Tucked away in the idyllic district of Kottayam, Kerala, the Illikkal Kallu is a towering monolith that has captivated the hearts of explorers and nature enthusiasts. This awe-inspiring rock formation, standing at an impressive altitude of 3400 feet, has become a symbol of natural beauty in the region. The Illikkal Kallu is not just a tourist attraction but a significant landmark that enhances Kottayam’s landscape with its unique mushroom-like shape and the intriguing mythology that surrounds it.
Its panoramic views of the Arabian Sea at the horizon and the stunning display of the setting sun against the evening sky make it a spectacle of nature’s grandeur and a testament to Kottayam’s verdant beauty. Whether one is seeking an adventurous trek or a serene spot for contemplation, the Illikkal Kallu stands as a majestic beacon, beckoning visitors from near and far.
Illikkal Kallu is nestled in the serene landscape of Kottayam district, within the Talanad village of Meenachil taluk, Kerala, India. The monolith, standing at a remarkable 3400 feet above sea level, ranks among the region’s loftiest points. As part of the scenic Illikkal mountains, the area is characterised by emerald green valleys, tranquil mountain streams, and rich biodiversity.
The nearby town of Theikoi, just a few kilometres away, provides the closest urban link. The Illikkal Kallu’s prominent position on the mountain allows for unparalleled views of the Arabian Sea, which can be seen in the distance as a thin blue line on the horizon. Its location and altitude make it a perfect vantage point to witness the majestic sunset, especially on a full moon day, offering a breathtaking spectacle of natural beauty.
The Unique Rock Formations:
The Illikkal Kallu is divided into three distinct hills, each boasting unique formations that contribute to the site’s overall allure. The first hill, often referred to as the umbrella stone, is named so due to its uncanny resemblance to a mushroom. This formation, crafted by natural elements over aeons, stands out in its unique shape and structure, making it a captivating sight for visitors.
The second peak bears the name Koonu Kallu, a term that signifies “humped rock.” The name is derived from the peculiar hump-like protrusion on its sides, a distinct characteristic that sets it apart from the other formations. Its high perch offers a breathtaking panorama of the verdant valleys and the vast horizon beyond.
These hills, though distinct in their formations, come together to form a coherent landscape that is the Illikkal Kallu. Their unique shapes and structures, a result of nature’s artistic touch, add an element of intrigue to the site, further enhancing its appeal as a must-visit landmark in Kottayam.
Narakapalam – The Bridge Between Hills:
Possibly one of the most thrilling features of Illikkal Kallu is Narakapalam, a narrow, natural bridge that daringly connects the first and second hills. The name ‘Narakapalam’ loosely translates to ‘Bridge to Hell’, a moniker earned due to the adrenaline-pumping trek it offers. The bridge is approximately two feet wide, allowing only the bravest and sure-footed adventurers to cross. It teeters precariously over a deep gorge, making the journey both thrilling and challenging. As you cross, the panoramic view of the lush valleys, coupled with the crisp mountain air, is a reward in itself. The trek to reach Narakapalam is an experience unto itself, with a trail that zigzags through the rugged terrain, steeps, and unsteady rocks. The journey, though it requires a fair amount of physical stamina, offers an unparalleled sense of achievement upon completion. It’s a must-try for those seeking a dose of adventure in the serene surroundings of Illikkal Kallu.
Flora and Myths:
The Illikkal Kallu region is not just about the stunning geology; it also hosts a variety of unique flora. Perhaps the most interesting among them is the Neela Koduveli, a mythical plant rumoured to have grown in this area. Enveloped in local folklore, this plant is rumored to hold magical qualities. According to folklore, the Neela Koduveli could change its colour from blue to various hues, and it was believed that possessing it would bring boundless wealth and luck.
Aside from the mythical Neela Koduveli, the region around Illikkal Kallu is a veritable treasure trove of diverse flora. From medicinal herbs to vibrant wildflowers, the area is rich with plant life that adds another layer of allure to the landscape. Many of these species play a crucial role in maintaining the ecological balance of the region, providing habitat for various fauna, and contributing to the natural beauty that the area is renowned for. The lush greenery, coupled with the unique rock formations, make Illikkal Kallu a paradise for nature lovers and botany enthusiasts.
