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Vagamon: For the Love of Outdoors

05 Min Read

Travel to an untouched corner of Kerala for some great hikes

Vagamon is a charming hill station, nestled at the border of Idukki District. At the outset, Vagamon does not appear to promise anything extraordinary. However, a surprisingly picturesque drive takes one to a tall hill, which towers over visitors to welcome them into the folds of Vagamon’s beauty. The hill station’s sleepy stature and commonness serve to distract visitors from what it can offer: nature at its most glorious, paths and trails to explore, and adventures to be had.

Vagamon has breathtaking landscape and a calm, welcoming ambience. Apart from verdant spice plantations, a quiet monastery and luxurious resorts, Vagamon has been made famous by a string of three hills, each dedicated to a different religion, coexisting peacefully and harmoniously. It is difficult not to be touched by this quiet reflection of religious tolerance.

The sun rises over mist-covered hills in Vagamon

Things to See & Do

Vagamon is best suited for people who love the outdoors. A trekking and adventure paradise, the little hill station offers many ways to explore the landscape, ranging from pilgrimages to nature trails. The land is inviting, ideal for long, peaceful walks and exploratory treks, most of it untouched by commercial tourism.

Vagamon is best known for the three adjoining paras (hills), each of which is dedicated to one of Kerala’s main religions: Islam, Hinduism and Christianity. A sense of tranquility and breathtaking views await visitors at the top of these hills. Vehicles can only reach a certain point, after which visitors will have to cover the remaining journey on foot. It will take at least an hour to climb each hill, and strong, comfortable walking shoes are recommended.

The first of these hills, Thangalpara, houses the mausoleum of Sheik Fariduddin, who is also recalled in the Kanjiramattom Mosque in Ernakulam District. The Thangal hill is also known for its rock formations.

Muruganmala is dedicated to Murugan, the son of Lord Shiva. A rock-cut temple on one side of this hill draws pilgrims regularly.

Kurisumala, the third hill, is home to the Kurisumala Ashram, an important pilgrimage spot for Nazrani Catholics. 14 crosses, at regular intervals, line the path up the hill. At the foot of the hill is St Thomas Mount, a centenary memorial with a flight of 120 steps leading to a statue of St Thomas.

Kurisumala Ashram

Founded by Abbot Francis Acharya, this Cistercian abbey is nestled amidst the Sahya Hills. A Belgian by birth, Fr Francis became a naturalised Indian citizen. He passed away in 2002. His tomb greets visitors as they make their way towards the main building of the ashram.

There are about 20 monks in residence at this monastery at any given time. The simplicity of life at the monastery is evident at every turn — from the low stone buildings that serve as homes for the monks to the furniture-less dining area. A pervasive air of silence paradoxically resounds throughout the ashram. The monks spend their time in prayer, meditation and manual labour, making their living from the dairy farm on the premises.

Visitors are welcome at the ashram for day trips or overnight stays. Guests eat their meals with the monks and learn their ways through observation. Those who stay on also get to visit the dairy farm, where day visitors are not permitted. The rooms are nominally priced, inclusive of meals. Timings 6.00am—6.00pm

Where to Stay

This lovely hill station is becoming increasingly popular. Be sure to book well in advance. Vagamon Heights’ Windshadows Resort (Tel: 04869-248206, Cell: 09847197150; Tariff: ₹3,500—5,500) is scenically located atop a hill tucked away in an isolated part of a plantation estate. They have six cottages here. The resort organises paddle boating in a nearby lake, hiking and trekking expeditions. There is a friendly, homely feel here that is absent in many other hotels.

The treehouse at Holiday Vagamon

Holiday Vagamon (Cell: 07736964777, 09961410131; Tariff: ₹2,500—4,500) in Kambipalam is a boutique resort with 10 rooms and a beautiful treehouse. They have a restaurant and offer paragliding and boating. Winter Vale Green Stay (Cell: 08111807771, 09048322916; Tariff: ₹3,100—7,000) too has a good location with breathtaking views. Go trekking, boating or simply relax around a campfire.

In the town lies Chillax Vagamon (Tel: 248235, Cell: 09447128874; Tariff: ₹1,750—3,500), with spacious, clean rooms and good food. Green Palace Residency (Tel: 248541, Cell: 09495759541, 09447868070; Tariff: ₹1,500—3,500) has 18 rooms. Home-cooked meals are offered. Punchayil Tourist Home (Cell: 09495526903, 09847378837; Tariff: ₹1,600—3,500) offers rooms and cottages. Meals are prepared on request and trekking can also be arranged.

Another option is the Econest Asha Sadan Resort (Tel: 04822-289267, Cell: 09847914519, 08606183859; Tariff: ₹1,300—2,000) in Kurisumala with rooms and valley-facing cottages.

Where to Eat

Most of the restaurants in Vagamon are found in the hotels and resorts. They offer delicious, authentic Kerala cuisine. Windshadows offers the typical Kerala meal of red rice, sambar, vegetables and chicken curry, along with some sumptuous north Indian dishes. Winter Vale offers good multi-cuisine fare. Chillax has a restaurant.

The Information

Air Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, Nedumbassery (141km/ 3.5hrs). Prepaid taxis (Tel: 0484-2610115, extn: 2107) to Vagamon will between ₹3,214 and ₹3,574

Rail Nearest railhead: Kottayam (72km/ 2hrs). Taxis to Vagamon cost between ₹2,200 and ₹2,800 approximately.

Road Vagamon is connected to Kochi via Thripunithura (93km), Vaikom (90km), Thalayolaparambu (82km), Ettumanur (53km), Pala (39km) and Erattupetta (25km). From Kottayam, you can take the MC Road to Ettumanur and follow the aforementioned route, or drive to Vagamon via Pambadi, Kanjirapally, Thidanand and Erattupetta. SH14 (Erattupetta-Peermade Highway) links Vagamon to Peermade (25km) near Thekkady Bus The nearest KSRTC Stand is located at Eratupetta (27km; Tel: 04822-272230). From Kottayam (Tel: 0481-2562935/08) and Kumily (Tel: 0471-2323400), take any bus plying the Eratupetta-Peermade route and get off at Vagamon.

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