Pilgrims can trek Vellingiri hills from February to May every year, says Madras High Court

February 11, 2024 08:34 pm | Updated 10:09 pm IST - COIMBATORE

Trekking to Vellingiri hills is allowed as per the Boluvampatti block II reserve forest notification on public right of way.

Trekking to Vellingiri hills is allowed as per the Boluvampatti block II reserve forest notification on public right of way. | Photo Credit: File Photo

The Madras High Court has directed the Forest Department to remove the check posts at the Thanneer Pandal and allow buses to ply till the foothill of the Vellingiri hills to enable pilgrims to climb the hills from February to May every year to worship the deity at the top of the seventh hill.

Justice R.N. Manjula issued the order on February 6 on a writ petition filed by R. Nagarajan, a resident of Saravanampatti, seeking a four-month trekking period.

If for any reason, the Conservator of Forests, Coimbatore, and the Forest Range Officer, Boluvampatti range, are compelled to issue any notification preventing the entry of the devotees during this period, the same shall only be done after consulting the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department and arriving at a consensus with regard to permitting the entry of the devotees, the High Court order said.

In a letter dated February 6, Coimbatore South MLA Vanathi Srinivasan wrote to the HR&CE Minister P.K. Sekar Babu, seeking permission for pilgrims to go to Vellingiri hills from February to May.

It is learnt that the Department is making preparations to allow pilgrims in the wake of the High Court order.

The Forest Department had been allowing trekking to the hills in the past as per the Boluvampatti block II reserve forest notification on public right of way. As per the notification, pilgrims are allowed in March and April every year.

Last year, however, pilgrims were allowed to trek the hills from February 17 as the Maha Shivaratri fell on February 18.

The trekking starts from Vellingiri Andavar temple at Poondi in the downhill. In the 6.5-km trek, pilgrims have to ascend seven hills. Atop the seventh hill, at a height of 1,850 metres (MSL), Lord Shiva in Swayambhu (self-manifested form) is worshipped.

The trekking route passes through forest areas with rich faunal diversity, comprising dry deciduous forest to shola forest and rare and endemic plant species. The forest is home to a variety of animals, including elephant, gaur, tiger, bear, leopard, deer and king cobra. The forest is contiguous with the Kerala side and serves as a migration path for wild elephants.

According to the Forest Department, pilgrims are not allowed after the two months as the hills receive early spells of the southwest monsoon and wind speed of 100 to 120 km per hour, making the trek through the steep hills unsafe for them.

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