Monday, August 31, 2015

Kurangani Hills

Kurangani
Kurangani is a hill station atop the Western Ghats accessed from Bodinayakanur in Theni district,Tamil Nadu. It has estates growing coconut, mangos, all spices and coffee. There is a mountain rivulet that passes between Kurangani Mountains in the east and Kolukkumalai in the west. Kurangani Hills has multiple trekking trails to the famous destination such as Kolukkumalai, Meeshapulimala, and Top Station and Rhodo Valley.
Kurangani Hills is suitable for trekking and nature walks. It is a 12 km walk from Kurangani village to Top Station through Central village. Those who visit Munnar in Kerala can also enter the trekking route here by walking down the dense woods and plain grasslands. By reaching Top Station, border of Theni district, from Munnar after 35 km travel, one can start trekking down the hills.


Although, Kurangani Hills is near the famous Munnar Hills and Kolukkumalai Hills—the highest hills for tea plantation in the world at an altitude close to 8,000 feet—the place is still not known in the tourism circuit. However, several foreign tourists do come here. Some nature lovers within the state also frequently visit Kurangani Hills. Films Alagar Samiyin Kuthurai, Myna and Kumki were shot on the Hills. The best months to explore the Hills are from August to December.
The hills are characterized by frequently-changing weather, low-hanging clouds, chilly atmosphere and strong winds, and are home to a wide range of flora and fauna. It takes four to five hours to complete the trek from Kurangani village, which is at the foothill, to reach Top station, whereas two-and-a-half hours are enough for the return trip. Trekkers can find Samabalaru falls, the source of Kottakudi River which serves the drinking water needs of Bodinayakanur town, while wading through here. Central Village, with a population of 200 people and 50 houses, is four more kilometers from the Falls. A couple of cottages can provide accommodation for visitors. Foreigners, who come prepared with tents, prefer to stay under the open sky. There are guides for the thick woods.


The villagers say that the tourists frequently spot Indian gaurs, barking deer, langurs and wild cats.Also there is a warning about the presence of leopards and tigers in this hill.
Kurangani is a small Village/hamlet in Bodinayakanur Taluk in Theni District. It comes under Kottagudi Panchayath. It is located 16 KM towards west from District head quarters Theni. 542 KM from State capital Chennai.


Kurangani Pin code is 625582 and postal head office is Subburajnagar. Kurangani is surrounded by Theni Taluk towards East, Chinnamanur Taluk towards South, Uthamapalayam Taluk towards South, Periyakulam Taluk towards East.  Theni Allinagaram, Uthamapalayam, Periyakulam, Usilampatti are the nearby Cities to Kurangani.
Tourists will be delighted to have a look at the breathtaking mountain scenery. The region is a haven for wildlife, especially avifauna and pollinators endemic to the Western Ghats. The beautiful mountain meadow and marsh land while trekking beckons the soul, and stirs the imagination of tourists.  Memories will be etched forever like the majestic misty peaks that surround us near the Top Station. 
Trekking Paths
Trekking trails are available from Kurangani to Top Station (16 Kms) via Central Station and Muthuvakkudi. Tourists can find an opportunity to discover Mother Nature’s enchanting beauty.  Soaring mountain peaks en route Top Station is a quintessence of the Forces of Nature. Kurangani region is a sea of ridges and mountain peaks separated by valleys filled with virgin forests of silver oak and eucalyptus and various plantations like tea, coffee and cardamom. 



Home Stay Facilities
Tourists can avail home stay facilities in Kurangani, Central Station and Top Station.  The facilities are privately owned and reasonable charges are collected from tourists.  Tourists can taste local cuisine if necessary in the home stay facilities. These facilities are located in ideal surrounding turns out to be a perfect outing in the serene environment.  Tourists can ask tents for camping and rest.
Connectivity
By Air:
Nearest airport is at Madurai, 101 km from Kurangani.
By Road:
From Madurai or any other close by town or city, taxi and bus services are available for Kurangani. The 16-km uphill drive from Bodinayakanur to Kurangani.
By Train:
  • Bodinayakanur is the nearest station, 16 km from Kurangani (not operational).
  • 15 km road connecting Kurangani and Bodinayakanur
  • Buses, jeeps and autos available from Bodinayakanur
  • 12 km—trekking distance between Kurangani village and Top Station
  • Central village is the half-way point between Kurangani village and Top Station
  • The best time to visit is between August and December
  • Lodging is available in Top Station, Bodinayakanur and Munnar. Only two cottages available in Central Village.
Other tourist places

