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The Complete Guide to Kolukkumalai Sunrise Trek

The Kolukkumalai Sunrise Trek takes you through Kottagudi Tea Plantations in the Theni district of Tamil Nadu, home to the world’s highest tea plantations and to one of the most heavenly sunrises. 

Kolukkumalai is the gate to trekkers’ paradise, the second highest peak in the Western Ghats, Meesapulimala. The path from Kolukkumalai to Meesapulimala Peak Trek has recently been closed and has been declared government reserved property.

You can still catch a glimpse of this beauty from the top of Kolukkumalai that lies on the border with Tamil Nadu to your left and Kerala to your right as you head uphill.

Till date, the only route to Kolukkumalai starts in Kerala from the town of Munnar approximately 32 kilometers away. 

Kolukkumalai is only accessible by jeeps because of the rugged terrain. Walking up this route is not permitted. 

Jeeps are available from the town of Suryanelli and it takes you about 2 hours to reach the drop-off point after which you trek!

The trek is about 1.5 km and is an easy one to do. However, it is hard during monsoons because it gets slippery and windy. It can still be done by beginners with ease.

We have mentioned here a few details about how one can go about this trek, hope you find it helpful. Leave any comments or doubts you might have in the comments.

Table of Contents

Just like you, we love trekking! And this is a trek we've documented in great detail to help you do it on your own. Drop-in comments at the end of the page if you need any help!  You will get all the information required to do the Kolukkumalai Sunrise Trek on your own.

To navigate through the documentation easily, use this section of the Table of Contents.

What to Watch Out For

1. The Heavenly Sunrise from the Hilltop

Trekking before sunrise, super early in the morning while it is still dark, is very difficult. But it is all worth it when you reach the top and the most breathtakingly beautiful sunrise greets you with its arms wide open.

Sunrise-Kolukkumalai-Indiahikes- Treks in Kerala-Western Ghats

The Heavenly Sunrise. Picture by Thomas Mathew

2. The Tiger-faced Rock near the Sunrise Viewpoint

A wonder to behold, the Tiger-faced rock slightly downhill from the Kolukkumalai sunrise viewpoint, is a picturesque spot and offers a clear view to Meesapulimala.

Tiger faced rock-Kolukkumalai-Indiahikes- Treks in Kerala-Treks in Western Ghats

The Tiger-Faced Rock. Picture by Akshay Sreekumar.

3. The Trail through the World’s Highest Tea Plantation

Kolukkumalai is home to the world’s highest altitude tea gardens that produce organic tea leaves having a unique taste and aroma owing to it being cultivated at this elevation.

Tea garden-Kolukkumalai-Indiahikes-Treks in Western Ghats

High Altitude Tea Plantations. Picture by Joseph Mathew.

Trail Information

Kolukkumalai Sunrise Trek can be divided into two sections as mentioned below:

  1. Trek up to the Kolukkumalai Sunrise View-point
  2. Walk downhill from the Sunrise Viewpoint to the Tiger-faced Rock
Route Map
Route Map-Kolukkumalai-Indiahikes- Treks in kerala

Kolukkumalai Sunrise Trek Trail. Source: Google Earth.

Section 1: Jeep Drop-off Point to the Kolukkumalai Sunrise Viewpoint

Trek Distance: 1.25 km
Trek Duration: 30 minutes
GPS coordinates for Jeep Drop-off point: 10.0707° N, 77.2221° E
GPS coordinates for the Kolukkumalai Sunrise Viewpoint: 10.0717° N, 77.2238° E

Suryanelli Basecamp-Kolukkumalai-Indiahikes- treks in Kerala

The Suryanelli Basecamp View. Picture by Thomas Mathew.

After reaching Suryanelli, precisely the Upper Suryanelli Estate, the basecamp, you will have to book a jeep to come up to the drop-off point. Each jeep costs Rs. 2000 round trip and it is limited to 4 people per jeep owing to the current Covid-19 conditions.

Suryanelli Basecamp-Kolukkumalai-Indiahikes-Treks in Kerala

The Suryanelli Basecamp View. Picture by Thomas Mathew.

Manage to reach Suryanelli by 4 am and the jeep will get you to the drop-off point by sunrise, after which you will have to trek in the dark for about 1.5 km to reach the top. 

The view that awaits you on top, will be unforgettable. 

Sunrise view-Kolukkumalai-Indiahikes-Treks in Kerala

Early morning Sunrays breaking through the clouds. Picture by Thomas Mathew.

The sun rises through a thick canopy of clouds and is the most spectacular sight to behold.

View from the top-Kolukkumalai-Indiahikes-Treks in kerala-Western ghats trek

The Sunrise above the cloud farm. Picture by Joseph Mathew.

