The aerial shot of the winding road leading to Kollimalai looks like a mammoth python coiled up. A staggering 70 hairpin curves await you as you travel up to this beautiful hill in Tamil Nadu’s Namakkal district. The hill, which is tucked away in the Western Ghats, is 1,000m to 1,300m above sea level. If you are looking for a hill station that is not bustling with tourists, then Kolli Hill is the right place for you.
There are mainly two stories surrounding the appellation Kollimalai. One story doing the rounds is that the Akasa Ganga waterfall of the Kolli Hill is potent enough to ‘kill’ (kollal) all ailments as the cascade has the glory of Arappaleeswarar (Lord Shiva). Another belief is that Kolli Paavai, a beautiful goddess, saved people from the heat and fire, which were generated after hermits’ extreme penance, with her sweet smile. The Kolli Paavai Temple is also situated in the vicinity.
As one side of the circuitous road to the hill has steep slopes, there is an element of risk while travelling to Kollimalai. Besides tapioca, pineapples and bananas, jackfruits are cultivated in the region. It is noteworthy that the hilly region, which is spread across 280 sq km, is mentioned in classic works such as ‘Silappadikkaram’ and ‘Manimekalai’. Apart from the Arappaleeswarar Temple, the Kolli Paavai Temple is also famous.
It is believed that the temple was built during the reign of Valvil Ori in AD 100. Lord Shiva who is known as Arappaleeswarar is worshipped at the temple, which is situated in Periya Kovilur near the Akasa Ganga Temple. You will reach the temple, which had been built following the Dravidian architecture, after manoeuvring the hairpin curves from Karavalli.
Akasa Ganga waterfalls
The Akasa Ganga waterfall is one of the must-see spots in Kollimalai. The view of water flowing nonchalantly through the middle of two massive mountains can take your breath away. You have to climb down 1,086 steps from near the Shiva temple to reach this wonderful waterfall. It believed that people who take a dip in the waterfalls is cured of all diseases.
The botanical garden is 3km away from Semmedu and is another spot that should not be missed while visiting Kollimalai. The facility boasts of eye-catching rose garden, cottages that gel with nature, viewpoint and a children’s park.
How to reach
If you are travelling by car from Kerala, you have to go via Palakkad. Though the distance is nearly 250km, travel time is much less due to well-maintained roads. You have to reach Namakkal-Salem highway after taking right from Kakkapalayam on the Palakkad-Salem highway. After travelling for a while in the direction of Namakkal, turn left from Kalangani and take the Thirumalapatti route to arrive at Kollimalai.
The nearest airport is Tiruchi, which is 90km from the Kolli Hills. The nearest railway station is Salem and direct bus services to the hills are available from there.
When to visit
You can visit Kollimalai throughout the year except during monsoon season. But the best time to tour the hills is from March to June. While travelling to Kollimalai, make sure to carry woollen clothes to keep the chilling side of weather at bay. There will be a nip in the air no matter when you are visiting the hills.