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Last Updated Tuesday May 23 2017 09:01 AM IST

Gudalur, the green corridor of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu

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Gudalur, the green corridor of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu The mist clad Gudalur. Photo: Onmanorama

Gudalur is a beautiful land tucked away in the Nilgiris. This meeting point of three states hosts lush green tea estates. Rich in eternally green forests, the area is located 1,100 meters above sea level. The main cultivation is tea, dating back to the days of the British. Spices are also cultivated.

Those who seek some relief from the terrible heat in Kerala and Karnataka can find a pleasantly cold stay in Gudalur. For travelers who go via Ooty, it's a change from extremely cold weather to a slightly warm one.

Gudalur, the green corridor of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu

The history

Initially, Gudalur was in the princely state of Mysore. Later, it became part of Madras Presidency and in the Wayanad taluq of Malabar, where it became a meeting point of three cultures, and took a name that denotes it: Koodunnayidam or meeting place. Later, it shrunk to Gudalur.

The British grew tea plantations here around 1875. Migrations started from Travancore to Gudalur around 1941 when food scarcity turned acute.

Gudalur, the green corridor of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu

Around the same time, people from Eranad also reached Gudalur. This was a land of heroic struggle during the campaign for Independence. Fighters in the revolt known as Mappila Lahala were deported and jailed here. Prison cells of freedom heroes stands here as a testimony of their struggles.

The route

Gudalur is a stopover for those who travel to Ooty from Kerala and Karnataka. Those who travel from Malappuram and Kozhikode can reach Gudalur via Nadukani. The Gene Pool Garden under the Forest Department in Nadukani is a storehouse of rare species of plants. Entry here needs special permission. Eco tourism too has started here. Entry will be open to all from June.

The Butterfly Park in Ponnore, run by the Agricultural Department, is a major attraction. The Devala area near here competes with Chirapunji in rainfall. One gets a view of Eranadan villages from here.

Gudalur, the green corridor of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu

Gudalur is 35 kilometres away from Vazhikadavu. Seventeen kilometers from here on the Mysuru road is the largest habitat of Asian elephants and tigers. Theppakad elephant home is world-famous. It's a big camp of 24 elephants. Visitors can enjoy a ride on elephants in the forest, which is a unique experience.

The Bandipur tiger reserve of Karnataka is also nearby. If you reach Masinagudi from Theppakad, many resorts can be seen. One encounters a rain shadow zone as the journey continues.

This was a battle zone for Hyder Ali and later, Tippu. Badugar, the powerful tribals of Nilgiris, reached here first. They rushed to Ooty, leaving everything behind, during Hyder Ali's invasion.

Gudalur, the green corridor of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu

The temples that they left in the woods remind one of the civilization of those days. This route to Ooty has 36 hairpin bends. It's for those who love adventure. Eight kilometers from Gudalur on the Ooty-Mettupalayam national highway is Soochimala. This is a location where one can have a rare 360-degree view of the Western and Eastern Ghats at the same time. In a far-off view of the Deccan Plateau, one can witness at the same time rain forests on the left and rain shadow forests on the right.

Gudalur, the green corridor of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu

This tall mountain on the Western Ghats has a whole lot of geographical specialties. The Kabini reservoir give you a fascinating sight of the sunset. The Owali evergreen forest area on the Gudalur-Ooty road is another attraction. The virgin forests remain free of human touch. The Kurulai forests in Kerala is a continuation of this.

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