Idukki Dam, the tallest arch dam in Asia, is still a marvel. like any other sight in Idukki, this beauty keeps us coming back again and again.
With the construction of a public boating facility and an adventure park adjacent to the dam, tourists, including foreigners, flock to the Idukki Dam every day. But the highest view of the Idukki Dam has not been enjoyed by many tourists. The Calvarymount Pavilion offers a panoramic view of the Idukki Dam, but it never takes our view of even 50% of this blue body of water that stretches out like the ocean.
You have to trek to the Kalayanathandu itself to get the highest view of that blue water spread between the sprawling hills and lush green forests. In my two day trip to Idukki, I dared to include this trekking point that most people would not cross.
History and mythology of Kalyanathandu
A large area in Idukki is also known as Kalyanathandu. All the other parts of the hill are known by the same name, including the Kalyanathandu viewpoint shown on Google.
There are some stories circulating about the Kalyanathandu. related to Ramakkalmedu, another well-known tourist place in the Idukki district itself. It is also said that this place is associated with the unknown period of the Panchpandavas. Whichever of the two myths is associated with this region, it certainly should not be overstated. Even in this period, this forest area, where elephants and other wildlife roam freely, is a dense forest with no human habitation since long ago. This may be the reason why Lord Rama and the Pandavas chose this place for their anonymity.
Another Munnar in Idukki, Calvarymount
Calvarymount is a hill station located between Cheruthoni, the administrative headquarters of Idukki district, and Kattappana, another large town in Idukki. Calvarymount is a small village located at a distance of 13 km from Cheruthoni and 15 km from Kattappana.
From a small hilly village, Calvarymount has grown into a thriving tourist village in Kerala today. Calvarymount is a village with many smaller resorts and homestays that are colder and snowier than any other area nearby. Idukki Dam is also the reason for the cool climate which is full of these features. The local people say that the cool atmosphere and wind of the forest come here through some gap in nature. During the months of November-December, the temperature drops to around 10 degrees Celsius. You can also see a lot of tea gardens here like Munnar. Calvarymount is another Munnar in Idukki, with its name, tea gardens, resorts, fog, and cold weather. After the lockdown, the village begins to attract tourists and is once again active to regain its lost glory.
I also spent the night in Calvary Mountain, a small homestay where most travelers, including foreigners arriving in Idukki, would like to spend a night.
To the Kalyanathandu on a snowy morning
It was a cold night in winter. When I lay down under the cover and woke up in the morning, the window panes were covered with snow particles. The elegant morning was filled with blue skies, nesting birds, and a cool breeze. Idukki Homes is a six-room budget homestay located near Calvarymount Church, among the cardamom plantations. After the hot breakfast, the trekking started with the guidance of Homestay owner Sreejith. Under the blue sky, we started walking through the area full of meadows and small farms. Travelers arriving by off-road jeep or bike will have to walk a bit, but for us, it was just a short trek of just over a kilometer as we had bikes. When we crossed the meadows, the rocks, the fields destroyed by the wild boar and the elephants, and reached the top of the hill, we were first greeted by a nice cool breeze and then a breathtaking view.
Why the view of Idukki Dam from Kalyanathand is unique
Looking down from the top of the hill, one can see a vast expanse of blue water. The black shadows formed by the lonely clouds in the sky look like craters scattered in that blue water. Footprints and elephant tusks can be seen in many parts of the meadow as a sign that the herd has gone wild. It is also home to many other wildlife including wild boar, porcupine, fox, wild rabbit, monkeys, pythons, and other endangered wild dogs.
The view from here is unmatched by any other area of the dam, including Calvarymount. This view point is right in the middle of the Idukki Reservoir, so the view from both sides is breathtaking. From here, one can see the Vagamon Hills and Munnar in clear snow-covered weather. Almost all the islands in the Idukki Reservoir can be seen from this view point of the Kalayanathandu. All the islands in the Idukki Reservoir can be seen from this view point only. Lucky travelers can also get a glimpse of the rare herd of elephants swimming from one island to another, only to need a pair of binoculars in hand to see the view well. Sreejith Brother said that it required about 7 hours to walk from where we were standing to the shore of the lake which seemed to be nearby. From here, one can see the wildest and deepest parts of the Idukki Reservoir. Therefore, those who come here with tele lens and binoculars can sometimes get an unforgettable view if they spend a day here. Helicam is prohibited here.
Beauty and danger are on the same platform
If you spend a whole day here enjoying the beautiful morning view and sunset, you are likely to see wildlife. This area is regularly visited by herds of elephants and is a bit dangerous. Entering the forest after the Kerala Forest Department’s Janta (demarcation mark) is a risky and punishable procedure. No tents or overnight stays are allowed here. It is best to take a short trek and climb these beautiful views. There is now no plastic or other waste, not even to name a few, on the top of the hill, which is visited only by local people. This area is a Tropical Evergreen Forest full of rare species of shrubs and vegetation. Another variant of Neelakurinji can be seen from here.
The proliferation of tourism has unfortunately affected the natural wildlife of the region as well. Forest land has encroached in many places for resorts and agriculture.
A place that adventure travelers should visit, at least once
Under no circumstances should you trek here except with experienced people. There are many dangers lurking in this beautiful and quiet area. Travelers should not forget to carry enough water with them as dehydration can occur no matter how cold the wind blows. If for any reason elephant or other wildlife violence occurs, do not go to the valley which is part of the Idukki Reservoir, go in the opposite direction, i.e. the area from where we came up. The shores of the reservoir are dense forest with many species of wildlife, and every step towards them is prone to forest encroachment and other hazards. Despite dangers, a beautiful view that fills the mind will dispel all such thoughts. The view of the Idukki Reservoir, which is full of water during these times, is absolutely breathtaking.
Kalayathandu is a trekking point that can be visited by travelers who are looking for different sights. After trekking a short distance to the top of the hill, we get the most beautiful view of the Idukki Reservoir from anywhere else. The Great Idukki Reservoir offers a magnificent view that you will cherish forever.