There are camping services available in Kolukkumalai so that you can save yourself from all the hustle and relax for the night, enjoy a bonfire under the starry sky, and catch the early sunrise.

Protip: Kolukkumalai Trekking Camping will look after all your camping needs. Contact Selvan on this number:  +9191690 00333

Section 2: Kolukkumalai Sunrise Viewpoint to the Tiger-faced Rock

Trek Distance: 280 m
Trek Duration: 15 minutes
GPS coordinates for the Kolukkumalai Sunrise Viewpoint: 10.0717° N, 77.2238° E
GPS coordinates for the Tiger-Faced Rock: 10.0708° N, 77.2238° E

As you walk along the downward trail for just about 280 metres, you will reach the Tiger-Faced Rock. Sculpted by the hands of nature, the rock shaped like the head of a tiger is a work of wonder.

Meesapulimala-Kolukkumalai-Indiahikes-western ghats treks

The Meesapulimala Peak. Picture by Joseph Mathew.

You can see the sunrise and the Meesapulimala Peak right in front of you and it is the most surreal view.

Morning mist-Kolukkumalai-Indiahikes-western ghats trek

The Early Morning Mist. Picture by Thomas Mathew.

All through your trek downwards, you will see the wonderous curves of the hills crowned by the beautiful morning mist.

Tamilnadu view-Kolukkumalai trek-Indiahikes-western ghats treks

The state of Tamil Nadu to your left. Picture by Joseph Mathew.

Kolukkumalai lies on a border with Tamil Nadu to your left and Kerala to your right as you trek up the hill.

Kerala-Kolukkumalai-Indiahikes- western ghats treks

The state of Kerala to your right. Picture by Thomas Mathew.

The way back is the same that you took to get up there. So, just trace back your trail and get back on to your jeep and enjoy the lush tea gardens that surround your route, the view you could not enjoy fully in the dark before the sunrise.

Tea Gardens Jeep Ride-Kolukkumalai-Indiahikes-western ghats treks

The Tea Gardens all along the Jeep Ride. Picture by Joseph Mathew

Use the Google map to reach the base of the trek.

Best Season to do the Kolukkumalai Sunrise Trek

The Kolukkumalai Sunrise Trek is beautiful all year round, however during monsoons the clouds are replaced by mist and the roads are slippery, but it will still be worth your while.

Going after the monsoon season would be wise as the fields would be lush green and fresh afterwards.

Difficult Sections on the Kolukkumalai Sunrise Trek

The trek is fairly easy and doable.

If you’re taking the trek up in monsoon, the paths will be slippery.

Keep in mind to take necessary precautions like wearing a good pair of trekking shoes or carrying a trekking pole.

How to Reach Kolukkumalai Sunrise Trek

The only route open to Kolukkumalai, even though the hill is situated in Tamil Nadu, is from the town of Suryanelli from the state of Kerala.

From Suryanelli the only way up is through jeeps that are available throughout the day.

Use the Google map to reach the base of the trek. 

Reaching Suryanelli by your own vehicle

Reaching Suryanelli by your own vehicle from Munnar will take around 1.5 hours.

Here, you can use this link to set up navigation on Google Maps.

Reaching Suryanelli by Public Transport System
From Kerala

To reach Suryanelli by bus, you can get a bus either from Munnar or Ernakulam.

To reach the Aluva Bus Stand from Cochin airport, there are The Kochi Metro Buses that will take you to the Aluva Metro Station which is right opposite to the bus stand.

If you are coming from Ernakulam, you can either take the bus or the metro to Aluva and then, either take a KSRTC or Private bus to Munnar or Adimali.

If you take an Adimali bus, then you will have to board another bus to Munnar.

Once you reach Munnar, you have to take another bus to Suryanelli if you couldn’t get a direct bus to Suryanelli.

Go through the details here. 

For information on buses from Munnar to Suryanelli visit this link.

For information on buses from Ernakulam to Suryanelli visit this link.

There are many buses from Ernakulam to Idukki and Aluva to Munnar that can be booked online at KSRTC website

The first KSRTC bus from Ernakulam to Munnar leaves at 02:05am and the last at 06:35pm.

You can get the timings and availability from this link to the Aanavandi website.

The first KSRTC bus from Munnar to Ernakulam leaves at 05:40am and the last is at 06:40pm.

Here is a link to check out the available buses and their timings.

| Tip: Owing to the current Covid-19 scenario and the weekend triple lockdowns, on Saturdays and Sundays, there will be no KSRTC buses running, it is also advised not to go in your vehicle as there will be heavy police checking and fining all along the way.

From Tamil Nadu

The only TNSTC bus to Kolukkumalai from the state it belongs to starts at 4am from Theni to Suryanelli.  

Nearest Rail Services

Aluva is the nearest railway station. It is about 129 km away from Munnar.

Therefore, there is regular railway connectivity with the nearby towns and cities.

