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Nelliampathy

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Pothundy Dam Gardens on the Nelliampathy road
Road to Nelliyampathi

Nelliyampathy is a virgin hill station located in Palakkad district of Kerala. Nelliyampathy is blessed with lush dense rain-forests with number of wild animals like elephants, hill squirrels, deers and bison. Located above 467 m above sea-level, it is well known for its sprawling tea gardens, coffee, cardamom and orange plantations. The largest perennial multi crop organic farm in the world owned by Poabs-India has given this sleepy hill station, international repute. Several small waterfalls, streams and rocky hill ranges also add beauty to this wonderful summer destination.

From the garden inside the Nelliyampathy Guest House

Understand[edit]

Nelliyampathy is better known as Poor Man's Ooty, due to its unexplored virgin hill station status, famed for its large bio-farms, plantations and orange gardens. The hills are part of highly sensitive Western Ghats and was once thick dense teak forests inhabited by tribals. Later the area became popular among English planters and the area soon developed into major plantation belt. Its one of the few plantation areas in India, where multiple crops like Pepper, cardamom, tea, coffee and oranges are cultivated.

Apart from plantations, there are several hill ranges and cliffs, which all are popular among tourists, especially those interested in adventurous. Kerala Tourism has identified the hills are one of the best areas for trekking.

Nelliyampatty is in Palakkad District, 56 km from Palakkad city near Nenmara town.

History[edit]

Karappara village at Nelliampathy

The whole Nelliyampathy hills is known to have belonged to Vengunad Kovilakam of Kollengode (a small principality of Malabar), who then leased out vast tracts of this virgin forest area to the British Government of Madras Presidency. The Halls, perhaps the best known of the early planters in the Nellies, always held that there were others before them in these hills where only tribals roamed before the land was opened up by the planters. By the time Arthur Hall arrived in the Nellies in 1877, there appeared to have been coffee planted without shade in what were later known as Shernelly, halfway up the ghat, and Nelikolam Estates, the latter on the plateau. Arthur Hall started planting at Cotengady, near Padagiri, and was the father of planting in the Nellie. Similarly vast tracts of virgin forest in the Nelliyampathy hills were leased out in the year 1889 to two Britishers by name Mr. Holmes and Mr. Macanzey.

By the 1890s, there were over a hundred European planters in the district, mostly from the coffee districts of Mysore, but by the 1930s there were no more than half a dozen and most of the coffee they had planted lay abandoned· The Halls’ property and James Finlay’s at Sethangandy (Seethargundu) were two that were still flourishing at the time· Both older estates also planted cardamom and a visitor to Sethangandy said its cardamom were "the biggest and best he’d ever seen. In 1896 they have sold the leasehold right over the land to M/s Amalgamated Tea Estate Company Ltd; subsequently it came into the hands of Amalgamated Coffee Estate Pvt. Ltd., which was owned by Sri. Neelkanda Iyer. In his hands this estate was known as Seethargundu. Later he sold this estate to various parties in different portions. In 1969 Poabs India has got brought entire shares of various companies and amalgamated all to take over the plantation. Today 95% of Nelliyampathy hills are with Poabs India Company and remaining with Kerala Forest Department.

Landscape[edit]

Nelliyampathy starts at Poothundy lake, where a large dam exists, mainly used for irrigation purposes. The lake and its resovoir is a major picnic spot. From Poothundy, the hill range of Nelliyampatty starts.There are about 10 hairpin bends that have to be negotiated on the way to Nelliyampathy. As the Ghat road winds its way up to Nelliyampathy, at some places there are viewpoints from where the vast stretches of Palakkad district are visible with its extensive paddy fields forming a verdant carpet. It also offers a splendid view of the Palakkad Gap, which is a geographical phenomenon in the Western Ghats formation in this region, bringing into view, parts of the adjoining State of Tamilnadu.

The Nelliyampathy hill range has 3 distinctive landscapes

  • The plantation part with several plantations, orange farms and spice gardens
  • The rocks and hill-tops where several cliffs, rocky mountainous areas and large hill-tops, which all are for trekker's delight
  • The forest regions, which has some of the rare varieties of fauna and flora.

