Velvety lawns and bare hills wrapped in lush greenery, heavy showers and misty breeze. Paths towards them, filled with fog, occasional gusts of wind and sun rays that filter in, occasionally. This is how Vagamon has embraced this year's glorious monsoon season.
Those who live in Kottayam and its neighbourhood would find it easier to access Vagamon, located at Idukki's Peerumedu. It’s an ideal family tourist spot and a great weekend getaway.
Pala-Eeerattupetaa route is the only road generally recommended to travel from Kottayam to Vagamon. From Kottayam, the Ponkunnam-Kanjirappally-Mundakayam route to Murinjapuzha is also often advised.
The pretty Panchalimedu
Panchalimedu, yet another tourist spot, is also located at a distance of 4 km from Vagamon. It takes about two hours to reach Panchalimedu, from Kottayam.
The legend has it that queen Panchali lived here with the pancha Pandavas. The location is at an elevation of 2,500 ft above sea level.
Stone pavilions amid rich greenery is what a viewer would spot here, first. Taking a walk through the meadow here, to your heart's content, enjoying the gorgeous weather, can be quite relaxing. The stone pavilions are on the sides of these walkways.
Those who feel like relishing a scoop of ice-cream or some hot tea with bajjis can head to the small shops at the entrance of Panchalimedu.
The other surrounding locales
When I visited Panchalimedu with my family, we decided to head to Kuttikanam after exploring its pavilions and greenery. From Kuttikkanam, the road goes in two directions. The road to the right, via Kumily, was towards Parunthumpara, 12 kms away, and the one towards left was towards Kattappana, via Elappara.
Due to the intermittent weather of rain and snow, we skipped Parunthumpara and headed towards Elappara. The distance from Elappara to Vagamon was 15 km, and the road was narrow, yet beautiful.
As we reached Vagamon, on the right-hand side, we could spot small groups heading towards the pine forest. From there, we headed to the viewpoint of Thangalupara.
As it was a holiday, there were many people there. In the small shops, we could spot tourists waiting to have steaming tea and hot bhajis.
From Thangalpara, we drove via via Vagamon Town to Pullikaanam, and arrived at the A. V viewpoint. A few portions of the Kunchacko Boban-Biju Menon film 'Ordinary' were shot here, apparently. We also saw many bikers trying off-roading on the steep cobbled road and overturning. Upon reaching the top of the hill, the view below was breathtaking. The rain and snow also receded into the background for a clearer view.
When we stopped the car at a viewpoint on the way to Pullikaanam to click photos, we spotted a familiar, smiling face. It was actor Abu Salim. Many tourists were eager to talk to him— “Isn’t this our Salim Ikka? We loved your ‘chambikko’ dialogue in Bheeshma Parvam,” said many. He was apprently visiting Eerattupetaa for the shoot of the movie called ‘Pookalam.’
Did he like Vagamon, someone asked? “I love Vagamon and can come here frequently. I have been here before too, during shoots. And today, the weather is also lovely with a little drizzle,” he said. Before more people spotted him, he waved the place goodbye.
The mist started enveloping the road. Our one-day journey was over and we headed to Kottayam via Kanjar-Muttam-Pala road. When we looked down from the top of the hill, we could see the faint light from the village homes. We took our flask, drank the hot black tea mixed with cardamom and cinnamon, and headed east to the city before the next rains.
Cautionary warning: The condition of roads and possibility of landslides should be checked before planning a trip here during the rainy season. Please note that the Eerattupetaa - Vagamon road is in a poor condition.