If one is in the lookout for off-beat places in Kerala, a drive to Pathanamthitta could be ideal. Passing by streams and forests, one spots animals such as elephants, tigers, and deer. The wild beauty of the places is much more exhilarating than a travel to a romantic destination. No wonder Pathanamthitta has its good share of travellers on the tourist map of the southern state called God's Own Country. Gavi, Aluvamkudi and Adavi are just a few among the key places. Let's take a trip down the green stretches of this hilly belt in south-east Kerala.
It's an evergreen forest 3.400 ft above the sea level. With its green mountain, bluish brooks and the occasionally brown hilltops, Gavi freshens up the visitors with its coolness and quietude. The eco points that give sight to gorges and valleys are exhilarating. After all, it’s a trek down the middle of the jungle. Every foray into its interiors is a novel experience. Not surprising, thus, that the government has been providing increasingly efficient services to the visitors.
This belt is part of the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. That also hints at the extra caution from a visitor to Gavi: the area has lots of wild animals. Entry gates have signage that highlight the extra care to be taken by anyone getting in.
The premises don't entertain loud sound or high speed of vehicles. Any forward movement down the road should anticipate a sudden or unexpected encounter with an animal; say, a tusker crossing the way. Authorities have provided tented accommodation to visitors, who can go out on trekking with security provided by forest officials so as to leisurely view the wild animals.
For an elephant-lover, there is perhaps no place like Konni in Kerala. What’s more, one can take a ride down the river on the rounded coracle boat locally called kuttavanchi.
Pathanamthitta district has half its land demarcated as forest, where the elephant-taming centre at Konni and an eco-tourism venture in Adavi are the main tourist attractions. Konni, which is by the Achankovil river, is noticed for its rich flora and fauna. The elephant-taming centre there is a cynosure for the tourists, who visit the place to enrich their knowledge about the pachyderm. It’s a university on elephant matters, one can say.
Konni has an age-old history of elephant-taming. It still preserves a historical cage that was meant to trap the animal. One that is made entirely of wood, it is a major attraction here along the nine-acre plot. The spot has its elephant-related fame having found place in Aitihyamala, the 20th-century Malayalam book on Kerala fables.
It's an ideal destination for a one-day trip. Just seven km away from Konni, it has become an increasingly vibrant location for tourists.
The trip usually guarantees accompaniment of monkeys and birds. But the eventual fun emerges as the frolic around the trip in the coracle boats along Thannithodu. The water here, too, is so cool. And worth the fees: Rs 800.
This is more a place of adventure. The forest here is so thick that a trek in itself has its share of suspense. The area has a Sreekrishna temple that was in shambles till recently, but has of late been renovated to the pleasure of tourists. It used to be medieval-era shrine that had enjoyed a distinct prestige among the Hindu pilgrims of Kerala.
The place also gives sight to hillocks such as Randattumuzhi, Kottappara, Nanattupara and Annanthambi that are part of the Iratta Kallar hydropower project. Again, not far from Konni, Aluvamkudi has the charm of remain misty most time of day.
This waterfall in Vechoochira panchayat is a lovely sight that continues to woo tourists. The placid water from the Western Ghats, on reaching here, turns a bit furious. It’s a fall that measures no less than a 100 feet.