Gavi – An Offbeat Jungle Experience

Gavi Forest in Kerala, Online Travel Guide

You will find stunning shades of shamrock green, cobalt blue and cloud-grey form a stunning confluence in Gavi.

History

Gavi lies 25 km to the southeast of the town of Vandiperiyar in the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala and is a part of the Periyar Tiger Reserve. Not only is it a pristine location nestled in the lap of nature, but it is also known for its ecotourism and the numerous variety of fauna that call it home. 

Gavi’s history can be traced back to 1964 when 150 Tamilian families from Sri Lanka were rehabilitated to the cardamom plantations near Gavi under the Sirima-Shastri Pact. The Gavi Ecotourism Project, which is run by the Kerala Forest Development Corporation (KFDC), gave the economy of the region some much-needed impetus.  

An interesting fact about the forest area of this region is the presence of two ‘gopher trees’ (Nirampalli or Nirambali) which are believed to be the only two gopher trees in the entire country. According to the State Forest Department officials, the fully-grown tree, which features a lush foliage and robust stem, is the only such tree on the jungle periphery. However, there is a possibility of more such trees surviving deep in the inner forests of the Reserve.

Weather

The best time to visit would be October to February is winter in Gavi when the temperatures usually stay between 15 and 25 degrees Celsius.

Transport

Airports  Closeby

Trivandrum and Cochin international airports are almost equidistant from Gavi, located around 180-190 km away.

Train Stations 

The nearest major railway station is at Chengannur around 125-130 km away from Gavi.

Road Trips

Road Trips from Gavi

1) Gavi > Ilaveezhapoonchira

Appx Driving Dist: 115 km / 3 hours 15 minutes

The Ilaveezhapoonchira valley is a scenic, striking valley surrounded by three hills of Thonippara, Kodayathoormala and Mankunnu and literally means ‘the pond of flowers where the leaves do not fall’. According to legends, Ilaveezhapoonchira is the place where the Pandavas sojourned when they traveled incognito. When some devas were bewitched by Draupadi’s beauty when she came to bathe at the lake, Lord Indra built heaps of flowers around the lake, thus preventing the devas from watching and giving the valley its name. Travelers can indulge in trekking, bird watching, visit the Marmala waterfalls and Malankara dam, and the many temples in and around the valley.

2) Gavi > Kottayam 

Appx Driving Dist: 125 km / 3 hours 30 minutes

Kottayam is the polestar of Kerala’s rubber and spice industry and is suitably located between the serene backwaters and the verdant Western Ghats. Although the city is more of an industrial, traffic-clogged township, one can enjoy the villages and waterways that lie just beyond the city center. Travelers can head to Juma Masjid, the Thirunakkara Mahadeva temple, the Bay Island Driftwood Museum, St. Mary’s Church and even enjoy cruising in Vembanad Lake.

3) Gavi > Alleppey 

Appx Driving Dist: 150 km / 4 hours

Alappuzha, still known lovingly as Alleppey, is the polestar of Kerala’s backwaters and home to thousands of houseboats. The picturesque, tranquil town, also known as the ‘Venice of India’, houses a graceful, viridescent, and watery realm of houseboats, canoes, toddy shops and villages. Visit the Alleppey and Marari beaches, the Krishnapuram Palace, the rice fields at Kuttanad, the Ambalapuzha temple, and the St. Mary Forane and Arthunkal churches. Stay on the houseboats in the pristine backwaters to experience the village life.

4) Gavi > Madurai (Tamil Nadu)

Appx Driving Dist: 177 km / 4 hours 5 minutes

The temple town of Madurai (a.k.a. the ‘Athens of the East’) was a great trading town once upon a time and is famously an IT town now. The Tamil language and the great Tamil Sangam, an important congregation of Tamil scholars, find their origins in Madurai. The town has been ruled by many powerful Indian and Foreign dynasties such as the Greeks, the Mauryas, the Pandyas and Cholas, the great Vijayanagar Empire, the Madurai Nayaks and the Carnatic kingdom, as well as the British. Don’t miss the architectural marvel Tirumalai Nayak Palace and the famous Meenakshi Amman temple. One can also see the Gandhi Museum, the Pazhamudir Solai, the Ayiram Kaal Mandapam, and St. Mary’s Cathedral Church, among others.

5) Gavi > Munnar 

Appx Driving Dist: 128 km / 4 hours 14 minutes

Visit the Kannan Devan Hills or Munnar, wherein lie South India’s largest tea-growing regions. Located in the Idukki district, Munnar sits at the confluence of three rivers Kundaly, Nallathanni, and Mudhirapuzha. The hill station is a haven for adventure-hungry travelers and culture enthusiasts and attractions include trekking trips, hikes through the dense jungles, glimpsing endangered wildlife in Eravikulam National Park and paragliding. One can also visit the many tea plantations and the century-old renowned Christ Church, which is adorned with stained glass.

6) Gavi > Kochi

Appx Driving Dist: 170 km / 4 hours 36 minutes

Known as the ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’, Kochi (or Cochin) on the Malabar Coast is a blend of British, Dutch, medieval Portugal and Indian cultures. The city is renowned as the kernel for Keralan arts and also happens to be one of the best places to see watch the martial art form Kalaripayattu and the classical dance Kathakali. Immerse in Kochi’s multi-faceted culture by visiting the Mattancherry Palace, Pardesi Synagogue, the Indo-Portuguese Museum, St. Francis church, Santa Cruz Basilica, and the Kerala Folklore and Maritime museums.

Sight Seeing Places

Travelers to Gavi can visit the many breath-taking viewpoints such as the Valley View which offer gorgeous views of the ravine and the forests, go canoeing in Gavi and Kochupampa lakes, trek through the valley to places such as Sabarimala, visit the cardamom factory, indulge in night safaris and bird-watching to spot a variety of wildlife and birds, or even go camping in the forests of Gavi.

Accommodation

This area has a restricted entry by the Kerala Forest Department (KFDC). Hence the options available for stay are quite a few. Most of the accommodation options provided by KFDC are tents and lodges along with jungle trekking and camping. It is advisable to book your stay here, well in advance, as this offbeat destination is quite popular with foreign tourists. This curated Thrilling Gavi Forest Stay & Experience road trip takes care of all the arrangements and permits required for a comfortable holiday experience at Gavi Forest.

Travel Tidbits

As one drives up to Gavi, they’re greeted by a thick green verdure cover of tea plantations. The roads leading up to Gavi are rough in places, so the journey is best made in a sturdy, robust vehicle such as an SUV or a jeep. Since Gavi lies within the Periyar National Park, travelers are supposed to obtain entry passes from the Forest Department check post at Vallakkadavu. The best thing to do would be to book in advance to make sure that all the procedures are followed and permits taken. 

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