A Day Trip to Ponmudi from Varkala, South India

If you’re in and around Varkala, India then chances are you’ve been enjoying bare feet, salty hair days endlessly, probably hitting the surf and taking part in yoga classes that usually end up being hot yoga classes – not on purpose – just because it’s really, frickin’ hot. All the time. Day and night. Which is why a day trip inland to Ponmudi is such a welcome relief from the coast.

What and where is Ponmudi?

Ponmudi is a hill station about 80km inland and can take 2 to 2.5 hours by taxi from Varkala. 22 hairpins later (almost vom!) you’ll be at the top. I still don’t really have any idea what a hill station really is but I loved walking around, feeling the cool breeze run through my playsuit and enjoying the Wales-like views.

I tend to think lots of places look like Wales… parts of Norway looked like Wales, parts of Slovenia and Croatia, this hill station in south India looks like Wales, and when we finally reach New Zealand I’ll probably think it looks like Wales too. But seeing as I asked you all on Instagram and 93% of you agreed that Ponmudi looks like Wales, I can be sure it’s a thing.

Not just a hill station…

Not that I know what one is as we already discovered… but there’s more to do here. Descend the 22 almost-vom hairpins exiting the Wales-like landscapes to hit the jungle once again to reach Meenmutty Waterfalls. Just 1 km hike into the jungle – expect to cross a river, pass by ginormous rocks, larger-than-life trees, palms and natural vine swings that are enough to make you feel like you’re in an original Matisse painting – and you reach a beautiful waterfall. You can’t swim there at the waterfall, but you will have the opportunity to cool off back downstream.

Swimming at Meenmutty Waterfalls

You can go close to the car park but be prepared to be the centre of attention however non-bikini you dress (tee-shirt and shorts over your bikini ladies).

However, if you have an awesome taxi driver like our man Sudheesh then you might get the opportunity to enter the secret swimming pools and tiny waterfalls. We could have stayed here all day long. Just be prepared to tip the security guard who dissuades locals from going there (most of who are not able to swim and there have been drowning incidents of locals in the past at those spots). If you can swim out of your depth then you’ll not only be fine but you’ll absolutely LOVE playing in the pools and clambering over the rocks!

Cost, what to pack & when to go

Taxi Varkala to Ponmudi

Expect to pay around 4,000 rupees for a private taxi for the whole day. We booked with The Royal Tours & Travels close to the main beach in Varkala. The most expensive quote we got was 5,500 from a different agent so make sure you shop around!

Ponmudi Hill Station

Entry: 200 rupee per person (foreigner price)

Camera (still): 25 rupees per camera

Camera (video): 150 rupees per camera

Meenmutty Waterfalls

Entry: 200 rupee per person (foreigner price)

Camera (still): 25 rupees per camera

Camera (video): 150 rupees per camera

What to wear

Just to help you out, here’s what I packed for the day trip.

So, when swimming, I did keep my t-shirt on. Although we were in private pools, our driver was with us and out of respect I wanted to stay covered.

The hiking isn’t hardcore, but I’d recommend to stay away from flip flops. Sandals with a sturdy strap are recommended… nothing more heavy duty than that!

Sports bra and a comfy tee ‘n’ shorts combo, a playsuit or some lightweight leggings are perfect. Expect to get some stares from guys if not covering your whole legs.

When to go

We went on a Sunday, which was pretty busy. I definitely wouldn’t defer you from going on a weekend. Even though there are more locals around they kind of add to the experience. And when you have your own private pools, you don’t need to worry about all the stares from the locals anyway!  Just make sure you have enough to tip the security guard to keep him sweet.


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