Kottayam, Kerala 686652, India
About Illikkal Kallu
A half fallen dreadful rock, the mist clad mountains, and a dangerous bridge to hell.
Illikkal Kallu (Illikkal Rock) is a large rock located 900 meters above the sea level on Illikkal Mala (Illikkal Mountain) in the Western Ghats. The rock is peculiar for its view, with half of it fallen down years ago and the remaining half still standing tall intimidating and fascinating its visitors. The beauty of the landscape is comparable to that of the popular Pillar Rocks at Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu.
Three hills of Illikkal Mala and their fascinating names
Illikkal Mala consist of three hills and each of them has distinct shapes. The first one is called Koonu Kallu (hunch back rock) as it has a hunch on its side. The second one is called Kuda Kallu (umbrella rock) as it looks like an umbrella/ mushroom. The third one is Illikkal Kallu which derives its name from the mountain itself. Illikkal Kallu also goes by the name ‘Kolliyan Para’ (lighting rock) and ‘Satan Kallu’ (evil rock) locally. Kolliyan Para because the rock is prone to lightning strikes and Satan Kallu because of its dangers and dreadful looks.
The second and the third hills are connected by a narrow bridge of one and a half feet width. The bridge is called 'Narakapalam' by the locals. Narakapalam literally means hells bridge in Malayalam, probably due to the drop at each of its sides. For those who venture to the top of Illikkal Kallu, crossing through it is very dangerous and a wrong step will result in visitors dropping to few hundred meters down.
Exploring Illikkal Kallu and its premises
The road towards Illikkal Mala is very steep with winding curves. The drive uphill is intense but also picturesque with views of low laying lands on one side and the tall mountains in other. Once at the top, the view of the half fallen Illikkal Kallu and the two other tall rocks behind it captivates the visitor. To enjoy the beauty of the place, you do not even have to climb up the dangerous Illikkal Kallu. The peaks of Illikkal Mala and the base of Illikkal Kallu are already immersed in rich beauty. The sunset in the evening of a full moon day is especially spectacular here as the moon slowly rises up while the orange sun goes down.
To climb up to the rock itself, further journey through a narrow path with tall grasses in either side is required. The steep and slippery downhill ledge takes the visitors to the base of Illikkal Kallu where a small cave is located few meters in front. From the base of Illikkal Kallu, a complex and risky climb awaits to the top. You would have to climb through the extremely steep rock making use of pits and marks in the rock. There are no safety harnesses or precautions to help the climbers as well, a fall will be fatal.
At the top only few people can stand at a time and since the area is extremely windy, you should always be careful. Narakapalam, the bridge connecting the two rocky hills are extremely dangerous due to its narrowness combined with the winds. It gets worse in rains as the rock become dangerously slippery and thick mist covers the area. Although the view is mesmerising with a panoramic view of entire Kottayam District and of the Arabian Sea far away in the horizon, its mostly terror that engulf the visitor realising the danger one is in.
The myth of Neelakoduveli
Neelakoduveli is a medicinal herb that is believed to have supernatural powers. It is difficult to conclude if it is an actual herbal plant or an imagination of someone from the past, but in any case it is said that Neelakoduveli grows in the areas near to Illikkal Kallu. The common belief is that a person who posses Neelakoduveli will have their wealth increased by many-folds.
Getting to Illikkal Kallu
Illikkal Kallu is located in Kottayam District of Kerala State in Southern India. The nearest town is in Nellappara (8km) and large town is in Erattupetta (19km). Nearest railway station is in Kottayam (56) which is connected to rest of the country and state by trains and buses. From Kottayam, there are buses to Erattupetta through Pala Town. From Erattupetta there are buses to the direction of Illikkal Kallu but one should check with the locals there to know the exact bus to take. The last 5-10km to Illikkal Kallu can only be covered by hiring a taxi/ rickshaw, so it is much recommended to visit the place by bringing own vehicle.
Best time to visit Illikkal Kallu
During and right after the monsoon season from June to September the place will be immersed in rich greenery. However the view will be obstructed most of the time due to thick mists but it adds its own charm. There will be many small waterfalls too that can be seen near the peak areas during monsoon. Outside of the monsoon season, the place will unveil its views for majority of the time in a day. Its less dangerous too during these months due to the general absence of stormy weather.
Attractions near Illikkal Kallu
A short hike, a flight of steps, and then swim under the well-hidden Kattikkayam waterfall.
View sunrise and sunset, explore the caves, hike through the mountains.
Waterfall set amidst the thick forest and surrounded by boulders with a deep pool at it's bottom.
Hill station popular for its green valleys and beautiful meadows.
The pine trees on the slopes of the hill create an incredible view. Pine forests are a rare sight in Kerala and this is one of the few you can visit.
The waterfall located inside forest, falling from a height of 60 meters and accessible by hiking.
Where is Illikkal Kallu
Discover more attractions in Kottayam, where Illikkal Kallu is located
The land of panoramic paddy fields, highlands, hills, hillocks, rubber plantations.
What visitors say about Illikkal Kallu
Wanted to visit Illikkal Kallu for a long time and finally that happened spontaneously due to a power outage at work. In half hour, fixed the rout map and we were on the way to one of the most hyped places in Kerala recently.
The drive was through scenic countryside, steep hills and total greenery everywhere we went. Made use of the mobile camera as much as we can as they were too soon to run their juices out.
The roads are mostly good, although uphill. We made use of Google maps and it was very good at getting us there even though one or two times we asked the locals just to make sure that we were on the right direction. At the foot of the hill, local jeeps will take the visitors up to the view of the partially cut Illikkal Kallu. There is an entrance fee of 10 and jeep charges of 20 per person. The jeeps take you uphill for about 1.5 kilometer which to be honest can easily be hiked. We did not take the Jeep ride on the way back, instead just walked and it took only 10 minutes!
Up on top, there are few small shops selling snacks and teas and stuff and then there is the view. There is steep falls, tall mountains surrounding and the dark sky that about to pour down made the place look serene. The Illikkal Kallu looks magnificent and the half cut rocky portion is unlike anything I have ever seen. It look as if it was cut straight down by a large sword.
Untill last year people used to climb on top of Illikkal Kallu but that stopped after few accidents which resulted in some of them loosing their lives. The pathway towards the rocky mountain is narrow with drops in each side, at the bottom of the mountain there is a cave and then at top, there is a small rocky bridge connecting two large rocks. Its called Narakapalam or hell's bridge as a walk through it has a fair chance of slipping down to the bottom, few hundreds Meters down.
Being an adventure junkie myself, it was very difficult for me to not go and explore the cave and the bridge but recently I have started valuing my life more ;)
After visiting Illikkal Kallu, we were off to Kattikayam Waterfalls which presented us with one of the most adventurous and surprising exploration we ever had.