Saturday, March 12, 2016

Kookal Caves, Kodaikanal

Kookal Caves, Kodaikanal
The Kookal Caves, at about: 10°19’17’N 77°19’54’E, are ancient rock shelters that show traces of and are believed to be home to the descendants of the original Palaiyar(meaning "old ones") tribes who used to wear leaf clothing. The caves are overhanging slabs of different types of metamorphic rocks called charconite and granulite. Till the mid-1980s, over 30 families resided on the hill top, where a small temple is located.
The Kukkal Caves is an archaeological site which is near to Kodaikanal. Ancient tribes like Paliyan stayed in Kukkal caves in ancient times.  It is proved by the old hand paintings on the walls of the cave, which still exists. It is not well maintained. The ancient caves were once the earliest settlement of Paliyan tribals are now the camping site of the trekkers.

You need to travel till Poombarai and then walk down to this place. There are beautiful plantations and pine forests on the way. There is a rest house also in the Kukkal forest and caves are near to it. The valley view from here is great. But be aware of the leeches in this place.
Kukkal resides at 6,200 ft above sea level - one of the highest altitudes in Kodaikanal. This is the catalyst for its yearlong frigid climate, mist and wonderfully incessant rain. All of these factors combine to lend it an increased and unique biodiversity. Kukkal's large variety of terrain is another determining factor that contributes to its rare flora and fauna.

To reach Kukkal Caves which is at a distance of 40 kms, travel by bus upto Poombarai and then give a walk. It is preferable to take a local guide. After walking through geranium plantations, and pine and wattle forest, the Kookal Forest Rest house can he reached. From there is an 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) trail to the Kookal natural rock cave formations on a hill top. This stretch is leech-infested and best avoided during the monsoon.
The early morning hike from the rest house will lead to beautiful shola with wild large orchids. The caves here are actually overhanging slabs of rocks. This rock shelter is at an altitude of 1500 m.
Tourists are required to get permission from the Forest Department to visit Kookal or trek in the forest areas. Please contact: Government of Tamil Nadu, Tourist Office, Annasalai, Kodaikanal, 624 101, Tamil Nadu, India. Phone: 04542- 241675. A trekking map is available from them. Bison Wells Lodge has a panoramic view of the eastern slopes of Kookal ridge.