Nelliyampathy, often known as 'poor man's Ooty' is a favourite among travellers for its evergreen forests. It beckons visitors with shola forests and grasslands in the Western Ghats adjacent to the Parambikulam wildlife sanctuary.
On the route to Nelliyampathy lies Pothundi dam, the first earthen dam in India. Thereafter, motorists should negotiate 10 hairpin bends on the path between Pothundi and Nelliyampathy.
The hillocks of Nelliyampathy, which fall in Palakkad district, are a sight to behold when they are covered with mist. They range from 467m to 1,572m above sea level and are ideal locales to enjoy the greenery.
The toponymy of Nelliyampathy is interesting. 'Nalli' refers to a goddess in the ancient religion practised by local farmers and 'pathy' translates as 'place.' There are several other 'pathys' in the eastern region of Palakkad district – Vadakarapathy, Eruthempathy and Ozhalapathy, among others.
Among the most beautiful spots in Nelliyampathy is Anamada, which offers a veritable visual treat to people who love the wild and forest streams. Anamada is considered one of the world's most enchanting places. The views from here shouldn't be missed. A trip to this region, at least, once in a lifetime will make all the difference.
Anamada presents visual spectacles which few other places offer. The beauty of the wild is at its best here. Any trip to feel and explore the mysteries of the jungle should not miss Anamada. Surrounded by greenery, one can stay close to the creatures of the wild.
Where to go
There are several interesting spots towards the east as well as west of Nelliyampathy. They include Seetharkundu, Kesavanpara, Padagiri, Pothupara, Palakapandy, Mampara, Thookkupalam, Pullukadu, and Victoria-Lilly tea gardens, among others.
Monsoon is not the ideal time to enjoy a ride negotiating the hair-pin bends which start right after the check-post. At every curve, one may run into a land slip. But a careful drive gives an unmatched experience – it is best to keep the speed at 40-50 kmph to enjoy the scenery of the forest up to Ayyappanthitta. There is a temple at the spot where the residents of Nelliyampathy used to make offerings in the past. According to them, the area is part of an elephant path and is also frequented by leopards. Another attraction of Ayyappanthitta is an amazing view of the sunset.
From Ayyappanthitta, the topography of Nelliyampathy changes abruptly. On the right side of the path is a deep gorge, while on the left is a very thick forest. Elephant herds often stroll along the track. It is best to take the early morning KSRTC bus from Palakkad to Nelliyampathy to sight elephants at Ayyappanthitta.
The path ahead virtually presents different geographies after every curve. At one place, there are centuries-old trees. Some distance ahead is the first junction on the road to Nelliyampathy called Kaikatty. The road deviates from here to the right leading to Manalaro tea estate. To the left is the Nelliyampathy town. The road ahead is to the Poabson tea gardens and the Seetharkundu beyond it.
Among the various attractions at Nelliyampathy, the 'star' is Seetharkundu. It is the best view point which offers a panoramic sight of Kollengode. There is a waterfall at the spot which gave its name to the view point. According to local legend, Sri Rama reached Nelliyampathy with Sita Devi during his travels in the forest. It is believed that Sita took a dip in the pool below.
Seetharkundu is at the edge of the Poabsons' tea estate. Parking space for tourist vehicles is available near the tea sales outlet. Seetharkundu is barely 500 m from here. From the view point, a bird's eye view of the Kollengode panchayat spreads itself before visitors. Houses, grasslands, paddy fields, trees, rivers, and roads are visible as if on a map. Seetharkundu is similar to Ramakalmedu in Idukki which offers a panoramic view of Kambam and Theni in Tamil Nadu.
The road from Kaikatty to Manalaro tea estate goes straight to Karadipara. A path in front of the AVT tea factory leads to the forest. This is the route to Kesavanpara, another view point in Nelliyampathy. The attractions of the place are steep hills, valleys, and other picturesque spots. A cool breeze blows here always. A unique feature of Kesavanpara is a waterhole which does not dry up even during severe summer. It provides drinking water to wild animals.
The next destination on the route is Karadipara. The path is through the Victoria and Lilly tea estates and the scenery resembles Munnar. There are small houses and big trees all along the road. Koonampara is a junction along the path. Beyond it is the Nooradipalam. The hanging bridge can be seen ahead, which is the main attraction of Karadipara. Visitors to the place will be blessed with the sight of the great hornbill.
Karuppa Swami is the 'Kiratha' form of Lord Siva. He is worshipped at Chinganchira in Kollamkode panchayat, which lies on the eastern part of Palakkad. Hundreds of devotees offer prayers at the shrine every day. A huge banyan tree which spreads its roots all around and a pond provide an ethereal experience.
How to reach
One can take a train or a bus to Nelliyampathy but the best way to explore this place is to drive by your own.
Nearest Railway station: Palakkad station lies nearly 60 km from Nelliyampathy. Take a taxi or a bus from the station to the required destination.
If you are driving
To reach Nelliyampathy, one has to take the road starting from Nenmara that proceeds to the Pothundy Dam. There are about 10 hairpin bends that have to be negotiated on the way to Nelliyampathy.
Nearest airport: Coimbatore International Airport (Tamilnadu), about 55 km from Palakkad
Where to stay
Nelliyampathy town is a small junction lined with a row of shops and tiled houses. Notices saying 'rooms for rent' hang from the entrances of most houses. There are three rather big lodges in the town as well.
Privately owned hotels and resorts are located at various points, as one goes up the hills of Nelliyampathy. The bio-farms located here are a major landmark as one proceeds up before reaching the topmost point at Palagapandi Estate. The estate has a quaint bungalow, built during the British rule in India, and has now been converted into a private owned resort. At Kaikatty, a community hall is available, which is usually used as a base by those interested in trekking.
What to do
Though there are numerous scenic locales, most visitors are eager to capture the pictures of wild beasts like deer, bison, wild squirrel and wild boar on their cameras. However, the star inhabitant of the Nelliyampathy hills is the great hornbill.
The main attraction of Nelliyampathy town is the farm of the agricultural department, popularly known as 'Orange farm.' Visitors can feel and soak in the sights of the orange trees, passion fruit trees, and other fruit-bearing trees. In addition are numerous flowering plants typical to cold climates. Saplings too are available for sale.