Off late I was searching for a little break from the daily grind of life. After travelling for years, I had almost visited every place in India, making it quite difficult for me to zero in on a place. After much research, reading and taking suggestions, I came across a little town that I had energy heard off before. This town called Ponmudi was suggested by one of my friends, who had a friend who went there. After hearing a plethora of praises, and seeing some quite exceptional photos of this picturesque town in Kerala, I decided to give it a go.
Early the next morning, I packed my bags and rushed off to the serene locales of Ponmudi. While I had visited Kerala, I had never ventured into an off the road area like this. I had no idea what to expect, yet I knew that I was going somewhere divine.
Ponmudi is a majestic hill station located in the Western Ghats. It is located about 60 km from Thiruvananthapuram. Ponmudi is often touted as a welcome respite from the hustle-bustle of city life. Tourists usually come back refreshed and rejuvenated from this little town, singing songs of praise for Ponmudi. Ponmudi is perched at an elevation of 1100 m above sea level.
My journey started from Thiruvananthapuram, as I landed in this crowded city early in the morning. There was already a cacophony of noise, as the concrete jungle started to close on me. I quickly got into my vehicle and whisked off to the magical town of Ponmudi.
As my vehicle started to head off to the little hamlet of Ponmudi, the scenery started to change as well. Soon enough the huge skyscrapers were fading into the background, and huge trees started taking their place. The air was cleaner, and the roads were devoid of any noise. It was like entering into a realm of nature and peace, where everything is quiet and blissful.
The route to Ponmudi starts from Peroorkada, followed by Nedumangad, Chullimanoor, Vithura and finally Ponmudi. The roads are filled with 22 hairpin bends making it both thrilling and adventurous. I was blessed with amazing weather, and clear blue skies to keep me enchanted.
After some time, we decided to stop and take a break at the nearby tea shop. The tea stall was located right by the tall green trees, and a lone stall stood in the middle of nowhere. There were biscuits in the tiny glass containers, and the aroma of the tea escaped from the kettle and right into my nose. I sat down for some time, sipping the aromatic hot tea and stared at the beauty of nature around me. It was like God itself had blessed this place with never-ending beauty and charm.
Once I reached the little hamlet of Ponmudi, I realised what I had been craving for so long was all there. Clear blue skies, fluffy misty clouds, rolling meadows that stretch up to the horizon, a nip of chill in the air, lush green trees that never stop swaying, and a sense of tranquillity that cannot be missed. I instantly felt rejuvenated and couldn’t wait to stay at this magical hill station.
After taking in all the essence that Ponmudi had to offer me, I quickly reached my guest house to freshen up and explore this place thereafter.
After a lovely lunch, I rented a bike and decided to don the explorer’s hat.
The entire hill station is covered with dense vegetation on one side, and a huge ditch on the other. It is quite a unique thing, and somehow it makes Ponmudi all the more alluring.
The first thing that I did during my exploration trip was to find a concrete slab and sit down to just gaze. It is like time slowed down, as I looked at the colorful hills and the rays of the sun that touched them softly. It was so mesmerising.
One thing that struck my eyes was small idols of different deities hanging from the overgrown branches of the trees. It was quite something to look at. While I couldn’t figure out why and how they got there, I realised that they might be of the locals.
One of my best discoveries of Ponmudi is a little dilapidated shed which is the Ponmudi Tea Factory. While from afar it looks like an abandoned factory, from the inside it is like Disneyland for tea lovers.
This tea factory is located quite off the main road, and one has to be dedicated to finding this place. Yet it is worth all the effort.
Surrounded by beautiful tea gardens on all of its sides, this watered-down shed reminded me of the old world charms.
A decided to venture further and entered the building. There is a door with the year 1892 engraved on its body, and few flags that signalled of a time long gone by. I could only imagine the kind of secrets, meetings, and stories that this place had.
As I opened the door I was instantly floored by the wonderful aroma of the tea leaves that filled my lungs. Soon enough a factory worker greeted me politely and started telling me more about the Ponmudi Tea Factory and all its anecdotes.
After a quick tour, and lesson about its history, the factory worker also told me how the tea is made and showed me the entire process. He also added that the process of drying the leaves and crushing it to make the fine powder is the same as it was when the factory was first established. It was quite a magnificent experience.
If you are at Ponmudi, then you just cannot miss the many treks that it has to offer. After a scrumptious breakfast, I too decided to venture out in the wild and enter the world of nature. Some of the treks like Varayattumotta, Chinnappulle, and Braemoor are led by guides since the roads are quite rough and you might get lost. These treks are arranged by the Ponmudi Vana Samrakshana Samithi, and I would highly recommend you to embark on one of these treks.
I undertook a more relaxing trek and decided to admire the wonderful view that unfolded with every step that I took. You can also trek to Bonafalls, Vazahuvanthole waterfalls and Kalarkad waterfalls with a guide, and enjoy the chilled waters of these cascading falls.
However, due to the lack of time, I could only walk through the forest and came back after some time.
Ponmudi is also blessed with some wonderful wildlife sanctuaries, that I had the pleasure of visiting.
I mainly visited two of the wildlife sanctuaries:
Mini Zoo: This little zoo is filled with a lovely variety of animals. It is mainly a shelter for animals who have been injured, and I was quite touched to see the warmth and care taken by the caretakers. This zoo is also famous for its Barasinghas, and you will find many visitors coming here to witness them in flesh.
Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary: My next stop was at the Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary, which is strategically located by the stunning Karamana River and the Peppara Dam. This sanctuary is resplendent with a huge variety of flora of fauna, including 43 species of mammals, 46 types of reptiles, 27 kinds of fishes, and 233 species of birds.
Just walk through the thick forest area and keep your eyes peeled to notice the tiny bird hiding behind the groves of the trees.
I was quite refreshed by the easy walk through this enchanting forest.
After a lot of exploring, I finally decided to sit down by the gorgeous Kallar River. This River overlooks the Golden Valley which is one of the most picturesque locations in Ponmudi. I gazed at the lush green fields, the grainy sand, and the chilling water, as the sun began to set. The birds started to fly home, and the entire valley was covered by a golden hue. It was so quiet and peaceful that I just sat there introspecting and admiring the beauty in front of me. It was quite something to just gaze and look at the workings of nature.
In Kallar, you can also visit the iconic Meenmutty waterfalls. The cascading falls gush down the green valleys and reach adds beauty to the environment. I took a nice cool dip into the water there, and it healed all my physical ailments. It was like I was reborn again!
After finishing off with another walk at Ponmudi, I decided to bid it farewell. As I looked back I realised how truly gorgeous this town is. Filled with lush green trees, old tea factories and waterfalls that will never stop coming in my dreams- Ponmudi is a must-visit destination. As I walked off, I took a final mental picture of the place, knowing it will be etched into my memories forever.