Presenting to you, the Everest of South India, Anamudi is located in Kerala, India. At an elevation of 2,695 meters (8,843 ft), it is considered the highest peak in the Western Ghats and the whole of South India. It is located on the borders of Idukki district and Ernakulam district. If one extracts the literal meaning of ‘Anamudi’, it means ‘Elephants forehead’. The name was given because this peak houses Asia’s largest surviving Asian Elephant population along with Nilgiri Tahrs and Gaurs. This mountain is famously known for its shape resembling an elephant’s head.
General Douglas Hamilton from the Madras army is known to be the first person to conquer the Anamudi on 4th May 1862. Anamudi peak is considered one of the most prominent peaks in South India with a height of about 2,479 meters and is also the highest point in the South of Himalayas. That is why it is known as Everest of South India.
Well known for its trekking trails in Munnar, this peak is located in Ernakulam national park, and the entry to this park is free. This mountain has a huge green belt surrounding it and it is home to many different tree species like bamboos, black wood, teak trees that are found in abundance.
Anamudi Peak is surrounded by Arundinaria Densifolia (commonly known as canes, hails from the bamboo family), Gaultheria Fragrantissima (Evergreen shrub or occasionally a small tree, this species keeping changing in its size and shape of leaves), Anaphalis (It is a woody flowering plant commonly known by the name pearl or pearl everlasting). The most eye-catching and incredible feature of this peak is the famous Neela kurinji flowers that bloom only once in 12 years and paint the complete valley with its vibrant purple-colored flowers exhibiting a magnificent view for those lucky travelers present there.
Tourists, photographers, trekkers, and explorers will have a time of their life visiting this paradise in the appropriate season. This is not just a place with lush green valleys but many other attractions add to the beauty of the peak. The gushing rivers, the tea plantations, dense wildlife, small little adventurous hilltops and widespread cultivation beautifies this place ever more with a variety of tourists and photography spots along the mountain peak. As one reaches the hilltop to witness nature’s magic, that experience will fill their hearts with admiration.
This peak is considered the highest point of the Periyar river basin. Periyar River is the largest water source for the state of Kerala. It is one of the very few perennial rivers that have the potential of providing drinking water in the nearby regions. It plays a most significant part in Kerala’s economy as it is also one of the biggest sources of Kerala’s electrical power via Idukki Dam. Twenty-five percent of Kerala’s industries are on the banks of the Periyar river.
This valley is not at all steep as we see in other parts of Western Ghats. It is a fault-block mountain shape wherein large rocks are extended over hundreds of kilometers. There is an easy route that will help one reach the peak of Anamudi hills safely. If one treks on the grassy slopes, which begins from rolling hill plateau where its base elevation is 2000 meters, it is easy for the trekkers as this area is a little less steep than the others.
The slopes in northern and southern parts of the peak are slightly gentle whereas the eastern and western slopes are a bit difficult to hike and are not advisable for everyone. The peak is located at a junction. This junction comprises of Cardamom hills (Lies under southern Western Ghats and is known by this name because of the cultivation of this spice that happens here. This hill also has coffee and pepper plantations as well), Anaimalai Hills (also called elephant mountains, Animalai in Tamil means elephant and hence the name is given. It has tea and coffee plantations and teak trees), and the last one is Palani Hills (It is located in the Western Ghats).
This place houses the largest living population of Nilgiri tahr (Nilgiritragus hylocrius). Some other commonly found species are that of Asian elephants, Bengal tigers and Nilgiri Marten (the only marten species found in South India and found mostly on Nilgiri hills and parts of Western Ghats).
This peak is home to a very unique frog species called Raorchestes resplendens (it is an endangered species of frogs that require high altitude. They have extremely short limbs and macro glands). It is an extremely new species discovered recently and is located in Ernakulam national park. It is only found in and around 3 km of the Anamudi hills.
There is thick vegetation of stunted Arundinaria (bamboo, grass family), gaultheria fragrantissima (wintergreen, about 135 varieties of species of shrubs), Anaphalis (flowering plants), special Impatiens (1000 varieties species of flowering plants) and Eroiculan (400 plant species).
The best time to visit the peak is November to May as lies at the change of two seasons, winter and spring seasons. The beauty of natural mist and blooming flowers immediately multiplies the appeal of the place. The expected temperature is 18 degrees during winters and 25 degrees during spring. This place does not experience extreme weather conditions, making it another important reason to put in on the bucket list. This place can be enjoyed by senior citizens of the family who can remain the hotels and enjoy the weather and food while others can enjoy a good trek.
This huge grassland encircles the Anamudi peak completely. Plenty of medicinal plants like Wintergreens, Impatiens, and Anaphalis are found here. This is the place people go to for the most-awaited magical moment that happens only once in twelve years. This is the place where Neelakurinji plants bloom and is a treat to those who can visit this and see these beautiful purple flowers bloom. Painted in the purple hue, this mountain peak is nothing short of magical. Many locals and photographers from out of town are always keen for this moment to happen but very few people are lucky to be present at the right time and have a look at nature’s utmost beauty transformation.
By Road- Ernakulam to Munnar road connectivity is great. Approximately it will take 25 minutes to Ernakulam national park. A local bus or a private cab, both can be a good choice to travel. Reaching the entrance of the national park is easy and quick, afterward, the trek starts.
By Rail- The nearest railway station is Aluva railway station. Then to reach the final destination one will have to take a cab.
By Bus-There are many inter-state buses available for Munnar. Then local buses can be used to reach Anamudi peak by road. They are very frequent and will cause no inconvenience.
By Air- The nearest airport to Munnar is the Ernakulam airport. A personal cab or bus can be used to reach the destination.
Best time to Visit Anamudi: November to May
Time to be spent here-One can spend approx. 2-3 hours here, especially in the evenings. It is advisable to trek up during the day time and treks down before sunset.
Entrance fee– No fee for entry
Location- Ernakulam National park
Closure- February and March as it is the calving period of the Nilgiri tahrs.
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