Kannur, Paithalmala, Kerala 670582, India
The tallest peak in Kannur District with a year round cool climate.
Paithalmala, also called Vaithalamala or Pythal Mala is a mountain peak in Kannur District of Kerala State in Southern India. Located at Pottenplave Village, this is the highest peak in Kannur, at a height of 1,372 meters above the sea level.
The peak lies in Kerala- Karnataka border, adjacent to the Coorg Hills as an extension to the forests of Kodagu Hills of the Western Ghat Mountains. The peak and the hills of Paithalmala covers over 300 acres of land with its picture perfect views. A 6 km hike through the forest and grasslands is required to reach the peak.
Exploring Paithalmala and its beautiful views
The road towards the peak itself is scenic from all approachable directions. The winding and narrow roads through valleys and hill ranges are refreshing and a treat for the eyes. The road is through small towns, plantations, grasslands with many peaks towering in between the route.
The 6 km hike from the starting point to the top of the peak takes you through dense forests and grasslands, ultimately leading to a watch tower. The forest is a heaven for leeches, especially in the Monsoon months from June to October. The forest is very dense with huge trees and shrubs guarding the sides of the trail. Even in peak summer months from March to May, the trail through the forest will be lush green.
After the forest, the trail passes through grasslands from where you can see the top of the peak at a distance. There is another peak before the main one and one will have to descend it and ascend back to the top of the main peak to reach Paithalamala Peak.
The top of the Paithalamala Peak is a vast meadow, inhabited with occasional patches of trees swaying in strong winds. From up top, one can enjoy the views of Coorg Forest on the right and Paithal Valley in the left. The peak and the surrounding valleys will be covered in mist during mornings and evenings and if you are visiting during monsoon season from June to October, it will be pretty hard to get a clear view of the surroundings due to the thick mist cover.
On a clear day, you can even see Thadiyantemol Peak, the highest peak in Karnataka state from Paithalmala. There is a 32 km trekking route through the forest from Paithalmala to Thadiyantemol Peak but it is not advisable to hike without proper guidance from locals and the forest authorities.
From the Watch tower at the peak, one should get down further to reach the suicide point below. The view from the point is amazing and the depth is so extreme that one would not be able to see the bottom. There is a fenced boundary for safety, but be careful as the wind can get very strong. A fall from here will be fatal as the height of the steep slope is roughly 1,200 meters.
There are lots of seasonal waterfalls in the area. You will encounter some of them while on the hiking trail and if you want to explore more you have to get help from the locals for the routes.
Best time to visit Paithalmala
The peak is open throughout the year and each seasons brings its own uniqueness. During the months of monsoon from June to October, you can expect mist covered mountains and never ending greenery with showers in the day.
During the months following the monsoon season, the area will be filled with tall green grasses between November to December. The grasses will be burned in either January or February in order to prevent accidental forest fires.
Between January to May, the peak offers the clearest views of the surroundings. The hike might feel a little too harsh due to the scorching sun but this is the best time to visit if you want to avoid the attack from the leeches. The green colour of the hills will be changed to either reddish orange or black if the grasslands were burned before your visit.
Regardless of the seasons, it is best to start the trek early morning, after breakfast from the valley and finish by the evening. Lunch, water and snacks need to be carried as the hike is of decent length without any shops or eateries in between.
The threat from pollution
The peak and its vicinity are getting more popular every year resulting in large numbers of visitors flowing to the area. The premises are starting to get more polluted as a result. Lots of plastic bottles and wrappers, beer bottles and paper wastes are starting to accumulate in the area which was never the case 5-10 years ago.
The watch tower too is in a poor condition as the walls and barricades are in ruins. The surroundings of the tower are also littered with beer bottles and plastics. Even the streams where once you could get the purest water have been treated badly with lots of plastics and paper waste thrown in it. It is high time that the visitors act properly without damaging the pristine nature that surrounds the peak.
Getting to Paithalmala
The peak can be reached from two different places - Pottenplave and Kappimala. From both these places you can either hike up to Paithalmala or take a taxi and cover roughly four more kilometres till the beginning of the hiking trail. To get to Pottenplave or Kappimala, you can take buses directly from Taliparamba town 38 km away. Taliparamba is 21 km from the major town Kannur and there are frequent buses between the two towns. The nearest major railway station is in Kannur Town, connecting it to rest of the parts of the country.
Attractions near Paithalmala
Where is Paithalmala
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Forts, temples, beaches and wildlife sanctuaries and a long history of spice trade.