Papathy Shola – The Butterfly Forest

Papathy Shola, locally meaning the ‘Forest of Butterflies’ derives its name from being one of the areas for the annual migration of large numbers of butterflies – the word shola denoting the local name for high altitude cloud forest. This patch of high altitude rain forest  is located on the  slopes of the Western Ghats mountains near the British-era tea town of Munnar.  Nestled  at an altitude 5200 feet above sea level, these forests lie  South of the famed Mathikettan Shola National Park – another high altitude rain forest, recently notified as a National Park due to its significantly high endemism in both flora & fauna.  

By October, rain-filled clouds bring copious rainfall to many areas on the other side of the Western ghats along the Tamilnadu border. This is ideal time for breeding of large numbers of butterflies and they fly up to migrate in their tens of thousands to the moist areas of Kerala’s mountains & plains. Most notable are include Dark Blue Tiger, Striped Tiger, Common Indian Crow and Double-Branded Crow . The migratory Butterflies leave the Ghats before the South-West monsoons starting in June. This is the annual migration that passes through this Papathy Shola aptly named ‘Butterfly Forest’ to the people of the  Kerala side of the border.

There are also a good number of mammals that can be observed within the canopy of the forests – small mammals like the Malabar Giant Squirrel, Bonnet Macaques and  Muntjacks to large species like Indian Bison (gaur bosus) and the Asiatic Elephants. In addition, there are large numbers of birds, many of them endemic like the Kerala Laughing Thrush, Nilgiri flycatcher, Black & Orange Flycatcher, the White-bellied Treepie  and the Malabar Grey Hornbill. A walk through this living forest is indeed a naturalist’s delight.

Best time to Visit:

The best time to visit this area is from August  to May

Related Information:

Kalypso Adventures offers Butterfly Forest trek with naturalists to this forested region, which is a great way to explore this area. You can see more details about the program using the following link: https://www.kalypsoadventures.com/itinerary/rainforest-trek-at-munnar

Carbon Efficient Travel in India

Carbon Efficient Travel in India

A changed world has come knocking at our doorstep. And no one can ignore it this time. The last couple of months have been a period of soul-searching and introspection for individuals and businesses world over. The pandemic and the lockdown that followed it have urged us all to question attitudes and beliefs. At Kalypso this has reinforced our faith in nature. There is more than one example to prove that this lockdown has given the earth a breather. The air around us, our mighty rivers, our cities and hills have all seen resurgence in the span of two months. We therefore have now begun to deliberate on how we can contribute towards maintaining the momentum of this resurgence. Our deep commitment towards conservation practices has meant that we do not just recognise the need for change within ourselves but also ensure implementation of the new normal. We are now focusing on a new set of Carbon Efficient short duration Travel products in India.

Nature Tours and Carbon Efficient Travel in India

Kalypso Adventures has the heart and soul of a nature-lover. We believe we work best when we work with nature…when we engage with nature as a friend and well-wisher. Therefore, our new initiative Kalypso Natventure (Nature+Adventure) focuses on Carbon Efficient Travel for all. We aim to facilitate day tours for travellers both international and local who want a break from the normal touristy itineraries. Our efforts to make it an enterprise that offers value for the customer’s money have borne fruit and so we are confident that it will interest the genuine eco-tourist.

Kalypso Natventures introduces nature to the novice and the veteran through unique adventures.  Our twenty years in the tourism industry has helped us to have a singular perspective on Carbon Efficient Travel. Our itineraries are all risk-assessed as always by our expert guides to make them totally safe and worry-free for our adventurers. Besides being innovative in concept they also take you closer to nature than you can ever hope to be.

Carbon Efficient Travel India

The current travel restrictions being in place, Kalypso is now open to domestic travellers but we believe it is ideal for any responsible traveller who prefers to linger at a destination and is keen to be part of less-polluting active holidays. Our itineraries are aimed at bridging the gap between the interests of a domestic traveller and that of an international traveller

Kalypso’s policies on responsible tourism have been our core strength and we don’t just draw pride from these policies but inspiration. We have always been focused on development of local destinations which in turn boost local populations and economies. By promoting local homestays and tents, local produce, food and employees, we have managed to create a harmonious environment that is self-sustaining.

At Kalypso we believe in venturing into paths that are less trodden. As part of this we identify and encourage less-explored areas. The Kalypso team has been very diligent in discovering new locations that highlight the quintessence of various geographies.

Our think-tank has developed carbon efficient activities at substantially reduced costs while effecting following guidelines:

  • Implementing excellent level of safety standards
  • Training our experienced team of local guides
  • Using minimal motorised support
  • Planning round trips
  • Replacing packed food with freshly prepared local snacks and meals
  • Increasing the group size by daily departures for day tours
  • Using destinations with good public transport connectivity

Travel and the history of the human race are closely linked. Kalypso recognises that travel enriches human lives at almost every level. We therefore feel compelled to contribute to the aspirations of the indomitable traveller whose wandering feet cannot be stilled by the vagaries of a pandemic. In fact we endorse the intrepid itinerant who is responsible enough to take all mandated precautions and who is ready for adventure in a safe atmosphere.

