Photo Credit : Ashwin Kumar
Nelliyampathy is a popular hill station 60 km away from Palakkad in Kerala. It is surrounded by tea and coffee plantations and has excellent weather conditions. The journey to Nelliampathi itself is an experience.At an elevation of 1000 metres at the southern tip of the Palakkad gap, the Nelliampathi hills are known for their exquisite fauna. About 215 species of birds and 90 species of butterflies have been recorded in these hills. Some of the rare species of birds include Grey-breasted Laughing Thrush, Great Pied Hornbill, Jerdon’s Baza, Great Black Woodpecker, Oriental Broad-billed Roller, Nilgiri Flycatcher, Broad-tailed Grassbird and Nilgiri Pipit. Primates including Lion-tailed Macaque, Bonnet Macaque and Nilgiri Langur are seen here. A small population of the endangered Nilgiri Tahr is also seen in the grassy peaks.on the way to Nelliyampathy we can see an irrigation dam named as Pothundi Dam, which provides water for the rice fields in the surrounding area. The dam is at the foot of the Nelliyampathy hills. From here, the road winds up for the next 17 km, with many hairpin turns on the way. Immediately after Pothundy dam, comes the government forest, where one can see massive teak trees. The road is very narrow and requires a skilled driver behind the wheel. On the way, one can see wild animals like monkey, deer and porcupine. The view of the Pothundy dam from the height is a breathtaking sight. There will be many waterfalls by the roadside during the rainy season.
The only route is from Nemmara, from where the first town of Nelliyampathy, namely Kaikatty junction, is at a distance of 26 km. There are many places worth seeing near Kaikatty. One such place is Kesavanpara, which offers a panoramic view of the land below. The tea producer A.V.Thomas & Company has a large tea garden under its Manalaroo Estate nearby. Manalaroo Estate is the highest yielding Tea estate in India. One can buy fresh tea from their garden outlet in their factory. The Orange and Vegetable Farm, run by the Government of Kerala has its office and farm near Kaikatty. The Farm sells squashes and jams of fruits like pineapple, orange, passion fruit and guava. Vegetables like brinjal, bean, chilly and spinach are also sold. Further ahead, there is another tea garden and factory owned by Veekay Tea Company under its Chandramala Estate. All the tea and coffee plantations were originally started by the British. These were later on sold to the natives. The British were very conscious and responsible about the ecology of the area, utilizing the natural resources and only what was absolutely necessary.
The houses built by the British for themselves and their managers were constructed taking into consideration, the cold climate of the region. The walls and floors are wood lined to provide insulation, with fireplace to provide heating. They also maintained good gardens in front of these houses.
Another famous tourist attraction is the Seetharkundu. It is believed that Rama, Lakshmana and Sita of the epic Ramayana had lived in the place and Sita used to offer worship with the water from a small stream. This is the Seetarkundu, which can be viewed from the top of the mountains. At a distance, the Chulliyar dam, the Meenkara dam and the town of Kollengode can be seen.
Even though the place is far away from the town, there is excellent communication facility provided by the Telephone exchange of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL). The telephone exchange is of the latest digital technology, connected to the outside world by optical fiber cable. A mobile network tower has been installed with phone network coverage throughout the ghat sections. The ghat road which was very narrow and scary is being widened. The workers in the plantations are mostly of Tamil origin. They are provided with labor quarters consisting of four to five units in one line, ‘padi’ in local language. Manalaroo Estate runs a school and a hospital for the workers and their children.
At Kaikatty, there is a government run guest house with boarding and lodging facility. Reservation for lodging can be made in advance. Both vegetarian and non vegetarian foods are available.