Nelliyampathy Hills are an integral part of Kerala tourism. With its winding Ghat roads, generous views of coffee and tea plantations, mist-clad mountains and forest splendour, the hill station is a must-see spot on the state’s tourism map.
Once the plains are left behind, there are ten hairpin bends to negotiate before the hillscape opens out to lavish scenic delights. A cool drive through tea estates, coffee plantations and orange farms in itself is a refreshing experience.
Nelliyampathy is familiar to all Malayalis and the best season to go up the hills is the cool December-January winter months. However, a drive up for those not quite familiar with the Ghat roads would be best with a bit of homework done.
A few travel tips
Nelliyampathy is an all-year, all-weather tourist destination, with the focus on the beckoning Seetharkundu viewpoint that offers a magnificent view of hills, valleys and plains. The waterfalls named after the place is another indescribably beautiful sight as it crashes down from a height of 100 ft and blends with the green of the plantations around.
However, Seetharkundu, which stands at the farthest end of a wide tea plantation, is a high-risk vantage point with many a mishap being reported from the place in recent times. From atop the viewpoint, one can see Nature spread out in all its splendour up to a one-km radius. It’s a sheer drop to death or danger from the viewpoint and tourists are warned not to overstep the point’s limits. Selfie freaks and shutterbugs would also do well not to lean on trees that grow around for that perfect shot. The roots don’t run deep and could get uprooted easily sending you hurtling into the abyss.
Apart from this, the absence of guards around places like Seetharkundu, Kesavan Para and Maan Para, makes the place more vulnerable to danger.
What to see in Nelliyampathy
The hills stand at around 1,600 metres above sea level. There are hairpin bends aplenty along the way. Animal sightings have also been reported. It’s a rare sight indeed to watch animals relaxing in their natural habitat.
En route to Nelliyampathy stands the state’s only earth-filled dam, Pothundi, built in the 19th century. A stop at Pothundi with its well-manicured gardens and trees would be a refreshing break before the actual climb.
Those driving up are advised to take NH 47 that runs through Nenmara, the town closest to Nelliyampathy. The hill station is well connected to all major towns and other tourist destinations. Tourists from neighbouring Chennai, Bengaluru, Coimbatore, Mysuru and Ootty can avail of private or state transport bus services to get to Nelliyampathy.
With its lush green plantations, orange farms and cloud-kissed mountains, Nelliyampathy is also referred to as Kerala’s Ooty. An ideal spot for adventure tourists, the place offers facilities for trekking and boating.
Though not yet set up, Nelliyampathy with its sprawling farms is the ideal backdrop for plantation walks. Visitors could get a hands-on experience of tea, coffee and spices farming if this concept would take off.
What lies beyond the plantations are the reserve forests.
Nelliyampathy will not disappoint. All that’s called for is caution along with pleasure.