trek to Vellagavi

Trek to Vellagavi, a sacred village in the mountains of Kodaikanal

 

Before writing about my recent trek to Vellagavi, I would like to take your attention to something which I feel very important. Ever since I began to take travel blogging seriously, I was very much aware of the impact my posts have on the places I write about. I had gone through the dilemma many times, whether to write about a place or not. 

Nowadays, we all are traveling with a mindset to find out something unique and be the first to experience it. I would say, social media has changed the way we travel.  We all enjoy the thrill and excitement of getting more likes and comments on every new post we put out there. 

“Unexplored places and offbeat destinations” has become a trend in travel and tourism industry. Even multi-million corporates are looking to find new potential tourism markets. Ecotourism, tribal tourism, sustainable tourism are the hot topics in the industry. People are desperate to try something new all the time. As this trend is going up, it is time to think how it affects the socio-economic scenarios of those places which are coming up as new tourism hot spots.

For example, till recently, the Spiti valley in Himachal Pradesh was a less touristy and peaceful place in the upper Himalayas. The people of Spiti are very friendly and loving. But since tourism started to grow there, everything changed there. More people started to come and the valley became more commercialized now. The authenticity of the people and the culture will be lost very soon. Pollution is now a major issue in the valley. The Spiti river, the lifeline of the valley became a garbage dumping ground. I won’t be able to see the same Spiti valley again as it is when I visited last year. In few years, Spiti valley will become a typical Himalayan tourist place like McLeodganj or Manali. You know what I mean if you have been to these places.

 

Vellagavi village trekk
trail starts from Dolphin Nose

To be frank, as a travel writer, sometimes I feel regret for being responsible for all in some way. Many times I was confused whether to write about some of my journeys. I know that, once it becomes known to everyone, the place which I love for its uniqueness and the people won’t be the same again. Everyone who travels may not have the same mindset. Some will be very careful not to do any harm to the environment and the people living there. But some are totally opposite.  And it’s not in our hands.

If I write about these issues, those reading my blog will at least think about it and will be conscious about traveling in a better way.  It is not at all bad to explore new places and new experiences. But we need to be cautious, we have to be responsible. We should respect the nature. Our journeys should not have a negative impact on the people. For example, if we go to a village and ask for a mineral water bottle, we are creating a demand for bottled water there. Shops will stock those bottles and people coming after you buy them.  Next time, when you go there, you see plastic bottles scattered all around. This is what happens everywhere now.

With a belief that, everyone who reads this will think seriously about this, I introduce you Vellagavi, a small and beautiful village in Kodaikanal. A very remote village, not connected by roads. A village with good-hearted people. People there consider their village very sacred and do not use footwear. It is one of the best places I traveled recently. The trek to Vellagavi was a great experience. More than the mountains and nature, it was the people of Vellagavi, their affection and their innocent smiles that I cherish always. For two days, we were not outsiders, we became one among them.

trek to Vellagavi

Kodaikanal is one place I wish to travel quite often. Every time, it was not the same places and experiences. My love for the villages in Kodaikanal started after my visit to Kookal. A few years back, when I was with my friends in Vattakanal, we noticed a trail going down from Dolphin nose. Later found out that the trail leads to a village called Vellagavi. More information about the village and people there increased my curiosity, I was waiting for the right time for the trek to Vellagavi.

So as usual, on a weekend, I boarded the bus to Kodaikanal. One of my friends also joined me from Kodai. Started the walk from Kodaikanal, first reached Vattakanal. There is a short road from Kodaikanal to Vattakanal actually, it will take about 20 minutes walk to reach and can save you some money paying for the taxi.

Vattakanal is also an example of the changes unplanned and irresponsible tourism brought to a place over years. Two years back, when I first came here, this place was beautiful. Not many buildings, not much traffic on the road and it was beautiful. It is not the same now. Didn’t feel like spending time there at all. Brought some food from the grocery shop and started walking to Dolphin nose.

