Kettuvallom - Riceboats - Houseboats - romance of kerala backwaters


  

    High ranges & Wildlife  
 

This district's name, 'Idukki' is supposed to be derived from the Malayalam word 'idukku', which means a narrow gorge. That could well be true, for narrow, steep-sided valleys are not a strange phenomena in this hilly district, flanked by the Western Ghats in the east. The river Pamba originates in the mountains of Idukki. With high ranges of altitude varying from 2500 feet to over 5000 feet above sea level, Idukki is the district where forests and wildlife abound. About 1500 sq ft of its area is reserved forest, much of which is home to a variety of flora and fauna. These forests are a source of teak wood, rose wood and sandal wood. They are also home to wildlife like tigers, deer, bisons and monkeys. Streams, valleys and hills combine to make Idukki district an ideal year-round holiday destination. For the people of Kerala, Idukki is always associated with power generation since about 60 per cent of the state's power needs come from the hydroelectric power station at Moolamattom, the biggest in the state. The famous Idukki arch dam, the first of its kind in India, is built between two huge granite hills across the river Periyar.

A landlocked district, Idukki is one of the most nature rich areas of Kerala. The high ranges and wooded valleys are grided by three main rivers - the Periyar, Thalayar and Thodupuzhayar - and their tributaries. The river Pamba also has its origin here. As a tourist destination, Idukki offers diverse attractions like wildlife sanctuaries, hill stations, spice plantation tours, mountain treks, elephant rides and so on. 
Cheruthoni is the area around the Idukki and Cherithoni dams, near Painavu, the headquartaers of Idukki district, Situated 3917 feet above sea level, on a clear day one can see certain parts of faraway Kochi. You can reach Cheruthoni only by jeep. The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), which looks after the dams, rents out boats for the two-hour cruise between Cheruthoni and Kulamavu.

 

Places to visit

The Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary: 
This sanctuary extends over the Thodupuzha and Udumpanchola taluks of Idukki district, spreading over 77 sq.km and is about 450-748m above sea level. The Idukki Reservoir formed by three deams- Cheruthoni, Idukki and Kulamavu - extends to 33 sq.km. Animal : Elephant, bison, sambar deer, wild dog, jungle cat, tiger, wild boar etc. Snakes: Cobra,viper,krait and a number of non posionous snakes.Birds: Jungle fowl, myna, laughing thrush, black bulbul, peafowl, woodpecker, kingfisher etc.

Idukki Arch Dam:
This is the world's second and Asia's first arch dam, constructed across the Kuravan and Kurathi hills. 550 ft. high and 650 ft. wide, the dam lies close to the cheruthoni barrage. To its west is the Kulamavu Dam. Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is located close by.

Moolamattom: 
If you are interested in seeing the workings of a power house, visit Moolamattam, 40 km from Idukki. The Idukki Hydroelectric Project's underground power house is located here. You can get permission from the KSEB office to enter the power station.

The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary (Thekkady): 
The most renowned destination is the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary at Thekkady, 60 km from Idukki, 190 km from Kochi or 114 km from Kottayam. The drive itself is enchanting as the road winds through tranquil countryside, rich plantations and thick jungles. The sanctuary is centred around the large (24 sq km) artificial lake formed by the dam across the Periyar river. Situated in a mountainous area, the highest peak in the sanctuary is Vellimala (2019 m). The sanctuary's 777 sq km of luxuriant green, rain-drenched tropical forest is the natural habitat of elephants, bisons, spotted and sambar deer and wild boar, among other animals. Birds like the Malabar grey hornbill, the grey jungle fowl and the jungle myna can also be spotted here. Tigers also inhabit the sanctuary which was declared a tiger reserve in 1978 under Project Tiger. But they are elusive and difficult to spot. Periyar is easily the best sanctuary in India for observing and photographing elephants at close quarters. On the boat cruise, if you're lucky, you will spot a herd or two in search of water at the edge of the lake. But for a truly memorable jungle experience, you should stay for a couple of days, preferably in one of the Forest Department's huts inside the sanctuary. At Thekkady there are opportunities for trekking, elephant rides and boating. This is especially popular as the boat navigates through the branched tops of trees submerged long ago by the man-made lake. Though the sanctuary is open throughout the year (the monsoons can bring a totally different experience), the best season is from September to May.
 
Munnar:
Munnar is situated at the confluence of three mountain streams - Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni, Kundala. 1600 m. above sea level, this hill station was the summer resort of the British Government in South India. Sprawling tea plantations, picture book towns, winding lanes, and holiday facilities make this a popular hill station.
Among the exotic flora found in the forests and grasslands here is the Neelakurinji. This flower which bathes the hills in blue once every twelve years, will bloom next in 2006 AD. Munnar also has the highest peak in South India, Anamudi - which towers over 2695 m. Anamudi is an ideal spot for trekking.
Tea Factory Visit: Permission to visit any of the 26 factories of Tata Tea Ltd. can be had from the Regional Office at Munnar.

Eravikulam National Park:
While at Munnar, a not-to-be missed excursion is the the Eravikulam National Park, at the crest of the Anamala range. It can be reached only by trekking from Rajamalai, 17 km from Munnar. In its 97 sq km area can be found the Nilgiri tahr, and endangered species.

Mattupetty: 
Beyond the dam, is the Indo-Swiss Dairy Farm, worth visiting not just to see prized cows and bulls but to savour the rolling green valleys.

Devikulam: 
Another hill station woth visiting, 16 km south-west of Munnar, is Devikulam, which literally means 'the lake of the Goddess'. According to legend, Sita, the consort of Lord Rama, once had a bath in this lake.

Thommankuthu waterfalls:
18 km from Thodupuzha, is a scenic and bewitching picnic spot.

Peermede: 
The best place to halt enroute is Peermede, 43 km before Thekkady, a fertile land at an altitude of 914 metres. . Surrounded by rolling hills and valleys, Peerumed is well known for its waterfalls, open grasslands and delightful trekking trails. Formerly the summer palace of the Travancore Rajas, this tiny and cool hill station is full of rubber, tea, coffee, pepper and cardamom plantations, interspersed with waterfalls and open grasslands.

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 Fact Sheet
Population: 1,079,369
Area: 5019 sq km
Altitude: 2200 mt above sea level
Rainfall  270 cm
Climate:  Tropical
Summer Max      Min
37C    22.5C
Winter 35.3C 22C 
Season Aug to Mar 
Clothing: Tropical cottons. Warm clothes for places like Munnar & thekkady

Access

Air: 
Nearest Airport: Madurai (Tamil Nadu): 140 km, Kochi: 190 km, Thiruvananthapuram: 265 km, Kozhikode: 315 km.

Sea:
Periodical Ship services ply to Lakshdweep Islands.
 
Rail: 

Kottayam: 114 km (4 hrs), Madurai: 136km, Changanacherry: 93 km, Theni 60 km.

Road: 
Idukki is linked by motorable roads to all other towns in Kerala. 


Local Transport:
Private and KSRTC buses, Yellow-top and tourist taxis, Autorickshaws.

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