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The Cardamom Hills of Kerala

Kerala, a state in southern India, has an extraordinary geography making for breathtaking landscapes and a principally tropical climate. One of the most popular tourist destinations in India, Kerala is a state that must on every tourist’s bucket list. Among the countless places worth seeing in this state, Cardamom Hills are one such place which must not be missed. The cardamom produced in these hills is on very high demand across the world and one of the most expensive one too. Two years back while the Guatemalan Cardamom sold at $10 a kg, cardamom from the Cardamom Hills sold at $18 a kg.

Cardamom Hills are located in south east Kerala and south west Tamil Nadu. They are named so because the major elevation of the hills is perfect to grow cardamom in large quantities, apart from pepper and coffee. The Periyar sub-cluster and the portion of Western Ghats including the Cardamom Hills is under consideration to be designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Cardamom Hills cover around 2800 sq. km. area with deep valleys including the drainages of west flowing rivers such as Mullayar, Periyar and Pamba. The hills join the Aryankavu pass in the north, Agasthyamalai Hills to the south, Palni Hills to the north east,  and Anaimalai Hills to the north west.  The crest of the Cardamom Hills forms the boundary between Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

The Cardamom Hills are home to numerous tribal people, settled on its western and eastern region. The most widely recognised among them are Urumban, Mudugan and Irulan. these tribes work in the tea estates to earn their livelihood. Even till today, they are highly dependent on forest products for survival.

Cardamom Hills are one of the popular sites for cycling and biking expeditions. A ride to these hills offers you routes, paths and views to celebrate the adventure close to nature and it is an amazing experience. The routes go deep into the hills covering dams, tea estates, shola forest, elephant parks, farms and lakes. The flora, fauna, mist clad hills, fresh mountain air, panoramic landscapes, etc are experienced on a cycle or a bike.

While here, you can also visit the National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries around. A major part of the Cardamom Hills is part of the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, which is a major ecotourism destination. A part of this Periyar Tiger Reserve and National Park.

South of the tiger reserve, there are the Konni, Ranni and Achankovil forest divisions and to the east are the dried forests of Srivilliputtur Wildlife Sanctuary and Tirunelveli. Also nearby is the Megamali Wildlife Sanctuary which houses endangered species like the Indian elephant, slender loris, Bengal tiger, grizzled giant squirrel, Nilgiri Tahr, Vindhyan Bob butterfly, Salim Ali’s fruit bat, lion tailed macaque, Hutton’s pitviper, Great Indian Hornbill, etc.

You can take an elephant ride to explore the forest along the hills. The park makes for a great bird watching sites. A pair of binoculars and a pair of good shoes is all you need to go around and catch sight of Cormorants, Kingfishers, Darters, Racket-tailed Drongoes and Great Malabar Hornbill.

Trekking in the Cardamom Hills is easy and doable for even the first time trekkers. A good pair of shoes, mosquito repellent and the usual trekking gear could hold you in good stead.

Cardamom Hills are a splendid destination to be in. The monsoons make it even more beautiful as the greenery rises up adding its own charm to the place. The Forest Department offers a parking lot for parking public vehicles by paying a nominal fee. You can also take a guide and go around the hills to have an exhilarating experience.










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