Kanthalloor, a languid hamlet tucked away in the Western Ghats in Idukki district, packs a punch for adventure enthusiasts. Trekking through the verdant forest of Kanthalloor is one of the activities that gives the backpackers their dose of adrenaline rush. What about literally rubbing shoulders with a plant species that was in existence since the days dinosaurs roamed around the world? Sounds interesting, isn’t it? That’s what you get while hiking through the jungles of Kanthalloor.
A short walk from the Kanthalloor market is a time travel to a distant past as it would take you to 19 crore years ago and the tree ferns near the Perumala Forest Office reflect a bygone era.
You have to take tickets from the forest office, and a guide will accompany you for the trekking expedition.
Shola forest of Kanthalloor
It might surprise you that the world’s largest shola forest (tropical Montane forest) is in Kanthalloor. It is noteworthy that shola forests are found only in south India and nowhere else in the world. The forest trekking trail mainly lies in the Anamudi National Shola Park and the awesome forest stretch is known as the Mannavan Shola. One has to enter the thick forest through the backyard of the forest office.
Once you step into the forest, the sun will start playing hide and seek with the forest canopy. The creepers create exquisite designs on the trees highlighting the artistic mastery of nature. Usually, one gets worn out during a trekking expedition but not while trekking through the Mannavan forest. Even if you walk for 3km through the Mannavan Shola, you won’t break sweat as there is a nip in the air inside the forest. One could walk through the forest and later enter the road abutting the forest. Earlier, the road was part of the Kanthalloor-Kundalla route and jeeps used to ferry people through that stretch. But now the road became out of bounds for vehicles as the region was converted into a national park.
One could see an alluring cascade with crystal clear water flowing by caressing the moss-covered rocks near the road. You could also see tree ferns, which will give a peek into the history, on the shores of the stream.
The fossil history of the tree ferns throw light on an era that is 19 crore years ago when giant dinosaurs ruled the roost. The tree ferns are a wonder as they had survived in this world for umpteen years. The trek through the Mannavan shola will give you an opportunity to touch the tree ferns that had stood the test of time. The walk through the forest may not be very adventurous and arduous but it is definitely satisfying to hike enjoying the coolness of the shola forest and listening to the rhythmic chirping of the birds.
Tree and mud houses are available for an overnight stay at Methappu, which is near the forest. You can book tree and mud houses and sleep tight with tree ferns and rhododendrons for company. When you wake up in the morning, you get a feeling that you are lying atop the mist-covered hills in the region. You can head to Methappu from the Kundalla dam and trekking is allowed only for 3km. The permission for trekking should be taken from the Perumala Forest Office.
While trekking you can carry drinking water and snacks, but make sure not to litter.
For more information and booking visit https://munnarwildlife.com. Contact +914365200300 for details about trekking.
Before going to Kanthalloor, you can visit the megalithic era ‘muniyaras’ (dolmens) in Marayur. The strawberry and apple orchards of Kanthalloor are also worth a visit.
Ernakulam-Kothamangalam-Adimali-Munnar – 124km.
Munnar-Marayur – 40km.
Marayur-Kanthalloor – 14km.
Palakkad-Pollachi-Udumalpet-Chinnar-Marayur-Kanthalloor – 131km.