Anaimalai Hills, Idukki, Kerala

The Anaimalai hills can be found in the Kerala- Tamil Nadu border. They get their name Anaimalai from the local dialect “Anai” meaning elephant and “Malai” meaning hills and are thus also known as elephant hills. These hills were created by fault block movements close to 11700 years ago. The highest peak in this region is the Anamudi at a height of 2695 meters.

The dense forests of Anaimalai hills have rosewood, sandalwood, and teak-wood aplenty. The soil in these hills is in oxides of aluminum iron. This soil is used for building and construction purposes. The communities that live in these hills include Pooloyar, Kadar, and Maravar groups. Their living is dependent on hunting and shifting cultivation of crops. The certain parts of forests have been cleared for tea, coffee and rubber plantation. Bidi, a form of tobacco is also grown in this region. Small scale industries are prevalent here and they include basket weaving and production of coir and coir mat. Coffee and tea plantations are found on the lower hills while teak-wood plantations are undertaken on the upper hills.

Anaimalai hills are being considered by UNESCO World Heritage Committee for declaration as a World Heritage site. They are one of the most important biological diversity spots in the world.

Abundant of wildlife activity can be found on these hills. The Eravikulam National Park, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary, Anaimalai Tiger Reserve, Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park are all part of the Anaimalai hills. Numerous elephants, tigers, leopards, panthers, sambar deer, crocodiles, water buffaloes, sloth bears can be found here. These hills are also home to the endangered lion-tailed macques.

The Anaimalai hills have abundant rivers that criss-cross through it. They include the Aliayar river, Apambar River, Chinnar River, Kaddambarrai River, the Neerar river, Mannambhally, Pambar River and Parambikulam River. Numerous large dams have been constructed too. They are Aliayar Dam, Amaravathi Dam, Kaddambarrai dam, Neerar Dam, Sholayar Dam, Mannambhally Dam, and the Parambikulam Dam. The Sholayar Dam is one of the largest dams in Asia. Among the dams mentioned above, the Parambikulam Dam has the largest capacity in India.

The top three places that one needs to visit in Anaimalai hills include the Parambikulam Wildlife sanctuary, Top Slip, and Kolikamuthi Elephant camp. The Parambikulam Wildlife sanctuary established in the year 1973 spread over two hundred and eight five square kilometres. The Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary is very famous for its cruise on the lake, wildlife safaris and the mandatory visit to the dam. This sanctuary was also declared as a tiger reserve in the year 2010. The Top slip gets its name due to an age old practice of sliding teak-wood down the Anaimalai hills. This area is situated very close to the Parambikulam Dam. A recreation facility is available in the Top Slip with ample parking space too. The Kolikamuthi Elephant camp is a popular place in this region to train elephants. The Malisar tribe that lives in these parts of the region are the main handlers of elephants. Jeeps are the only means of transportation to these dense forests. Special permission has to be sought from the forest officials to visit this elephant camp. The admission fee for entering this elephant camp is rupees twenty five per adult.

The Anaimalai hills are a famous trekking destination and scores of avid trekking enthusiasts frequent this place every year. Trekking trips are organized for both beginners and youngsters. So what are you waiting for? Grab your sportiest pair of trekking shoes and head to Anaimali hills to soak yourself amongst beauty and wildlife.

The best time to visit these hills is from November to May. The nearest railway station to Munnar is in Aluva or Angamaly which are 108 and 109 kilometers respectively. The nearest airport is the Cochin International Airport.  The KSRTC and private bus services are also available.