Flora and fauna[edit]

Frog species Micrixalus nelliyampathi

Nelliyampatty is blessed with immense flora and fauna. The adjourning forests regions have wild elephants, giant squirrels, sambars and leopards. One can find bisons, deers, peacocks, goats and cows commonly in plantation and farm areas. Much of the area is under plantations and farms. Nelliyampatty is a role model for Indian sustainable agricultural pratices, by having largest organic farms in the world, spread across 1500 acres of land. The hill ranges has the only Orange farms of Kerala. The forest regions has some of the rare and unique herbal plants, thus a favourite place for bio-researchers.

Climate[edit]

Nelliyampathy is an all around the year tourist destination with a pleasant climate all through the year. Summers during March to May have a maximum temperature of 30°C and the winters during December to February have a minimum temperature of about 15°C. Monsoons offer very heavy rainfalls during June to September.

The hill station is very imposing during the monsoons. Post monsoons and post winters are flowering seasons. Waterfalls offer eye catching experiment during monsoons and post monsoons.

Best period to visit here is September to May avoiding monsoons.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

The nearest international airport is Calicut International Airport (CCJ IATA) at Kozhikode which is nearly 120 km from the Nelliyampathy ranges, with regular connections to most of Middle East countries and South East Asia. Coimbatore Airport, in neighboring Tamil Nadu, is 60 km away offering connections to several leading Indian Metro cities and few international connections.

Or you can reach at Cochin International Airport (COK IATA) or Chennai International Airport (MAA IATA) and reach the hill station via train by boarding down at Shornur or Palakkad town.

By train[edit]

The nearest station is Palakkad Junction, at a distance of about 60 km away from Nelliyampathy and you can take a taxi to reach Nelliampathy. Or get down at Shornur railway station and reach via taxi. While returning, make sure to reach Palakkad Junction which is also called Olavakkod railway station only where the long distance trains come. Going to Palakkad Town railway station is of no use at all. A better idea is to head straight to Shornur or Thrissur railway stations where the frequency of trains are much higher.

By bus[edit]

Most of the south Indian cities are connected to Nelliampathy by bus. All inter-state bus travelling from Coimbatore, Bangalore and Chennai, plying on NH 47 passes through Nenmara, the nearest point to Nelliyampathy. Tourist buses and State-owned buses provide services from cities like Trichur, Kottayam, Kozhikode, Guruvayoor, Cochin and Trivandrum. From Palakkad to Nelliampathy buses run on regular intervals.

By taxi[edit]

From Cochin Airport: Come to Thrissur - 30 km; take a taxi or bus from Thrissur bus stand to Nemmara - 48 km. From Coimbatore Airport: Come to Palakkad - 50 km; take a taxi or bus to Nemmara - 30 km.

Get around[edit]

While travelling inside Nelliampathy or while returning from Nelliampathy, buses should be boarded only from Noorady junction, Nelliampathy. Getting a seat is possible only from this point and they quickly get crowded. All buses start from Noorady junction and go to Pulayam Para town first. Then they proceed to Nenmara town down the hill.

Bus timings from Noorady Junction, Nelliampathy[edit]

  • 8.45 am
  • 9.45 am
  • 11.00 am
  • 2.00 pm
  • 5.45 pm

Auto rickshaw charges[edit]

Auto rickshaws are very expensive in Nelliampathy. They charge ₹100 for shorter distances and ₹400 for short excursions because of the shortage of passengers. Most tourists come here in their own vehicles.

Sightseeing by bus[edit]

Buses are available from Noorady junction to scenic villages like Karady, Lilly, Victoria, Karappara, Kaikatty and Pulayanpara. Buses going to Karappara also cover Karady and Lilly villages on the way. Buses going to Pulaayanpara also cover Kaikatty on the way. Ask the locals for the timings.

