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The Best Eco-Tourism Destination in India

Vagamon

Morning Mist, Vagamon

Vagamon is a hill station located in Idukki District at the border of Idukki and Kottayam districts of Kerala State, India. Situated at a height of about 3500 feet above sea level, the temperature of Vagamon varies between 10 and 25 degree Celsius. By virtue of its cool and pleasant climate, Vagamon is an ideal tourist destination throughout the year. Vagamon has been identified as the best eco-tourist destination in India by the Tourism Department of Kerala and National Geographic Traveler has listed Vagamon, on it's directory, as one of the 50 most attractive places to visit in India.

Vagamon is about 100Km from Kochi (Formerly Cochin), the nearest airport and 60Km from Kottayam , the nearest railway station. It is easily accessible by road from Kottayam or Cochin. Nearby tourist attractions like Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, Elaveezhapoonjira in Kottayam District, the Hill stations at Munnar and Kodaikanal are accessible by road from Vagamon.

Butterfly, Vagamon

Still not commercially fully exploited, this sleepy town with its scenic valleys, beautiful green meadows, enchanting pine forests, tea estates, mists, fogs, waterfalls and a very pleasant climate is an ideal getaway for tourists. The landscape is mostly bald hills with green meadows. Vagamon is also home to a large variety of flowering plants and orchids. With a chain of three hills namely 'Thangalpara', 'Muruganmala' and 'Kurisumala' which beautify the hill station, Vagamon has facilities for rope gliding, kayaking, boating, trekking, paragliding, mountaineering and rock climbing.

Kurisumala

Kurisumala, Vagamon

Kurisumala is a Christian pilgrimage hill located 3000ft above sea level. It is about 4 km from Vagamon town. On 27th March 1957 Fr. John Baptist OCD, a Belgium missionary climbed the summit with a small group of parishners and erected a wooden Cross. That marked the beginning of the pilgrimage. In the 1980s the 14 Stations of the Cross were erected. In 1984 it was declared as the official Pilgrim Centre by Rev. Dr. Jacob Acharuparambil, Bishop of Trivandrum Diocese.

Trekking up the Kurisumala hills is a bit tough but once on the top, the view below is breathtaking. On the way you can see "Way of cross" statues, 14 stations of cross representing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The main event is on Good Friday when hundreds of devotees from far and near go on pilgrimage to Kurismala carrying wooden crosses.


Kurisumala Ashram

Kurisumala Ashram is a Cistercian Monastery in Syro-Malankara Catholic Church. Fr. Francis Mahieu, a Cistercian monk from the Scourmont Abbey, in Belgium (later known as Francis Acharya) came to Kerala and set the Ashram up in 1958. The Ashram is the abode of the community of bare footed monks who wear flowing saffron dress and practice austerity and live a strict monastic life on Kurisumala in the high hills of Kerala. The Ashram was previously open all time to visitors. But now is closed to public because some tourists started disturbing the peace. One can visit the Ashram after obtaining permission. In the Ashram, there is a small monastery to the left, the chapel to the right , the gardens and then the dairy farm. The dairy farm and farming are the sources of the livelihood of the monks. Cars are allowed only till the entry point at the base of the hill and photography and cell phones are strictly prohibited. The ashram is open till 5pm.

Muruganmala

Morning Mist, Vagamon

Murugan Mala is a small hill situated on the eastern side of Kurisumala. The temple of Lord Murugan, located on this hill, was carved from a single rock. 8 km from Vagamon, it is also known as the Murugan Para and is a pilgrim center for thousands of Hindu devotees. The cool fresh breeze and the mesmerizing view of the surroundings leaves one awestruck. Take a stroll to explore the place and spend some peaceful moments on the hill while enjoying the luxuriant view and serenity.

