Text: Sabenose Paul
Monsoon at Mankulam is a visual treat. The mist cladded hills, the numerous water falls which flows into milky white streams, the fondling wind, the alluring forest with elephants and the spectacular tea gardens captivates the heart of any traveller.

Mankulam, which is not far away from Munnar, is now a paradise for tourists. The climate is more of less same to that of Munnar. The immigrants from Central Travancore during 1970s along with the tribal communities constitute the population of Mankulam. It is around 18 km away from Kochi- Munnar highway and when we pass through Adimaly we need to take deviation from Kallar to reach Mankulam. We can also reach this destination from Munnar through Lakshmi Estate. Each route is equally beautiful. We can also reach Mankulam from Kothamangalam through Kuttambuzha , Mamalakandom forest. But this route is very risky and dangerous because of the hairpin turns, narrow routes and the presence of wild animals including elephants. Only with the permission of forest department one can take this route. For adventure riders this route is however enchanting.

Reaching Mankulam through Kallar route will be an exotic journey. We have to travel through the beautiful tea gardens of Lakshmi Estate which is a part of Kannan Devan plantations. Unlike in Munnar  we don’t find vast areas of tea gardens as it forms a small part of the village, Vrippara. The Mankulam Forest Division office is in this village. If we take permission from here trekking in the forest is possible.

Mankulam Eco Tourism Project is a concern of Forest Department along with Forest Protection Council.The interior forest regions for trekking, like Kannadippara, Kilikallu, Kozhiyilakuthu, etc are parts of this project. The experienced tribal people of the area assist the tourists.

Mankulam is rich in waterfalls. The first waterfall we come across is Kainagiri near Virippara. This is a stream of Nallathaniyar river, which flows down through boulders splashing and fluttering milky white foams. We can enjoy a shower or take a bath as some areas are shallow.

Nakshatrakuthu, another big water fall, which flows through huge rocks, is a mesmerising treat to eyes. As the name suggests it sheds light to the whole village through its hydroelectric power project. Mankulam is thus the first Village in India to produce electricity to meet its needs.

Thattukuthu is the highest waterfall in Mankulam. it is collective fall in various strata. We need to cross one by one and most often a traveller could cross only the first two levels. Only a few could reach till the fifth level. As one climbs the height, the change in temperature is obvious. Only with the help of a rock and other implement one could move to top levels. 

The most famous among these water falls is Perumbankuthu waterfall. It’s a majestic waterfall from an altitude of 200 meters; a breath taking spectacle which every traveller cherishes for a life time. It is a smaller yet marvellous version of Athirappilly waterfalls. It is easy to get to the top of the fall; though a perfect understanding of the geography is essential. The rocks are bit slippery.

Without Aanakkulam, Mankulam is incomplete. This is the place where elephants come to drink water despite being a human habitat. There are very few shops over there and a small stream also runs nearby. It is believed that this spring water is delectable, and that must be the reason why they come to such a place, which is otherwise unlikely to happen.
Mankulam is the favourite spot of off-road travellers. A drive through the Rajapatha (old highway) which connects Aluva and Munnar is thrilling. Such a drive through the dense forest is a dream of every adventure tourist.

Mankulam cannot be not be fully appreciated even if one is been to all these places; it’s an inexhaustible treasure house of visual treats. The hanging bridges, the tree houses and caves in the forest offers unique experiences to every traveller. It is even possible to enjoy primitive tribal dance forms, if requested in advance.

 It is also easy to find out a halting place as Mankulam has numerous cottages, resorts, homestays and like. The forest department has opened up an appreciation centre for the stay of tourists who come over here to enjoy the infinite pleasures Mankulam offers.