Travel enthusiasts heading out to explore hill stations like Munnar or Anchuruli in Idukki consider Peerumedu/Peermade as a mere pit stop. But it has more to it.
Other than the rush to watch Makaravilakku during the Sabarimala pilgrimage season, this range of hummocks mostly remain undisturbed.
Peerumedu is special for its mild climate, fog-less chill and proximity to busy townships. Just 3km from Kuttikkanam, the nearest town, the Peeru valley has a handful of cascades, tea plantations, a pine forest, some cozy resorts right in the lap of mother nature, and hill-tops offering breathtaking views of misty mountains and their valleys.
How to reach: Peerumedu is 76 km from Idukki town and 131 km from Ernakulam.
Nearest airport: Cochin international airport (138 km), Madurai international airport (175 km.)
Nearest railway station: Kottayam (80 km)
Parunthumpara: a trail up to a tarn
Parunthin para or the rock of eagle is a perfect starter for your exhilarating high-land ride. A small mount between Peerumedu and Thekkady, Parunthumpara has a cliff that looks like an eagle's head, with a perfectly shaped beak. One of the adventures that await you at Peerumedu is to conquer the height of this rock after an arduous trek. Once you reach the cliff top, which can hardly occupy three people, you'll feel like suspended in the middle of a gorge.
The bushes and pebbles, ever ready to roll under your feet, make scaling Parunthumpara all the more difficult. Beyond the cliff is a meadow with a misty lake at the center. A sea of green – created by the tea plantation – borders the meadow. Humid climate and the dew drops in the air will keep you hydrated and refreshed all along the trek.
How to reach: Parunthumpara is 12km from Kuttikkanam, Idukki.
Activities: Trekking, sight seeing, nature photography, rock climbing
Ammachi Kottaram: diminishing trails of Travancore's royal grandeur
This summer retreat of the Travancore royal family is situated 1.4 km from Kuttikkanam. A a narrow, dilapidated, serpentine road will take you to Ammachi Kottaram, a ramshackle structure inhabited by a family of three. A warm residential complex at a peripheral glance, this 217-year-old vintage castle hides tunnels, roadways, jails, interrogation rooms and huge arsenals in its belly. The small but magnificent palace has three halls with fireplaces, three bedrooms, an atrium, and kitchen space with ancient granite utensils. Beneath the ground is a replica of the same structure with stairs reaching out to the main complex. This is for the servants to enter and clean the rooms without accessing the main passages and doorways, during the royal reign.
The underground passage connects to Sri Krishna temple at Peerumedu and other forts in the territory. The ruined mansion is presently owned by a group of techies, who bought it from 'Aathurasramam,' a group of sages to whom the Royal family donated the palace in the last century. Ammachi Kottaram is also a major shooting location for Malayalam movies.
How to reach: 1.4 km from Kuttikkanam
Activities: Photography, nature walk, sight seeing.
Downy's tomb: a colonial reminiscence beyond hazy tea-estates
Past the gate of St George CSI church at Pallikkunnu and the pale buildings, timber-crosses, and park benches will make you feel like you have time-traveled into the British colonial days. St George church is known for its aged cemetery, where more than forty foreigners taking their final rest. The weather in Kuttikkanam switch between a shower, drizzle, and to a nipping breeze within seconds. Walking past the granite tombs through the murky slopes of churchyard, you'd find two friends buried in close proximity: a mare and her master.
Downey and her master Col JD Munroe fell off a hill and died. Together in life, the two were laid to final rest in adjacent tombs. Downy's tomb is one must-visit destination near Kuttikkanam.
How to reach: St. George CSI church is 3.4 km from Kuttikkanam on the Eerattupetta-Peerumedu highway.
Activities: Photography, sightseeing, walk through the meadows, worship.
Choose the Woodlands tea-estate road for your return journey from Pallikkunnu to Kuttikkanam if you are game for some rustic beauty of Kerala village among tea plantation.
Sunset of Kuttikkanam is best experienced from Pattumala hillock. The beauty of Woodlands tea-estate has been captured well in the Kunchacko Boban-starrer Ordinary in the place is portrayed as Gavi, another tourist destination almost 50 km from there. Mathai Kokka (Mathew's gorge), Peeru Mohd Dargah (tomb) and Panchalimdu are some other stunning hill stations of Peerumade that offer unforgettable glances of nature's beauty.