Kolukku Malai Top
Kottagudi, Tamil Nadu 625582, India
The best place to view the sunrise, the beauty of tea plantations, clouds locked in valleys.
Location of Kolukku Malai Top
More about Kolukku Malai Top
Kolukkumalai is home to the highest tea plantation in the world with the tea grown here possessing a special flavour and freshness of the high altitude. Kolukkumalai situates 2,170 meters above the sea level, offering one of the best sunrise view in the world to its visitors, show casing its valleys and tall peaks and tea plantations.
Exploring Kolukkumalai and its unique views
The road from Suryanelli to Kolukkumalai is one of the most uncomfortable yet scenic route in Kerala. The road is rugged with large boulders, sharp turns and steep slopes throughout. Only four wheel drive jeeps can reach the top and there are no other options to get to the top other than depending on the jeeps that are readily available from Suryanelli Town.
Keeping aside the bad condition of the narrow road, tea plantations sprawls the region in different patterns and sizes throughout the ascend to the top. There are old tea factories and housing complexes for the workers which pop up inside the plantation at regular intervals.
It is windy and cold at the top in the early morning hours that changes to a warm climate as noon nears. There is a tea shack at the top which will make the visitors enjoy the incredible view of the sunrise, the great mountains and the cold breezes sipping a cup of tea. The whole valley will be filled with clouds well below the height of the Kolukkumalai top point. The clouds dance and move slowly with the wind as if they are trapped and trying to escape the ambush laid by the Western Ghat mountains that lay in all sides of the valley. The sun emerges slowly behind the clouds, in a breathtaking array of blue, orange, red, and yellow colours. The view is an absolute stunner, complete with the tall mountains with vertical face and a pointy peak on one sides of the valley.
The Kolukkumalai tea estates and factories
The tea estate and the factories at Kolukkumalai were established by the British in 1930’s. The factory still uses the original equipment and processes the tea in an old fashioned way. Instead of the mechanised crush-tear-curl method of tea leaves preparation, the tea is handpicked, and then put through drying processes of withering and fermenting before it is graded. The tea brewed from these granules are more flavoured and light in colour. Visitors are allowed inside the factory premises where they can see the different methods of preparation of tea leaves and if it pleases - to buy one of the best tea available in the world.
The tea estates also offer mountain huts and guest houses for visitors to stay. If you decide to stay on one, then you can explore the tea plantations and hike up to the Kolukkumalai peak. For booking and more information on the various options available, checkout their webpage.
The trail to Meesapulimala
Meesapulimala is one of the popular peaks in Kerala. Standing at a height of 2,640 meters, it is the second highest peak in India outside of the Himalayan Ranges after Anamudi Peak. There is a hiking trail from Kolukkumalai to Meesapulimala through tea estates, stunted tropical montane forest and grasslands. The trail is generally closed as hikers cause a lot of damage to the protected areas, but do check with the locals while you are in Kolukkumalai if it is still open for visitors.
Getting to Kolukkumalai and best time to visit
Kolukkumalai is located in Theni District of Tamil Nadu State in Southern India, bordering Idukki District of Kerala State. The hill top village is only accessible through rugged and narrow roads by jeeps (or by hiking) from nearby Suryanelli Town (5 km). From Munnar, there are buses to Suryanelli (30 km). The nearest major railway station is in Aluva/ Ernakulam from where there are direct buses to Munnar. Aluva and Ernakulam are connected with most of the other parts of the country.
The place is open throughout the year but it is better to visit it outside the monsoon months (June to September). The place arguably offers one of the best sunrise view in the world, so it is highly recommend to plan your visit early morning. The sunrise happens usually between 5-6 AM. Reach Suryanelli by 4 AM as the journey to the top can take up 1- 1.5 hours.