Everybody relates Nilambur to greenery. A town with roads in the shade of teak trees and thick forests that fringe the Nilgiri mountain ranges are the common images of the area. Nilambur offers attractions that can keep a visitor engrossed for two days.
The influence of the Chaliyar river and the Nilgiri hills is felt everywhere here. The name Nilambur is believed to have been derived from Nilimbapuram, which means the land of bamboo.
Located on the border with Tamil Nadu in Malappuram district, Nilambur is a favourite among tourists. It is considered as the gateway to an array of grand attractions nearby. However, Nilambur itself has its own share of tourist spots. Ordinary travellers who pass through the town on way to other well-known destinations give these spots a miss.
Teak Museum, Conolly’s Plot
For a traveller by road, the entrance to Nilambur is Vadapuram market, beyond which is the Chaliyar river. Cross the bridge and the sights of Nilambur await travellers.
The first scene in the town is that of traders offering their wares under the shady trees. Every item, from clothes to chicken biriyani, is available here. The place is Conolly’s Plot, where the world’s first teak plantation is located. The plantation was opened in 1840 and can be visited after buying tickets from the Forest Department’s office.
The lushly growing historic trees can be reached by crossing a hanging bridge across the Chaliyar river. Among the biggest draws is the big teak tree, which is the world’s largest planted teak. A tributary of the Chaliyar flows near the plot.
The teak plantation was the idea of Conolly, a Englishman, who used the services of Sir Chathu Menon to turn it into reality.
A visitor can spend about one hour here. Teak saplings are also offered for sale.
A forest in the town
Though Nilambur town holds nothing for tourists, something interesting awaits them at the adjacent Chandakkunnu. A road opposite to the bus stand takes travellers to Bungalow Kunnu, which was the DFO’s office during British rule.
There are massive mahogany trees around the ancient bungalow, where canopy walking similar to the one at Thenmala is arranged. It is a green paradise right in the heart of Nilambur.
Dormitory facility is available at Bungalow Kunnu which offers the chance to get a feel of the forest in a town. The place is about a 10-minute drive from Nilambur town.
At Chandakkunnu, crisp ‘parottas’ and beef curry with lip-smacking gravy lure travellers to the eateries. The best beef dish is available at Babu Ikka’s BA Hotel. For customers who don’t prefer beef, the hotel serves the equally tasty egg roast.
In fact, the small eateries and shacks offer diverse local dishes. The specials include paper-thin rice ‘pathiris’ and chicken curry.
Take a left turn on the Chandakkunnu – Vazhikadavu road to Adhyanpara. It is waterfall on the fringes of the forest which can also be reached by taking the bus to Akambadam from Nilambur. The distance is 15 km. Visiting time is 9.30 am to 5 pm.
Another spot nearby is the Teak Museum where one can learn about the history related to teak and other interesting trivia. A butterfly park on the premises presents pretty sights.
From Adhyanpara, a trek along the hill highway heading to Kozhikode leads to Kozhippara waterfall, which is also accessible by road. Accommodation is available in this area, known as Kakkadampoyil.
The Nadukani ghat road is yet another interesting sight here. It has a winding path lined with bamboo on both sides and monkeys frolicking all along the way.
Mercury dips sharply in the area, which is the ideal spot to watch the sunset between the hills. Moreover, mist covers villages like Maruthakkadavu in the hill.
Stay is available at KTDC Tamarind or other hotels in Nilambur.
A trip to rivers
Several streams join the Chaliyar and all of them have crystal clear water. There are three spots where travellers can venture into the water – Nedumkayam, T K Colony and Keralamkundu.
A peculiarity of the streams in the area is that bottom will be in view even if the depth is over 12 feet. Boulders pose minor hurdles, over which the water tumbles down as small waterfalls. Small swimming pools take shape where the waterfall touches the ground. There is almost no danger involved in venturing into the water here even with women and kids. Care has to be taken to avoid soap, as the water is the drinking source for many local families.
However, some precautions are required for bathing in the river. As the water is clear, its depth cannot be judged easily. Avoid areas in the river coloured green or looking dark. They are whirlpools that can suck even an elephant.
At Nedumkayam, a metal bridge is the main point of interest. The tomb of Dawson, an Englishman who died in the waters, is nearby. Elephant herds roam the area and caution has to be employed.
A wide whirlpool that greets visitors has to be avoided at all costs. Upstream are several small pools, where bathing is safe.
T K Colony
Here too the water is clear and pure, flowing gently over the rocks. T K Colny can be reached from Nedumkayam via Pookkottumpadam.
Another small waterfall in the vicinity is Keralamkundu. The road to the waterfall starts from Karuvarakundu market. It resembles a well among the rocks. A bath is safe here as long as the deep parts are avoided.
The recent floods and landslips have affected the beauty of the place, but it still draws visitors. The route is Nilambur – Pookkottumpadam – Kalikavu. From there, before reaching Karuvarakundu, turn to the road to the waterfall.
Nilambur – a gateway
From Nilambur internationally renowned destinations like Ooty, Mysore, Gundalpet, Masinagudi, Mudumalai and Bandipur are only a short trip away. From Nilambur, the route is via Nadukani Ghat Road which leads to T-Junction. Towards the left is Wayanad and to the right Gudallur and Mudumalai. To the right of Mudumalai is Masinagudi, beyond which is the Kallatti Ghat road to Ooty. The road on the left leads to Bandipur national park. Beyond the national park is Gundalpet in Karnataka.
Apart from the road trip, the Shoranur – Nilambur passenger train is another charming option to reach Nilambur.
Phone number of KTDC Tamarind – 04931232000.