Let’s get away: Athoor

FEAST FOR THE EYES: Commune with nature at Athoor. Photo: Soma Basu  

Two things about Athoor take you by surprise. One, less than 100km away from the heat, dust and din of Madurai is a picture-perfect green paradise. Two, many foreigners are traipsing around this natural wonderland in Dindigul taluk. With them are local youths speaking English with an accent and behaving responsibly towards environment.

Athoor has peace and tranquillity in abundance. Birds and butterflies, colourful blooms and walking trails, well-manicured gardens and vistas of rolling hills, emerald slopes of cardamom estates and a panoramic view of the Western Ghats, water fall and a stunning lake nested in the valley… the place is picture perfect.

Athoor is also a place made of memories because foreigners came as tourists and became permanent residents setting up cosy home-stays and tiny boutique resorts. They trained the locals and hired them and collectively with the people of Athoor practice responsible tourism. The region is a plastic-free, zero-waste zone and bagged the cleanest village award of Dindigul district from the Tamil Nadu Government.

What with a perennially salubrious climate, not just the verdant valley surrounding the placid waters of the Kamarajar Lake in Athoor but also the drive through narrow muddy and pebbled roads that are dotted with mango, banana, coconut and palm trees and twist and turn across paddy, groundnut and chilli fields sets you on a high here.

Time-pass: Go hiking, biking, cycling, horseback riding and fishing. Or simply lounge around and let your eyes feast on the profusion of flowering shrubs of magenta and white bougainvilleas, hollyhocks, zinnias that cascade down to encircle the lake.

Birdwatchers have a good hunting ground with the place being home to around 160 varieties of birds including 35 migratory species. See how many humming birds, peacocks, waterfowl, egrets, woodpeckers, sun birds, painted and adjutant storks, kingfishers, herons, cranes, warblers, eagles and ducks you can spot.

You can either pack a picnic with family and friends and head for the place for a day’s outing or even plan an overnight stay.

How to get there: Athoor is 90-odd km from Madurai. Five km after the Dindigul toll gate on NH7, turn left at the Sembatti crossing. Take the road to Palani for 12 km. Turn into Athoor village on the left. After two km you’ll reach the village square; turn right and drive till a T-junction. Turn right again and drive another seven km till you see the signboards for the homestays and resorts.

Nearest airport is Madurai

Where to stay: There are four options: Lakeside House; Double Dutch; Cardamom House and Wild Rock Country House. Food is a blend of several cuisines but it is the ambience in which it is served that lingers on.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 10:32:39 AM |

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