The popular hill station of Ponmudi is a slice of paradise with mountain ranges coated in verdant forest and breathtaking views. Moreover, this much-loved spot is enveloped in floating mist throughout the year much to the cheer of the travellers. Interestingly, Ponmudi has earned the sobriquet ‘Thiruvananthapuram’s Ooty’ because of its alluring beauty. The hill station, which is 56km north-east of Thiruvananthapuram, is also a sought-after adventure tourism centre. Ponmudi and its surrounding region provide unique experience and roll out mesmerizing vistas for the visitors. Here’s a lowdown on what’s in store for the tourists in this awesome hill station.
Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary
The sanctuary spread across nearly 75 square km is home to animals such as Sambar deer and elephants, among others, and birds like White-bellied treepie, Malabar grey hornbill and small sunbirds, among others. If you are a nature lover, then don’t look beyond the Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary, which is 39km away from Thiruvananthapuram, to spend a quiet day with Mother Nature. The sanctuary’s visiting time is from 10am to 6pm.
The Koyikkal Palace, which was built for Umayamma Rani of the Venad royal family, is an epitome of architectural excellence. The palace stands tall in Nedumangad, which is 18km away from Thiruvananthapuram. The palace, which is maintained by the state archaeology department, houses a folklore museum and another museum with an exhaustive collection of coins belonging to different eras. The visiting hours are between 9am and 5pm.
The spellbinding Mankayam waterfall, which is one of the well-liked tourist destinations in Ponmudi, lies 45km north-east of Thiruvananthapuram. The Mankayam River is a tributary of Chittar River, which originates from the majestic Chemunchi mountain ranges. The river that flows through dense forest has two waterfalls by the name of Kalakkayam and Kurishadi. You can also go on a trekking spree to Varayadumotta, a mountain range that is home to Nilgiri Tahr (Varayadu), which is listed as endangered. The trekking time is from 8am to 4pm.
Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve
The Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve, which is 1,868m above sea level, is tucked away in the iconic Western Ghats and has close to 2,254 varieties of plants. The wildlife sanctuaries such as Neyyar, Peppara and Shendurney are part of the reserve. Undoubtedly, a trip to the biosphere reserve is bound to rejuvenate the visitors.
The picturesque Golden Valley is riddled with streams with crystal clear water, green valleys and mist-covered peaks. The valley on the shores of the Kallar River is replete with shining stones having a golden colour. There are many trekking trails to the nearby mountains from the Golden Valley.
Varayadumotta is the tallest peak in the Ponmudi mountain ranges and popular as the natural habitat of Nilgiri Tahrs. The 1,100m-peak can be reached easily from Ponmudi or Mankayam check post. As the path to the peak is marked by steep slopes, trekking is bit tough. Usually, the travellers are accompanied by a forest guard.