Dolphin nose is a major tourist attraction in Kodaikanal. You need to walk down about 30 minutes from Vattakanal to reach Dolphin nose. Till Dolphin nose, there will be people all the time. From there, we found the trail going further down and began our trek to Vellagavi.

vellagavi village
one of the many temples

The major part of the trail goes through the forest. The forests of the Western Ghats are magical. There are many flowers on the way this time. The sound and smell of the forest were peaceful as usual. Some foreigners were hiking back after visiting the village, they were struggling to climb those steep mountains.

Later, we started seeing the villagers collecting wood from the forest. With a smiling face, they welcomed us and showed the way to the village. The last stretch of the walk was little fast, we saw Vellagavi from a distance. There was a temple at the entrance itself, a big banyan tree on the side. I could feel the positive vibe of the village from the entrance itself, removed my shoes and entered the village.

Vellagavi trek
Vellagavi

Whoever we saw, greeted us and asked whether we need some tea. The kids immediately began running around, playing and made fun of us. We were invited to every house there. I should say, from some of the houses, we get the best views of the valley. They are placed at picturesque locations.

There are no roads to Vellagavi. The people of the village use the same trail to reach Kodaikanal. They have to come here to sell their crops and buy essential items. Further down from Vellagavi, the trail goes to Kumbakarai, a village at the bottom of the hills. We used that route for our return next day. Britisher’s used this trail to transport good from Kodaikanal. The trail from Kumabakarai to Kodaikanal is a famous trekking route, many people do this trek especially foreigners. This is also the part of trek route between Munnar and Kodaikanal.

vellagavi village trekking

The village of Vellagavi has 50 houses and more temples. Whichever direction you go, you find idols. These people came here during the time of Tipu Sultan and later formed an isolated community in the mountains. They worship many gods here. They consider their village very sacred. Till recently, nobody in the village use footwears inside the village. And even visitors are not allowed. But now, they don’t show any reluctance to outsiders.

People here are mostly farmers, coffee and avocado are the major crops they produce here. Every morning, few horses will climb the mountain to Kodaikanal to bring the necessary goods to the people. There is a primary school up to 5th standard, after that, they need to go to Kodaikanal or Periyakulam for education. Most of the young people in the village are working outside now. What I found very interesting here is that people are very healthy. Even a 90-year-old doesn’t look like that much old.

Found a place to pitch our tents little away. The night was stary, as usual in Kodaikanal, one of the main reason for my love towards this place.

The next day, started our trek down to Periyakulam. It was much steep compared to the trail from Kodaikanal. About 2 hours walk, reached Kumbakarai. And then back to our normal lives. It was another weekend spend very well. A new place, new people and some more memories.

Vellagavi trek

Trek to Vellagavi, How?

You can do this trek in different ways. You can start from Kodaikanal, walk down to Dolphin nose and then to Vellagavi. If you don’t want to spend the night there, you can walk back and stay in Vattakanal.

The next option is as we did. Trek to Vellagavi from Kodaikanal, stay there for the night and trek down to Kumbakarai, then to Periyakulam and Dindigul. You will get buses to all major places from Dindigul. Both state transport bus and private bus services are available to Chennai and Bangalore.

Kumbakarai has a very small waterfall, once you reach there ask someone to show the bus stop and the bus timings. Buses are not frequent but available. Otherwise, you will get autos from there to reach Periakulam. From Periyakulam ( between Theni-Dindigul highway), you will get buses to Dindigul, Palani or Madurai. You can plan your journey back from any of these places.

I have seen few people trek to Vellagavi from Kumbakarai and then up to Kodaikanal. In this case, the trek will be a bit difficult, the trail is steep all the way till Kodai.

Food and accommodation

Food is not at all a problem here. The people of Vellagavi will not allow you to stay hungry. They will definitely invite you to have food from their house. They really care for us. Also, there is a cafe in the village. Murugesan who is running the cafe is ready to help you with anything all the time.

If you are planning to stay in Vellagavi village, tents are the only option. They are available in the cafe.

Vellagavi village
a night far from those city lights
Trek to Vellagavi; few things to know

There is only one shop in the village. It is not a proper shop, a person runs it in his home. You may not get everything there, so it is better to buy them from Vattakanal before the start of the trek.

