It is located along a range that has been labeled 'one
of the top 25 biodiversity hotspots of the world' as many rare and endangered
plants and animals of the country are found here. Tourism is the main form of
income for the villagers of this region and people looking for a heavenly
getaway into nature choose Vattakanal as a holiday destination. It's a paradise
of flowers and foliage with clouds rising from the valleys under you rather
It is quite easy to reach the village, since many taxis are available in the
city, eager to take you there. After 20 minutes of rocky and abrupt roads, you
will reach the destination; there, on different layers, stand private homes,
some of which have been converted into Guest-Houses. That is to say tourists
and local people live side by side, which creates a familial and natural
ambiance, far away from big resorts or "holiday’s villages”. But remember
it is up to us, tourists from all over the world, Indian tourists, or even
expatriates, to "travel smart" and maintain such ambiance; that is to
say, not to take the place for granted, to respect the local culture and way of
life, the nature. That way only we'll preserve and enjoy peace in Vattakanal.
Every guest-house has as vertiginous view on the green
depths of the valley, but also on the far mountains that mark the border with
Kerala. The weather may change in a flash, and the valley gets shrouded into
thick mist, staging a whole new mysterious and fantastic Vattakanal. Rainy
season lasts from July to September, so if you are there at that time, don't
forget rain clothes.
located in Vattakanal, a very special restaurant
offering Indian food, but also Israeli and more generally Middle-East dishes.
It is an open space with a unique view of the valley. Food is delicious and
original (very nice to eat tasty humus in the Indian countryside.
Besides, the region is famous for its forests, and more
particularly Eucalyptus trees. Beautiful tall trees that give shadow and cool
air; beware of temperature differences if you come from a hot region of India,
you won't get more than 20 degrees, and nights are very fresh.
You can also enjoy many waterfalls powerfully coming out
of the mountains; and also the imposing and legendary Bisons, living in the
nearby forests. In a word, you can do nice trekking, with guides who know the
region, but beware of the less scrupulous ones who'll just take you for a walk.
For the more courageous, you can do trekking from Kodaikanal to Munnar (3-4
days by walk).
Being less populated with fewer tourists than its
adjoining sister town of Kodaikanal, all walks through the Palani mountain range
are serene and green in the summers and cold, moist and quiet during the
winters. Every evening there is always a crescendo of frogs that croak together
at twilight to the night. A sound to pay attention to!
Being one of the 25 biodiversity hotspots of the world,
Vattakanal has a shola tree nursery a little uphill from the main street. Here
there is a vast array of protected Shola trees by the Government of Tamil Nadu
and is worth a visit
Beware of wild Bison on the walking trail. These animals
are calm but when disturbed in their territory they are known to attack humans.
We encountered one on our trail and had to sit very still and crawl away
quietly from this approaching animal.
Tourists with cameras, watch out for beautiful flowers
and plants while walking along any pathway into the forest of the Palani Range
with its inherent beauty and biodiversity.
Around the village are old houses made with tin roofs
and stone walls. These houses are becoming scarcer everyday as tourism develops
and is adopted as the main source of income around the neighboring villages.
There are fancy guesthouses coming up for commercial use everywhere. Small
local families build these guesthouses and soon, a road will be developed to
allow access to higher planes of the hills with a gorgeous view.
Vattakanal undergoes variations of a tropical monsoon
climate. Winter months of November through February in Vattakanal are usually
dry. During January though, there are ice formations on the foliage and
temperatures drop down to freezing at night and early morning sometimes. There
is some amount of rainfall every month during the rest of the year.
Summer Months or season months in Vattakanal are between
April and June with temperatures ranging from 10 to 20 degrees and dropping
down to an average of 8 to 17 degrees in winter when colder. It would be always
recommended to carry plenty of warm clothes like socks, woolen vests and a
great pair of trekking shoes for hikers, as well as rainwear for the
unpredictable yet beautiful weather in the Palani mountain range.
The simple village of Vattakanal has no shops for
tourists but one can buy freshly picked avocados and passion fruit from the
'Dhabas' or street eating places nearby. Fresh bread is available once a week
from a German Bread maker who makes house visits. Other kinds of fresh bread
can be bought from 'Econut' in the town of Kodaikanal nearby. While there are
no commercial shops in Vattakanal, the local handicrafts and jewelry can be
bought in the nearby town of Kodaikanal which can be reached by taxis that wait
for tourists on the main road.
Including travel, food and stay and depending on one's
mode of transport, a one week holiday in Vattakanal can range anywhere between
Rs 4000 to 6000, if you have arrived by train across the country and
lived backpacker style. Budget shall be between Rs 8000 to 12000, if you have
chosen flights and moderately expensive accommodation along with tonnes of
shopping of fresh fruits and food. Not to forget, for long term housing,
renting a house is also an option with expenses ranging from Rs 3000 to 6000.
It is most advisable and popular for writers, Photographers and creative peoples
to choose the latter option
In the compact village of Vattakanal, there are plenty of
small but clean guesthouses, many with a fireplace for the winter months.
All rooms have a bathroom attached. The rooftop views of the clouds
rising from the valley are visible from guesthouses laid on a higher rise like
R.C guesthouse as well as Rubins Guesthouse.
There are a few and simple food options in Vattakanal.
The cooks in the restaurants and cafes are the local villagers from the houses
nearby and the meals range from the most delicious fresh 'Dosas' or South
Indian pancakes to mouth watering 'Dal Chaval' – Lentils and Rice and crispy
fried 'Papads' or Roasted crispy chickpeas with spices.
Most cafes serve vegetarian food while some have non-
vegetarian and vegan food by order. South Indian 'Filter Coffee' is the norm in
Vattakanal for a perfect mélange of comfort to warm the taste-buds in the
bitter cold or a rainy tropical evening.