Munnar, Kerala  
(33 Kms from Top Station)
Thekkadi   
(82 Kms from Kurangani)
Suruli Falls    
(56 Kms from Kurangani)
Kodaikanal       
(55 Kms from Top Station)
Anakkara     
(123 Kms from Top Station)
Vaigai Dam
(50 Kms from Kurangani)
Madurai
(101 Kms from Kurangani)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Kolukkumalai

Kolukkumalai
Kolukkumalai(கொழுக்குமலை) is a small village/hamlet in Bodinayakanur Taluk in the Theni District of Tamil Nadu. It is home to the highest tea plantations in the world with the tea grown here possessing a special flavour and freshness because of the high altitude. 


Kolukkumalai is about 7,000 feet (2,100 m) above sea level and lies some 32 kilometres (20 mi) from Munnar. The hill top village is accessible only by jeep and it is about a one and a half hour journey from Munnar town. The exact location of Kolukkumalai is in Theni district (Tamilnadu). The approach road is via Suryanelli in Idukki district of Kerala.
Located high on the slopes of Meeshapulimala, Kolukkumalai is arguably the estate with the highest grown tea in the world! Started in the early 1900s the estate produces tea using the orthodox method in the time tested tea factory. Little has changed here since the colonial planters left leaving behind their legacy of one of the best quality tea you can get in South India. 

Though known for its special orthodox tea, Kolukkumalai Estate is now venturing into another of its unique products; nature, great mountain views and excellent opportunities for walks in the hills. Kolukkumalai gets a fair number of day visitors to enjoy the spectacular sunrise over the Palani hills, its cool climate and of course visit to the factory where tea is still made using the orthodox method. What most day visitors miss is the opportunity to walk the hills above the estate and maybe a trek up Meeshapulimala, an imposing peak at an elevation of 2640meters (8661 feet) above sea level! 


Accommodation facilities are available at the guesthouse on estate in simple but tastefully refurbished by workers. Kolukkumalai is an ideal spot to be for anyone looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Munnar town and enjoy life on a tea estate, as it originally was. 
Kolukkumalai is accessible only be jeep or on foot across the mountains. Kolukkumalai is a paradise for nature lovers with a variety of flora and fauna endemic to the area and opportunities to walk up its slope for some spectacular scenery of the peaks and swirling clouds below.
Kolukkumalai is about 7,900 ft above sea level and you can have some excellent views of the far off plains in the bordering State of Tamil Nadu. The distant hills slipping in and out of the mist is a captivating sight.  


The rolling acres of tea are an experience in itself for the visitors. Take a lovely stroll on the pathways in the plantations. The more adventurous can take a walk down a fairly steep and narrow bridle path leading to the plains. Only with awe can you hear that this route was once the only option for the estate workers to carry tea chests down and bring provisions to their residence.
Kolukkumalai Tea Estate
The estate, located on Kolukkumalai Hills, is around 31 km from Munnar and takes almost 52 minutes to reach by Jeep. The place is popular for growing special flavoursome teas. It has an old tea factory, built in the mid 20th century, which still uses traditional technique of tea production. Visitors can sip different flavours of tea and buy fresh tea from the factory outlet. 
About 7130 ft from sea level, Kolukkumalai is the highest organic tea farm in the world.  The tea factory is old, still keeps machinery from the British rule times and is mostly a showpiece for visitors.

Factory staff takes you around, shows the machinery and explains the process of making organic tea.

Go on a guided tour through the factory. The two-storied building, built in the 1930s, with its wooden interiors and aroma would present you some time-tested methods of tea processing. Here tea is processed in the traditional method, which is different from the more popular CTC (crush-tear-curl method). Tea lovers will be pleased to sip different varieties of tea from the tea tasting centre here. Those wanting to take home the flavour can buy fresh packets from the outlet attached to the factory. There are different varieties to choose from like the Broken Orange Pekoe (BOP) and the Flowery Orange Pekoe (FOP). Get some tips from the salesmen on how to extract the different tastes. 






In addition to tea production, the hill is famed for panoramic views of the rolling hills and fresh air. At sunset, you can behold spectacular views of Kodaikanal town.
The estate was the Southern Tea Competition winner of the Golden Leaf India Awards 2005.
Opening & Closing Time
07:00 am – 06:00 pm
Open all days, except Sunday
Entrance Fee:Rs. 75 for Adults
Sun Rise
Seeing sun rise from Kolukkumalai is quite an experience. You will have to arrange the jeep and the driver early. If you are staying at Munnar, have to start by 4 A.M. The journey takes 2 hours roughly.



