Kolli hills and its Medicinal Herbs
Kolli hills form part of a range of hills along the central belt of Tamil Nadu, a state of southern India. These beautiful evergreen hills are covered with forests and farmlands that have many legends attached to them, most of which are related to Hindu mythology. Various temples in this area make this hill a pilgrimage spot for many, especially during the Valvil Ori festival in August, when many throng this area.
The best way to enjoy these hills is by leisurely hiking through the green hillsides; it’s a great place for those seeking peaceful locations for relaxing and meditational purposes. Unlike Kodaikanal and Ooty, the Kolli hills are relatively untouched and free from milling crowds and host to friendly tribes. A botanical garden, boat house, cave house as well as beautifully cascading waterfalls make up some of the other areas of interest in these hills.
Formed in the shape of an open square, these hills are part of the Eastern Ghats and rise to a height of about 1000-1300m above sea level and cover an area of about 280 square kilometers. The rich soil here is great for cultivating oranges, plantains, pineapples, jackfruits, pepper and coffee. Locally available wild honey is also used for trading here.
Since ancient times, these hills have been famous for its medicinal herbs which were researched upon and prepared by local medicine men known as ‘Sithars’; this tribe preferred to remain secluded and inhabited caves inside sacred grooves believed to be protected by local deities. It’s even believed that the moss covering the inner walls of their caves had healing properties. If you are lucky, you might end up sighting one of these vacant habitations during a hike through the greenery.
If you are one of the curious ones and want to have a proper look at some of these medicinal plants, a trip to the Tampcol Medicinal Farm on the way to Vaasaloorpatti from Semmedu should make it worth your while.
Medicinal herbs and plants grown here are used for Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani types of medication preparations; they are harvested and sent out to nearby cities from here and plant products from the Kolli hills are given greater preference as they are believed to have more potency. These hills are a naturalist’s heaven, with the verdant greenery, isolated villages and traditional country life. But alas, as with all good things, these hills too are becoming increasingly invaded by modern farming practices that are harming the ecology of this treasure trove of natural beauty. But in spite of this, the Kolli hills still remain a little piece of heaven, where you can rewind and rejuvenate yourself!