OFFBEAT

10 Places to Explore in the Western Ghats this Summer

Lakshmi Sharath

Last updated: Apr 3, 2017

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See

Coorg: Abbey Falls, Raja's Seat and Bylakuppe (a Tibetan settlement)
Mahabaleshwar: Strawberry farms, from December to May
Goa: Rajbagh Beach, which is one of the cleanest beaches in Goa
Thekkady: Tea, coffee and pepper plantations at Vandiperiyar and Abraham’s Spice Garden

Shop

Coorg: The world famous variety of coffee is on top of every shopper’s list
Mahabaleshwar: India Boot House and Ram Footwear to buy Kolhapuris for less than Rs. 130!
Thekkady: Spices such as cardamom, vanilla, and cinnamon

Filmy

Coorg: Portions of Priyanka Chopra’s deadly starrer ‘ Saat Khoon Maaf’ was shot here
Mahabaleshwar: Bollywood blockbusters shot in the backdrop of the Venna Lake are 'Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi' and 'Chalti Ka Naam Gadi'
Goa: Goa remains a favourite destination with many Bollywood filmmakers. Some of the movies shot here include Finding Fanny, Singham 2, Golmaal series, Dil Chahta Hai, etc.

Eat

Coorg: The delicious Pandhi Curry (Pork Curry) is served with akki roti (rice roti) or kadambuttu (rice dumplings)
Mahabaleshwar: Mulberry and strawberry ice cream
Goa: Goan delicacies like Pork Vindaloo, Prawn Xacuti and Bebinca
Thekkady: South Indian thali at Ariya Bhavan

Events

Coorg: Kailpodh (September)- Marks the end of the paddy sowing season which is celebrated by marksmen competitions, races etc.
Goa: The Sunburn Festival is an electronic dance music festival held in Candolim Beach every year in December

Want To Go ? 
   

The mist plays with the mountains. The trees converge around you. Surrounding you are mountains carpeted in 50 shades of green.  Welcome to the Western Ghats or the Sahyadris– a range of mountains that stretches for 1600 kms running parallel to the west coast of India, touching states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa. Hill stations, plantation towns, bio diversity hotspots, wildlife sanctuaries, waterfalls and rivers –this UNESCO World Heritage Site has them all. Some of the flora and the fauna here is endemic to the mountains and it is believed that a lot of them are yet to be discovered. Here are my favourite ten popular destinations that you must head to this summer in the Western Ghats.

Agumbe, Karnataka 

Located in Malenadu or the hilly regions of Karnataka, Agumbe is famous for its sunsets. It became popular when the television serial, Malgudi Days of RK Narayan was shot here. But it is the wet and wild forests that are home to several snakes and reptiles, including the King Cobra which beckon people.
The Malenadu region is culturally one of the richest with temples and monuments set in the forests and my strong recommendation would be to visit Sringeri, located 28 kms away where Adi Sankaracharya set up his mutt in the South after seeing a snake give a pregnant frog shelter from the rains on the banks of the river Tunga.

a woodpecker in one of the forest of agumbe
woodpecker in of the forest of Agumbe

Coonoor, Tamil Nadu

​Right in the heart of the Nilgiris or the Blue Mountains is Coonoor, located very close to Ooty and is one of the pristine hill stations of south india. While the latter gets very crowded in summer, Coonoor is still wrapped in solitude. A serene hill station in the lap of western ghats, Coonoor has so much to offer you. There are several shola forests and trekking routes that await you. For those interested in road trips, drive through these meandering roads hugging the hills with a panoramic view of tea plantations around you. The birds here are endemic and you can spot a bit of wildlife as well. Drive to Kotagiri or Ooty or head up into the hills or relive your childhood and take the toy train or the century old mountain railway up the hills. Indulge yourself in bird watching if that is what that soothes you. This is a perfect getaway from your daily hustle and bustle. Visit with friends or family, Coonoor will always surprise you with its mesmerizing beauty.

Dandeli, Karnataka 

Trekking, white water rafting, wildlife safaris – Dandeli has them all. A small town in the Western Ghats, it is also home to the elusive black panther besides leopards. It is an ideal vacation destination in karnataka for those who love nature a lot. The modern town on the river is surrounded by lush green deciduoud forest and a renown wildlife habitat where rare species of both vegetation and animals could be found. The Kali river is a favourite for those who are interested in water sports and white water rafting. As it is just 125 kilometres away from Goa, You can also just drive down to Goa if you are in the mood for a road trip.

