Kottayam, Kerala 686652, India
A half fallen dreadful rock, the mist clad mountains, and a dangerous bridge to hell.
Location of Illikkal Kallu
More about Illikkal Kallu
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.