Monsoon Magic at Nelliyampathi

Ever heard of ‘Godliness meter’? They have placed one such thing at the border where the train from Kerala crosses into Tamilnadu. Many Keralites have left for greener pastures over the last century; if the exodus was to the Far East in the beginning, it changed course to the West – especially the US of A – and then to the Middle East.

Yet, the meter showed abysmally low readings. Or so it seems. The moment I left that beautiful place of my birth, the meter reading leaped like long jumper Anju Bobby George and the state government went ahead and declared it ‘God’s Own Country’. Probably that explains why I landed up in the ‘livestock-belt’ (no offence, I’m a ‘Dil/Dilliwala now) instead of New York or Dubai.

Tourism was centered around Kovalam, Thekkady and Cochin then. Huge boats propelled using long bamboo poles, carried loads of paddy, coconut and other products. Kumarakom was still a small hamlet where the attraction was a bunglow from the Raj era with thatched roof (the original ‘punkha’ intact) overlooking a beautiful water-lily pond in front and the backwaters just beyond….. how many times did my friend and I – in our late teens – walk those lonely paths alongside the vast expanse of water, looking for water birds and enjoying the dark green little jungle on the other side…

Even bigger boats are now made and turned into floating houses. Kumarakom have become a tourist hot -spot made even more famous by Vajpayee’s ‘musings’ at a resort there when he was the PM. Star hotels have lined up the lake shore offering everything from noodles to ayurvedic massages. My neighbours in Delhi have visited places in Kerala which I have never been to. Also I’ve met many Delhi couples who did their honeymooning in Munnar.

I make it a point to visit at least one nice spot during our annual summer trip down south to meet my parents. On one such occasion we drove up to a place called Nelliyampathi which is in the district of Palakkad and up in the blue mountains. We started off from Palakkad where my in-laws were then and reached a place called Nenmara. The road was typical Kerala with bends every few hundred meters – in fact all roads except the national highway fall in this category. This was a blessing in disguise for us as the scenery was excellent – Western Ghats filling the horizon, lots of green, paddy being planted with labourers forming a neat line and thanks to the monsoon, gushing rivers…… all in all splendid Kerala stuff.

Paddy planting
Paddy planting
Monsoon was at its fag end. Dark clouds were still floating around, its travel up north intercepted by the Ghats and the benevolent traveller threw down droplets of water interspersed with sunrays. While puddles, streams and rivers longed for more, trees nodded in assent in the ever-flowing breeze.
Swollen river
Swollen river
From Nenmara starts the ascend into heaven. Right at the beginning of the climb stands a dam which collects water gushing down from the hills and uses it for irrigation. Breathtaking scenery from the top of the dam – both of the mountains and the valley below.

The journey up was at times, precarious. Narrow road was broken at places, signs of mudslide as well (the way to heaven is fraught with obstacles, Holy Book tells me). At one point I even thought of turning back but the adventurer in me pushed me on and it was worth it. We stopped by one of the many brooks amid tall trees and kids had a gala time.

Touch the clouds
Touch the clouds…. Photo Courtesy: M M Philip
The top of the mountain was a visual treat to the beauty-starved eyes. Rather plain compared to the slope that we came up, it was covered with neatly trimmed tea and coffee plantation for miles. Spotted along the way are orange trees and cardamom plants. We drove around for some time soaking in the glory of bountiful nature but the persistent drizzle prevented us from getting off and taking a much wanted stroll. However, the light rain and low-hung clouds added to the beauty and the mystery of the place. Monsoon at her magical best.

Drizzling in tea garden
Drizzling in Tea Garden
We turned back reluctantly after refreshments at a tea shop and purchasing some local products like coffee powder. Combining all elements of sensual pleasure, it was a wonderfully refreshing hill-drive.


  • nandanjha says:

    Whoo. The poet comes back. :) Badly needed post for us in Delhi-in-June kinds.

  • Ram Dhall says:


    You have simply left me totally awestruck.

    What a poetic and soothing description of “God’s own country’, especially Nelliyampathi and surroundings. I just don’t know how to express my feelings about the mesmerising effect your informative post has created. The two photographs – paddy planting and touch the clouds are simply astounding.

    Would keenly look forward to your forthcoming posts.

    God bless you.

  • Bhooma says:

    Beautiful write up Made me feel so nostalgic about my childhood in Kerala. Monsoon in kerala gives you a different perception of rain as compared to the mayhem we have in delhi.

  • Nomadic Matt says:

    Echoing what people said…i feel this was well written.

    What’s the godliness scale go up too? 1-5? 0-10?

  • Patrick Jones says:

    Thank you everyone.

    Confer the title on Ram Dhall who is way ahead of me.

