Tour the land of Nilamba | Nilambur, Kerala

Nilambur trip what to see

Surrounded by 8000 hectares of Teak forest, Nilambur offers one of the most picturesque train rides that you can have travelling in Kerala. Check out the details of the places you in Nilambur and more details through this post. 

When Dad shared his experience of a recent trip to Nilambur, it sparked an interest in my daughter and me. Instantly we couldn’t resist asking can we go too? With my mother joining the team was complete. Such dad lead tours are a delight,  we have fabulous memories made from these, he knows the trains and does fantastic research of the place and knows exactly where to stop over for meals, tea etc. This takes out the stress of planning a trip and makes it all about loving the experience.

Check out the two previous trips we blogged about earlier that were both Dad- lead ones similar to the current one.
Thrissur
Kerala Kalamandalam

Exploring nilambur

“The land of nilamba”, Nilambur is a town centred in Malapuram. Kerala, India. The town is well known for its 8000 hectares of teak plantations. Nilambur is blessed with nature in the abundance of forest lands.  Attracting a good crowd to see the symmetrically planted teak, rubber and mahogany, this nature escape is complete with its own waterfall.  

Location

Nilambur is under a municipal council in Malappuram district. 53 km from Malappuram centre, the picturesque town is best accessed by Railway or by car. The Nilambur taluk hosts the Nilambur biosphere region.

History

As a representative of the Samoothiris the Nilambur kovilakam, was the local ruler of then prosperous Nilambur. Rich in nature and natural resources, the region was more so developed by these rulers. With the Chaliyar River to provide water, this fertile region flourished producing the best quality teak. The entire town and its surrounding areas thereby prospered and developed through this trade. Lt.Connelly, who was the then Mayor of Malabar, meticulously planned the plantation and its harvesting of these teak trees. The felled trees floated as rafts through the Chaliyapuzha all the way to Kallayi in Kozhikode, making the trade foolproof. These flourished the region forming one of the influential regions in trade.

How to get to Nilambur?

Nilambur is accessible by road or rail predominantly
Roadways: Malapurram is the nearest town to Nilambur. Once reaching Malapurram, take a taxi or bus (for the more adventurous) to Nilambur. For local transport, you do have plenty of autos.
Railways: my favourite travel mode forever is the extensive Indian Railway network. From Shornur Junction to Nilambur, the route was developed during British rule to provide transport to timber to Central Kerala. Further, this route was developed as one of the most picturesque routes of railway travel. The key contributor to the rows of trees that make it beautiful by Railway staff Ayyapan Kartha who planted symmetric rows of teak trees on either side of the tracks making it one of the most beautiful routes to travel during most seasons. 
Airways: the nearest airport to Nilambur is Karipore international airport in Kozhikode.  The distance from there to Nilambur has to be covered by the car. The other route that you can attempt is the Cochin international airport. From here Enjoy Cochin, then stop over at Thrissur for exploration and at Kalamandalam before heading to Shornur. Catch the train to Nilambur from here.

What is in and around Nilambur?

While planning any trip the whole idea is what is there to see? Answering that in the most direct way, here is the list of things to do in Nilambur. 

Nilambur teak forest

The mountain ranges of Nilambur support the best quality of teak in the world. Used to build Buckingham palace, RMS Titanic and the Khabba of Mecca these teak planks excel in colour quality and grain structure owing to their durability and grandeur. The smart planning of the yesteryears still sees this area as one of the major teak plantations.

Cannolys plot:

To most wood enthusiasts,  a good quality teak is synonymous with Nilambur. Expertly planned and receiving the geographic indicator, these teak plantations with symmetric rows of straight-trunked teak are beautiful to see with the sunlight falling through them. The largest teak tree with a girth of 4.2 meters and 6 to 7 people holding their hands, is an image that is permanently etched in your mind. Unfortunately, the hanging bridge leading to the Cannollys plot was damaged irreparably during the Kerala floods. So the way to reach the spot is much longer taking about 2 hours of mountain roads (absolutely beautiful  and worth the drive )

Nilambur teak museum

Teak museum

The Forest research institute of Kerala has a brilliant, well-maintained two-storied museum dedicated to the teak plantation and scientific studies aiding the upkeep of the quality of teak. This is a must-do spot when in Nilambur, helping one to appreciate how the quality is maintained. The museum is open from 10 am to 4.30 pm all days except Monday (watch out for public holidays) with a ticket price of INR 10.

The medicinal garden.

The surrounding area of the teak museum has been developed into a beautiful garden. One of the areas that sparked a keen interest in all of us was the medicinal garden. The inspirational part was not just the plants were labelled, they had a good amount of information attached to each plant helping us to explore and learn. The plant zone was also constantly monitored  and maintained with a great level of dedication 

Butterfly Garden

Adjacent to the teak museum is a well-maintained garden filled with flowers and trees. This forms the haven for butterflies to congregate. Embellished with mini fountains and cobble-stoned pathways, this small yet beautiful butterfly garden is a confluence of science and beauty. The plants are chosen based on the preferences of the butterflies. There are plenty of varieties roosting on the flowers and even adventurous exploring your hair.

