Varayadumotta - To the Abode of Nilgiri Tahr

Trek to the abode of Nilgiri Tahr in the mountain ridge of Varayadu is challenging but memorable. Reaching to the abode of proud Niligir Tahr, the state animal of Tamilnaadu, through pristine forest delights trekkers. Sighting of Nilgiri Tahr’s, hump nosed pit viper and bison further enlightened our trek in the evergreen shola forest.

Varayadumotta - To the Abode of  Nilgiri Tahr
Final Stretch of Peak

About Varayadumotta - Varayadumotta is a mountain ridge known for its population of Nilgiri Tahr which is a scarce species. Nilgiri Tahr is known as Varayadu in Malayalam. Kerala forest department allows trekking to this location as part of its eco-tourism activities. This mountain range also named as Varayadumotta, Varayadumudi and Varayattumudi. With an elevation of ~3300 feet, it’s situated in between Ponmudi hills, Palode hills and Kallar valley. It includes 13 peaks and the second peak is the highest peak in Varayadumotta. It is also listed as third adventurous trekking in South India.

How to reach - There are many trekking routes.

  1. Kalllara –> Varayadumotta – > Kallara [Popular route with total 14 KM]
  2. Ponmudi check post – > Varayadumotta –> Kallara [Most beautiful stretch with total 15 KM]
  3. Mankayam Checkpost –> Varayadumotta – > Kallara [Total 12 KM]

My experience - We were at the Ponmudi Forest check post near Kallara at 7:45 AM. Our guide Rateesh was waiting for us. Having breakfast with packed lunch, a team of 11 members were all set to begin the trek along with forest guide Rajesh. We have chosen the Route-2 to reach the peak. Taking a jeep ride from the check post, we traversed around 4 KM to reach the starting point of the trek.

First stretch - Elephant Corridor: We began the trek at 8:45 AM. Rateesh briefed us DO’s and DON’T’s. The first 3 KMs is an elephant corridor and dangerous. Rateesh warned us to be silent during this stretch and insisted us to trek fast to cross this dangerous stretch.

After traversing for 30 minutes, Vishwa was quick enough to spot a Hump Nosed Pit viper. All were curious to glance and click the snaps. This is the first time I could see the wiper so near. 

The path unwinds through the gradual hike and after traversing 45 minutes we reached the forest outpost. There exists a small temple (Ayyappa basti). We were rested for 15 minutes before proceeded further.

Second Stretch - Negotiate the long grown bamboos, Grasses and bushes : This trajectory leads through the bamboos and long grown plants in a curvy way. This terrain demands to negotiate the gradual ascend for an hour to pass through the lush green forest before opened up to the vast wide grass land towards the mountain ridges.

Stretch 3 - The most beautiful, panoramic, challenging but rewarding 

This is the challenging but most panoramic stretch. It’s a kind of Grassland trek. The surrounding panoramic will throb your heart. One can see the beautiful surroundings with Agastamalayi ridge.

We were able to spot the three Nilgiri Tahrs on one of the peaks in the mountain ridge.This stretch warrants gradual and strenuous climb crossing many peaks. Surely its feast to eyes and heart...! This stretch easily takes 2+ hours passing through multiple peaks before reach to the base of the final peak. The beautiful peaks offers amazing views.

Hiking the last peak

@Top of the last peak

We were finally at the top of the last peak at 2:15 PM. In total we took 5Hr 15 minutes to reach the top. We relaxed for some time having lunch whilst enjoying the surrounding serene.

Return Trek - Descend from the peak towads Kallara

The other challenging part of trek is descending from the last peak towards the Kallar valley. One needs to negotiate the challenging 60-70-degree slope and the ground is very slippery with gravel and dust. During rainy season one can’t take a risk here as this demand to creep or slide down to minimize the risk of falling.

The track, after descending, deviates to left from the valley towards Kallar. This is an open and relatively flat field for about a km or so. Enroute we spotted a bison in the valley. The next stretch was through a thick forest descending from the valley. Ovecoming thirsty in a small stream on the way we traversed further 2 hours before reaching the connecting road of Ponmudi-Kallar main road around 6:30 PM. 

Tips…Before you trek…

  • Water source – You can find a small stream on the way to the peak and also while descending from the peak towards Kallar. But the stream would be dried out in summer or in late January. So, don't rely and carry sufficient water bottles (at least 2 liters each).
  • It’s an elephant corridor too. Ensure to follow the instructions of the guide.
  • Ensure to cover with full arm due to bushes and sharp thrones along with the mountain range
  • As this is a physically demanding trek, be prepared for it. The local guide mentioned out of 10 only 6 people make it to the top and others would stop in between.
  • There isn’t much shade along the mountain ridge. So better to have a good hat.

Final say – The difficulty level is moderate to tough due to its slippery trails and dangerous abysses. But what guaranteed is the stunning views of mountains and valleys all around. The best season is from October – January.  

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About Nilgiri Tahr:

*source - Wikipedia

Let the world know about NILGIRI TAHR. The proud of only mountain ungulate in southern India and the proud of Western Ghats