Ilaveezhapoonchira, Kerala, India
View sunrise and sunset, explore the caves, hike through the mountains.
Ilaveezhapoonchira, sandwiched in the border of Kottayam and Idukki Districts of Kerala State in Southern India is a hill station surrounded by three hillocks - Mankunnu, Kudayathoor Vindhyan and Thonippara. This mesmerising hill station offers panoramic views spreading five districts of the state- Kottayam, Idukki, Ernakulam, Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta, and Thrissur.
Ilaveezhapoonchira - meaning behind the name and the legends
Ilaveezhapoonchira, pronounced- ’Ila-veezha-poonchira’ in Malayalam means ‘pond with flowers where leaves does not fall’. Staying true to its name, there is a pond in the area which laps up water from hillocks to form a scenic lake during monsoon season from June to August. Also, the hill top has no trees but is totally covered in grassland making the hills and the pond free of tree leaves.
The legend of Pandavas
According to legend, the Pandavas (the five brothers who are the main characters of the epic Mahabharata) stayed at Ilaveezhapoonchira for a while during their exile. Draupadi, wife of Pandavas used to bath at the nearby pond. Bewitched by her beauty, some devas (divine beings in Hindu mythology) started watching her while she bathed. King of devas, Lord Indra came to know about this and built three hills adorned with flowers to hide Draupadi from the views of the devas. Thus the pond became isolated by the flowery hills and and since there were no trees around, the pond was always free of leaves. The area hence started to be called Ilaveezhapoonchira based on this myth.
The hike to Ilaveezhapoonchira starts at Idukki District from Kanjar Town but the hill station and the valley itself are located in Kottayam District. Even though Ilaveezhapoonchira is near to a major highway, the last 10 km stretch from Kanjar Town to the top is not a road that can be covered by most vehicles. Only bikes/ jeeps or a hike can take the visitors to the top through the narrow, unpaved, curvy mountain path that is laden with steep climbs.
As the vehicle climbs up to the destination, the ride gets more scenic with panoramic views of the Malankara Reservoir and the mountains, and scary due to the steep drops to the sides. The road sides throughout the path are nourished in greenery, and there are small streams and waterfalls in-between where you can get water to drink and also to take a dip in.
The hill station is spread across thousands of acres of land on the foot of Mankunnu, Kudayathoor Vindhyan and Thonippara hills which rises over 900 meters above sea level. One of the speciality of the place is that from here visitors are able to view a beautiful sunrise, as well as sunset. At the top, silence lingering the hills, the rocky cliffs, and patchy grasses gets broken by strong winds that blow from time to time. Clouds float above, below, and around the hills. The whole of Malankara Dam and the reservoir can be seen from the top, and the beautiful hill ranges spread in almost 360 degree.
Muniyara Cave near Ilaveezhapoonchira
There are few caves, tribal settlements, and ancient burial chambers near Ilaveezhapoonchira. One of the caves is called Muniyara Cave and is at a walkable distance. Surrounded by woods, it has a stream inside that never dries up. The cave has a very narrow opening through which only one can crawl through at a time. It is pitch dark inside, so a torch light will help you very much.
Getting to Ilaveezhapoonchira and best time to visit
The major towns near Ilaveezhapoonchira are- Erattupetta (22km), Palai (28 km) and Thodupuzha (22km). There are direct buses from these towns that passes through the areas of Ilaveezhapoonchira. Ideally you will have to reach a small town called Kanjar which sits on Thodupuzha- Moolamattom route from where one can reach Ilaveezhapoonchira either by bikes or hiring jeeps. The nearest major railway station is in Kottayam (56 km) which is connected to other major parts of the country. From Kottayam, you can access Erattupetta, Palai and Thodupuzha by buses.
The best time to visit the hill station is from September to January when the rains are just done and dry season are still months away. It is advised to start from Kanjar Town early in the morning or after noon so that you can avoid the heat from the scorching sun.
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