See[edit]

  • A.V.T. Manalaroo Estate, Noorady (1 km).
  • Hill Top viewpoint, Lilly village, Karappara Road (7 km). Shri Mariamman Temple.
  • Karady village, Karappara Road (6 km). Scenic place with rivulets and rocks.
  • Karappara Hanging Bridge (6 km), +91 4923246575. Mariamman kovil and Tiny teashop.
  • Kesavam para viewpoint (2 km). Malayalam film Mrigaya starring Mammootty was shot here.
  • Manalar Mosque, Noorady (1 km). There is a cute and photogenic little trishul temple in front of the mosque.
  • Nellikkunnu Devi Temple, Noorady (1 km).
  • Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Pulayampara (6 km).
  • Poolachirakkal School campus, Noorady. Scenic surroundings.
  • Pothundy Dam and Gardens, Nenmara Road down the hill (22 km). The dam garden is full of fine statues of pretty girls with floral offerings and dancing women in erotic postures. The surrounding valleys of Pothundy are even more beautiful than Nelliampathy Hills because of the expanse of green paddy fields and not-so-cold weather. Accommodation is available only at Nanmara town 5 km from Pothundy dam.
  • 1 Ranimedu Estate. Beautiful view point.
  • St. John's CSI Church, Nellikulam (1 km).
  • Victoria Village, Karappara Road (9 km). Undulating landscape, coffee estates and rivulets.

Do[edit]

Suicide point at Seethakundu summit, Nelliampathy.
  • Excursion to Seetharkundu (6 km). Beautiful viewpoint accessible by jeep from Noorady. ₹600.
  • Trekking @ Karappara Road. Nelliampathy is a trekkers' paradise and you can start from Noorady junction. 3 km on the Karappara road makes you reach in Lilly village. The next village is Karady village which is another three kilometres. 'Karady' means 'bear' in Malayalam but there are no bears living here only workers of tea estates. The next two villages are Victoria and Karappara. There is a hanging bridge and tea shop in Karappara.

Buy[edit]

  • Davees Stores, Pulayanpara (6 km). For packed food, water bottles, cool drinks and essentials like footwear.
  • Fresh Tea Powder, A.V.Thomas and Company, Noorady.
  • Gandhi Gramam Herbals, Pulayampara (6 km), +91 9495142100. For green tea, flax seeds, forest honey, bamboo rice, henna powder, musk powder, fig fruits etc.
  • Passion Fruits, Government Orange Farm (Pulayampara). 339-hectare facility with 91 varieties of fruit products sold. 500 orange trees are maintained.

Eat[edit]

Mutton curry in Nelliampathy
  • Bismi Biriyani House, Kaikatty Junction (3 km).
  • Tiny Restaurant, Pulayam Para (6 km). Very basic restaurant with polite service and tasty food.
  • Yellow Canteen, opp. Govt Orange Farm (Pulayampara. 6 km).

Drink[edit]

  • P.V.R.Coffee Shop, Karappara (6 km), +91 8281382514.

Sleep[edit]

  • Ciscilia Resort, Ranimeedu Estate.
  • Government Guest House, Kaikatty (3 km). I.T.L. Resort
  • Greenland Farmhouse, Palagapady (6 km), +91 4923246266.
  • Hill Top Lodge, Noorady (0 km), +91 4923246566, . ₹1,000 for double rooms. This is the only lodge option for budget travelers because other locations make you depend upon expensive auto rickshaw trips. You can board a bus with an ensured seat only from Noorady junction.
  • Hillway Homestay, Pothundy (22 km). This homestay is situated in an extremely scenic and peaceful location with a dam and garden at a walkable distance. ₹3,000.
  • ITL Dormitory, Pulayam Para (6 km).
  • Nenmara town. Three cheap lodges are available at Nenmara town. The lowest rent is ₹500.
  • Orange Valley Tourist Home, Pulayam Para (6 km), +91 4923246666. ₹2,000.
  • Palakkad town. Numerous lodges, hotels and luxury resorts are available at the district head quarter city of Palakkad. Budget rooms are available from ₹200 to ₹800 and expensive hotels charge up to ₹6,000
  • Spring Valley Lodge, Pulayam Para (6 km), +91 9447243305. Mr.Benny, manager. ₹1,200.
  • Coffee Valley Resort, Seetharkundu Rd Sitargundu Estate, +91 80 7818 3849, . Confortable rooms, good service, jeep trekking, bird watching, etc.

Stay safe[edit]

  • Carry some table salt with you while going for trekking as leeches are common here.
  • Avoid trekking early in the morning because elephants and other wild animals are there in the hills.
  • Avoid solo trekking in the remote forests as there are frequent Maoist attacks. [1]

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