Do you like to Drive? What sort of road do you prefer? A straight one where you can zip along at top-speed or a difficult mountain terrain with, wait, 70 Hairpin bends that test your driving skills? This is the only route to reach Kolli Malai in Namakkal district. For once, the journey here is more exhilarating than the destination.
Where is Kolli Malai located
Yes, it is a dangerous road, yes there is an adventure on the road and…… it is not full of tourists – at least presently! Kolli malai, also called Kolli hills, is a small mountain range in the Nammakkal district of Tamil Nadu’s Eastern Ghats, accesible on crossing 70 hairpin bends, which are at most times – continuous.
The road starts at Kalappanickenpatti. While the journey starts off with a good road, after the 25th hairpin bend, be a bit more careful as athe road ahead has pot holes and narrow lanes. Know that Kolli means killing the name literally means Mountain of Death. Of course if you pass the driving test here, be assured that your driving skills are admirable. As a incentive, Mother nature will give a feast of breathtaking views to your eyes as you laboriously climb the steep road
Historical and mythological anecdotes of Kolli Malai
Kolli Malai has been mentioned in Tamil literature classics like Manimekalai, Silappathigaram, Ainkurnuru and Purananuru. It has many references in the Sangam Literature. According to legends, these hills were protected from demons by the enchanting smile of Ettukkai Aman, the local deity. There are also various popular legends of the Saptha Kannigal or the seven virgin Goddesses here.
As to historical references, Valvil Ori, a valorous and powerful king ruled this place in 200 AD. The author of Arthashatra, the great political adviser Chanakya is believed to have been born here.
Attractions in Kolli Malai
As your arduous climb ends atop the hill, you can look out for more excitement on Kolli malai.
The religious bent can take darshan of Lord Shiva in thDravidianan style Arappaleeswara temple. There is also a Sri Yantra here. The temple is very old and supposed to have been built in the 1st century. Next, you can visit the temple of Ettukai Aman or Kolli Pavai, whose name is given to the hill itself.
Waterfalls and Siddha caves
Nature lovers atrekkers cancan head to Akasa Gangai a waterfall near Arppaleeswarar temple You need to climb down 1000 steps to reach the falls.
Since there are many medicinal plants on these hills, there existed many holy men who formulated medicines from these for the general public. They are supposed to have lived in some caves called Siddha caves.
These caves are now popular among trekkers. To reach caves of Bogar and Agastaya you need to reach Agaya Gangai falls. Take a 2- 3 hour trek into the forest from the stream to reach Korakka siddha and Kalaangintha Sidha caves. These caves are so small that only one person can enter inside at a time.
Higher above the residential areas, there are dense forests like Ariyur Shola. You can find various endemic trees and plants here. Slender loris, Jackals, Palm civers, barking deer, Slot bear, some varities of lizards and birds are found here.
Solakkadu is the highest point on these hills. You can have a panoramic view of the surrounding towns from a special View point here. These include Namakkal, Rasipuram Belukurichi, Kalappanickenpatti, Puliancholai, Koppampatty, Sendamangalam, Mullukurichi Singalandapuram, and Rasipuram. Due to its proximity and altitude, Kolli malai influences climatic conditions of all these places. There are frequent bus services to these places, in case you want to visit them.
Vasalurpatty Boat house
Boating facilities are available on the artificial lake on Kolli Malai. This is very popular with kids. The charges are just R.20/- for a two-seater pedal boat.
Semmedu is Kolli Malais’ headquarters. A memorial statue of the brave king Valvil Ori built here. Cultural festivals are celebrated in his honor where 16 villages of these hills take part. There is a lot of singing, dancing, and feasting during this festival.
Kolli Malai Botanical gardens are 3 kms away from Semmedu. It also features eco-friendly cottages and children’s park.
Tampcol Medicinal Farm
This farm is run by the Government of Tamil Nadu. You can see cultivations of herbs, shrubs and medicinal plants used in the production of Ayurveda, Unani, and Siddha medicine here. This farm is a short distance from Semmedu. Purchase Chittharathai, the best local medicine for cold here.
Adventure enthusiasts can go trekking to Siddhar caves, can do rock climbing, mountain biking, stargazing or Rappelling. Just pack light woolen clothes (or summer clothes according to the season), sleeping kits, spike platic boots, telescopic ski sticks and helmet for trekking. Mobile connectivity is a bit of a problem in these mountains. So ….take necessary precautions.
Shopping is in everybody’s blood! Don’t blame only women:) Well, Kolli Malai offers varieties of Honey, coffee, fruits, Pepper and rice. The Jackfruits and pineapples of this place are quite famous. You can directly buy from the farmers and help in improving their lives. Markets close by sun-down, so be early. The street food near the lake is also very tasty. Locals providing piping hot Bondas with lip-smacking spicy pudhina chutney as a side dish that is heavenly in cool climatic conditions.
How to Reach there
The climate is pleasant all-round the year, January is a bit cold though! The duration of your trip could be 1 to 2 days to see all the attractions here.
The nearest airports are Tirchy domestic airport and Chennai International airport. The nearest Railway station is Salem about 90 kms away.Kolli malai is well connected to nearby towns by frequent bus service. Kolli Malai is connected to big cities like Chennai and Madurai through Salem.
You can seek accommodation in Silverline Retreat hotel, Nallathambi Resort, Kolli Hill results, Arasu Kudil and Youth Hostel. You can get more information on Kolli malai at the Tamil Nadu Tourism site. Since many people are not aware of this hill station bookings are not difficult.
Fewer Tourists, trek trails, temples and more – that’s Kolli malai for you. Pack your bags and get going, as the 70 Hairpin-bends beckon you to another world that is cool and exciting.
Featured Photo by seeveeaar