Ponmudi Hill StationSplendid emerald vistas, air conditioned weather and the bounty of nature characterize the hill station of Ponmudi. Located at an altitude of 1,100 metres, in the lap of the Western Ghats and a mere 61 km from Thiruvananthapuram, the hill station is reached by a long winding road with 22 hairpin bends and views of the sea shimmering in the distance. Tea gardens on the slopes add to the area’s beauty.
Perfect for a weekend’s jaunt from the capital city, Ponmudi is also a favourite with trekkers and nature lovers. As they leave the city behind, they can take in the fresh crisp air as they look up towering peaks and down steep valleys, all clothed in green amidst swirling mists with views of sparkling rivers winding their way through to the Arabian Sea. It’s an ideal place for them to unwind with some ayurvedic treatment too. Look out for birds such as the Malabar Grey Hornbill, Nilgiri Pipit, Wayanad Laughing Thrush, amphibians like the Travancore tortoise and the Malabar Flying Frog and assorted reptiles and rare butterflies.
The 1,868 mt (6,129 ft) Agasthyakoodam Peak is located at the Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary. The peak overlooks Kanyakumari district in Tamil Nadu.
Nestled in the heart of Ponmudi, Golden Valley is a favourite with tourists for its serenity and trekking routes. The Kallar River flows through here. Visitors can visit Meenmutty Falls, Echo Point and Deer Park in the area. Meenmutty Falls is near the Neyyar Dam and visitors have to trek through thick forest to get to it.
Surrounding the Peppara Dam, the Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary consists of tropical evergreen and moist deciduous forests which consist of the catchment area of the Karamana River. The area is rich in flora and fauna and is home to 43 types of mammals, 233 types of birds and varied reptiles, amphibians and fish. This includes tiger, leopard, elephant, sambhar, sloth bear, Nilgiri langur, bonnet macaque and Nilgiri tahr.
Located at the foot of Ponmudi, Neyyar Dam is favourite picnic spot for day trippers from Thiruvananthapuram. Built on the Neyyar River, it is set against the magnificent backdrop of the Western Ghats and is known for its scenic vistas. Boating is permitted in the dam’s lake. The Steve Irwin Crocodile Rehabilitation and Research Centre and the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwanthari Ashram are other attractions.
The first stop on the way to Ponmudi, Bonacaud was settled by British tea planters. Visitors can take in the tea gardens as well as Bona Falls close by. The estates also cultivate cardamom, coconut and pepper.
Accommodation in Ponmudi is limited with a few private hotels and a KTDC guesthouse.
Location: In the Western Ghats, 61 km from Thiruvananthapuram.
How to get there: Accessible by bus and car on SH 45.