Thangalpara

Morning Mist, Vagamon

Thangalpara is a Muslim pilgrim site near Vagamon, Kerala. Located 5 km from Vagamon, it is the final resting place (Dargah) of Hasrat Sheikh Fariduddin Baba the Sufi saint who reached Kerala about 800 years ago. The Thangalpara is a unique rock formation on top of a rocky hill. There is a huge spherical rock formation on top of the hill. The bottom of the rock has a small masjid and the painted arrow that shows the path and leads one to the massive rock and the tomb. There is also an ancient cave near Thangalpara, which is worth visiting.

The place is not only a Muslim pilgrim site but also boasts to be a trekking destination offering some amazing views as it is surrounded by lush grasslands, thick forests and meadows. Thangalpara, could be a 400 foot high trekking from the plains and an average healthy person can walk up the hill without much stress.

Pine Valley

Pine Valley, Vagamon

The pine valley filled with enchanting tall pine trees makes it a nature-lover's favorite spot. A walk through the misty valley is a beautiful experience especially during monsoon when dewdrops cluster on the pine leaves. The entry is free.. Pleasant climate and enchanting views all around makes one calm and relaxed. Be Cautious about leaches and carry some common salt with one to be applied when it becomes necessary. Check legs and hands when exiting the pine Valley for sticking leaches. This is a must visit place if one is visiting Vagamon.

Kavukulam Waterfalls

Kavakulam Waterfalls, Vagamon

Kavukulam Waterfalls is the only Waterfalls located in Vagamon, Kerala. It is just 7 km away from Vagamon town. July and August are best time to visit Vagamon waterfalls as the stream will be full. During summer the falls could dryout. This is still an unexplored destination a little away from the pine forest , so when one visits Vagamon he should make sure to visit the falls.


Barren Hills (Mottakkunnu)

Barren Hills (Mottakkunnu), Vagamon

Beautiful barren hills is gifted by nature and coveted by lush green grass. This is a must visit place in Vagamon with pleasing climate, green meadows, cool breeze, excellent views and activities like boating, kayaking, rope gliding etc. One can wander around or sit there and relax. Snack bars are available outside, near the entrance. The entry is restricted by a small fee. Visitors are not allowed in if there is a possibility of a thunder storm as it could be fatal to get exposed to lightning even though lightning arresters are recently installed. So visit the place when the weather is favorable.

Paragliding

Para Gliding, Vagamon

Vagamon is considered as one of the best paragliding sites in Asia, and for three consecutive years from 2006, International Paragliding Festivals are being held at Vagamon. Kolahalamedu hill located 4 Km from Vagamon provides the perfect platform for paragliding. It has 10 km long ridge, over 3,000 feet high. The site has steady winds in the South West Direction throughout the season and offers great opportunities for cross country cycling as well as ridge soaring. The site is easily accessible, with grassy launch pads. The season starts from September and offers great flying conditions until January and again, from March to May. The International Paragliding Festival is jointly organized by Adventure Sports and Sustainable Tourism Academy (ASSTA), based in Kochi and the Kerala Tourism Department.

Vagamon Lake

Morning Mist, Vagamon

The Vagamon lake is in middle of three hills in the Barren hills. Varieties of boats are available and the adventure lovers can spent time with rope gliding, kayaking or boating in the lake .Facilities for resting are provided very close to lake where one can sit on the benches or on the green grassed ground and relax. One should not miss to visit the place when visiting or passing Vagamon

Mundakayam Ghat

Mundakayam Ghat and the adjoining areas are ideal for trekking, rock climbing, paragliding, bird watching and hiking. A favorite area of bird watchers and adventure seekers, the natural beauty of the area is really breathtaking. This Ghat road is the gate way to the high range areas of Kerala. The road and views can be enjoyed, self driven or chauffeur driven. En-route one can see valleys, tea estates, grasslands and a few small villages. There are lot of tourist destination you can reach when you travel though this route, including Munnar and Thekkady.

Mooppanpara

Mooppanpara is a popular viewpoint near Vagamon close to Thangal Para, and is also known as Vagamon Suicide Point. Overlooking a V-shaped gorge, the view from the top is simply spectacular. Though the climb up is exhausting, the scenic panorama from the top is worth the effort.

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