If you are tired of the usual destinations in Munnar and Idukki, here's something to cheer you up. Located not very far away from Munnar, Marayoor never finds a place in a tourist's itinerary. This dense jungle is a beautiful destination in Kerala that has natural sandalwood trees and vast sugarcane farms. Bordered by neighboring state Tamil Nadu and covered by the Western Ghats on the eastern side, located 40 kilometers from Munnar it is a pristine, unexplored beauty on the lap of nature.
"The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness."
There are many versions as to how Marayoor got its name. Some say it might be from the village of Maravars, a tribal group living in the area. It could also be Mara Ooru – a place where people hide. Another version is that Marayoor is the hidden land.
As you travel from Rajamala to Marayoor, you will be surrounded by lush green tea estates. As you move ahead, you can see waterfalls and then the dense sandalwood forest. Initially, it will be one by one and then it turns into a mélange of greenery and dense jungles. The roads and lanes are covered with ‘Muniyaras', or the stone coffins with underground tunnels, a trademark of Marayoor tourism. These cave-like structures resting on vertical rocks date back to the Neolithic period and are seen all over in Marayoor. One can make a pit stop and enjoy the beauty of these 2000-year-old megalithic monuments.
Marayoor tourism is incomplete without Ezhuthupura. Another famous attraction in Marayoor, Ezhuthupura is a pre-historic site with beautiful cave paintings. It has two different types of paintings – drawn with white clay soil and those with reddish-brown soil having iron minerals. These paintings take you back to Ram and Sita’s exile in Ramayana and the Pandavas inside the caves.
As you descend the hill, you will be greeted by the cool Marayoor weather. Apart from the lush greenery, you can see cane crops, which are quite popular in Marayoor. Another attraction is the Rajiv Gandhi national park, a beautiful place for get-togethers and parties. Marayoor is also famous for its beautiful waterfalls. Thoovanam waterfalls are one of the most beautiful waterfalls near Marayoor. You can unwind, enjoy, and even get drenched in it.
Eat, trek, repeat
Beyond the serenity of Marayoor weather, this place is a paradise for adventure seekers. Trekkers usually go on an adventure through Thoovanam falls or explore the jungle on their own. Besides adventure, Marayoor is synonymous with Sharkkara (jaggery). Hailed as the best jaggery in the market with 97 percent sugar content, people from faraway places throng to get a pack of this sweet thing. In the vast 1500 acres of farmlands in Marayoor, sugarcane is one of the major crops.
The moment you hear the name Marayoor, the next thing you may think is nothing but sandalwood. Cool Marayoor weather, unwinding roads, greenery, and last but not the least: sandalwood- That makes Marayoor a tourist's paradise. Around 65,000 sandalwood trees are found in Marayoor. State Government also runs a Sandalwood regeneration experimental plot, run by State Forest department in Marayoor. While taking a stroll in the jungle, tourists can experience the sandalwood processing after taking permission.
A slice of tribal life
A group of tribals, primarily engaged in agriculture inhabits Marayoor. They have a life of their own, and those interested to visit them should do it without creating hassles in their life. Pamber is the main river in Marayoor. This originates in Anamudi hills and flows between Marayoor and Kanthalloor village. You can soak in the tranquility of the river when you visit this pristine, serene village.
How to go?
One of the main towns in the Idukki district, one can reach Marayoor from Pollachi/Palani in Tamilnadu also. You will find several accommodations in Marayoor and Munnar to catch a glimpse of the whole area. Roads are the best option to reach Marayoor. If you travel straight on SH 17 from Munnar, you reach here.