Vattakanal Trek in the Western Ghats (2024)

Nestled in the heart of the Western Ghats, the Vattakanal Trek uncovers a mesmerizing journey through lush greenery, mist-laden landscapes, and breathtaking views. This enchanting trail, often referred to as the “Little Israel” of India, is a hidden gem tucked away in the Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu.

As you embark on this expedition, the air becomes crisper, and the surroundings more mystical, offering a unique blend of tranquility and adventure. Vattakanal, with its cool climate and scenic beauty, serves as the perfect haven for nature enthusiasts and avid trekkers seeking an escape into the lap of pristine wilderness. The trail meanders through dense forests, tea plantations, and quaint villages, revealing the diverse flora and fauna that call the Western Ghats home. Brace yourself for an unforgettable journey as you ascend through the meandering paths, immersing yourself in the raw beauty of Vattakanal.

The weekend trek I had initially planned for Kotagiri was unfortunately canceled due to insufficient participants, a common occurrence in Bangalore’s trekking scene. Undeterred, I sought alternatives and decided to contact the Bangalore Mountaineering Club (BMC) a day before the scheduled hike. To my delight, they presented three enticing options: Kudremukha, Kumara Parvatha, and Vattakanal. Intrigued by the unfamiliarity of Vattakanal, I promptly booked the trek through the BMC website, eager to explore this new adventure awaiting me.

PIN for later reference – Vattakanal Trek

Vattakanal Trek (Canopy Hills) | Western Ghats
PIN for later reference – Vattakanal Trek (Canopy Hills) | Western Ghats

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About Vattakanal (Canopy Hills)

Situated just a few kilometers (6 kilometers) from Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, Vattakanal is a quaint village nestled in the southern tip of the upper Palani Hills. Referred to locally as ‘Vatta,’ translating to circle, this village is a hidden gem awaiting discovery. The trek leading to Vattakanal is among the lesser-known trails in the Western Ghats, situated on the eastern coast of this magnificent mountain range.

How to Get to Theni?

The nearest town to the trek’s base camp, Kumbakarai Waterfalls, is Theni. Covering a distance of approximately 450 kilometers one way, the journey from Theni to Bangalore requires an 8.5-hour drive.

Buses departing from Electronic City in Bangalore offer transportation to Theni. Reservations for these buses can be made through the Redbus website.

Logistics of Vattakanal Trek

The Vattakanal trek spans multiple days and ranks among the most challenging hikes in the Western Ghats.

  • Starting point: Kumbakarai Waterfalls.
  • Finishing point: Altaf’s Cafe.
  • Total distance: 18 kilometres.
  • Days required: 2 days.
  • Grade: Difficult.
  • Terrain: Mountains, forests, and waterfalls.
  • Stay: Camping at Vellagavi.
  • Path: Kumbakarai Waterfalls –> Vellagavi –> Dolphin’s Nose –> Altaf’s Cafe.

A minimum of two days is needed for the trek, and the logistical details are outlined below, categorized by days.

Day 1 – Base Camp to Camping Site

  • Starting point: Base Camp at Kumbakarai waterfalls.
    • Note: We opted for an auto-rickshaw ride from the nearby town of Theni to reach the base camp, covering a distance of approximately 8 kilometers.
  • Finishing point: Camping Site near the village called Vellagavi.
  • Total distance: 11 kilometres.
  • Time taken: 5 to 6 hours.
  • Grade: Difficult (many steep ascends).
  • Terrain: Winding through the forests, the trail features steps crafted from rocks and crosses numerous water streams. Caution is advised regarding leeches in the area.
  • Path: Kumbakarai Waterfalls –> Vellagavi.

Day 2Camping Site to Altaf Cafe

  • Starting point: Camping Site near the village called Vellagavi.
  • Total distance: 7 kilometres.
  • Time taken: 2 to 3 hours.
  • Grade: Difficult (many steep ascends).
  • Terrain: Amidst the forests and mist-laden trails, the scenery is breathtaking. Please exercise caution for leeches in the area.
  • Finishing point: Altaf Cafe, Vattakanal, via Dolphin Nose.
  • Path: Vellagavi –> Dolphin’s Nose –> Altaf’s Cafe.

Important Information for Vattakanal Trek

  • Beware of leeches; I encountered at least three bites. To remove them, simply sprinkle some salt on the bites, and the leeches will usually detach.
  • Pack warm clothes, especially for the chilly nights. Ensure that they are stored in a waterproof bag to keep them dry.
  • Carry ample water, as there are streams for refilling, but purifying tablets might be necessary if you’re sensitive to stream water. I lacked time to purchase the tablets, so I brought 3 liters in small bottles for the entire hike, falling short by 1 liter near Dolphin’s Nose, the sole spot to purchase water toward the end of the trek.
  • Include a first aid kit, particularly bandages, in your essentials.
  • Bring an extra pair of slippers and socks for the night, along with a spare set of socks for unforeseen situations.
  • A reliable torch with spare batteries is essential, given the distance of toilets from the tents.
  • On day 1, we camped, so be prepared for a night in a tent with an essential sleeping mat and blankets.
  • Toilets are only available at the camping site and are maintained for the participants in the trek.
  • Consider using a trekking agency for transportation; although buses run between Theni and Bangalore, relying on an agency is advisable.
  • Secure permission from the forest department in advance, usually included in the trek package.

Trekking Provider

Having participated in several hikes with BMC in the past, I consistently find joy in trekking with them. As one of the oldest trekking providers in Bangalore, BMC boasts extensive experience in trekking, particularly in the Western Ghats. The trek guides are not only amicable but also highly knowledgeable about their craft. My preference for hiking with BMC stems not only from their expertise but also from their cost-effectiveness, making them a more economical choice compared to other trekking agencies in Bangalore.


  • Trek Package: Rupees 4620.
  • Food: Rupees 2000 (as only day one was covered in the trek package).
  • Miscellaneous: Rupees 500.
  • Total: Rupees 7120.

Is Vattakanal Safe for Solo Female Trekkers?

I strongly advise against attempting this trek solo, even for male travelers or hikers. It’s particularly not recommended for solo female travelers or hikers. The trail is sparsely populated, and the risk factor can escalate rapidly. It’s safer to opt for a trekking agency or join a group of friends. Choosing a trekking agency is especially beneficial as they ensure all safety requirements are addressed.

Closing Notes

The Vattakanal trek provided an adventurous experience, and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey. While I wouldn’t label it as the absolute best, it is certainly a commendable option for seasoned trekkers. I recommend adding this hike to the bucket list of every trekker residing in Bangalore.

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    PIN for later reference – Vattakanal Trek

    Hike to Vattakanal (Canopy Hills) | Western Ghats
    PIN for later reference – Vattakanal Trek (Canopy Hills) | Western Ghats