At Illikkal Kallu, the views are nothing short of spectacular. On clear days, visitors can glimpse the blue expanse of the Arabian Sea, which lies in the far distance. The sight of the vast sea merging with the azure sky at the horizon creates a stunning portrait of nature’s grandeur. However, these panoramic vistas are further elevated during sunset.
The moment of sunset at Illikkal Kallu is a spectacle of enchanting beauty. As the day nears its end, the heavens are streaked with vibrant shades of deep red, fiery orange, and sparkling gold, casting an intense contrast to the emerging nightfall. The sun, appearing like a radiant orb, slowly sinks into the horizon, casting an ethereal glow over the entire region.
The spectacle reaches its zenith on a full moon day. The golden sunset gives way to a silvery moonrise, illuminating the night sky with a soft, peaceful light. The moonlight reflects on the serene streams and the undulating valleys, creating a dreamlike atmosphere that is both mesmerising and tranquil. The breathtaking transition from a golden sunset to a moonlit night is a sight to behold, making a visit to Illikkal Kallu an unforgettable experience. The heavenly spectacle and the unrivaled view of the Arabian Sea make Illikkal Kallu an essential stop for those who appreciate nature and have a passion for photography.
Getting to Illikkal Kallu:
Illikkal Kallu, located in the Kottayam district of Kerala, is comfortably accessible by road from key areas in Kerala. For those arriving by air, Kochi International Airport is your closest option, located roughly 76 kilometers from your desired destination. After landing, you have the convenience of hiring a taxi or boarding a bus bound for Kottayam city. From Kottayam, which is approximately 55 kilometres away from Illikkal Kallu, you can hire a taxi, rent a self-drive car, or even take a local bus to reach Illikkal Kallu. Do note that the last stretch of road leading up to Illikkal Kallu is a bit steep and requires skilled driving. For those opting for train travel, Kottayam railway station is the closest, and one can easily catch a local taxi or bus to the destination from there. Regardless of your mode of travel, the journey to Illikkal Kallu is as enchanting as the destination, with scenic beauty accompanying you throughout.
Safety Measures for the Trek:
Safety should be your primary concern while trekking at Illikkal Kallu. Always stay on the designated trails and avoid straying into unmarked areas, as the terrain can be unpredictable and treacherous in some places. It’s also crucial to wear appropriate hiking footwear that provides good grip and ankle support, given the uneven and rocky paths. Carry plenty of water to stay hydrated, along with energy snacks to keep your stamina levels high. Sunscreen and hats are a must during the day, while a torch may come in handy for early morning or late evening treks. It’s also recommended to trek in groups and inform local authorities or your hotel about your trekking plans.
Best Time to Visit:
The optimal time to visit Illikkal Kallu is between October and March, during the cooler months of the year. The climate is welcoming in this season, offering ideal conditions for treks and visual delights. The monsoon season from June to September offers a different flavour, with the verdant landscape turning even greener and waterfalls gushing around the hills. However, the trails can be slippery and visibility might be low due to mist, so caution is advised for trekkers during these months.
In conclusion, Illikkal Kallu is not just another tourist spot but rather an embodiment of nature’s splendour and mystique. It stands as a testament to the captivating beauty that the Earth has to offer, from the daunting rock formations that defy gravity to the unparalleled flora that adds a touch of the exotic to the awe-inspiring views that leave one humbled by the grandeur of nature. The place is a paradise for those seeking solace in the serene embrace of nature or a sense of adventure on the untamed trails. It holds a charm that entices the explorer, the nature lover, the botanist, and the photographer alike. But the true beauty of Illikkal Kallu is something that cannot be captured in mere words or photographs; it has to be experienced. So, we warmly invite you to pack your bags, lace up your trekking boots, and come experience the magic of Illikkal Kallu for yourself. Let the journey to Illikkal Kallu be your next adventure, and let the mesmerising beauty of nature be your reward.