Meesapulimala, Kannan Devan Hills, Tamil Nadu 685616
Hike through cloud cladded peaks and rhododendron valleys, experience the most beautiful sights of the Western Ghat Mountains.
Location of Meesapulimala
More about Meesapulimala
Meesapulimala is the second highest peak of India outside the Himalayan ranges after Anamudi Peak. It situates 2,640 meters above sea level. Meesapulimala means ‘Whiskers of Tiger Mountain’. The naming is due to its location among eight hills which spreads looking like a head of a tiger with its whiskers.
Not very well known until 2014, the peak since came to limelight owing to mentions in local movies and social medias. The hiking trail to Meesapulimala is one of the most difficult and scenic track in Kerala State, automatically making it a much sort after destination for many.
Exploring Meesapulimala and its hiking trails
There are two hiking trails to Meesapulimala. One from Suryanelli through Kolukkumalai and another from the opposite side near Mattupetty Dam through Rhodo Valley. Rhodo Valley gets its name from the red rhododendron trees that grows in abundant here. The trail through Rhodo Valley operated by Kerala Forest Development Corporation is the only legal means to enter Meesapulimala.
The hike to Meesapulimala is through beautiful tea estates, stunted tropical montane forest and grasslands overlooking hillocks. The hike starts at an altitude of 1,500 meters and climbs over 2,600 meters with views of vast plains of Tamil Nadu to the east and never ending Western Ghat Mountains to the west. A variety of high altitude flowering plants, especially rhododendron is very common throughout the trail. Low hanging clouds in the valleys below, chilly atmosphere and strong winds are trademarks of Meesapulimala trail.
The starting point of the hike is from campsite in Rhodo Valley and then continues on to the forests and grasslands. The hike is difficult, with long stretches of hard climbs through steep slopes of over 60 degrees. Descending down is even tougher as one wrong step will result in sprained ankles and fall to the bottom of hill side. When heavy mists blankets the area, it is even easier to make mistakes owing to poor visibility.
Throughout the journey, one will be able to see many cloud kissed mountain peaks. A total of eight peaks has to be covered in the hike, passing through shared border of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. At the end of the series of peaks is Meesapulimala with its breathtaking views in every angle. One will feel as if floating in midst of clouds, the sight of mountains engulfed by the slowly moving clouds will make anyone's day.
Neelakurinji flowers carpeting the hills every 12 years
During its blooming season, the hills in the vicinity of Meesapulimala will be covered in Neelakurinji flowers. Neelakurinji, a shrub that grows in the region blossoms every 12 years covering the hills in blueish purple colour. The blooming season is a treat for the visitors and in every season millions of travellers, from inside and outside the country visit the area just to witness the phenomena. Nilgiri Hills in the region got its name from Neelakurinji Flowers. The name Nilgiri translates to ‘blue mountains’.
In the past, the bloom occured in 2006. The next blooms are expected in 2018 and then in 2030. Kurinjimala Sanctuary near to Meesapulimala is fully dedicated to the protection of Neelakurinji. During 2006 bloom, visitors damaged many areas covered in Neelakurinji and as a result the sanctuary was formed to protect the plants.
How to hike to Meesapulimala?
There is only one legal way to enter Meesapulimala and that is through packages offered by Kerala Forest Development Corporation (KFDC) that should be booked online through their website. There are other trails passing through Meesapulimala, one should hike through them at their own risk. They are from Kolukkumalai and Aruvikad Tea Factory but there is no certainty on its functioning. You will have to check with the locals to know more.
Getting to Meesapulimala trail
Meesapulimala is located in the border of Idukki District of Kerala and Theni District of Tamil Nadu State in Southern India. It is located 33 km from the popular tourist town Munnar. The nearest major railway station is in Aluva/ Ernakulam from where there are direct buses to Munnar. Aluva and Ernakulam are connected with most other parts of the country.
The KFDC hike starts at office of Wildlife Warden at Munnar from where visitors will be taken to the base camp of the hike (do check with KFDC while booking).