Tamil Nadu, India
Shaji M Simon
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Meghamalai, popularly called High Wavy Mountains, is a cool and misty mountain range situated in the Western Ghats in Theni district, Tamilnadu, South India. It is a place of natural beauty dotted with cardamom plantations and tea estates. The place is situated at an elevation of 1,500 m above sea level and it is rich in flora and fauna. This area, now mostly planted with tea, includes Cloudlands, Highwavys and Manalaar estates, the access to which is now largely restricted. It still includes large untouched remnants of evergreen forest.
Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuary:
There is a long-pending proposal with the Tamil Nadu Forest Department to establish the Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuary on 600 km² of forest in the division. Priority tasks in the sanctuary should be the control of poaching and the use of pesticides, the elimination of ganja (Cannabis sativa) and the cultivation and scientific management of watersheds. The Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuary can be an excellent buffer to the Periyar Tiger Reserve and Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary and can immensely strengthen conservation in the southern Western Ghats, the range of hills south of the Palakkad Gap.
Vegetation ranges from scrub forests at the foothills, up to ubiquitous expanses of tea and coffee estates, to spice (pepper, cardamom, cinnamon) plantations and finally to the dense evergreen forests at the top.
Meghamalai forest area hosts a variety of birds, mammals, reptiles and butterflies. Resident and migratory elephants are common. Other animals sighted are tiger, leopard, Nilgiri tahr, gaur, spotted deer, barking deer, Sambar deer, wild boar, porcupine, Nilgiri langur, lion-tailed macaque, common langur, bonnet macaque, sloth bear, Grey Junglefowl, Smooth-coated Otter and flying squirrel. Over 100 species of birds have been identified.
Tea Estates And Dams:
Highwavys is a view point that will afford a wonderful view of the entire mountains range of Varusanadu Hills. There few large private tea, spices and coffee plantations all around, notable include The Highwavys Estates owned by The Woodbriar Group, Ananda Plantations, Ponsiva Plantations and Feildmede Estate have the largest holdings of plantations in Meghamalai, an artificial lake and plenty of scope for making leisurely walks. Kardana Coffee Estate is situated in the High Wavy Mountains.
Six dams on the hill and originating place of Suruli Theertham (Suruli Falls near Cumbum town) are popular attractions for tourists. From Manalar dam, one can view the deep Cumbum Valley and the villages of Theni district. The Department of Tourism has planned to introduce boat or ferry service to enable tourists to enjoy the pristine beauty of the hill.
Vellimalai (Silver Mountain, 1,650 m) area is a heart of Meghamalai. Silver-lined clouds seem to rest gently on green hilltops and nestled somewhere in this region is the place where the river Vaigai originates. This lovely place will give an opportunity to see wild animals and aesthetically and scientifically managed tea gardens.
The Meghamalai Falls (called as Clouds land fall) occurs on Suruli River originating in the Meghamalai Hills. The special feature of the falls is that water is flowing down 190 feet through twin falls round the year. Frequent visits by elephants, spotted deer, gaur and other wild animals at dawn and dusk are a feast to the eyes. Forest Department officials have plans to assist tourists to view those wild animals.
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