Idukki is one of the 14 districts of Kerala and also the largest. Spread across an area of approximately 1970 miles, the region is characterised by rugged terrain and forest cover. The mountains and the forests cover almost 97% area of this region. A majority of the mountains here exceed the height of 2,000 metres, which includes the highest peak of South India, Anamudi.
Historical evidence suggests that Idukki was part of the Chera dynasty and was later ruled by the Kingdom of Vembolinad from 9th to 12th century AD. However, not much is known about the ancient history of the place.
The district owes its beautiful bungalows and tea factories to European planters. Impressed by the high altitude of the place and sensing an opportunity, European planters came to the region in the 19th century and began modernisation.
One of the first responsible for the development of the district was the British planter, John Danial Manroe. He was leased a piece of land by the then Raja of Poonjar, Kerala Varma in 1877. Manroe set up a Land Planting and Agriculture Society where the members were allowed to set up their own tea estates. This gradually led to the clearing up of forests and development of transport and railway lines.
The British were soon followed by the Scottish planters who built many bungalows here, one of which is the Ladbroke House.
Idukki literally means narrow gauge and it probably got this name from the railway track in Munnar which was built a century ago by the Europeans. The track was destroyed by storm and rain long back.
Apart from being a scenic hill resort with plenty of greenery and a quiet environment, Idukki is also known for having the arch dam of the country, the Idukki dam. Idukki has a lot of important towns and cities of Kerala which house wildlife sanctuaries, spice gardens and other places of tourist interest.
Some of the prime attractions of the region are Thekaddy, which is a wild life reserve, Kattappana which is famous for its spices, Mangaladevi Temple and Munnar. There is also the Chinnar Wild Life Sanctuary and Eravikulam National Park to visit here.
Idukki is darned with mild weather and the temperature is usually low throughout the year. The summer months between March and May, are usually pleasant due to the hilly region, with the temperature ranging from 20 to 30 degrees. In winters, temperature may fall down to 0 degrees and tourists are suggested to carry woolen clothes and winter wear. Best time to visit Idukki is between February and May, as the temperature will be pleasant with low rains.
With an airport, nearby ports of Cochin and Nedumbassery and six national highways which pass through it, Idukki, one of the most important districts of Kerala is well connected to all the major cities around the country. Kottayam Railway station, at a distance of 133 km from Idukki serves as the closest railway station.