With the Western Ghats towering 500-2700 m in the east, the Arabian Sea in the west and networked by 44 river streams, Kerala appreciates extraordinary geography that makes it a standout amongst the most sought after tourist locations in Asia. It is one of the most preferred honeymoon destinations for newlyweds and a perfect family vacation spot. Among the uncountable places that are worth seeing, any trip to Kerala is incomplete without a tour to the Cardamom hills.
Cardamom Hills at a Glance
The Cardamom Hills are the southern hills of India and a part of the south Western Ghats located in south-east Kerala and south-west Tamil Nadu in South India. The name ‘Cardamom’ comes from the fact that the major elevation of the hill is known to grow cardamom spice in large quantities apart from pepper and coffee. The Periyar sub-cluster, the Western Ghats including the Cardamom Hills is under consideration for being designated as the UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Cardamom hills cover around 2800 square kilometers of terrain with deep valleys including the drainages of west flowing rivers – Mullayar, Periyar and Pamba. The hills join the Aryankavu pass in the North, Agasthyamalai hills to the South, Palni Hills to the North-East and Anaimalai Hills to the North-West. The crest of the Cardamom hills forms the boundary between Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The average temperature at the hills is 15 °C and 31 °C in winters and summers respectively.
The Cardamom hills are home to numerous tribal people, settled on its western and eastern region. The most widely recognized among them are the Urumban, Mudugan and Irulan. These indigenous individuals work in the tea estates to earn the livelihood. Even till today, they are highly dependent on forest products for survival.
Activities to do in and near Cardamom Hills
Biking & Cycling
Cardamom hills are one of the popular sites for cycling and biking expeditions. A ride to these hills offers you routes, paths and views to celebrate the adventure close to nature and it is an opportunity for a life’s time. The hidden routes that go deep into the heart of hills covering dams, large tea tracts, shola forest, elephant parks, farms and lakes. The flora and fauna, mist clad hill, fresh mountain air and panoramic landscapes can be best experienced through biking and cycling.
Other than appreciating the natural beauty, you can also visit a number of wildlife sanctuary and national parks which are built in order to protect some of the endangered species and preserve some undeveloped forest biomes. The core portion of the hills constitutes the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, a major ecotourism destination, stretching up to 777 square kilometers. Approximately half of the sanctuary is the Periyar Tiger Reserve and National Park.
As you go to the South of the Tiger reserve, you will find the konni, Ranni and Achankovil forest divisions, while dried forests of Srivilliputtur Wildlife Sanctuary and Tirunelveli are found on the Eastern side in Tamil Nadu.
Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuary is another worth seeing spot that protects several endangered species including Indian elephant, slender loris, Bengal tiger, grizzled giant squirrel, Nilgiri tahr, Vindhyan bob butterfly, Salim Ali’s fruit bat, lion-tailed macaque, Hutton’s pitviper and great Indian hornbill.
You would also enjoy an elephant ride, and it is the best way to explore the National Park. You can easily watch the animals and click their pictures from close. The park is also one of the greatest bird-watching sites. A pair of binoculars is all you need to spot some of the uncommon birds such as Cormorants, Kingfishers, Darters, Racket-tailed Drongoes and Great Malabar Hornbill.
For a curious tourist and mountain lover, trekking could be one of the thrilling activities to do around the Cardamom hills. The trek to the hills towering at the height of 2637m is not that difficult, and so even a first-time climber can easily complete it successfully. Only you need to remember is that you are medically fit to take the trek, and also you must have a good pair of groovy shoes because the trails are quite slippery. While trekking, you can enjoy the beautiful valleys, spice villages, wildlife parks, dense forests, tea plantations and many other arresting sights.
If you are planning a tour to Cardamom hills for the first time, then you are recommended to carry the tourists guide along with your as it will help you to have a better insight of the location.
Whatsoever, Cardamom hills have never disappointed anyone who has ever come to visit this splendid destination, and that is why they are called the ‘pride of Kerala’. So if you have chosen Cardamom hills as your next tourist destination, then you are about to have a cherishable experience for a lifetime!