The village will go to sleep by around 7 PM, it will be quiet after that. So talking loudly and playing loud music is not good.

As I said before, there are temples and idols all over the village, showing disrespect to them may hurt the feelings of the people.

Nowadays, many trekking agencies are organizing two days trek between Munnar and Kodaikanal. The stretch from Kumabakarai to Kodaikanal is the one that covers on the second day.

For me, the only expense was the bus fare and the food. Since I carried my tent, saved some money that way. Excluding transportation expenses, the trek to Vellagavi can be done with a really small budget.

trek to Vellagavi
don’t miss the sunrise

We cannot imagine a place where there is no road connectivity, but there are still people living in such places. They live happier than us. What I understood from the people of Vellagavi is that it is not the facilities that make our life happy, it is just the goodness of our mind.

Hope your trek to Vellagavi will be a great experience.

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trek to Vellagavi Kodaikanal

28 comments
  1. The upper view with the mountains tops look soo peaceful! This seems like a beautiful trek to take!

    1. Hi Melanie, Trek to Vellagavi village is a must do if you are coming to Kodaikanal in India.

  2. That sunrise is definitely amazing. I can’t tell from the post where exactly that was taken.

    1. Thanks Amy, it was taken from the village itself.

  3. Truly sacred, Vellagavi in the mountains of Kodaikanal. Don’t worry if it is as remote as this, there will be no immediate threat of commercialization. It will be preserved for a particular kind of tourist. The one that does not seek conveniences but the purity of the people.

    1. Even I also wish the same, the purity of the people of Vellagavi should not be lost.

      1. Good writings pls continue

        1. Thanks for the support Arjul

  4. I think that some experiences are better lived in person, off the camera. It is you as a traveler who should have that, and keep that to yourself – because life’s greatest moments are ones that are lived by yourself. With that said, I really appreciate how you talked about these very important things at the very beginning of the post. Definitely, influencers can play a huge role in changing such narratives.

    1. Thanks Hussain

  5. Vellagavi looks so pristine and untouched. I am sure the trek was magical. I was not aware of this trek and hence probably this adds to its allure. We were in Kodaikanal last year and discovered some off the beaten places. This is something that we would love to explore , next time when we are there.

    1. Sandy, go for the trek to Vellagavi next time in Kodaikanal. You guys will like it.

  6. Amazing photos! Have a great time on your next trip

    1. Thanks Penny

  7. Tourism can be such a scourge and despite having access to information some tourists still are mindless to the impact they have on out of the way places. It’s so sad about Spiti Valley. I’m in my final year of Heritage Studies and one of the modules I’ve been studying is Cultural tourism. We’ve looked at how tourism has impacted on small communities and how they’ve been forced to commercialise their traditions and rituals and how different cultures have been represented in the media. It’s so sad

    1. Marteen, I completely agree with you. Tourism nowadays is affecting the culture and heritage of many small communities all over the world.

  8. Amazing place… the pictures of the mountains are really great. I would like to visit some day.

    1. Thanks Kate

  9. I have been to Kodaikanal but never done the trek through Vellagavi. I loved the narrow paths amidst forests on slopes and beautiful snall town of Vellagavi pictures.

    1. Yukti, I will say, you should definitely trek up to Vellagavi and spend a day here. It will be a great experience. You will like it.

  10. wow – what an amazing sunrise! This hiking trail must be awesome – thanks for sharing all this with us!

    1. Thanks Martina. That sunrise was amazing.

  11. Just amazing Jithin bro… Love the way u narrated

    1. Thanks Nawaz

  12. Bro… how can we reach this place from Chennai (prefer train).
    Need your inputs 🙂

    1. Ashiq, you need to catch a train that has stop at Kodai road station. From there, you get many buses straight to Kodaikanal. It is almost 3-4 hour journey. This is the nearest railway station to the hill station.

  13. I have been to vellagavi last september.Did you carry your sleeping bags or did u contact bhairava(60-70 year old guy)?

    1. Hey Anonymous,
      I carried my tent while trekking to Vellagavi. But we will get tents there also.

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