Saturday, June 15, 2024

Tourism      Hill Stations      Kerala     Idukki    


Place : Idukki, Kerala
Altitude : 1100 metres above sea level
Temperature : Between 10 and 25 degree celsius.
Significance : One of the best paragliding sites in Asia
Best Season : August - February ( Vagamon is most beautiful after the rains)
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If beauty, privacy, serenity are your ideas of a well deserved holiday, then Vagamon is the place for you !. Located among the lofty mountains of the Western Ghats in the border of Kottayam and Idukki districts of Kerala at an altitude of 1100 metres above sea level., Vagamon is a lovely hill station in South India.
Also known as the Scotland of Asia, Vagamon remained hidden till the British discovered it nearly a century ago, and they used the place for tea plantations, followed by Christian missionaries who built here their abode of service. Vagamon remains cool during most part of the year. Major tourist centers like Thekkady, Peerumedu, Kulamavu etc are easily accessible from Vagamon.

Still untouched by commercialisation, the sleepy town with it's scenic valleys, beautiful green meadows, enchanting pine forests, mists, fogs, tea estates, waterfalls with the overall greenery is really striking. The landscape is mostly hilly bald with green meadows. Vagamon is also home to a large variety of flowers and orchids ( belonging to one of the largest family, the Orchidaceae) and the forests around the hills abound with wild animals like elephant, buffalos etc. In March, there is an abundance of large and beautiful butterflies.

Nestled within three beautiful hills Thangal Hill, Murugan Hill and Kurisumala (represents the major religions in Kerala - Hindu, Muslim, and Christian depicting the cultural harmony) Vagamon is an ideal place for both peace and adventure lovers. The places offers trekking trails carved through hills, valleys, streams and brooks. Apart from trekking, Vagamon has facilities for paragliding, mountaineering and rock climbing. 

Vagamon is considered as one of the best paragliding sites in Asia, and for three consecutive years beginning in 2006, International Paragliding Festivals are being held held at Vagamon. Kolahalamedu hill located 4 Kms (2.5 Miles) from Vagamon provides the perfect platform for paragliding. The hill is a part of South India's second highest peak namely the Amruthamedu. Perfect for paragliding, it has 10 km long ridge, over 3,000 feet high. The site has steady winds in the South West Direction through out the season and offers great opportunities for XC , cross country as well as ridge soaring. The site is easily accessible, with grassy launch pads. The season starts from September and offers great flying conditions until January and again, from March to May. The International Paragliding Festival is jointly organised by Adventure Sports and Sustainable Tourism Academy (ASSTA), based in Kochi and the Kerala Tourism Department.

Vagamon has been identified as the best eco-tourist destination in India by the Tourism Department of Kerala and the tourism department's support has added a momentum in Vagamon. National Geographic Traveler has also listed Vagamon on their list of the '50 most beautiful places to visit in India' . 

Vagamon, like Munnar, is a hill station with a serene and pristine environment through out the year which makes it a place to visit at your choice of time. Though the monsoon season has its own charm, it is considered as an off season due to the torrential rains which makes site seeing difficult. 

Places to visit

Thangal Para
A unique rock formation, sacred to the Muslims located in the Thangal hill. Near the rock formation lies the the tomb (durgah) of Sheikh Fariduddin, a Sufi saint from Afghanistan who lived and died here about 800 years ago. It is believed that the huge rock formation was originally a small stone used by the saint to grind pan which grew enormously. During the annual 'Urus' Festival hundreds of devotees visit this place. There is also an ancient cave in this picturesque place, and it's an adventurous and thrilling trek through the cave. The place is accessible by jeep, but during monsoons the jeeps may not go up till the rock cluster. For trekkers, there are painted white arrows showing the way and at the top a narrow path leads to the tomb.

It is a v- shaped gorge, one of the popular view points also known as a suicide point. The view from the top of the exhausting climb is spectacular.

Murugan Hill
Murugan Hill is very close to Thangal Para, and there is a Murugan temple here dedicated to Lord Muruga with beautiful carvings.  

Pine Valley 

The pine valley filled with enchanting tall pine trees makes it a nature-lover's favourite spot. A walk through the misty valley is a beautiful experience especially during monsoon when dewdrops cluster on the pine leaves.    

Kurisumala (Mountain of the Cross) 
One of the tourist attractions in Vagamon is the Kurisumala, a sky-scraping mountain with a small church- the St.Sebastian's Church (Phone: 04869-248293), on its peak. A Christian pilgrim center in Kerala, it is about 10km from Vagamon. Hundreds of devotees from far and near climb the hill during the holy week carrying wooden crosses, just like in Malayattoor, a major pilgrimage center in Ernakulam district. The place which is ideal for trekking, looks like a difficult terrain to climb from the ground, but there are enough paths around the steeper inclines. Kurishumala can also be visited by jeep from Vagamon.

Kurisumala Ashramam
There is also a monastery at the foot of the Kurisumala hill called Kurisumala Ashramam, yet another place worth visiting in Vagamon. Set up in 1958 by the Belgian Francis Acharya and British Fr. Bede Griffiths on acres of land gifted by a local landlord, the Ashram was previously open to visitors all the time, who could visit the dairy farm and the meditation center but now is closed to public because some tourists started disturbing the peace and the cows here. Known for its serene and calm atmosphere, the Ashram is run by a small community of monks who follow Christian monasticism combined with Indian spiritual traditions and Gandhian thoughts. It is why this place is called an Ashram. There is a large Om (a sacred symbol of Hinduism) in the centre of all the wooden crosses and the monks wear saffron-coloured robes and walk barefoot. They sing Christian bhajans (hymns), along with their prayers and have a satsang (spiritual meetings) every night. The Ashram monks run an organic vegetable garden, a dairy farm, milk processing center and a bio gas unit. They also supply milk to most of Vagamon under the brand 'Kurishumala Milk'. There are some strict rules and regulations at Kurishumala Ashram, such as cars are allowed only till the entry point at the base of the hill and photography and cell phones are strictly prohibited. The ashram is open till 5pm.

Contact Address :
Kurisumala Ashram
Kottayam District, Vagamon, P.O. 685503, Kerala
Tel: +91 4822-289177
Fax: +91 4822-215952 (Public)
Contact Now - E-mail

Theekoy Valley
Theekoy lies on the way to Vagamon. The valley offers stunning views of the surrounding zig zagging hills and there are large variety of flowers, waterfalls on either side of the road.