Drone view of vellagavi campsite

A Hiking Guide To Vellagavi, A Hidden Hamlet Near Kodaikanal

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Situated at 4196 feet above sea level, Vellagavi is a hidden gem located in the picturesque hills of Kodaikanal. Hiking is the only way to reach this village, as no vehicles can be used after Vattakanal. Fortunately for adventurous hikers like ourselves, this is one of the best nature trekking experiences in Tamil Nadu.

Trekking and Hiking are great ways to explore nature in the most barebones manner. Additionally, they are great life skills that can give you the confidence to be able to survive regardless of the resources and geographical location. These activities enable even amateur adventurers to maximize their travel experience by testing the limits of their physics and mind. Do read further to acquire all the information required to ensure you reach this unique village safely. Everything from what to pack, how to travel and the guide contact is present below.

A Few Interesting Things About Vellagavi

View of Vellagavi village
View of Vellagavi village spotted while hiking
  • Vellagavi houses 120-150 homes and is surrounded by 24 Hindu temples dedicated to the Hindu gods. As a result, the people of this village follow a unique practice where they never wear footwear inside the village.
  • There is a preliminary school but no hospital. People of the village help each other during medical emergencies.
  • Owing to the road conditions, horses help in the transportation of goods.
  • The hospitality of the people is so profound and surreal that words can do it no justice. It is only fair that you experience it for yourself.
  • There are no pesky mosquitoes in Vellagavi.
  • Vellagavi village is said to have existed long before Kodaikanal.
  • The people of the village are active, productive, and healthy. They follow an organic diet and consume homegrown foods. 
  • Coffee cultivation and farming are the two primary occupations.

Best Time To Visit

During the monsoon months from September to November, the hiking path is submerged in water, and troves of leeches make it a frustrating trek. Hiking during the summer heat drains your energy much faster while hiking. So the best time to visit Vellagavi is in December and January. 

It is always advisable to check the weather forecast before planning.

Sunrise view from the campsite
Sunrise from the campsite

Languages Spoken

Situated in the state of Tamil Nadu, the people of Vellagavi speak Tamil predominantly.

Network Availability

Jio and Vodafone prepaid (only) have excellent signal strength with 4G connectivity. Additionally, BSNL does provide good cellular coverage but their internet speed does leave a lot to be desired for.

The infrastructure to enable Wi-Fi has not been set yet. But, it is to be implemented soon.

 ATM Availability

Travelers need to be mindful that there are no ATM machines in the villages of Vattakanal and Vellagavi. However, all the shops accept online payments in addition to cash. You can scan the QR code or get their UPI Id to make a payment.

If you have to withdraw cash, then there are many ATM machines available in Kodaikanal city.

Restroom Facility

Restroom facilities in Vellagavi
Both Western and Indian-style restrooms are available.

As people usually halt one night in Vellagavi, there is rarely a requirement for bathroom facilities. Not to mention there is only a toilet in the camping area for travelers. The common toilet is cleaned and well-maintained.

Pro tip: During the trek, one has to be dependent on natural resources. So, an isolated bush can be used for emergencies.

Shops

Shops are available until you reach Dolphin Nose, which is about 800 m from Vattakanal. Beyond this, no shops are available even in the Vellagavi village. Furthermore, Vattakanal has good options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Guide Details

Contact: Jaya Murugan – +91 9585654107, +91 6382993329 (Speaks Tamil, English, and Malayalam)

Alternate Contact: Subraj – +918939181508 (Speaks Tamil, English, and Hindi)

In our experience, Jaya Murugan is a very humble, kind-hearted person who was very concerned about our stay being pleasant during the entire journey. He has been organizing this campsite for more than 10 years now. He will accompany you from the start to the very end of the hike. Most importantly, your call never goes unnoticed.

Blogger’s Personal Note: Follow and support this eco-friendly and wonderfully nature-esque place on Instagram.

Hiking Details

  1. Cost

Below is the cost for one night, per person. The price listed is inclusive of the meals, accommodation, and guide charges.

  • Rs. 1800 for Indians, Rs.2500 for foreigners
  • Rs. 5000 for a honeymoon stay

In case you are not able to complete the trek, you can avail a horseback ride for an additional Rs.1200 one way.

  1. Hike Distance

6 Km one way – mostly downhill for reaching Vellagavi from Kodaikanal and uphill while hiking back. 

  1. Hiking Route

Vattakanal – Vellagavi – Vattakanal

  1. Hike Duration

3 – 4 hours one way. 2D/1N for the whole hike.

  1. Difficulty Level

Moderate to Difficult, and this is highly subject to your fitness level.

  1. Terrain

Stones, rocks, gravel, sand, and grass

  1. At The Vellagavi Campsite
Resting at the campsite in a hammock

Watch the sunrise with a 270° view. See the Kodaikanal mountain ranges, Periyakulam (Theni), and Vaigai dam. A bonfire is often lit to beat the cold after sunset. There are also hammocks hanging between trees that you can use to relax. The campsite is picturesque and so far away from the buzz of daily life that, all during the day, you will be surrounded by songbirds. You can fly drones in this area and capture the beauty of the place from a bird’s eye view.

  1. Permission

No permissions are required to hike or trek on this route. But it is always better to let someone know about your whereabouts.

Pro Note: You can also descend from Vellagavi to Periyakulam (Theni) via Kumbakarai Falls. But make sure to reach before sunset as Wild Bison roam in the region.

