Thenmala (തെന്‍മല ) ,is a tourist place near Punalur town, Kollam district in Kerala. Thenmala is the first planned eco-tourism destination in India. The Thenmala dam was built across Kallada River. Thenmala is famous for being the shooting location in Malayalam and Tamil movies. Thenmala attracts foreign and domestic tourists with a host of attractions. Boating on the lake, a rope bridge, trekking, mountaineering, biking and a musical fountain. Thenmala is approachable both from Trivandrum and Punalur by road. The waterfall called Palaruvi is a prime attraction nearby. Also nearby is a deer rehabilitation center where visitors can see deer in a forest setting and have a peep into a traditional tree house used by forest dwellers to escape harm from wild animals. Other places near Thenmala are Kulathupuzha, Anchal, Punalur, Kamukumchery and Shenkottah in Tirunelveli district(Tamil Nadu). Themala is 72 km from Thiruvanathapuram and 16 km from Palaruvi Falls. Once much sought-after for its honey believed to have medicinal properties,thenmala is today home to India's first planned eco-tourism project. The nerve-centre of a chain of ten satellite eco-tourism destinations scattered across the hill ranges of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Pathanamthitta districts, Thenmala is spread over acres of evergreen forest.
       A natural habitat of diverse flora and fauna, this unique eco-tourism habitat lies 500 m above sea level. The rugged terrain of this land harbouring a fragile ecosystem packs plenty of adventure activities. Nature trails dotted with delightful waterfalls and enchanting picnic spots attract naturalists, conservationists and adventure seekers. With its forests, rubber estates and tea plantations, Thenmala provides the perfect background for leisure activities.
Ecotourism Activities
    The principles of zoning in ecotourism have been adopted here to create various zones, featuring specific familiarisation activities for nature enthusiasts. The Thenmala Ecotourism Facilitation Centre has enough activities to entertain both adults and children.
Culture Zone
  • Amphitheatre - For local art forms and other cultural performances.
  • Shop Court - Managed by local women self-help groups for selling local forest products, souvenirs, local handicrafts etc.
  • Musical Dancing Fountain - A rhythmic ballet of water, sound and light in a natural ambience.
Adventure Zone 
(9 am to 5.30 pm on all days)
  • Nature Trail - Winding trail through various elevations in the zone.
  • Canopy Walkway - Elevated path through a canopy of trees that helps explore the ecosystem and the level changes of the area.
  • Lotus Pond - A water body that exhibits various forms of aquatic plants.
  • Mountain Biking - A 2 m wide, 1000 m long bike path facilitates mountain biking with various levels of difficulty.
  • Recreational Rock Climbing & Rappelling - Rocks of different heights and sizes are equipped with pegs and ropes to facilitate rock climbing and rappelling.
  • River Crossing - Ropes are tied at a height across the river for adventurous river crossing activities.
  • Hill Thrills - Valley crossing, spider net, shot range, trust fall, pedal boating etc.
  • Resting Points - Quiet spots in the wilderness to take a break.
Leisure Zone 
(8.30 am to 6.30 pm)
  • Pathways - Winding trails leading tourists to various sites.
  • Boardwalk - 250 m riverfront built of wooden planks that gives the visitor a close view of the stream below.
  • Sway Bridge - An unsupported bridge, made of wooden planks and hung from ropes across the river.
  • Sculpture Garden - Based on the theme 'Man and Nature', this garden depicts the relationship between the two in the serene backdrop of the forest.
  • Resting Points - Quiet spots in the wilderness to take a break.
  • Deep Woods - Soft trekking and biking programme to explore the two patches of Niptica swamp forest (2 to 4 hrs).
  • Boating at the Shenduruney Wildlife Sanctuary: Battery-operated vehicles to the boat landing from where begins an exciting boat cruise. Watch wildlife at close quarters and be prepared for surprises.
Deer Rehabilitation Centre
      An opportunity to befriend a deer and understand their delicate ecosystem. The deer that stray out from the forest are rehabilitated here. Spotted deer and the sambar are the main inhabitants. The Centre also has a children's eco-park with treetop huts, swings etc.
Other Attractions
Trekking
    One to three-day guided trekking tours and bird watching trails in the Shenduruney Wildlife Sanctuary.

Bird Watching Trail: Two-day programme in the Shenduruney Wildlife Sanctuary.

Pilgrimage Tourism:
    An eco-pilgrimage connecting the three surrounding Ayyappa shrines at Kulathupuzha, Aryankavu and Achankovil can also be arranged from Thenmala.Environment Education Centre: 
     This Centre facilitates various activities inside the forest area, using the potential features of the site to educate the visitors.
One-day Ecotourism at Palaruvi:
     The eco-trip to the 300 ft waterfall is managed by the local community.
Ecotourism programmes are also available at the ten satellite spots that fall under a 50 km radius of Thenmala.
In and AroundHanging Bridge, Punalur (22 km) is en route to Thenmala from Kottarakkara. Achankovil is one of the major temples of Lord Ayyappa and along the way lies the Manalar Falls, a tiny strip of cascading water that is usually visible only after the rains. A little further is the Kumbavurutty Falls, to get to which you need to trek for half a kilometre. This is a nature interaction centre and it even has tree houses for children.
Accommodation
    Tented and dormitory accommodation by Thenmala Ecotourism Promotion Society, Green Valley and the Lake View Ayurvedic Resort offers excellent accommodation facilities.
Location: 
Altitude 1,640 ft above sea level.
Snuggled in the foothills of the Western Ghats in east Kollam District, adjacent to the Shenduruney Wildlife Sanctuary, Thenmala is 72 km north of Thiruvananthapuram. A short distance from Courtallam Falls in Tamil Nadu, this ecotourism destination lies on the northernmost end of Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve.
Distance
Air: The nearest airport is Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, about 80 km away.
Rail: Thenmala runs on metre gauge. The nearest broad gauge station is Kollam, about 66 km away.
Road: Equidistant from Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam, Thenmala is a two-hour drive from both cities. There are regular buses from Kollam, Kottarakkara and Punalur.
For enquiries and bookings, contact:
Thenmala Ecotourism Promotion Society, Ph: 0475-2344800, 0471-2329770 
District Tourist Promotion Council Office, Kollam, Ph: 0474-2750170

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