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Peermade ( part of western ghats ) picturesque hill station that is nestled in Idukki District, Kerala , is one of the worlds ten hottest biodiversity hotspots and has over 5000 species and 179 amphibian species. At least 325 globally threatened species occur there. The complex topography and the heavy rainfall have made certain areas inaccessible and have helped the region retain its diversity.

Peermade (GPS : 9.5505100°N 77.0302580°E ) is a hill station in the Idukki district of Kerala State, India. Peermade, a part of the Western Ghats or Sahyadris and is situated at an altitude of about 914 meters above mean sea level. The location of Peermade is 85 km east of Kottayam, (Nearest Railway Station) on the way to Kumily and Thekkady. Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary at Thekkady, one of the largest wildlife reserves in India, is just 43 km from Peermade. The landscape of Peermade is hilly with spectacular waterfalls, open grass lands and forests. Peermade was once the summer retreat of the Maharajas of Travancore. Peermade receives a lot of rain during the monsoons as it is situated on the western windward side of the Western Ghats, facing Arabian sea.

Today Peermade is a popular tourist destination, receiving thousands of visitors every day. Only a handful of aboriginals are left and the place is known for educational institutions and meditation centers.

"over the cloud” - Panchalimedu Meadows And Grasslands

Panchalimedu is an ideal place for trekking near Kuttikkanam, with fewer tourists. Panchalimedu means Hill of Panchali in Malayalam, named after Panchali the wife of Pandavas in Hindu legend. The lake, Panchalikulam, where Panchali is believed to have taken a bath is a good place to sit during the evenings. The route to Panchalimedu from Kuttikkanam is scenic with steep up and downs. From Panchalimedu one can see the valley of Koruthodu (near Mundakayam) with extensive rubber and tea plantations. The hills of Parunthumpara and Periyar Tiger Reserve can be seen to the east. The church has installed a set of 14 crosses in memory of crucifiction of Jesus Christ. Take left from highranges and drive for 4 kilometers along the narrow road with steep ascend and descend to reach the base of a barren hill Panchalimedu. The road continues to the next place called Kanaynkavayal, another beautiful spot

"wild calls” – Boating at Periyar Tiger Reserve, Thekkady

Periyar Tiger Reserve, Thekkady is about 4 km from Kumily in Idukki district, central Kerala and is well connected by road from all the major towns of Kerala. An environmental hotspot, Periyar Sanctuary is noted for its geomorphology, diverse wildlife and beautiful landscape. Encompassing a 26 sq km artificial lake, the rich jungles of Periyar is one of the world's most fascinating natural wildlife reserves. The lake which serves as a watering hole for the animals during summer, harbours within itself a unique aquatic ecosystem. A cruise along it is perhaps the best way to watch the wildlife in the Reserve. Exciting trekking trails and other adventure activities like tracking the tiger, jungle patrolling etc. await the tourists at this enchanting Sanctuary.

“Periyar Inheritance ” - Gavi Eco tourism center

Gavi (1100m) is located among moist tropical forests and grasslands, adjacent to the famous Periyar Tiger Reserve, in the Western Ghats of Kerala. Mid-elevation moist forest, such as the dominant type in Periyar & Gavi, are among the most biodiverse in the Western Ghats. In addition, the hill forests interspersed with grassland make Gavi an extremely scenic locations. Gavi’s wildlife is similar to that of the the world famous Periyar Tiger Reserve. Notably, the locations are home to megafauna, including Asian Elephant, Tiger, Leopard and Gaur. The forests here also support wildlife that are unique to the Western Ghats, including the endangered Lion-tailed Macaque, Brown Palm Civet, Brown Mongoose and Nilgiri Marten. Bird diversity is fantastic, with several Western Ghats specials including the Wynaad Laughing Thrush, Malabar Grey Hornbill, White-bellied Blue Flycatcher and White-Bellied Treepie, among 250 plus species of birds recorded from these forests. Gavi & Periyar offer the unique opportunities to explore these biodiverse forests on foot, guided by local tribals who live and breathe these forests. This ecotourism model enhances the experience of the tourists by the insightful and often unique perspective that the tribals provide about their forest homes and also provides much needed economic benefits to the localcommunities that live here.

“Tea Time” - Tea factory and Tea garden visit

During the British rule the whole of the Kerala was surveyed for geographic features like humidity and temperature. It was found that Peermade was best suitable for the cultivation of Tea. Also the coffee plantations were all destroyed due to the leaf disease. All these made the planters clear the coffee plants and plant tea bush. For well growth tea require an altitude of 1000 M above sealevel. Tea was growing wild in the uncultivated uplands in Assam in North East India. Tea was brought to Nilgiris (Ooty) from China and later brought to Peermade. At first tea cultivation was done experimentally in about ten acers. After watching its success tea plantations started all around Peermade. Even now tea remains the most important plantations of Peermade. There are many tea processing factories around Peermade. Tea dust shops are there in almost all towns around Peermade and Kumily where tea is sold in big amount for cheaper price. Most of the tea available at Peermade is CTC tea and high end expensive varieties are not available. Extensive tea plantations over lofty hills can be seen all around Peermade. Most of the tea estates belongs to large holdings of plantation companies and church. A few of the places where you can see beautiful plantations are the places on the way to Elappara from Vagamon and a drive to a place called Kochukarinthari from Elappara (3 kms).

