Being someone who is always fascinated by off-beat destinations, Paruthumpara was the perfect vacation spot for me. Parunthumpara is a hidden gem that is yet to climb on to the tourist map of Kerala. Situated near to Kuttikkanam in the Kottayam–Kumily route (NH220) in the Idukki district of Kerala, Parunthumpara is a highland tucked away in the mountain ranges of Idukki, at an altitude of 1200m above the sea level. Parunthumpara means eagle’s rock; the place probably got its name due to the huge monoliths here spread out like eagles, or because of the bird’s eye view of the countryside that one gets from here.
The endless stretches of highland, the green meadows, the undulating hills and the deep valleys below, make Parunthumpara an enchanting hill-station. The cool mountain breeze, along with the mystical mist veiling the mountains, adds a magical charm to Parunthumpara, especially in the evenings.
From the national highway, once you take the rugged road from Kallar junction, you reach this bewitching highland. One can drive till the top of the mountain. It is said that the celestial light of ‘Makarajyothi’ of Sabarimala can be viewed from here and hence pilgrims flock to Parunthumpara during the ‘Sankranti’ time.
Since Parunthumpara is nestled away from the populace, the place is immersed in Nature’s music. The misty breeze playing the mountain's harp, the orchestra of the feathery visitors of nature who come here for a stopover en route their destination, the murmur of trees from the peripheral forests, and the silence in between the music – I never knew of time passing by so quickly, watching the milky clouds rushing to beat the traffic on the blue canopy, or the endless stretch of beauty splayed out in front of me.
Views from the top of the mountains are spectacular. The views of the countryside, the mountain springs in the low lands, the pristine forests on the fringes, and the tantalizing ravines, fill one with awe. Sometimes, you can see some bravehearts descending the steep slopes, even though it is very dangerous.
What makes the trip all the more worth taking are the other unexplored spots on the route. One of it is the Valanjamkanam waterfalls. About 15 kms from Parunthumpara, at a sharp turn, you can see this misty waterfall cascading and falling from a height of 23m. This milky falls is a beauty in itself. When the waterfall gets heavy during the monsoon season, people can be seen having fun. However, the best part of it for me is to be a silent spectator of the falls and its grandeur, sitting on a nearby stone fence enjoying the slight drizzle and sipping hot tea from one of the nearby stalls, especially when the cold breeze is adamant about giving you ‘the complete experience’.
Another unexplored destination is the dense artificial pine forest, located 10 kms from Parunthumpara. The pine forest spanning hundreds of acres doesn’t seem to have a name and probably became ‘He-Who-Is-Not-to-be-Named’, and is under the forestry department. Situated near to the main road itself with an open entrance to the side slopes, you can find few explorers stopping by and ascending it. The alternate green and brown slopes with the pine trees in rows adorning it and the fallen pine cones scattered across the slopes, is a marvelous scenery in itself. I never get tired sitting here listening to the murmur of the forest. Hiking through the endless span of the forest is an explorer’s delight.
There are other off-the-beaten-track destinations on the route. Thrisangu hills or Baker hills, with endless stretches of dense forests, is a hiker’s dream come true. Another hidden gem is Panchalimedu, which is an excellent view point. One has to ascend the steep hill to reach this dreamy place and this place is associated with the legend of Pandavas. ‘Makarajyoti’ can be also be viewed from here.
Parunthumpara is located 14 km from Kuttikkanam and 6 kms from Peermade, at a 5 km deviation from Kallar Junction on NH220 (Kottayam-Kumily road). Panchalimedu is 10 kms from Kuttikkanam and 4 kms from NH220. Valanjamkanam waterfalls is located 4 km from Kuttikkanam, while the pine forest is 2 km from Kuttikkanam.
Food and stay options are not available at the destinations, and the nearby towns of Kuttikkanam and Peermade has to be depended on for it.
Parunthumpara is only a half day trip and so nearby places can also be included in the itinerary or as a stopover, though Panchalimedu can take quite some time due to the steep ascend.
The best time to visit the place is during the monsoons with the landscape in lush green and with heavy waterfalls at Valanjamkanam, though at any time of the year, the place is still beautiful.
(The author is a freelance writer and a travel blogger, and authors the blog, 'The Road Less Travelled')