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This article gives a brief introduction of Megamalai/Meghamalai, the high hill ranges near Madurai city of Tamil Nadu.

Megamalai

Location 130 km from Madurai
Altitude 1,500 meters
Best Time to Visit September to March
Megamalai is located on the slopes of the Western Ghats, amidst the lush green Tea plantations and Cardamom estates. It is popularly called 'High Wavy Mountains'. It is a cool and misty mountain range and lies at a distance of 130 km from Madurai. A perfect place for nature lovers, its altitude is 1,500 m above sea level. The vegetation of the Meghamalai hills includes scrub forests at the foothills, stretches of tea and coffee estates, spice plantations of pepper, cardamom, cinnamon and the dense evergreen forest cover.

Being very close to the forest, a number of wild animals can be seen roaming here. Megamalai is also host to a wide variety of birds, mammals, reptiles and butterflies. The most commonly seen animals are Tiger, Leopard, Nilgiri Tahr, Gaur, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Sambar, Wild Boar, Porcupine, Nilgiri Langur, Lion-Tailed Macaque, Common Langur, Bonnet Macaque, Sloth Bear, Grey Jungle Fowl, Smooth-Coated Otter and Flying Squirrel. Resident and migratory elephants can also be seen wandering in groups here.

It is also an ideal place for bird watching. In the forests over 100 species of birds have been identified. The Meghamalai ranges are also the birth place of the Megamalai fall. This fall descends from a stream originating from the hills. It is also known as the Clouds Land Falls and serves as the rendezvous of many wild animals. Megamalai falls are round-the-year falls that do not run dry. Another important range around Megamalai is Vellimalai, also known as the Silver Mountain.

At an altitude of 1650 m, Vellimalai forms the heart of Meghamalai. Silver-lined clouds gently resting on green hilltops is a common sight here. This region is also the abode of river Vaigai. The hill range also provides a wonderful view of the entire range of Varusanadu Hills. With tea and coffee estates, houses of plantation workers and an artificial lake, there is plenty of scope for enjoying the natural beauty.

The originating place of Suruli Theertham (Suruli falls near Cumbum town) are popular attractions for tourists. Tamil Nadu Forest Department is planning to establish the Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuary in an area of 600 sq km of the forest in the division. The Sanctuary will serve as an excellent buffer to the Periyar Tiger Reserve and will also help in strengthening the conservation efforts in the South-Western Ghats.