Pakshipathalam- 9 Things to Know Before Visiting


1 Day Treks

Mountain Peaks

About Pakshipathalam

Pakshipathalam, a natural rock cave deep inside the forest in the Wayanad district of Kerala State in Southern India lies at a height of 1,740 meters in the Brahmagiri hill ranges. The trekking trail here is famous for its richness of bird life and it takes you through moist deciduous forests, rolling hillocks, open grasslands, slippery trails, and narrow rocky caves.

Hotels near Pakshipathalam

Hotels to stay near Pakshipathalam

Things to Do at Pakshipathalam


To undertake the hike to Pakshipathalam, you will need permission from the District Forest Office of North Wayanad which is one kilometre away from the famous Thirunelly Temple. There are buses available from Mananthavady to Thirunelli temple, so reaching here even using public transportation is not a problem. You can start the trek from the Karnataka side too, from the Irpu falls.

The total length of the trek is 16 km (to and fro), constantly switching across the borders between Karnataka and Kerala. It is not a steep trek, but a gradual one making it much easier to complete. It is highly recommended that you start the trek early in the morning around 7 AM so that there will be ample time to cover the entire trail in daylight. There will be a mandatory guide coming along with you, make sure that you follow all the instructions given by the guide.

The long hiking trail

The important points on the trail are the starting point (forest office) followed by a watch tower that is 3 km away, then the Kerala - Karnataka border 2 km away, followed by a huge rock called Garudapara 2 km away, and last the Pakshipathalam half a kilometre away. 

Unlike many other trekking trails, the initial part of the track here will make you panting and sweat due to the incline. The trail is bordered by tall grasses that are hard to partway through. It is advisable to cover adequately to prevent cuts from the grass. The grass changes colours depending on the season - from dark green to yellowish red, enchanting you throughout the trek at any time. The sound of thousands of insects in the otherwise calm and silent hillside is an experience to have.

The watch tower with an amazing view

Two kilometres into the trek and you will encounter the tall watch tower which was constructed in 1995 on a hill called Karimala (translation: black hill). You can climb on it and enjoy an amazing panoramic view of the nearby forests and grasslands. The tower is ideal to watch birds and wild animals, a binocular, if you can bring one, might help you watch animals going around in their natural habitat.

Crisscrossing state borders and rocky hills

The trail then extends into a plain plateau that stretches to rocky hills and patches of stunted tropical montane forest on all sides, in complete opposite to many other mountain peaks which end by cascading into deep valleys. In the distance is Brahmagiri Peak accessed through a different trekking trail which runs away from the Pakshipathalam trail after merging for a while from the starting point.

At this part of the trail, you will be moving from one hillside to the next, most likely crossing the Kerala - Karnataka border. Even though there are no border posts, you can see two distinct lines in the grass running parallel to each other demarcating the state borders, and possibly also preventing wildfire from spreading. 

Garudapara- the huge rock and it's story

The next point is the huge rock at the edge of a hill, called Garudapara. The rock is 30 meters high offering panoramic views. Climbing up to the top is adventurous but exhausting due to the scorching sun.

There is an interesting legend about Garudapara. Garuda, the king of birds as per Hindu and Buddhist mythology, rested on this rock after the long flight during which he accidentally dropped Amrit (the nectar of life). The Amrit fell in the stream nearby Thirunelly Temple thus creating the Papanasini (a stream which washes sins away). The huge rock stands as if it guards the path to Pakshipathalam, where the subjects of Garuda reside.

They descend to Pakshipathalam

Descending amidst huge rocks and boulders through a path nearby Garudapara, you will reach Pakshipathalam. The boulders lay above one another as if someone has collected and placed them randomly on top of each other. Passing through numerous narrow cracks, jumping from one rock to another, you will reach deep down below where it is pitch dark. Most of these dark spots scattered around are a haven for birds and reptiles. Don’t be disappointed by the lack of them as they would have vacated the place for the day searching for food in the morning.

While there are many birds here, the encounter with bats might strike you the most. They take shelter from the light in the damp, dark ceilings of the rock caves that are in Pakshipathalam. The caves that are formed naturally by large rocks that are repeatedly piled on top of each other over the years are so tightly packed that they leave no space for sunlight to enter. 

The passages inside the caves are narrow and difficult to navigate. After a certain point, you might not be able to go further on account of the lack of light and the slippery rocks. For visitors with claustrophobia, the experience in the caves might end up terrifying.

After the trek to Pakshipathalam, you will have to return on the same trail to reach Thirunelly. As wild animals roam around the place at night, you are not allowed to camp in the area and it is much better to be back before the sun goes down.

Activities Around

History of Pakshipathalam


Pakshipathalam - The name of the place in Malayalam translates to ‘abode of birds’. Staying true to the name, the natural caves are home to several species of birds, reptiles, and bats. The cave is also known by the name ‘Munikal Caves’ (Holy person cave) due to the belief that it was used by Rishis (Hindu saints) for meditation in ancient times.