Coimbatore (188 km), Ernakulam (148 km), and Madurai (135 km) are the other railway stations around Munnar with nation-wide connectivity.

Nearest International and Domestic Airport

Cochin International and Domestic Airport- 129 km

Coimbatore International Airport- 195 km

Things to Take on Kolukkumalai Sunrise Trek

  • Basic First Aid kit*
  • Identity Card
  • Cap/ Scarf/ Bandana & Sunglasses
  • Water (Minimum two liters)
  • Lemon and salt OR Electrolyte Powder/Drink (Electoral/Gatorade/Glucon D, etc.)
  • High-calorie snacks (Nuts & dry fruits, a home-baked cake, etc.)
  • Safety Pins, Rubber bands & Whistle (Useful in emergencies.)
  • Quick Dry T-shirts are preferable over cotton tees.
  • Poncho, only during monsoons
  • Plastic sheet to wrap electronic devices, only during monsoons
  • Sunscreen (SPF 50+)
  • Optional: Trekking poles
First Aid Kit:
  • Scissor
  • Band-aids (Regular & Waterproof)
  • Analgesic spray (Relispray, Volini, etc.)
  • Antiseptic Liquid (Savlon, Dettol etc.)
  • Antiseptic powder (Povidone-Iodine based powders like Cipladine, Savlon, etc.)
  • Cotton roll & Bandage
  • Crepe Bandage
  • 1-inch wide medical tape (paper or cloth.)
  • Micropore tape
  • Tablet for motion sickness (Avomine), Acidity (Gelusil, Digene, etc.).
  • Mild pain relief tablet (Crocin)

| Note: Always consult a doctor before taking any medicine.  

Frequently Asked Questions about Kolukkumalai Sunrise Trek

1. Permission and Camping on the Kolukkumalai Sunrise Trek

You will get the information on getting any permit and on booking the jeep, from Suryanelli. 

2. Stay Options near Kolukkumalai Sunrise Trek

If you wish to camp out, there are numerous options. Here are some camping organisations in and around Kolukkumalai:

Kolukkumalai Trekking Camping: +9191690 00333

Camp Jaguar Hideout: +918547209018

Chillalo Getaways Kollukumalai: +9182815 88295, +919074525844

Munnar Adventures Camp Tea Forest: +919400532333 

If you wish to extend your visit or do not prefer camping, there are a number of cottages, hotels and home-stays available all around Munnar and Suryanelli.

Few famous hotels are:

The Wind Munnar: +9194955 19624

Capithans Bungalow: +919744437777

[protip]Protip[/protip] As of August 2021, the Meesapulimala Peak Trek  has been closed off by the Kerala Government. Once it opens, combining it with this trek would be the greatest experience!

3. Timings on the Kolukkumalai Sunrise Trek

There are no time restrictions on the Kolukkumalai Sunrise Trek.

4. Food and Water sources on the Kolukkumalai Sunrise Trek

Food and water is readily available through the Kolukkumalai Trek.

However, if you plan on camping, keep in mind the supplies for the overnight camping and prepare accordingly- stock up on food, fill up your water bottles, carry warm clothing etc. 

| Tip: The high elevation tea of Kolukkumalai is famous and you must try it from the Orthodox Kolukkumalai Tea Factory Outlet.

5. Emergency contacts for Kolukkumalai Sunrise Trek

Hospital: V P Hospital (1.2km) and Harrison Malayalam Plantation Hospital (5.4km) are the nearest hospitals on the Kolukkumalai Trek.

Police Station: Munnar Police station (+914865230321), Santhanparai Police Station ( +914868247211) and Devikulam Police Station (+914865264225) are the nearest police stations to Suryanelli. 

In case of any emergency, you can contact Wildlife Warden Munnar Office (+914865 231 587) or Forest Range Office Munnar (+914865 233 323)

ERSS: For any kind of emergency help, you can contact the Pan-India Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) number- 112

6. ATMs and Network on the trek

ATMs: ATMs are not available a lot on this trek, so it would be wise to carry ample cash. As the last ATM (South Indian Bank) is on the way to Suryanelli.

Mobile Networks: You do not get network coverage at all on Kolukkumalai Peak. Therefore, take necessary precautions.

Places to Visit After the Kolukkumalai Sunrise Trek

1. Neela Kurinji View Point: This is the valley of Neelakurinji flowers, flowers that only bloom once in 12 years, the next bloom is in 2030. If you get a chance to experience this rare sight, don’t miss it!

2. Kolukkumalai Tea Factory Outlet: Placed in the Kottagudi Tea Plantations at the elevations of 6500 ft to 8000 ft, this is an Orthodox Tea Factory established in 1935.

Trek Contribution

Trek documented by: Lisha Charly

Trek written by: Lisha Charly