Meghamalai: The untouched beauty of Western Ghats
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‘Rolling hills of tea, kissed by clouds’ would be an apt description for Meghamalai. The beauty of the Meghamalai hills can actually put Munnar hills to shame. However, not many travellers have set their eyes upon this virgin beauty hidden among the folds of Western Ghats.
Meghamalai is more than 400 kilometres from Kozhikode. There are very few accommodation facilities on this hilltop, except Panchayath Guest House and two resorts – Cloud Mountain and River Side. So, you have to set out armed with all sorts of camping paraphernalia including tents and a gas stove for cooking. A night can be spent at Nedumkandam, and the journey resumed in the morning. An ascent down the Kambam mountain pass would take you to the plains of Tamil Nadu. On both sides of the road you can see vast fields.
The route to Meghamalai lay along Chinnamanur, a fruits and vegetable market, from Kambam. Long lines of trucks carrying loads of vegetables to Kerala as well as to various regions of Tamil Nadu can be seen everywhere. Meghamalai lays around 40 kilometres from Kambam. After five kilometres there is a check post below Meghamalai. Frome there it is not a good idea to travel by car and one can continue the journey by a KSRTC bus, which goes up the hill by 10 am and returns by 5 in the evening.
There are 18 hairpin curves during the 35-kilometre-long ride to Meghamalai. The road is so bad that the car can ply only in the second gear. The condition of the road will grow worse and worse as you move upward. Chinnamanur and Kambam can be spotted far below. It is a totally isolated road, only the greenery everywhere you look.
Meghamalai has a very rich animal population, which makes travelling at night quite risky. By evening, you’d reach Maharaj Medai. During day time, you could spot the Thekkady lake of Mullapperiyar Dam shining in the distance like a drop of water. Greenery abounded everywhere. All the buildings in Meghamalai are remains of the British colonial days. The present day inhabitants of Meghamalai are averse to tourists. The place is not at all traveller friendly.
There are no petrol pumps or ATM counters in Meghamalai. The nearest township is Chinnamanur. Accommodation facilities have to be arranged in advance. The nearby tea stall owner will cook food for you, if asked.
How to reach from Kerala
It is a 250 kilometer ride from Ernakulam to Meghamalai via Pala – Mundakkayam – Kuttikkanam – Kumily – Kambam – Uthamapalayam – Chinnamanur. And from Kozhikode it is 410 kilometers via Palakkad – Pollachi – Palani – Odachathram – Sempetti – Bethelakundu – Theni – Chinnamanur.