An amazing view in Dandeli

Kalpatta, Wayanad, Kerala

Nestled high in the Western Ghats are some of the most dense and ancient forests in Wayanad which have been inhabited during the New Stone Age. Located in Kerala,The forests are rich in vegetation. Wayanad brings out the true beauty of Kerala. The mountain landscapes, tea gardens, astounding breeds of animals, waterfall and what more! You want a flawless selfie in the prime location, i.e. right beside the waterfall, Wayanad is the place to be. 

 There are caves here that show you some of the ancient paintings from the pre-historic times. The weather here is just appropriate for making tourist to visit this place all throughout the year. Head to Heritage museum if you are a true history lover. Don’t forget to visit Banasura Sagar Dam, Asia’s 2nd largest and India’s largest Earth Dam. Trekking, cave exploration, plantation trails and wildlife safaris – take your pick or just soak in the greenery and relax.

one of the species found in the reserve of  Kalpatta

Valparai, Tamil Nadu 

Lost in the Analmalai mountains and surrounded by evergreen tropical forests and tea plantations, Valparai is a hill station, a bio diversity hotspot and a plantation town – all rolled into one. Called the 7th heaven in Tamil Nadu, it is mid elevated hill station. It takes a drive through lush jungles with 40 hairpin bends to get here.

While the elephants, tigers and leopards roam around in these mountains, look out for lion tailed macaques, nilgiri tahr, giant squirrels and great Indian hornbills as well. visit Indira Gandhi wildlife Sanctuary and Monkey fall and Aliyar falls which fall on the way when you drive from Pollachi to Valparai. There are several wildlife destinations around Valparai as it is the border of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. 

the beautiful waterfall in one of the forest of Valparai

Madikeri, Coorg  Karnataka

Another plantation town, up in the hills, Coorg is often referred to as the Scotland of the East. The Kodavas have their own cultural heritage which is unique and filled with rich traditions. The river Cauvery is their mother and it originates as a spring in the mountains at Tala Cauvery. It was the British who brought coffee to Coorg by cultivating plantations.

When in Madikeri, visit Madikery fort, St. Mark’s Church and Omkareshwara temple. Coorg is a heaven of dense forests, misty peaks, waterfalls and rivers. Its serene and pristine landscape invites travellers from all over the world. It is a renown honeymoon destination in south. Birders and wildlife enthusiasts flock here as well. 

Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra

Think strawberries and you think of this picturesque destination in the mountains that was once the summer capital of the Britishers. Temples, forests, forts, farms, rivers – Mahabaleshwar has something for everybody. Head to Pratapgadh fort if you are in search of some history digging of maharashtra. You can also visit Venna lake and Parsi point when in Mahabaleshwar. A perfect weekend getaway from Mumbai, I would just recommend a relaxed walk in the woods and getting lost in the world of pristine nature. 

tea garden in mahabaleshwar

Thekkady, Kerala

If you have a long weekend to spare or you are planning a holiday to Kerala, then forget the backwaters and head to Thekkady, home to the elephants. Synonymous with the dense forests of the Periyar National Park, Thekkady is located in the Cardamom Hills. The Rivers Periyar and Pamba have their origins in these hills. Both a tiger and an elephant reserve, Thekkady is breathtakingly beautiful. Head for the spice plantation when you are here. You can also visit a number of tiger reservoirs present here. 

Staying in Thekkady is also very convenient. You can select from multitude of guest houses and hotels available in Thekkady.  You can visit Murikkady, at a distance of 5kms from Thekkady, for visiting tea and spices cultivation. Other nearby places are Chellar kovil, Anakkara and Mangala Devi Temple.  A visit here is often clubbed with a stay in Munnar, filled with verdant tea plantations.

Mollem, Goa

A small little village in Goa is the entry for wild forests and gushing waterfalls in Goa. Surrounded by the mountains, a drive through these forests takes you into a Goa where beaches are far away and the only parties here are those by the wild creatures.

You can select from different hotels and resorts available near Mollem National park to stay overnight if you are planning a trek to Dudhsagar falls. The journey through Mollem National Park and Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary takes you to Dudhsagar Falls and it is one of the trips that is best made in summer, before the monsoons. 

a view of mollem

Chorla Ghat, Goa

Sharing a border with Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa, Chorla Ghat is where one must head to this summer if you want to experience nature and forests at its pristine best. It is one of Western Ghats best kept secret. There are many waterfalls around the area which can turn out to be a perfect spot to click pictures or just laze around. The forests are home to endemic birds and butterflies, besides reptiles. you can either bird watch, or butterfly watch or simply soak yourself in the immense beauty of the nature.  Hidden waterfalls greet you in the jungles as you trek here. If there is one place that you must go this summer, I would recommend this. 

So, what are you waiting for? For more summer travel inspiration, check out our One-Stop Guide for Summer here!

More Travel Inspiration For Coorg