KOCHI: “It’s a shame that I haven’t explored even half of Ernakulam’s natural beauty, despite having lived here for decades,” says a senior journalist, as we discuss scenic spots in the district. This is, in fact, a common line heard among Kochiites. Currently, there seems to be a rise in going local, and exploring hidden wonders in and around the city. One such spot is Mamalakandam, a lush, tranquil village near the Ernakulam-Idukki border.
Located 30km from Kothamangalam, Mamalakandam is an ideal getaway for those who love the woods and waterfalls. A drive through the Kothamangalam-Thattekad road, covered in mist even at noon, is a trance-like experience. For those who seek to literally soak in nature, there are several roadside rivulets and streams that are safe to bathe. And, when you pull over, don’t miss the amazing variety of butterflies here.
Mamalakandam became a social media sensation after some vloggers featured the village’s government high school, which has the Elampassery waterfall in the backdrop. The school is nowadays a great starting point. There are several attractions within a 30km radius. A must-visit is Kerala’s longest suspension bridge at Inchathotty, about 20 km from Mamalakandam.
People visiting this 186m bridge over the Periyar can also check out kayaking and boating options, based on weather conditions. The residents have set up small stalls that sell dishes made of bamboo rice. A must-try is ‘mulayari payasam’, a sweet and healthy pudding. Homely meals, too, are available at small eateries.
“Our ancestors cleared the jungle and set up this village over 100 years ago,” says Valsala Nandhan, 58, who runs an eatery here. “The school was built in the 1980s. Mamalakandam became famous over the past two years.” As we return, there is sudden silence as elephants trumpet at a distance, somewhere deep in the forest. And then, the jungle symphony continues.
Column on getaways to disconnect from stress and reconnect with life
Distance from Kochi: About 85km
Cheeyappara waterfalls - 12km
Valara waterfalls - 14km
Inchathotty suspension bridge - 20km
Thattekkad bird sanctuary - 20km
Vadattupara waterfalls - 35km
Stay: Homestays and hotels (Rs 700 to Rs 17,000 per night)