Nelliyampathy is a virgin hill station located in Palakkad district of Kerala. Nelliyampathy is blessed with lush dense rain-forests with number of wild animals like elephants, hill squirrels, deers and bison. Located above 467 m above sea-level, it is well known for its sprawling tea gardens, coffee, cardamom and orange plantations. The largest perennial multi crop organic farm in the world owned by Poabs-India has given this sleepy hill station, international repute. Several small waterfalls, streams and rocky hill ranges also add beauty to this wonderful summer destination.
Nelliyampathy is better known as Poor Man's Ooty, due to its unexplored virgin hill station status, famed for its large bio-farms, plantations and orange gardens. The hills are part of highly sensitive Western Ghats and was once thick dense teak forests inhabited by tribals. Later the area became popular among English planters and the area soon developed into major plantation belt. Its one of the few plantation areas in India, where multiple crops like Pepper, cardamom, tea, coffee and oranges are cultivated.
Apart from plantations, there are several hill ranges and cliffs, which all are popular among tourists, especially those interested in adventurous. Recently Kerala Tourism identified the hills are one of the best areas for trekking.
Nelliyampatty is located in Palakkad District, 56 kms from Palakkad city near Nenmara town.
The whole Nelliyampathy hills is known to be originally belonged to Vengunad Kovilakam of Kollengode (a small principality of Malabar), who has then leased out vast tracts of this virgin forest area to the British Government of Madras Presidency. The Halls, perhaps the best known of the early planters in the Nellies, always held that there were others before them in these hills where only tribals roamed before the land was opened up by the planters. By the time Arthur Hall arrived in the Nellies in 1877, there appeared to have been coffee planted without shade in what were later known as Shernelly, halfway up the ghat, and Nelikolam Estates, the latter on the plateau. Arthur Hall started planting at Cotengady, near Padagiri, and was the father of planting in the Nellie. Similarly vast tracts of virgin forest in the Nelliyampathy hills were leased out in the year 1889 to two Britishers by name Mr. Holmes and Mr. Macanzey.
By the 1890s, there were over a hundred European planters in the district, mostly from the coffee districts of Mysore, but by the 1930s there were no more than half a dozen and most of the coffee they had planted lay abandoned· The Halls’ property and James Finlay’s at Sethangandy (Seethargundu) were two that were still flourishing at the time· Both older estates also planted cardamom and a visitor to Sethangandy said its cardamom were "the biggest and best he’d ever seen. Later on in 1896 they have sold the leasehold right over the land to M/s Amalgamated Tea Estate Company Ltd; subsequently it came into the hands of Amalgamated Coffee Estate Pvt. Ltd., which was owned by Sri. Neelkanda Iyer. In his hands this estate was known as Seethargundu. Later on he sold this estate to various parties in different portions. In 1969 Poabs India has got brought entire shares of various companies and amalgamated all to take over the plantation. Today 95% of Nelliyampathy hills are with Poabs India Company and remaining with Kerala Forest Department.
Nelliyampathy starts at Poothundy lake, where a large dam exists, mainly used for irrigation purposes. The lake and its resovoir is a major picnic spot. From Poothundy, the hill range of Nelliyampatty starts.There are about 10 hairpin bends that have to be negotiated on the way to Nelliyampathy. As the Ghat road winds its way up to Nelliyampathy, at certain places there are viewpoints from where the vast stretches of Palakkad district are visible with its extensive paddy fields forming a verdant carpet. It also offers a splendid view of the Palakkad Gap, which is a geographical phenomenon in the Western Ghats formation in this region, bringing into view, parts of the adjoining State of Tamilnadu.
The Nelliyampathy hill range has 3 distinctive landscapes
Flora and fauna
Nelliyampatty is blessed with immense flora and fauna. The adjourning forests regions have wild elephants, giant squirrels, sambars and leopards. One can find bisons, deers, peacocks, goats and cows commonly in plantation and farm areas. Much of the area is under plantations and farms. Nelliyampatty is a role model for Indian sustainable agricultural pratices, by having largest organic farms in the world, spread across 1500 acres of land. The hill ranges has the only Orange farms of Kerala. The forest regions has some of the rare and unique herbal plants, thus a favourite place for bio-researchers.
Nelliyampathy is an all around the year tourist destination with a pleasant climate all through the year. Summers during March to May have a maximum temperature of 30°C and the winters during December to February have a minimum temperature of about 15°C. Monsoons offer very heavy rainfalls during June to September.
The hill station is very imposing during the monsoons. Post monsoons and post winters are flowering seasons. Waterfalls offer eye catching experiment during monsoons and post monsoons.
Best period to visit here is September to May avoiding monsoons.
The nearest international airport is Calicut International Airport (CCJ) at Kozhikode which is nearly 120 kms from the Nelliyampathy ranges, with regular connections to most of Middle East countries and South East Asia. Coimbatore Airport, located in neighboring Tamil Nadu is just 60 kms away offering connections to several leading Indian Metro cities and few international connections.
Alternatively you can reach at Cochin International Airport (COK) or Chennai International Airport (MAA) and reach the hill station via train by boarding down at Shornur or Palakkad town.
The nearest station is Palakkad, at a distance of about 60 km away from Nelliyampathy. Palakkad junction (Olavakkode) is an important station and the trains have stop at Palakkad and from there one can take a taxi to reach Nelliampathy. Alternatively align at Shornur railway station and reach via taxi.
Most of the south Indian cities are connected to Nelliampathy by bus. All inter-state bus travelling from Coimbatore, Bangalore and Chennai, plying on NH 47 passes through Nenmara, the nearest point to Nelliyampathy. Tourist buses as well as State owned buses provide services from cities like Trichur, Kottayam, Kozhikode, Guruvayoor, Cochin and Trivandrum. From Palakkad to Nelliampathy buses run on regular intervals.
Taxis from other parts of state often ply to Nelliyampathy, being a tourist destination. Check whether driver has previous experience, as the road to Nelloyampatty hill ranges are bit tricky and requires seasoned driver. Taxis can be hailed from Nenmara, which most of them will be four-wheeler Jeep or SUV, considering the terrain. Autos do-not ply to Nelliyampathy due to its higher terrain.