Ian Lockwood

MUSINGS, TRIP ACCOUNTS AND IMAGES FROM SOUTH ASIA

A Frosty, Dry Winter in the Palani Hills

with 8 comments

Perumal Peak (2,000 meters) the distinct mountain (that is NOT a volcano) of the Palani Hills rise above winter mist as seen from Kodaikanal int he early morning of December 30th.

Perumal Peak (2,219 meters) the distinct mountain (that is NOT a volcano) of the Palani Hills rise above winter mist as seen from Kodaikanal in the early morning of December 30th.

Few people associate southern India with freezing temperatures and a cold, frosty climate. With a polar vortex and other unusually arctic conditions keeping parts of north American in a frozen slump it is easy to see why a slight chill in the tropics would not make the news. Yet, for a few weeks –and sometime longer- of the year, the Western Ghats as well as Sri Lanka’s Central Highlands experience chilly, winter weather that is in sharp contrast to the heat, dust and humidity of the lower plains. These hill ranges, be they in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka or Sri Lanka, all host plateau areas averaging 2,000 meters and extending up to 2,695 meters at the highest (in Kerala’s High Range). This year, after what is apparently a failed North East monsoon, there were waves of cold weather experienced in the hill stations of Ooty, Kodaikanal and Nuwara Eliya. The cold weather was covered by the Hindu (Kodaikanal and Ooty) and Sunday Times (Sri Lanka).

Scenes from a frosty winter in the Palani Hills. Rubus (raspberry) with frost and Cyathea sp. tree fern,

Scenes from a frosty winter in the Palani Hills. Rubus (raspberry) with frost and Cyathea sp. tree fern,

 I’ve always liked winter weather because of the clean views that one is rewarded with in the upper reaches of the Western Ghats and Central Highlands. This time, my sojourn in Kodai was timed with the visit of my KIS classmate John Miller, his wife Val and their two boys. On our side, Lenny accompanied me on this short visit to Kodai and the Palanis. We joined our other friends in Kodai and were able to take several hikes out to several special places in the hills. We experienced frost on the way to Kukkal and it coated the lawn of our home just before New Years!  I got a very painful lesson in the chilliness factor trying to ride a motorcycle without gloves on one of those mornings when the temperature had dipped below zero.

The images in this post are taken from this week and also include two Landsat views of the area that were collected in the week before we arrived. The data is courtesy NASA and the USGS through the Eathexplorer service. I have spent several hours downloading, stacking, clipping and then editing the images to emphasize areas that are featured in the attached photographs. The Nilgiri Hills view was so sharp and clear that I thought I would include it. I’m looking forward to a visit back to both Eravikulam and Mukkurthy in the near future. It has been far too long since I’ve walked their magical grasslands…

Landsat 8 image of the High Range and Palani Hills. (Click for enlarged view)

Landsat 8 image of the High Range and Palani Hills. (Click for enlarged view)

Landsat 8 image of the Nilgiri Hills. (Click for enlarged view)

Landsat 8 image of the Nilgiri Hills. (Click for enlarged view)

The hike to Kukkal of course is a pilgrimage that I make as often as possible and it has featured prominently in past posts. This series of images highlights the landscape that one encounters on its exposed ridge.

Cloud Land's Peal as seem from the road to Poombari.

Cloud Land’s Peak as seem from the road to Poombari.

Gaur-Proof Fences in Kukkal. Farmers and residents in the Palani Hills are trying a number of things to discourage the increasing number of gaur from getting into their farms. Here is one of the more ingenious methods:  used sarees as fencing!

Gaur-Proof Fences in Kukkal. Farmers and residents in the Palani Hills are trying a number of things to discourage the increasing number of gaur from getting into their farms. Here is one of the more ingenious methods: used sarees as fencing!

Kukkal ridge and temple summit looking north. The Anaimalai Hills are visible in the far right.

Kukkal ridge and temple summit looking north. The Anaimalai Hills are visible in the far left.

Kukkal lower ridge looking south back to the temple summit.

Kukkal lower ridge looking south back to the temple summit.

Perumal Peak, in its classic profile seen from Coaker's Walk before the gates opened on December 27th.

Perumal Peak, in its classic profile seen from Coaker’s Walk before the gates opened on December 27th.

Old place, new light: the Old Cemetery on Lower Shola Road in Kodaikanal.

Old place, new light: the Old Cemetery on Lower Shola Road in Kodaikanal.

Written by ianlockwood

2014-01-26 at 5:07 pm

8 Responses

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  1. lovely photographs and detail! very tempting to visit the place

    dinesh maneer

    2014-01-27 at 4:15 am

  2. Thank you ! Loved this one, its so very wonderful to be able to “touch” Kodai’s winter without leaving home.Keep them coming, your writing and the accompanying pictures bring much joy.

    Dolly George

    2014-01-27 at 5:14 pm

  3. loved the piece and photos.

    Bruce DeJong

    2014-02-04 at 12:08 am

  4. Very interesting and informative and amazing photos

    Dixeena prince

    2014-02-04 at 6:39 am

  5. I just returned from Kodaikanal and it was great. Drove there (from Bangalore) and
    driving among those mountains was arduous but fun. Also, this
    being an off-season, the number of tourists wasn’t that high. Also, I visited many of the places early in the morning (when the crowd was non-existent), and also other places like dolphin’s nose and Berijam lake (where entrance is rate limited) which again get very few tourists. I wish the road to munnar from kodaikanal was made motorable again (may be only during limited period of day).

    Raghavendra

    2014-02-04 at 10:53 am

  6. Your pictures and text are excellent. Besides great shots of mountain landscapes early in the day, I especially appreciated the shot of the old grave yard from that special angle. Good to see that the grass and weeds were cut as well. Keep up the great work!

    Ted C Essebaggers, Kodai Class of 1959, Oslo, Norway

    2014-02-09 at 10:36 am

  7. […] A Frosty Dry Winter in the Palani Hills […]

  8. Amazing Documentation , am blessed to read & Gaze your photos
    Israel Bhooshi

    Israel Bhooshi

    2015-05-29 at 3:03 am


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