Photo Credit : Akhil S Unnithan
Thenmala Eco Tourism is India’s first planned eco-tourism destination, which is gaining popularity due to its unique vistas, bio-diversity and functioning. Situated about 72 kms from Thiruvananthapuram, in the District of Kollam, the Thenmala Eco-Tourism shares its resources with the famous Shenduruney Wildlife Sanctuary at the foothills of the Western Ghats.
The word Thenmala in the local language Malayalam has an interesting meaning. ‘Then’ means honey and ‘Mala’ means hill; and they combine to mean ‘Honey Hill’. It is believed that the honey collected from this region is of very good quality owing to its unique biological settings. Managed by Thenmala Eco-Tourism Promotional Society, which is an undertaking of the Government of Kerala, Thenmala Eco-tourism is a unique destination from a visitor’s point of view. It has equal opportunities for fun, adventure, leisure and for learning the significance and necessity of eco-friendly measures for promoting tourism related activities.
At Thenmala Eco-Tourism, a visitor is taken care of by its well-trained staff providing guidance and information about the various attractions and facilities, enabling one to move about, explore and experience every bit of this remarkable destination. There are well-placed signboards, direction pointers, and information boards to facilitate one’s movement inside the project area. Divided into different zones with a particular theme, the project area currently has three major zones viz. Culture Zone, Leisure Zone and Adventure Zone.
At the Culture Zone one can indulge in a variety of activities like trying few traditional Kerala dishes at the restaurant there, a bit of shopping for memento sake, a peep on Kerala’s art and culture, an amphitheatre etc. But the highlight of the Culture Zone is the open air Musical Dancing Fountain, which is a big attraction among the visitors. There is also a Tourism Facilitation Center in the Culture Zone to provide information on a wide range of tourism products available at Thenmala.
Step into the Leisure Zone here and try the boardwalk leading to the dam. The sway bridge here could be an exciting proposition, especially for children. Adding more variety and elegance to the landscape here is the Sculpture Garden, which has Man & Nature as its theme.For those with an overdose of adrenalin and those willing to test their adventure spirit would find the Adventure Zone here quite a thrilling experience. Take the elevated walkway for a journey that winds through the canopy of trees and going over rocky terrains bringing one close to life at different heights. And still those who don’t mind to give their body muscles a real work out can go for mountain biking, rock climbing and river crossing.
Besides the zone-based activities for a visitor, Thenmala Eco-Tourism also offer other attractions, like an invigorating boat ride in the Shenduruney Wildlife Sanctuary; a visit to the Deer Rehabilitation Centre, where one can have a look at a group of spotted deer, the sambar deer and the barking deer, which have been given protection after straying out from the forests. The project area also has tree top huts and children’s eco-park, riverside treks, and battery powered vehicle rides through the forest, enabling one to sight wildlife from a close distance.
For a visitor to Thenmala Eco-Tourism, some of the nearby attractions are also worth exploring. One may visit the picturesque Palaruvi waterfalls, about 16 km away, on the way to Shenkottah. Thenmala Eco-Tourism is open round the year and there are conducted tours organized by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation from the Capital City of Thiruvananthapuram and also by the District Tourism Promotion Council of Kollam District.