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Over the Hills, and Far Away

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear of Kerala? I once asked my friend from UP, and her answer was: “Backwaters, Houseboats and Beaches”. Sad, she was unaware of the stunning hill stations we had in Kerala. Another friend of mine too reacted the same way, saying he had been to Alappuzha, and that was Kerala for him!

Gods own country Kerala, cradled by Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats, has an abundant line up of beaches and hill stations. Start counting, and you would literally feel exhausted. Many people, even the residents of Kerala, are unaware that we have such vast range of holiday spots in our state. The Western Ghats shapes almost all the hill stations with its wide variety of flora and fauna. Some of the hill stations are covered with dense forests, while some are tea and coffee plantation hubs.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Kerala hilltops that ooze charm, here we have a list of holl stations that are to be made part of your summer tour itinerary next time when you plan your holidays.

Wayanad

Wayanad is rich in flora and fauna. You get to know the weather that awaits you in Wayanad the moment you start climbing the winding roads that lead to this hill station. While climbing this road, travelers stop by to catch a glimpse of the city they have left behind below. Summer in Wayanad would make you experience the cool breeze rubbing against your skin. The lush green beauty Wayanad is also known for the historical, adventurous places it houses. When in Wayanad, make sure you visit these picturesque spots.

Kuruva Island: The only inhabited island in Kerala surrounded by naturally purified water of the Kabini River. A huge raft made out of bamboo is used to take the visitors from the shore to the island. You get to see small streams and lakes after a long walk. The island is home to a variety of fauna.

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Edakkal Caves: Two natural caves that date back to the 6000 BCE would spur you to stay amazed. The paintings inside the caves are said to be from the Neolithic age.

Meenmutty Waterfalls: The waterfalls in Kalpetta stands proud and tall at a height of 300 meters. The high inflow of water during rainy season could make it dangerous. Utmost care us advised while visiting Meenmutty.

Chembra Peak: The 2100-m tall peak is the highest in Wayanad. You get a clear view of the city from above the peak. It takes around 3 hours on foot to reach the top.

Pookode Lake: The natural freshwater lake lies serene amidst the greenery of the evergreen forest. Boating, a children’s park and fresh water aquariums are the attractions here.

Munnar

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Munnar is in the Idukki district of Kerala and is visited by tourists from all over the world. The aromatic tea plantation adds to the beauty of Munnar. The place exudes a homely and romantic atmosphere. The valley turns blue with the blooming of Neelakurinji once in 12 years. To see this you have to plan your journey well.  Munnar rests amdist the Nilgiri Mountains, and is home to diverse varieties of flora and fauna.

Here are some of the picnic spots around Munnar.

Eravikulam National Park The first National Park of Kerala is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Anamudi, the highest peak in South India, is situated inside this National Park. A wide variety of flora and fauna can be sighted here.

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Munnar Tea Museum: The aroma of tea will keep dragging you inside the museum. You will get to taste various flavors of tea.

Mattupetty: The dam which was built in the mountains to conserve water for hydroelectricity is today one of the most visited tourist spots in Munnar.

Vagamon

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Located in the Kottayam district, Vagamon is among the hill stations that are famous for tea estates, waterfalls, pine trees, grasslands, meadows and long winding roads. The tranquility of the atmosphere helps you clam your mind. The Vagamon experience grows magical when you opt for a ride amidst the pine trees. Vagamon is surrounded by three hills – Thangal hill, Murugan hill and Kurisumala.  Kurisumala is a famous Christian pilgrimage center. Mountaineering, paragliding, trekking and rock climbing are major activities here. The place stands far off the city life. If you are looking for a mind soothing getaway, Vagamon is where you should head for.

Do not miss these spots when in Vagamon.

Kurisumala Dairy Farm: The farm, managed by the monks of Kurisimala, comes across as one of the most calm and quiet places away from the busy city life. This place is a main attraction for Christian pilgrims.

Thangal Para: One of the best places for trekking. The unique rock formation is what awaits you at the end of the trek. The rock is said to have spiritual significance. You also get to visit an ancient mystic cave.

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Mundakayam Ghat: An apt spot for adventure sports like paragliding. You get to immerse yourself in the serene environs. Do not miss the view of the sunset here.

Suicide Point: The V-shaped gorge is also known as Moonpara. Though the trek to the suicide point is tiring, the view that awaits you there is splendid. The fresh air and the sight of the valley from the top will leave you amazed.

It is always better to visit these places during the summer. Access to some of the waterfalls may not be provided during the rainy season due to the high inflow of water.

 Images via 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6