How To Reach?

By Air

The nearest airport to reach Kodaikanal is the Madurai Airport (133 Km, Airport Code: IXM). From Madurai, public buses are available every one or two hours. The journey from Madurai to the Kodaikanal bus stand is about 3 hours. 

By Train

The Kodaikanal Road (79 Km, Station Code: KQN) is the nearest railway station. This station is well connected to major cities like Chennai, Bangalore, Trichy, Madurai, Tuticorin, and Coimbatore. From the station, you have the option of hiring a 5 seater cab (4+1) for Rs. 2500 or an 8 seater cab (7+1) for Rs. 5500 to reach the Kodaikanal bus stand.

By Road

Public buses are available during the daytime from various cities of Tamil Nadu for one or two hours to Kodaikanal. The roadway is the cheapest and best option to reach the city.

Regardless of the manner of transport you take to reach the Kodaikanal Bus Stand, from there to Vattakanal, you can either walk a short distance of 3.6 km, or you can hire a cab for Rs. 300.

Food

Lunch served at the campsite
Lunch served at the campsite

There are no eateries or shops available after the Dolphin Nose. Should you contact a guide, after reaching Vellagavi, you will be served a hot South Indian vegetarian lunch in the ‘meals’ form. At around 8 PM, soft Rotis with veg and non-veg gravy (based on request) and Pulav are served. The next day at around 9 AM, breakfast is served, typically, idly with podi (powder and oil), chutney, and sambar. The food served is quite appetizing.

Evening at 5 PM and in the morning at 7 AM, home-grown tea or coffee will be served upon request.

The best of all is the water – natural and surprisingly the tastiest we have ever tasted.

Pro Tip: You need not bring any trekking utensils for this hike if you plan to go with the guide.

Accommodation

There are several hostels in Vattakanal, the starting place of the trek. If you have planned for a night stay at the Vellagavi campsite, a tent stay is the only option. Cozy tents with comfortable blankets are provided at the campsite. Be advised that pillows are not allowed as it is considered to be a tool for murder. But you can ask for an extra blanket and use it as a pillow. You are, however, allowed to use bedrolls.

Note: The safe campsite we used is owned by the guide Jaya Murugan. Please be advised that have to pay the fees in order to stay there.

 

Electricity

To charge your electronic devices, extension boxes with multiple sockets are available. The campsite is solar and battery-powered, making the place alight after the golden hours.

Hiking Essentials To Bring

  • Dettol – to cure and avoid leeches. Learn how to get rid of them the right way!
  • Shoes with good grip & insole – highly recommended
  • Reusable water bottle (avoid plastic) – at least 1 L of water
  • Energy-rich foods – Chocolate and Energy bars, Glucose, Electrolyte drinks
  • Snacks – nothing that makes a mess or those that do not agree with your stomach
  • Pain relief sprays like Volini & Moov
  • A waterproof jacket/sweater (if you trek during rain)
  • Sunscreen and lip balm
  • Personal medication (if any)
  • Travel first aid kit
  • Pullover or jacket
  • Headlamp
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste, towel, soap – Toiletries
  • Additional underwear & wool socks.

Points To Remember

Before You Start/ Plan

  • You must be fully vaccinated.
  • Drinking, smoking, and use of drugs are strictly prohibited.
  • Start your trek at around 9:30 AM so as to get the most out of the scenic beauty & the viewpoints along the way.
  • This is an environmentally friendly place. Do not litter, and do not dispose of any plastics or act in a manner that would spoil the hike in any way.
  • A maximum of 25 persons can stay at a time. Pre-book and pay in advance to confirm your stay. 
  • Vellagavi has gained a lot of popularity in recent times. If you want to enjoy this hike to the fullest, and if you can afford it, book the whole place for yourself and your gang, and go during weekdays.
  • The direct route from the Dolphin Nose leads you to Vellagavi. There is no possibility of getting lost on this hiking route. This hike can be done independently by yourself without a guide but if you need food and accommodation, it is highly advisable to check for availability in advance.

While Hiking

Viewpoint along the hike
Viewpoints along the hike
Dolphin nose viewpoint
Dolphin nose viewpoint – spot me on the edge (right corner)
  • There are some beautiful viewpoints along the way. So, ensure you make sufficient time to connect with nature and explore as much as possible. 
  • Take rest stops whenever required and stay hydrated.
  • If you feel unsure of the direction, just follow the water pipe which goes to the village.
  • Ensure to taste coffee, cardamom fruit, avocado, and other seasonal home-grown fruits.
  • Do not hike when it gets dark, as wild bison roam in the forests.
  • Always and at all times, be respectful towards nature, animals, and local people.

Disclaimer

All the people who are interested to hike or trek this route should have minimum fitness, stamina, and the ability to sustain rugged terrains. You should be able to carry the entirety of your belongings. This hiking experience is not for people who demand changing rooms, restrooms, bedrooms, showers, or the other comforts of a quaint life. Pregnant women, babies, and elderly people are not advised to hike this route.

This hike, or any hike for that matter, will be a transformative experience. We advise you to take this hike at least once in your life, and it is good for your mind, body, and soul to immerse yourself in a challenging and introspective situation.

If you found this guide to be useful, share it with your friends who have planned or are planning a trip to Kodaikanal. For more travel tips and useful guides such as this, or anything related to travel and life skills, subscribe to our newsletter and stick with us, The Twin Travelers.

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