Mannavanur: A hidden gem of Kodaikanal

It is a panoramic view of Poombarai Village with colourful village in right and farms in right and a school on extreme right on top
Poombarai Village

Winding through Palani hills on a foggy morning, witnessing beautiful mountain range and tall eucalyptus trees we crossed a few small and colorful residential set ups (Kodaikanal has some 15 to 20 villages) until we reached Poombarai Village.

Poombarai Village, a colourful village in Kodaikanal


Believed to be of three thousand years old, Poombarai is a tiny, colorful village with population of around 6000 residents which lives around Kuzhanthai Velappar Temple (bottom left) and the temple is believed to be older than the village. Poombarai residents live mainly on farming, predominantly of garlic and have been in the farming business since the birth of the village. 



Temple dedicated to lord murugan              Rare Kurinji Flower blooms every 12 years and is blue in colour.

Located in the heart of Palani Hills, deep down the valley, the cozy Poombarai village is a delight to look at. It is so peaceful & mystic, like all the colours in the world have come to one place. The wind blowing & caressing face as you sit at the view point (image on top) taking in beauty, what the valley has to offer is something which you can never experience while living in the city. After a while we started with our travel again but not before stopping by to see the rare Neelakurinji flower (top right) which blooms every 12 years, this time's cycle was already over but we were lucky to spot the remaining few. 

Mannavanur: A hidden gem of Kodaikanal


Mannavanur Lake is in the centre of Mannavanur grassland which is an ecotourism site maintained by Tamil Nadu tourism
Mannavanur Lake

Through those tumultuous roads, we continued on our journey. We reached Mannavanur (an ecotourism site) late morning but it didn't feel like that, it was a chilly January morning and to my relief, no sun. As we reached the main gates, there was a huge bed of green and yellow in front of our eyes. I was in awe of this hidden gem of Kodaikanal. A beautiful creation of nature; the sight was enchanting. We walked for a kilometer to reach Mannavanur lake, a lake amidst grassland. It is a hit with visitors as boating is the main recreational activity here. 



I was told by Kodaikanal natives that Mannavanur is called mini Switzerland, well, at first it did look like one but as I spent more and more time here I realized that Mannavanur is charming in its own way. Every place has a meaning and something to offer and it would be great if we don't compare them to any other place but make it known for what it is. Though I do agree that to entice interest in travellers to visit a place we tend to compare them with the much hyped or otherwise known place but that is so not right. 

By the lake there were a few wooden logs kept which made for a good photography spot. People were taking selfies too but since I am no big fan of it, I refrained from doing so. Also it ain't advisable as there is a lake and it could be a risky affair. 

My friend and I spent some time capturing pictures of the lake which is right in the middle of the captivating meadows and is surrounded by majestic hills. Then we spent the rest of our time gazing at all the magnificence. As I sat there quietly, focusing on mother nature, the sound of light ripples forming on the lake by the movement of oars, birds feathering and the wind became clear to my ears and mind. It felt fresh and rejuvenating in a long time. 


People were boating and there was one big family who had come for photo-shoot. All in all everybody was having a nice time in their own way. It was like being lost in the lost world amid the queen of hill station, Kodaikanal. 

On looking around you can see a trail going up towards a sheep and rabbit farm which is basically a research centre while on the other side a trail leading to Berijam forest through the cluster of tall trees of eucalyptus and pine. There is a hiking trail as well though I am not sure if it is open to public anymore. If lucky, you may spot Bison, barking deer, jungle cats in the vicinity. This ecology also houses around 165 species of butterflies and some birds like Nilgiri pipit, wood pigeon and dab-chicks. Except for one or two ducks and a few butterflies, I did not see anything else. 

I was glad that there were not many tourists. To add, I was also happy to notice that the waste and plastic was being dumped in a pit which I believe was regularly cleared off since I did not notice any decomposition. It was the only place where I saw plastic unlike many other places of interest where you would see plastic wrappers and bottles lying around. The only thing I didn't like was that the pit was made near the lake. But again if it was dug a little farther people wouldn't have bothered to go there to dispose off the garbage. If only we believed in responsible travelling. 

While leaving I saw an Eco-hut which was made with plastic waste, guess Mannavanur authority is recycling the plastic which tourists leave behind which is a good thing. To add, Mannavanur is also promoted as an ecotourism site, it is a Tamil Nadu Biodiversity Conservation and Greening Project.


Finally, we took care of our hunger pangs and had maggie in the canteen which is near the entry cum exit gates. Well, Maggie and hill stations do go hand in hand.  

CSWRI (Central Sheep and Wool Research Institute), Mannavanur

PC: Sonia
After having a good time by the lake we went to see sheep and rabbit farm which is on a hillock covered by greenery and the view it offers is majestic. I spent some time on the hillock in the embrace of nature and then I embraced a tree myself and believe me it was a fantastic feeling. Do it some time.