Check out our Carbon Efficient short duration activities from Kochi: https://www.kalypsoadventures.com/activities/natventure-tours-in-kerala

Sarah Cohen – the oldest living Jew in Mattancherry, Kerala.

At 95, Sarah Cohen – everyone’s Sarah aunty, is the oldest living Paradesi Jew at Mattanchery near Fort Cochin in Kerala. Once a thriving community in the heart of Mattanchery, now the Jews are a dwindling population, Sarah Cohen being one among the last 5 residing Jews here. She has a tiny souvenir shop named “Sarah’s Hand Embroidery” near the synagogue in Jew Town. ’Kippah’ – hand embroidered traditional Jewish caps are the main attraction here. Everyone passing through this area loves to visit her as she is always happy for an interaction.

Our guest Adam Glaser and family visiting Sarah Cohen in her home turned souvenir shop at Mattanchery.

Five Side-effects of My Holiday in Munnar

When you travel to Munnar, you make some lasting memories. But there’s more to it than just making memories. The experience of the charming life of Munnar will leave you with some long term side effects. I am sharing the side effects that I suffer, ever since I got back from Munnar.

I never look at my cup of tea the same again: Being in Munnar, driving through lush tea gardens and interacting with the people of Munnar, has had a lasting impact on me. My morning fixer upper (I am not sane till I have had my first cuppa), is now accompanied by the memory of vast stretches of vibrant green carpets of tea plantations, interspersed with silver oaks. I am sure you must have noticed that your average advertisement for tea (and many other unrelated products) is generally about the very same scene. But let me tell you, an ad can never, ever come close to the pure bliss you feel walking through the tea gardens of Munnar. Being in high ranges of Munnar, observing and interacting with tea plantation workers, re – learning how to brew tea and simply enjoying being in the mist covered tea garden, really drives home the fact that my humble cup of tea holds within itself, many wonderful stories that I now relate to.

I never knew that sighting a goat will be so thrilling:  It’s no ordinary goat that I’m referring to. I was fortunate to visit the Eravikulam National Park, which is around the highest peak of South India – Anamudi. This National Park is home to the endangered Nilgiri Tahr. There was a time when large herds roamed all around the Western Ghats. But with a rapid loss of habitat and poaching in the 19th century, these benign animals almost faced extinction.

Walking up the steep road to Anamudi, and training one’s eyes all across the Shola grassland, I was trying hard to find the Tahr. I literally jumped out of my skin when I spotted one just a few feet ahead of me. This particular fellow had a bored expression on his face, and was looking benignly at us around, through it’s half lidded eyes. To all of us that day at the park, the sighting of Tahr was no less than sighting a Tiger at Ranthambore.

My faith in conservation efforts is definitely restored. I felt buoyed with enthusiasm, when I saw that the population of the Tahr is now increasing within its original habitat. I now know something about myself, it’s possible that sighting a goat can inspire hope in me about the future of our planet.

I know everything about the spices in my kitchen:  After my intensely enjoyable trip to Munnar, I have discovered that I have an organic connect to the spices in my kitchen. I have learnt so much more than I knew from cooking for my family for ten years and more. For example, I never knew that the cardamom plant is, in fact, from the ginger family. Whoever knew condiments would be related to each other !

Poor jokes apart, the fact is whether it’s walking though hazy tree shaded cardamom plantations, seeing nutmeg trees grow in abundance, touching the bark of the cinnamon tree or simply plucking a bunch of green pepper right of the vine, my sensory overhaul in Munnar is complete as plantation walks have made me an aficionado of spices.

  Going for a walk now implies a whole lot more:  Munnar is a destination where every time you step out for a small walk, you come back with a big experience. Walking around the Anaerangal lake (in Malayalam or Tamil, it means where the Elephants come down) brings around many surprises. My children went up a tree house, perched precariously on a Parasitic Fig tree. It was definitely not safe and one of those things that a responsible mother (unlike me!) will never allow. But it will remain etched forever as a wonderful childhood memory for my kids. And my son will never, ever in his life, forget seeing an elephant come to drink water at Anaerangal Lake. Seeing this iconic mammal, in the wild, has made his year for sure. Suffice to say, going for a walk, implies a whole lot more in Munnar.

I yearn to go back: There’s something about the Nilgiris that touches your soul. The panoramic vistas, the misty evenings by the campfire, the colonial feel of the plantation bungalows and the genuine warmth of the people of Munnar will make you want to return to this amazing place. So I have made plans to go back to Munnar, what about you?

Have you too suffered any such side effects? If so, do share your experiences with us in the comment section, would love to compare notes.