

The colourful fruit shops of Puliyarai with all the exotic locally grown fruits

The best fruit season is between May and November, but you can be rest ensured to get exotic fruits all round the year. In addition to these exotic tropical fruits, you will find many varieties of fresh locally grown vegetables too. So, if you are a sucker for tropical fruits like me, do not miss the opportunity to drop by these exotic fruit shops at Puliyarai if you happen to be in the vicinity. Some of these fruits are the best gifts you can give to your body and to your family’s health.

Continue Reading...
Logo Credits : Jobi T Chacko. UI/UX Credits : Murugan S Thirumalai
Copyright © 2009-2024 Sankara Subramanian C (www.beontheroad.com)
Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited. All Rights Reserved

Join the Travel Club for FREE!!
and every fortnight get in your inbox...interesting experiential and off-beat travel stories , destination guides, handy tips (travel, photography and visa) based on personal experience, global vegetarian delights with helpful survival guides and gorgeous world travel images and videos as I (the Indian traveler) trot the globe! And a lot of other travel invites and soon to be launched goodies !

* indicates required
Close