Another plus is the clear view of the valleys in morning sparkle. Have a flask with some hot drinks and some snacks / food. Thought of having a memorable breakfast at the summit? Bear in mind that the factory opens only at 10 A.M.
If the weather is bad, the mornings are going to be misty. So sun rise tours are not a good choice during rainy season.
Facts
Location: Belongs to Tamil Nadu in the border of Southern Central Kerala.
District: Belongs to Tamil Nadu. On Idukki border.
Nearest towns: Suryanelli at 8 kms, Devikulam at 23 kms and Munnar at 32 kms.
Bus Station: Munnar at 32 Kms.
Food Options: Carry own food and drinks, nothing up the hill. Limited choice at Suryanelli and Devikulam. More choice of restaurants at Munnar.
Accommodation Options: 3 bed room Guest house atop Kolukimalai. A few resorts at Suryanelli, Chinnakanal and Devikulam. More choice at Munnar.
Best time to visit: Avoid heavy rains and very foggy days, as views get obstructed.
Nearby Attractions: Chinnar Wildlide Sanctuary, Marayoor, Manavan Shola, Periyar Tiger Reserve, Kumali, Munnar, Devikulam, Peerumedu, Eravikulam National Park, Mattuppetty, the Arch dam, Idukki wildlife sanctuary, Anamudi, Eco Point, Top Station, Waterfalls of Cheeyappara, Valara, Thommankuthu, Keezharkuthu, Attukal and Chellarkovil, Carmalagiri elephant walk, Anachal, Malankara reservoir, Mangala Devi Temple, Meenuli,  Kundala dam  and Kalvari Mount.
Accommodation
The only place to stay at Kolukkumalai is the three bed room Guest House run by the Tea Estate. Need to book in advance.
Suryanelli, Chinnakkanal and Devikulam are beautiful locations, with resorts and home stays. Suryanelli has the added advantage of being in the base of the hill.
The positive for Munnar is that it has the most number of resorts, hotels and home stays to choose from.
At Kolukkumalai the only available option is the Kolukkumalai Mountain Hut (a decent 03 bedroom nicely renovated factory worker's house with attached toilets). This guesthouse has a nice view of the valley and they serve nice food too. You will get more details about the accommodation and facilities from their website www.kolukkumalai.in and you can contact on info@kolukkumalai.in or call them at +91 94470 31040It is better to book in advance since this place has only limited rooms and they also will arrange jeep for the transfer from Suryanelly to Kolukkumalai and vice versa and treks and walks @ Kolukkumalai & Meesapulimalai.
Connectivity
By Air
Cochin International airport also known as Nedumbassery Airport and CIAL is the nearest airport. It is 110 km away from Munnar by road.
Madurai International Airport which is 140Km from Munnar by (National Highway 49).
By Land
The nearest railway station is Aluva, 110 km. Ernakulam is 130 km kottayam 140km and Madurai is 135km you can get the direct regular buses to Munnar First Bus starts at 6AM.
Bodinayakkanur Railway Station are the very nearby railway stations to Kolukkumalai.
How ever Sivakasi Rail Way Station is major railway station 86 KM near to Kolukkumalai 
Munnar is best connected to this place. From Munnar, take Devikulam Road. After Devikulam, continue along Kochi - Dhanushkodi Rd (Munnar – Kumily Hwy) and deviate left to Chinnakanal – Suryanelli Rd., the small town before the Kolukkumalai Hills. From there you need a Jeep (which you can hire locally and will cost you less than INR 700) for going uphill. Kolukumalai is about 12 kilometer away from Suryanelli and the Jeep will take more than one hour for covering this 12 kilometer ghat road.
Near By Air Ports
·         Madurai Airport 153 KM
·         Kochi Airport 133 KM
·         Coimbatore Airport 203 KM
Near By Railway Stations
·         Aluva Railway station 137 Km
·         Kodai road Railway station 127 km
·         Bodinayakanur Rail Way Station 50 KM
·         Theni Rail Way Station 66 KM
·         Andipatti Rail Way Station 82 KM
·         Usilampatti Rail Way Station 105 KM
·         Madurai Rail Way Station 142 KM