Severe heat conditions are making life difficult for people Kerala even though summer has only set in. But there are still some locations in the state where chilling weather conditions prevail, especially at night. One such spot where one cannot sleep without a woollen blanket is Pampadum Shola.
Pampadum Shola national park is 35 km from Munnar on the Vattavada route. It is still cool in Munnar even though summer has arrived. Warm weather is experienced during daytime, but at night the mercury falls drastically. Local people say that it is colder this year compared to 2018. Pampadum Shola is can get so cold that jackets and blankets become necessary to survive during the night. Moreover, the misty mornings when thin frost covers the grass and other vegetation is a sight to behold.
Attractions at Pampadum Shola include mountains covered with a thick growth of stately trees, eucalyptus plantations, and also barren hillocks. The sight of the sunlight reflecting on the many-hued leaves of the tall trees makes a visitor wonder whether he is in an exotic destination.
The area is also teeming with wildlife. The first sight greeting a visitor in the morning could be a herd of wild bisons. Several herds, some large and others small, may stray to the roadsides. They later move into the forest. Occasionally, elephants and a tiger may also be spotted in Pampadum Shola.
Other wild animals present here include wild dog and sambar deer. But the speciality of Pampadum Shola is the Nilgiri marten. A unique species indigenous to the Western Ghats, Nilgiri marten finds Pampadum Shola a safe habitat.
The tourism activities in the area are organized with the cooperation of the eco development committees under the Forest Department. The Forest Department offers accommodation and trekking packages. Visitors can stay at two log houses, a mud house, an amenity centre or a dormitory.
The most thrilling experience is available in the log house. It is built on a steep slope on a hillside where the sight and sounds of the woods lull travellers to sleep. A log house can accommodate two persons and the tariff is Rs 4,050 per day. There are two double rooms in the mud house. The tariff here too is Rs 4,050 a day. As many as 15 persons can stay at the amenity centre and the charge is Rs 500 per bed. In the dormitory, 30 people can be accommodated and the tariff is Rs 165 per bed.
Packages which include stay in the log house, breakfast, dinner, and trekking are available. The trekking route extends about five km from the top station check-post. More details on the Forest Department's trekking packages and facilities for booking accommodation are available from their website: munnarwildlife.com
Vattavada, an major centre of winter crop cultivation, is 7 km from Pampadum Shola. Vegetables like carrot, cauliflower, cabbage, and garlic grow here in abundance. Strawberry and passion fruit crops can also be seen. Step cultivation on the hillside offers a unique view.
Beautiful scenery unfolds before travellers on the route from Munnar to Pampadum Shola. Attractions along the way include Mattuppetty and Kundala dams, verdant grasslands, stunning gardens, green tea gardens, prosperous farms, thick eucalyptus plantations and stunning viewpoints.
Travellers need to take note that the shops on the roadside open late in the morning and close early in the evening. Moreover, as there are no shops or restaurants at Pampadum Shola, visitors who have not made arrangements for meals have to take packed food from Munnar or some other place.
Though the mercury has risen from the winter levels, visitors are flowing to Munnar even these days. However, one of the main attractions, the Eravikulam national park, was closed on January 20 as it is the breeding season of the Nilgiri tahr. The park will reopen only by March end. This makes Pampadum Shola the ideal spot to travel to the Munnar area now.