Facts About Idukki
935 to 2817 m above Sea level
(Annual): 270 cm
Season: August to March
High ranges and
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.
Thekkady: The most renowned destination
is the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary at Thekkady, 60
km from Idukki, 190 km from Cochin 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 spottled 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
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.
The best place to halt
enroute is Peermade, 43 km before Thekkady, a fertile land
at an altitude of 914 metres. 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.
A game reserve comparable,
though smaller, to Periyar is the Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary,
just above the Idukki arch dam. This comprises 70 sq km of forest
land between the rivers Periyar and Cheruthoni, situated 40 km from
Thodupuzha. There is a scenic lake around the sanctuary. The wildlife
here is similar to that at Thekkady.
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 Cochin. 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.
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.
Munnar, a beautiful, peaceful hill station covered
with an unending expanse of tea plantations, is 133 km from Cochin
and 148 km from Kottayam. With the altitude ranging from 1600 to
1800 metres above sea level, Munnar boasts the highest peak in South
India- Anamudi, 2695 metres high.
If you're ever wondered how the humble
tea leaf gets transformed into the cup of tea you drink every day,
use this opportunity to visit a tea processing plant at Munnar.
You will get a conductaed tour of the factory and the whole process
of tea dust manufacture will be explained to you.
Munnar offers not only
the typically laid-back atmosphere of a quiet little tea town (with
a truly old-world colonial style High Range Club) but also
plenty of opportunities to savour nature at its best. Beyond the
estates are rich tropical forests which contain wildlife like the
Nilgiri tahrs (ibex), sambars, gaurs, elephants and lion-tailed
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.
At 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.
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.
The Thommankuthu waterfalls,
18 km from Thodupuzha, is a scenic and bewitching picnic spot.