Barely three hours from Thiruvananthapuram, nestled at a humble 1100 feet above sea level, is a lesser-known hilly haven that is the ultimate retreat for trek lovers, nature enthusiasts and explorers alike.
Ponmudi had been on my mind every time I visited the state, but could finally make it to the place on my recent trip. The destination and its surroundings give you an option for your dreamy vacation of nothingness to one laden with adventures and fun hikes. Precisely what I expected this breezy little paradise to be.
Winding roads and tempting tea gardens
About 55 kilometres from Thiruvananthapuram, the road to Ponmudi offers you a ride of a lifetime. Passing through the winding roads, you experience a thrill, while the beautiful tea gardens on the route tempt you to stop and immerse in the everlasting and ever-changing awe of the Ghats. The last 18 odd kilometres, especially, is an adventure ride you won’t forget. What you will surely not be able to remember are the countless hairpin turns that you encounter on this stretch.
About 10 kilometres short of Ponmudi though, we decided to take a detour.
A detour you won’t regret
A visit to the Meenmutty Falls (one of many in this region, but surely one of the most beautiful) was definitely warranted. A special permission from the Forest Department is needed for this trek, which we were more than happy to request for. To reach the beautiful waterfall, you will have to drop your vehicles at a point and trek to reach the water body.
The two-three kilometre trek to the Meenmutty Falls is equally, if not more, exciting than the waterfall itself. As you wade your way through the dense forests, you come across many smaller water springs, natural pools and beautiful rocks lining the way. If you love wildlife, this is your dream trek. Since the entire hike cuts through the heavy vegetation, you are likely to see wild animals, a variety of birds and possibly, species of spiders that you have never seen in your life. The region is also known for the wide variety of butterfly species that it hosts, so we won’t be surprised if you make a lot more stops to appreciate their beauty.
The falls are as beautiful as the surroundings and a photographer’s delight. If you have more time on your hands, you can also trek upstream, about two kilometres, to reach yet another fall — the Kombaikani Falls.
The anticipation of our final destination gained greater fervour with this absolutely worth-it detour. A mere half an hour later, we reached Ponmudi.
A walk in the clouds
On reaching Ponmudi, the first thing that struck me was how in a matter of a few hours, we had transitioned from the beachy-vibe of Thiruvananthapuram to this nip-in-the-air misty paradise. Being in Ponmudi is like walking through a trail of clouds. As we hiked up the hill to reach the top, we stood, speechless just staring at the view for what seemed like the longest 10 minutes of the trip. For someone who loves to capture moments, completely forgetting to click a picture and being immersed in a place is a rare occurrence. It surely is a photographer’s paradise with many spots that allow you to get a panorama of the entire valley.
Ponmudi literally translates to ‘golden peak’. The serenity that you experience when you reach the top, the breathtaking view of a green blanket scattered as far as the eye can see, the magical crests and troughs of the Western Ghats, interspersed with mist and floating clouds — that right there is your gold-mine.
(The writer is a traveller, photographer and storyteller who shares his experiences at Moving Compass)