Adyan para

Originating from the jungles around 10 km from Nilambur town is the beautiful cascading waterfall of Adyan para. Overflowing with water and generating hydroelectricity, this beautiful waterfall adds to the natural beauty of Nilambur.

Adyan para water fall, nilambur.

Nilambur kovilakam 

The vassals of the zamorins, taking care of the food taxes and the land of the Nilambur, built kovilagam. These mini palaces built in true Kerala architectural style with beautiful works in teak,pathinarukettu, stand the test of time. This style of construction aids free airflow and protects against the harsh tropical heat providing respite in summer months and warmth in the cooler monsoons.  Unfortunately, entry to these locations has been currently blocked off (post covid ). Most of the grandeur and awe-inspiring stories of the Kovilagam and the contribution to the development of the area in the yesteryears are shadowed by the imprinted history. If visiting check ahead before you plan a trip. However, the temple on the premises is open.

Vetakorumakan temple 

The shrine dedicated to the son of lord Shiva, “Kiratha” is in the Kovilakam complex. Recorded as one of the deities of royalty, the temple is believed to be built in the 18th century. Constructed in traditional Kerala temple architecture, Vastu kala,  this temple is open from 5 to 9 am in the mornings or 5 to 7.30 pm.

Paatulthasavam:

The vetakorumakan temple hosts a festival to celebrate the deity every year during the month of Dhanu (around January). A ritualistic drawing of the deity image with five natural colours is created (kalamezhuthu). With rhythmic singing in praise of the lord, this is erased using coconut fronds and gentle dancing. The paatulsavam has currently translated into a fest for the entire town that gets decorated and filled with fun activities. We narrowly missed the opportunity to see this, so plan your calendar ahead.

Vetakorumakan templ, Nilambur, Kerala

Little flower church

A small lovely chapel, cooler inside with silence as virtue was the little flower church.

Banglavu kunnu:

Translating to Bangalow Hill, this is the location of DFO bungalow. Then, the residence of Forest Officers at the time of British rule, this location is also famous for the movie shooting of Bhargavi Nilayam. The walk up this hill is eerie, yet beautiful with crickets providing the music. 

Nedugayam Forest zone

The Rainforest zone 15 km from Nilambur is nature’s biosphere at its best display. Deep in the forest this location is accessible by prior permission and requires a stay for night safari and trekking. This along with Nilambur is eco tourism location. 

Where to eat or stay?

Nilambur is a small town with decent stay options that are just day rental places. Earlier the homestay at the Kovilagam was the best, unfortunately, that has been discontinued. Some names that we were recommended were KTDC Tamarind,  My Nilambur or Marhaba. Unfortunately, we don’t have a choice as we did not stay here, but rather took the trip from Thrissur and went back.
Hands down the best place to eat at Nilambur is the Udupi Hotel. We had the best banana leaf meal there. Kappa Cafe and Santhi Sagar are some local recommendations.

nilambur trip

Climate and costume

Kerala is a tropical region hence heat and humidity are natural. However, being 52 meters above sea level and proximity to mountains and water can make morning and evening a bit foggy and chilly. Do carry light cardigans or a wrap-around shawl to help you.

Currency changes

I would recommend changing currency when you are at the airport or in Cochin or Thrissur registered Forex sites before you head off to Nilambur.

Travelling with children and elderly

If wilderness is your inner child, you will love the trip to Nilambur. While travelling with kids and the elderly, stock up for the specific needs they may have as Nilambur is a small town and may not have all the little things that may be important to make your travel enjoyable. Food, fruits and water are easily available and the people are lovely and honest. Washrooms are wet ones, reasonably clean and with ample running water. Carry your own toilet paper. Wheelchair access is not a real feature of Kerala, so this may be a restriction check the location and hotels by directly calling them before you book in. 

Stay connected

Travelling with my parents is one of my happiest moments.  The very people who instilled the travel spirit in me are the ones who led this day trip too.  Though they are unable to travel as far and wide as they did before,  it is their enthusiasm that carries me forward.  This discovery of Nilambur as a perfect spot for a day trip was my father’s plan. It turned out to be one filled with memories. Hope you will like to travel. An enjoy Nilambur too.  
When you do or if this post has been of use to you, share it in the comments below. Stay in touch with us through Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
See you at the next post.

Nilambur teak forests

Disclaimer 

The opinions and guidance is based solely on our experience. The link provided is for reference we would advise you to check before you head to the places.  The information is based on the date of publication and can change,  so refer to the relevant websites for current information 

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Sriram
Sriram
10 months ago
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This article has stoked my interest in Nilambur and its bountiful nature – such a rich history with vast Teak plantations is indeed unique!

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