    Think it goes up to infinity. Hovering just above zero in my presence :-)

  • Celine says:

    Is Pallakad same as Palghat? My next destination is the Silent Valley. If you’ve been there, please share your experiences.

    Every bit of Kerala is beautiful. Thank you for a nice feeling to read about the monsoon magic of Nelliyampthi.

  • Patrick Jones says:

    Thanks, Celine

    Palghat is the anglicised form of Palakkad. Going by the current trend to use the original names, Trivandrum, Cochin and Calicut are now Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode respectively but the list doesn’t end there.

    I have been to Silent Valley on a day trip, a few years back. Its not exactly plains but hills with thick vegetation. Tourists are allowed upto a certain point only (a brook with clear water) for which you require prior permission and a local guide. We hired a jeep (and a guide) from Mannarkkad , the nearest town. Trekking is allowed for serious nature-lovers.

    You get to see the jungle and the beautiful hills. Sighted a few birds and small animals but the lion tailed macaque for which the area is famous for, were nowhere to be seen. May be you need to trek far into the jungle to meet them.

    Have a pleasant trip.

  • Philip Mathai says:

    Yes Celine, Palghat and Palakkad are same. Palakkad is the pure Malayalam.
    It is Like Calcutta and Kolkata. I have been to Silent Valley. It is a Virgin forest with a lot of bio-diversity. It is called Silent valley because you dont hear the screeching sound of the beetle like insects generally heard in forest and outside especially in night. You can only hear the sound of some birds and the lion tailed Monkey. It is seen only in this place. If you are lucky, you can see some elephants or a leopard. Car cannot go there. The roads are not good. The forest department has bus services with a guide. It is better to take advance booking from Mannarkkad Forest office. This place is good for those who want to conduct research. For which forest department will make facilities and permission. Before I come to Delhi I was at Karimba village in Palakkad. It is 36 KM from Palakkad. From Karimba to Silent valley is 50 KM.It is 12 KM to Mannarkkad. If you want to hire a jeep then you have to take a guide also from Forest department. They do not allow any one without a guide. If your jeep is stuck there is no way you can return back soon.


  • manish khamesra says:

    What to say Patrick, you simply left me awestuck with this beautiful article. And there are beautiful and informative comments too. Kerala seems to be much nearer now. I have two good very good Keralite school friends, but unfortunately at that time we never talked about traditions, cultures.

    I would also agree with the rest that the poetic Patrick seems to be soothing us with this beautiful article.

    We would be looking for more …

  • Arun says:

    lovely write-up. The western ghat stretches of Kerala are something that I have long been wishing to explore. It has remained a wish so far.. :)

  • Celine says:

    Patrick Jones and Philip Mathai,

    Apologies for the delay in responding and thank you for the response to my queries here.

    My heartfelt thanks to both of you for the wealth of information on Silent Valley. When I go there someday, it will be as a serious trekker. Thank you.:)

  • Patrick Jones says:

    Thank you, Manish. You already made up for those losses with your visit to Kerala. You learned a lot about that place.

    Arun and Celine,
    Wish you a very pleasant trip to the Western Ghats.

  • anjaly says:

    Hi Patrick,

    Hey, to think that I live (at least my folks do) rather close to Palghat and I have never been to Nelliampathy! Wow, I surely would like to now, more than ever…reading your account of Nelliampathy (I like the Godliness meter, quite observant, I must say), I am begining to think Kerala is God’s Own, after all….very well written and that picture of green paddy is amazing..I mean to see it on picture is so muc nicer than seeing it actually, no????

    well written!

  • Patrick Jones says:

    Thanks, Anjaly.

    With the latest technology available, photographs – especially that of nature – come out real nice. Besides Nelliyampathy, Silent Valley also is a great place to be, near Palakkad.

  • Jerry Jaleel says:


    Your writing brought back memories of my visit to Parambikulam wildlife sanctuary and Silent Valley, made a few years ago. Mannarkad was our base camp. We were in and out of Tamil Nadu during this trip. The mountain scenery was breathtaking, especially when viewed from the top of an observatory tower. Yes we did see Lion tailed macaque, wild pigs and a giant Malabar squirrel.

    I also noticed that inside the forest area they were growing pepper corns, several tall trees were covered with vines carrying pepper corns. I wonder how this would affect the wildlife during the harvest period. Nalliampathi hills and Anaimudi are magnificent areas for admirers of wildlife.

    Thank you for posting this piece with attractive photographs.


  • Raj says:

    You missed a great deal by not staying there for at least a couple of days.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Nostalgic, though I have never been to Kerala, forget Nelliyampathi.

    I think it finished too soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *