|Elevation||1,371.6 m (4,500 ft)|
|Easiest route||From Potenplave, via Kudiyanmala|
Paithalmala (Malayalam: പൈതൽമല) or Paithalmala is a hill station in the Kannur district of Kerala in India. Located near Pottenplave village, at a height of 1371.6 m above sea level, this is the highest geographic peak in Kannur. It is located 65 km from Kannur. Nestled in the Kerala Karnataka border near to Kodagu forests, it lies in the Western Ghats. It has become a favourite spot for the nature enthusiasts, photographers, trekkers and leisurely visitors.
Trekking at Paithalmala
There are two trekking seasons at Paithalmala, falling in monsoon and summer. Monsoon (June to October) trekking to Paithalmala is a photographer's delight as the mist blankets the hills and forest. One can indulge into the lush greenery amidst the showers throughout the day, especially in July. Practically, trekking is not as easy as in the summer because of the extreme climate. Watch out for leeches and occasional elephant visits.
Monsoon is followed by a cool climate in Paithalmala and the grass surrounding the hills grow to their fullest size, making it difficult to walk through. As they grow above seven feet, finding the regular way becomes a difficult task. By December, the forest caretakers set fire to the grass, taking care of the rest of the forest, to ease out the trekking experience. Soon after this, the hill becomes unsuitable to trek because of the black sooth formed but clears away after a couple of weeks. The best time for a trek is from Jan to March though the sun might be harsh.
Things to do
There is an observatory tower made by the department of tourism at the hilltop which can be reached after a 45 min walk from the Paithal valley. Trekking starts through the dense forest followed by the plain grass land on the hill top.
View of the valley from the observatory tower is breathtaking and the observer’s eyes can hover over more than half the area of Kannur district.
Most of the visitors end their trek having time spent around the tower, but much of the excitement of the Paithalmala is located elsewhere. One can seek help from complaisant local people to find out the small streams or ponds inside the forest and they might come handy if you run out of the bottled water.
The best part of the trek is the walk from the observatory tower to the thick forest where trail from Kappimala ends. One can move on top of the hills enjoying the mesmerizing scenery of the Coorg forest on right and Paithal valley on the left. The grassland looks stunning here and arguably is the best scene of the trek. The best time to start the trek is early morning, after the breakfast from the valley and finishing by evening. Lunch, water and snacks need to be carried.
Conserving the nature
This is one of the few places in Kerala where the nature is not largely affected by human invasion, thanks to the limited reachability. But the future does not look promising because of the increasing tendency of visitors to make it as a drinking spot. The observatory tower is in a poor condition as the walls and barricades are broken or destroyed. The surroundings of the tower are littered with beer bottles and like any other tourist spots, plastic is the major threat here too. It is sad to see even the streams where you get the purest of water are been treated badly with plastic covers thrown around. Nevertheless, the hill top remains largely non-polluted and the visitors are advised to preserve it.
How to reach
Nearest Bus Station : Pottenplave (KSRTC is running several buses to Pottenplave from Kannur & Payyannur depots).
Nearest Railway Station : Payyanur railway station / Kannur railway station.
The hill top can be reached from two different directions; pottenplave (near Kudiyanmala) and Kappimala (Near Alakkodu). However, trekking from pottenplave is preferred because of the all-weather motorable road from pottenplave till the beginning of the forest, where the trek starts. There are upcoming resorts on this route too. The drive from Kudiyanmala till Paithalmala valley is refreshing as the winding and narrow road takes you to the higher elevations. Cars can be taken here without a second thought too. Parking at the valley is not guarded but generally safe.
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