Ever since the release of the film Ordinary (2012), Gavi has been a popular tourist destination. It also helped that when 'Alistair International' the world acclaimed tourism major listed it among the leading eco-tourism centres and one of the must-see places in India, Gavi became a much sought-after tourist destination. And since the lockdown, like most tourist locales in Kerala, this has also once again opened its doors to visitors. We have a few guidelines for you in case you are visiting.
How to reach
KSTRC buses are plying between Pathanamthitta-Kumali road. There are buses to Kumali via Gavi from Pathanamthitta. You can check with the Pathanamthitta-Kumali bus depots for more information.
And in case you are planning to go by car, we would suggest hiring a jeep instead. You need an entry pass, and they are allotting only limited passes for a day. Entry passes must be obtained from the Forest Check Post en route at Vallakkadavu. Advance booking with the Kerala Forest Development Corporation Ltd. is highly appreciable wherein such formalities will be taken care of by the company itself. Once you get a pass (given out from 7 am), only 30 private vehicles are allowed.
Sights and sounds
When it comes to Gavi, the adage, “it’s not the destination but the journey that matters” comes to the fore. It is quite an experience to ride through the interiors of the Gavi forest. Since it is situated 3400 ft above sea level, Gavi is cold throughout the year. Even in summers the temperature barely touches 10 degrees. That is why the road trip through the cool forests, enclosed by hills and meadows are so enjoyable. You can spot elephants, wild bulls, deers and if are you lucky, spot a few Nilgiri Thars and Long-tailed monkeys. With more than 260 species of birds including the great pied hornbill, woodpecker, and kingfishers, Gavi is a heaven for birdwatchers. You can opt for a visit to the nearby cardamom plantations, coffee plantation and cardamom curing centres. And you get a great view of the Sabarimala from here.
A few things to keep in mind
It is always safer to travel in KSTRC Buses than private cars as you can avoid the tension caused by unexpected encounters with wild animals. Littering (plastic bottles, plastic covers, food) and alcohol consumption in the forests are punishable acts.
Kerala Forest Development Corporation is offering several attractive tourist packages. Trekking, outdoor camping, Safari etc. are available here. There are guided forest walk packages, where you can walk through the forest with a forest guide. Go canoeing in the clean waters of the lake or watch the sunset from a hill. You can also hire a boat and float over Kochu Pamba lake to relax. You can try hiking to Meenar, Chenthamara Kokka and Valley Viewpoint and Outdoor camping and night safaris to Kullar, Pullumedu, Kochu Pampa, Pachakanam and Anathode.
Places to Visit – Enroute Gavi
Kuttikanam with its diverse flora and fauna. Peermade, a plantation town named after the Sufi Saint Peer Mohammed is a km away from Kuttikanam. The hills have been a favourite haunt for trekkers and picnickers. The summer palace of the Travancore royal family (which is now converted into a Govt. Guest house), the mausoleum of the saint and the Dewan house are worth a visit.
The hilltop got the name Parunthumpara (eagle rock) are layered with unending tea, coffee and cardamom plantations and rocky trekking trails, making it an ideal stopover.
Panchalimedu, according to mythology has it that Pandavas along with Panchali (Draupadi) found shelter here during their one-year-long exile. Hence, the place got its name[ Panchali (Draupadi), Medu (hills)]. You can also sight Makara Jyothi or Makaravilakku from the pond, Panchalikkulam during the pilgrimage season at Sabarimala. It is also believed that Pandavaguha (cave of the Pandavas) beholds the footprints of the mighty Bheema. The hills are located 12 Km away from Kuttikanam.
Who can forget Thekkady? Hills upon hills- blowing up like waves from a sea of deep green velvet. Thekkady is one place that never fails to impress! It is simply picture-perfect, rejuvenating, and romantic. Take a boat ride through the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary where you can enjoy close sightings of the Ghat wildlife and scenic beauty.