Plants and animals in the area

Some of the plants and animals that live in the areas surrounding the caves and trails include rare species of herbs and orchids, wild animals like elephants, leopards, civets, jungle cats, bison, tigers, and birds such as cuckoos, owls, peacocks, woodpeckers, jungle-fowls and many more. Some of the most poisonous snakes like the King Cobra also inhibit the area. Kings that are captured in the nearby human settlements are released here.

Best Time to Visit Pakshipathalam


The best time to visit Pakshipathalam is from October to February when the weather is generally more pleasant. And make sure to start the hike as early as possible since visitors must return before sunset.

Tips for Visiting Pakshipathalam

  1. Before hiking, get permission from the District Forest Office of North Wayanad.
  2. A guide will accompany you at all times, follow their instructions.
  3. Bring a binocular if you can. Will help you watch animals going around in their natural habitat.
  4. Reach back before sunset as wild animals roam around the area at night.
  5. Pack lunches and bring snacks and water as the hike will take a full day.

How Much Time Did Visitors Spend at Pakshipathalam

It will take a day to explore Pakshipathalam. The hike is reasonably long and it is worth spending enough time exploring the views, the rocks and the caves.

How to Reach Pakshipathalam

Pakshipathalam is about 7 km away from Thirunelly and can be reached only by trekking. The trekking trail starts from the District Forest Office, a kilometre away from Thirunelly Temple which can be accessed by buses from Mananthavady, 32 km away. Kalpetta, the district capital is 55 km away and the nearest railway station, Kozhikode is 120 km away. There are buses from Kozhikode to Mananthavady.

Bus timings to Thirunelly from Mananthavady bus stand: 5.50am, 7am, 8.15am, 8.40am, 8.55am, 9.15am, 10am, 11am, 12.10pm, 1pm, 2pm, 2.45pm, 3.35pm, 4.10pm, 5pm, 5.45pm, 6.30pm, 8.30pm

To Mananthavady from Thirunelly: 7am, 7.40am, 8am, 8.40am, 9am, 9.30am, 9.45am, 10.25am, 10.35am, 11.20am, 11.40am, 1.10pm, 1.45pm, 2.45pm, 3.45pm, 5.10pm, 5.45pm, 6.30pm

Entrance Fee of Pakshipathalam

It costs 800 INR to explore Pakshipathalam. The cost is for up to 5 people in total. So no matter if you are just two or 5, you will pay the same price.

Opening Hours of Pakshipathalam

Pakshipathalam hike is open from 6 AM to 6 PM. If you do not reach in the morning, the authorities will not let you hike as all the visitors should be back before 6 PM. For details and booking, reach out to the District Forest Officer for North Wayanad - +91 4935 240233

Attractions Near Pakshipathalam

Iruppu Waterfalls, Brahmagiri

Iruppu Waterfalls, Brahmagiri

1.86km from Pakshipathalam

The waterfall which is located in the Brahmagiri range which was a freshwater cascade. It was also known as the Lakshmana tirtha waterfalls.

Thirunelli Maha Vishnu Temple

Thirunelli Maha Vishnu Temple

4.76km from Pakshipathalam

Thirunelli Maha Vishnu Temple or Thirunelli Temple as generally called is an ancient Vishnu Temple. Located on the side of Brahmagiri hill in Kerala, it is a melting pot of myths and history. The temple is at an altitude of about 900 meters in a valley surrounded by mountains and beautiful forests.

Pazhassi Raja Museum

Pazhassi Raja Museum

15.84km from Pakshipathalam

The memorial of Pazhassi Raja, the lion of Kerala.



16.65km from Pakshipathalam

Valliyoorkavu Bhagavathy Temple, the 14th-century temple dedicated to goddess Durga is located at the high hills of Valliyoorkavu, 3 KM’s from Mananthavady town in Wayanad district of Kerala. It is believed that the idol of the goddess is self-manifested. The temple is a prominent place of worship for tribal communities. The goddess manifests in three forms, ‘Vana Durga’ (forest goddess), ‘Jala Durga’(Water goddess) and ‘Bhadrakaali’ (The auspicious form of goddess Kali who protects the good).

Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary

Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary

18.51km from Pakshipathalam

Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary allows visitors to explore and learn about nature and wildlife. Laying on the slopes of the Western Ghat Mountains, it is located in the southeast part of the Kannur District of Kerala State in Southern India. Headquartered in the town of Iritty, the sanctuary is continuous with the forests of Coorg in Karnataka State.



19.24km from Pakshipathalam

Group of islets in the Kabini River covered in evergreen forest with rich flora and fauna.

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Ancient caves and carvings, tea plantations, cool climate.

Location of Pakshipathalam


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