Giving a big boost to tourism in Kerala, Kanthalloor in Idukki has won a gold medal for the best tourism villages from the Central Government.
The award was presented by V Vidyavathi, Secretary in the Central Tourism Ministry, to P B Nooh, Director of Kerala Tourism; K Rupesh Kumar, nodal officer of state Rural Tourism and P T Mohandas, Kanthalloor panchayat president on World Tourism Day.
The gold medal is a recognition for the ‘STREET’ (Sustainable, Tangible, Responsible, Experiential, Ethnic, Tourism hubs) project implemented by Kanthalloor under the Responsible Tourism Mission. The project encourages civic administrations to locate and develop at least one travel destination within their boundary.
Four other villages in the country have also been selected for the gold medal. They are Dawar in Kashmir, Sarmoli in Uttarakhand, Reiek in Mizoram and Mandla in Madhya Pradesh.
As many as 767 villages took part in the contest, of which five won gold medals, 10 villages silver and 20 villages bronze.
Kanthalloor, a paradise of fruits
The picturesque village has been turning into a tourist hotspot because of its cool, and balmy weather all through the year, in the past decade. Kanthalloor is the only place in Kerala where apples grow naturally and are farmed in plenty. orange, sweet lemon (mausambi), strawberry, blue passion fruit, tree tomato, guava and lemon. Tourists and visitors can buy fresh, pesticide-free fruits and vegetables when they are harvested.
They are also welcome to pluck the fruits and purchase them. The highlight of the hill paradise is the number of vantage points from where sunrise and sunset can be viewed. The travel up throws up a lot of hitherto unseen sights. The life of the forest dwellers, their huts made of bamboo and grass are sure to delight people. You can collect wild honey, Java plum (njaval) tree tomato and guava as you drive along.
An adventure tourism hotspot
Being a languid hamlet tucked away in the Western Ghats, Kanthalloor also 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 has been 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.
The home of the world's largest shola forest
Shola forests (tropical Montane forests), or patches of stunted tropical mountainous forest found in valleys, are a kind of ecosystem found in the Southern part of India. Did you know that the largest shola forest in the world is the one in Kanthalloor? 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 a 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.