Kerala is known for its surreal natural beauty and diverse landscape. The South Indian state is a favourite hunting ground for tourists as it has captivating beaches, enchanting hills, mesmerizing rivers, mystical rocks and verdant forests. The mountain ranges of Kerala provide endless trekking trails that are the dream of any adventure junkie. Here’s a lowdown on some of the toughest trekking routes in the state.
Periyar tiger trail, Thekkady
What about a two-night and three-day trekking through the tiger-infested Periyar Tiger Reserve? Sounds exciting, isn’t it? The chances of spotting elephants and tigers on the way are pretty high. You should have nerves of steel to walk through forests with lots of wild animals roaming around. A group of maximum six trekkers will be accompanied by five guides and one forest officer for the Periyar tiger trail.
Requisite arrangements will be made for the night stay and tents that can accommodate two people will be pitched in the jungle. This trekking package offered by Periyar Foundation is a big hit among adventure enthusiasts.
The Brahmagiri mountain ranges are situated on the borders of the Wayanad district. Brahmagiri, which is one of the main tourist attractions in Kerala, is close to 1,608 metres above sea level. It is worth noting that the region is home to many wild animals. The Thirunelli Temple, which is known as the ‘Kashi of the South’, is situated in Brahmagiri. Moreover, the Iruppu waterfall in the Lakshmana Theertha River attracts travellers in droves.
One can trek through Brahmagiri, which is 29km away from Mananthavady, only after getting necessary permission from the forest department. Travellers can reach Brahmagiri after hiking for 9km and 7km from Iruppu waterfall and the Munnikal cave region respectively. The distance between Thirunelli and Brahmagiri is 11km.
Undoubtedly, Agasthyarkoodam has one of the toughest trekking routes in Kerala. These mountain ranges are part of the Western Ghats and are 1,868m high. Agasthyarkoodam, which is spread across Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts in Tamil Nadu and Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Pathanamthitta districts in Kerala, is also a pilgrimage centre as it is believed that Agastya ‘muni’, one of the seven revered rishis (saptharishi), meditated here. Devotees offer prayers and pujas at the spot where the statue of Agastya is located atop the mountains.
Prior permission should be taken to trek through Agasthyarkoodam that houses unique flora and fauna. Trekking is allowed in Agasthyarkoodam only in the months of January and February and only 100 people are allowed daily to enter the forests. The booking for trekking could be done online and the fee per person is Rs 1,000.
It is very easy to ask whether you have seen mist engulfing Meeshapulimala. But it is indeed tough to scale the hills called Meeshapulimala in Munnar in Idukki district. After Anamudi, Meeshapulimala is the second highest peak in Kerala at 2,640 m.
Kerala Forest Development Corporation conducts trekking camps in Meeshapulimala. One can reach the base camp of Meeshapulimala after travelling from Munnar via Mattupetty and Aruvikadu Estate. The Rhododendron flowers that are ubiquitous in various parts of North India could be found in Meeshapulimala. One of the valleys in Meeshapulimala has the nomenclature Rhododendron Valley, which is 5 km from the base camp. Lodging facilities for travellers are available at the Rhododendron Valley and the base camp.
Pakshipathalam is a magical destination in the Brahmagiri mountain ranges and is the first eco-tourism center in Wayanad. This charming spot, which is near the Karnataka border, is 1,740m above sea level and dotted with steep hills, virgin forest and pristine waterfalls. It is noteworthy that many birds and wild animals have made the caves on the northern side of the Brahmagiri their homes. You can trek down through the caves that are replete with round smooth stones. It is believed that hermits used an age-old cave in the region for meditation.
Pakshipathalam is 32km from Kalpetta, the headquarters of Wayanad district. The forest department’s nod is mandatory for a trekking spree in Pakshipathalam. You can get the permission to visit Pakshipathalam from the North Wayanad DFO office. The forest department has put in place a dormitory in Thirunelli to provide accommodation for trekkers.