"A Sufi Experience“ - Thangal Para, Kolahalamedu Vagamon

Thangal Hill or Thangalpara is a rugged hill located near Kolahalamedu of Vagamon. Thankalpara is considered sacred by Muslims: for the tomb of Sheikh Fariduddin, a Sufi saint from Afghanistan who lived and died here about 800 years ago. West side of Thankalpara is picturesque with beautiful views of barren hills and valleys down below. There is a small masjid and a small water poll at the foot of the rock. Entry to the ancient cave at Thankalpara is discouraged. During the annual ‘Urus’ Festival hundreds of devotees visit Thankalpara to perform the Ganjusakkar (Sarkarakanji) offering. Proceed along Elappara route from Vagamon. After Kolahalamedu town, turn right up along Thankalpara road for two kilometers to reach the base (a kilometer is unsurfaced and road ends at the base). From there one can walk up the rock for half a kilometer to reach Thankalpara

“Looking Back in Time” - King’s Summer Palace

This summer palace of Travancore Maharajas at Kuttikkanam, was built by His Highness Sree Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma. A part of the palace has already fallen down due to lack of maintenance. Many pilgrims visiting Peeru Hills also visits this palace. There is a caretaker at the palace. There is an escape route from this palace: a cave connecting to Peermade and far off places. It has been sealed recently: after a bunch of students tried to explore the cave and lost their way. The old cave walls have already fallen down and is said that there are moats inside the cave. Follow the road to Mundakkayam from Kuttikkanam. After 200 meters, at the second turn take the deviation to the right. Continue along the un-surfaced road half kilometer and take the deviation on left through cypress trees to reach the palace.

Peeru hills – History of Peerumedu

Peeru hill, is named after the Sufi saint Peer Mohammed who spent his last days at Peermade is a sacred site for Muslims. The Mausoleum of the saint and the summer palace of the Travancore royal family are situated near to the hill. This hill two kilometers away from Kuttikkanam, offers the best views of the valley, and has been one of our favorite destinations for evening walks. Follow the road to Mundakkayam from Kuttikkanam. After 200 meters, at the second turn take the deviation to the right. Continue along the un-surfaced road for a kilometer to reach Peeru Hills.

“Scent of nature”- Pine forest of Kuttikkanam

Pine, a tree exotic to Western Ghats was brought from the west and planted by the early British planters in the 18th century. Pine wood was used as fuel to fireplace inside offices and residences during winter months, as there was no electric heater available during the time. Pine wood was also used as firewood for domestic use and to run tea factories. A good part of the farmland was reserved for pine tree plantations, and pine was also planted in-between tea plantations to provide shade during summer months. Pine tree wood was also used in the construction of houses and factories. The thick evergreen canopy of pine trees and, long biological degradation period of fallen needles entertain very little undergrowth, keeping land clean from bushes and other plants. Most of the pine plantations have been cleared recently and only a couple of pine plantations exist near Peermade in under the forest department. These evergreen trees provide plenty of oxygen all round the years, but only a handful species of plants and animals can survive inside pine forests: due to which, the biodiversity value of pine trees are considered to be low. Drive two kilometres along Kuttikkanam- Kumily route and you will find pines on your right side

"rest in peace” – CSI church Pallikunnu

European Planters and architects who came in the 18th Century were the first to discover this beautiful plateau. They built a church in the name of Saint George and planted a garden in 16 acres around it: one of the best gardens of Asia in those times. The place was named Pallikkunnu which means Church Hill in Malayalam. The bell tower and the acoustic grand piano were unique. The first pastor of the church was Henry Baker Jr. The church was initially built for the European settlements. In 1888, noting the rapid increase in the Tamil population the CMS engaged a Tamil clergyman called Rev Nallathampi who had also worked at the Nilgiris. He was the pastor of the church until 1901. Later when the Europeans went back the church was ran by Indian Priests. Even now English mass is conducted once a month. Many stones are erected inside the church compound in memory of the early planters. The church has a record of birth and death which includes many early planters. In the churchyard rests in peace, personalities like Norman Palloc, Warne Richardson, George Weat, four year old Harry Blake, Bridget Mary and many others. Even now many Europeans come here to pay tribute to their forefathers. Granddaughter of Henry Baker, Ms Tessa Tennant arrived recently. She was surprised to see her great grandparent‘s grave and the original birth and death records of them inscribed in 1894. The church had one of the early installations of computer, and punched cards were used to store information about the church. From Kuttikkanam, drive along the road to Elappara for 4 kilometers and you will see the church on your left side. It is the next town after Kuttikkanam.

Note : Most of the details of this pages are taken from the book "History of Peermade" by George Thengummoottil