Over the Hills and Far Away… The Kerala Highrange Landscape

The blue hills loom in the distance stretching for as far as the eye can see, in the wee hours of the cold monsoon day at Peruvanthanam just after Mundakayam on the Kottayam – Kumily (KK Road), now the Kollam – Theni national highway no 183. The location is idukki district though the view will contain parts of Kottayam distraict also. The high ranges of Kerala, as the Western Ghats are popularly known in Kerala form almost all of Idukki district and are breathtakingly beautiful as they lie mysteriously shrouded in mist. The highranges are populated by hardy, no-nonsense people as life is harsh here, but the experience of traveling through these roads is mind blowing. Beyond the farthest hills shown here lie the waters of the Idukki Hydroelectric project, or the “Idukki Dam”.  I feel a personal connection to these hills, somehow for reasons I can’t explain…

The Ethereal Vagamon Pine Forests

The famous Vagamon Pine Forests at the edge of the Western Ghats in the Kottayam district of Kerala, a stunning rarity for a tropical place as Kerala. The forest is a valley full of acres of lofty pine trees growing on steep edges, which look out over the edge of a cliff. The place has an ethereal feeling, especially since it is not crowded at all. Vagamon is a hill station where the average temperature is around 15 degrees Celsius even during the summer time, at an altitude of 1000 m above sea level. The Pine Forest is just one attraction of the place. Vagamon is one of the starting points of the high ranges of Kerala and its famous tea estates.

The Lush, Green Rolling Vagamon Hills!

A small part of the rolling green hills of Vagamon, Kottayam district, Kerala. Vagamon is a locally famous hill-station tourist destination (though not much known outside Kerala) with green meadows covering bald hills (motta kunnu), pine forests and tea estates. The hills are especially famous. You need to drive up a mountainside from Erattupetta and Teekoy (69 km east from Kottayam) to get to Vagamon. Thankfully the place is still not commercialized. Vagamon gets covered by mist and fog quite quickly, in the afternoons like the time when this photo was taken from Vagamon view point looking at the valley below. Vagamon is also the starting point of the highranges.

From the Highranges of Kerala: Calm Hills, Angry Clouds, Happy Flora

Angry dark clouds swirl downwards from the skies as the ancient hills rest calmly and knowingly, having seen it all. The flora happily look forward towards the mist gripping them in its cold embrace, joining them together as one in the landscape that is so alive in its silence, where the hills and valleys hold keys to secrets and mysteries many thousands of years… Welcome to the highranges of Kerala, where the Western Ghats will leave you spellbound and out of breath.

Happy 175th Photography Day! 🙂

And from the Mist Covering the Hilly Road, a KSRTC Bus Emerges…

A KSRTC Ordinary bus emerges from the chilly mist covering the hilly Elappara – Vagamon road in the high ranges of the Idukki district in Kerala. The bus was on its way from Kumaly to Moolamattom via Elappara and Thodupuzha. The entire place was completely covered in mist making visibility as low as a couple of meters! The very narrow, twisting and turning road running among the hills is bedecked by tea plantations on both sides and is shrouded in mist even during day time, like it was at 3:30 pm when this picture was taken! The huge trees loom as silhouettes in the background as the white bus nicely blends into the surroundings. And, it was a lucky shot! The entire surroundings looked completely ethereal and out of this world…

A Winding Road Among Tea Estates in Kerala

A stunning view of the Elappara – Vagamon road winding like a grey necklace among emerald green tea estates in the high ranges of Kerala, in the Idukki district. This place is called Elappara, literally meaning “Cardamom rock” after the spice grown here. The scenery and beauty of this entire area is breathtaking, often wrapped up in mist even during day time with the narrow road barely passable, though a busy bus route. The high ranges of Kerala, where the Western Ghats span all of Idukki and parts of Kottayam, Pathanamthitta and Ernakulam districts is among the unknown and mostly unspoilt areas by tourism in the state. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that it is one of the most beautiful places on earth 🙂 I can proudly say that I hail from the foothills of the highranges.

The location of the view seen here is given below. The photo was taken from the road above it.