Rajamalai is a must-see destination, says MANU REMAKANT
A 15-km trip from Munnar to see wild goats seems pointless. But if the local guide insists you take one, although sceptical, you give in. The destination is Rajamalai, part of the Eravikulam National Park in Idukki district. The target: to sight the rare mountain goat – the Nilgiri Tahr, and to lay claim that you have conquered the tallest peak in South India, Anamudi.
The journey is taxing to the eyes as it struggles to see all of the picturesque landscape. With endless strips of tea plantations and greenery, your eyes long for a sight of concrete, for a change. Women picking the tea buds with the soft glow of the morning sun on their face is a sight to behold.
The strip finally ends at a meadow with a bubbling stream running through it. The jeep I am travelling in stops. There are cattle grazing at the other side of the stream. With its greenery and distant hills as a backdrop, it makes an ideal picnic spot.
As my guide points out that we have yet to reach our destination, we move on…
Water cascades down from a height of 1,600 metres from a hill on our left. Tourists are seen bathing under the waters of the Nyayamakad waterfalls, which is a great trekking point. Moving upward, we reach our destination.
The 97 square km park lies along the high ranges of the western coast in the Munnar Forest Division of Idukki. Established to protect the Nilgir Tahr, also known as the Nilgiri Ibex, it is also home to various fauna such as the Malabar Civet, Sambar, barking dear, and grey jungle fowl.
Considering the ecological, floral, geomorphologic and zoological significance, it was declared a National park in 1978. The park is divided into three regions – the core area, the buffer area and the tourism area.
Visitors are allowed only in the tourism area, which is in the Rajamalai region. Trekking facilities are available here. Anamudi (2,694 m), the highest peak in the south, is situated south of the park.
The journey up the mountain is by foot. For a non-mountain hiker, it is an uphill task. As my guide and I slowly make our way to the top, we hear tourists gleefully cry, “See, goat, goat..” as I strain to sight at least one.
“You have to be lucky to spot one,” says my guide.
Come April, people will throng the hills for another reason. `Neelallurinji,’ which blooms once every 12 years, will carpet the hillside blue. A scenic vacation, this place is a must-see for nature lovers.