"Zathura: a space adventure" momentI was also excited by the thought that I will now see rabbits frolicking on the green yard and sheep grazing in the farm but was disheartened to see the contrary. When I saw rabbits in the tiny cages, with one rabbit per cage and space was so less that they could only rotate, may be. On asking around, I was told that they are there only for breeding purpose. These rabbits were so huge and beautiful, amazing living beings but denied their right to live freely just because they can't speak or are there for a purpose. I don't care for the reason, I was just disappointed & truly saddened to see them like that. I didn't wait for even a second & left the shed as soon as I saw them in that conditionšŸ˜¢ Then, as I came out, I saw sheep in open, eating in peace while some were playfully roaming here and there. While clicking their picture they did give me a look and it was kinda hilarious and "Zathura: a space adventure" kind of moment for me. Needless to say, they felt like the only hope there. I wish rabbits be given their chance to live as well, else the place shall not be given access to visitors, it's not a good example specially for kids.

A Plea

I am sure government will do something w.r.t. CSWRI if we all make a noise. Let those rabbits run around. Nonetheless, I did learn something there, that how destined we are to be born as homo sapiens enjoying our freedom.

The experience of Mannavanur was impeccable in every way. It is one of the must visit places in Kodaikanal but my only plea is that please travel responsibly and ethically, don't hurt mother nature and make Mannavanur be known as Mannavanur and not mini Switzerland. 

Travelers Information

  • Kodaikanal to Mannavanur: Distance - 34 km, travel time - around 2 hours owing to curvaceous roads
  • Entry Fee: Mannavanur Lake: Rs.20 per person, Sheep farm: Rs.10 per person, Video Camera and DSLR charges extra. No charge for mobile camera
  • Timings of Mannavanur Lake: 0930 hrs to 1700 hrs, all days
  • Carry your own water and snacks as there ain't many shops in the area
  • Take a day trip as the area is secluded. Return before it is dark.
  • Activities to indulge in: Boat and coracle rides, visit to sheep farm, horse riding, trail walking
  • Stay: I would suggest you stay in Kodaikanal so that you can enjoy other places in the vicinity as well. I stayed in the beautiful - luxury home stay, The Mistycove [Click here to read more about it].
  • Be a responsible traveler, enjoy and let others enjoy as well.
Travel like never before, enjoy the paradise. 

Happy Travel.

Yours Truly,
Me and My Suitcase

Note: All pictures are taken by me unless otherwise mentioned.

Comments

  1. Jane Dempster-SmithMarch 31, 2019 at 3:15 AM

    I so totally agree with you and would like that Mannavanur be regarded as Mannavanur not as 'mini Switzerland'. It surely is a hidden gem. I am all for 'eco tourism' today and was happy to see that plastic waste had been used to build the eco-hut, there should be more of these around the world. It looks a beautiful place to visit.

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  2. Great views. Have been to many places in Tamilnadu and Kerala but somehow never heard of Mannavanur. About time it got into the limelight. Loved the lake and Kuzhanthai Velappar Temple too!

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  3. i would love to visit miny switzerland! cant believe this place is 3000 years old. also i would love to try some fresh garlic, i adore garlic!

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    1. Though I wish it won't be remembered as mini switzerland but make place in your heart as mannavanur.

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  4. Mannavanur looks such a beautiful place, calm and peaceful shrouded in the mist and cloud. And its even better that Mannavanur authority is taking care to reuse and recycle and keeping the place clean. Hope this place remains as beautiful as it is now.

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    1. I wish so too and it totally depends on us, travelers. Travel responsibly and everything should be fine.

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  5. I lived in India for many years but missed out on such gems mainly due to the lack of promotion of these places. There is so much on offer and posts like these help us see places less promoted like these and yes could be called mini Switzerland. When it comes to a trek and the cold nothing like a good hot meal of ramen and I do remember Maggi. The colourful murals of the temple are a photographer eye candy so some great spots for me to click. Keep up the great work and look forward to the next post.

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  6. This seems like such a beautiful place to visit. I have always wanted to go to India, but have heard that the crowds can be intimidating in the big cities. It is nice to learn about the small local villages.

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    1. Hi Cecilia, crowd can be intimidating anywhere but planning is the key to explore a place without much crowd. I mostly travel during off season and that helps.

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  7. I love such hidden gems near big tourist attractions as they are very peaceful and relaxing. I have been to Kodaikanal many years before but not sure about passing through this beautiful Mannavanur. I love those cute herd of sheep grazing in the farm and also that stunning lake. Wow finding 165 species of butterfly here must be interesting here. Thanks for sharing a hidden gem.

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  8. I love getting off the beaten track and discovering hidden gems and I loved this article. I didn't spend a lot of time in Tamil Nadu during my last visit but I'm coming back next month and I hope to explore more of this part of India. This place seems like a great starting point. Thanks for the lovely suggestion

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  9. This is a fantastic idea to escape from the rising mercury levels in Bangalore right now. I have been to Kodaikanal on summer once and loved the place,especially the nice weather. Didn't know about Mannavanue back then, so will surely check this out this time. Thanks for the idea.

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    1. Great. But I do suggest that next time you visit kodaikanal, do it during winters. You will love it.

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  10. Very well said. Let's not call it Mini Switzerland. I have been to Kodaikanal but missed going here. Looks so amazing. Will try to visit.

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  11. And until now I thought the Kerala floods had resulted in the Neelakurinji not blossoming this year. Lol. Also I assumed they were only around Munnar because that's where everyone wanted to go to spot them last Aug-Sept. Haha.
    Those rabbits though :(

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