Situated about 120 km southwest from the temple town of Madurai, the hill station of Meghamalai is known for its salubrious climate, natural beauty, evergreen forests, coffee and tea plantations. The cool and foggy mountain range in Western Ghats is popularly called High Wavy Mountains.
Meghamalai is situated in Theni district of Tamil Nadu. Besides its rich flora and fauna, the place is dotted with cardamom plantations and tea estates.
The Meghamalai hills forms the catchment area for several rivers. River Suruli originates in the mountains. The river with its twin waterfalls is very popular with tourists. Another attraction is the Vellimalai or the silver mountain. Standing tall 1,650 metres above sea level, Vellimalai is the starting point of Vaigai river. Meghamalai hills is also home to several dams like the Manalar dam.
The Meghamalai mountain range shares its border with Periyar National Park, which is renowned for its resident wildlife population. It has been proposed to set up a wildlife sanctuary on 600 square km area of forest in Meghamalai.
Meghamalai forest has an assortment of flora and fauna. Over a hundred species of birds have been identified in these forests. Many rare birds and animals are found in the forests of Meghamalai. Great Indian Hornbill, found only above 1500 ft above sea level, Grizzled Giant Squirrel and Salim Ali’s Fruit Bat are some the species which can be found here. Meghamalai is ideal place to watch the Slender Loris.
The vegetation in the High Wavy Mountains ranges from plantations and estates to thick evergreen forest.
You can enjoy a walk, go trekking or go for waterfall trekking (trekking through waterfalls and walking though shallow pools of water). You can take a jeep ride to the reserve forest or wander through the tea estates and plantations.
Cumbum Valley, known for its vineyards, is situated about 41 km away from Meghamalai. Tourists visiting Meghamalai often club include a visit to the vineyards of Cumbum as part of their itineraries.
- There are two main ways to approach Meghamalai – one from Theni that goes through Chinnamanur and another via Andipatti through Kandamanayakkanur.
- The road via Chinnamanur is better and offers panoramic views.
You can buy tea and cardamom packets from the plantations. For diabetics, the leaves of Insulin plant which is widely available in Meghamalai, is an ideal buy. Leaves of the plant helps reduce sugar levels in blood stream.
Where to stay
Accommodation options are few in Meghamalai. Prior reservation and permission is required.
There are a number of moderately priced hotels in Meghamalai near Andipatti and in Theni. Traveler’s bungalow situated near the Manalar Lake offers cheap accommodation and decent amenities.
Bungalows can also be rented for the duration of your stay. It is ideal if you are travelling in a big group.
The inspection bungalow near Highwavys Lake offers decent amenities at reasonable cost. If you wish to stay at the top of the mountain, then forest lodges and panchayat rest house are the best option. However, prior reservation is required.
Where to eat
There are a couple of canteens which cater to the workforce employed in tea and cardamom estates. You can have meals but it would be simple fare.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Meghamalai is between October and March.