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Dancing with the Clouds

"VATTAKANAL" ——– does that sound familiar ? Of course, it sounds very similar to the famous Kodaikanal, India…

This is a stunningly beautiful village, situated at a distance of 6 kms from Kodaikanal. The village is also known as LITTLE ISRAEL, because of the many Israeli tourists who enjoy vacationing here. It’s easy for us, Indians, to overlook this scenic destination, when Kodai is so large, touristy and popular. That it is hidden in the Palani Hills of the Dindigul District in Tamil Nadu, probably helps it keep a low profile. —Thousands travel from Bengaluru to Kodai, but few visit this scenic hill station. The journey from VATTAKANAL isn’t very tiring and the long hours driving are aided along by the breath-taking views. According to the Vattakanal Conservation Trust, the Palani Hills are an eastward spur of the Western Ghats, with a maximum East-West length of 65km and a North-South width of 40km. These hills may be simply divided into two distinct zones ——the foothills to 800m consisting of thorn forest at the lower range and then dry deciduous forest typical of Peninsular India. There are, also, some very good stretches of evergreen riverine forests at these altitudes.

The best part of a stay at Vattakanal, s the view from cottages, where one can see the clouds, rising from the valleys under us rather than above. You can take a stroll downhill, catch up with friends, click pictures and try to capture the clouds that are swiftly moving in the frame along with you. You can, also, stop by the food stalls for a bowl of hot Maggie and passion fruits, paired with a cup of hot tea. — A lot of hiking options are available, as everything worth seeing is within a radius of 3-4 km ——– the Vattakanal Falls, Suicide Point and so on. The dancing trees, cool breeze and coloured foliage with beautiful rare flowers throughout make it best suited for hiking. —— The clouds create an illusion like there is nothing beyond the hill, but when it clears off, there lies a beautiful village beneath. Visitors recall that the best moments here include walking back to the cottage at twilight under purple skies alongside camp fires. The experience of sitting around a fireplace, toasting marshmallows and chatting is indeed a moment to cherish. ——– Sridhar Vivan

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