At a distance of 40 km from Ponmudi and 43 km from Trivandrum, Manakayam is an eco-tourism spot situated near Palode in Nedumangadu taluk of Trivandrum district, Kerala. It is one of the popular eco-tourism places near Trivandrum and among the top places to visit in Ponmudi.
Mankayam eco-tourism center is situated at Peringamala Section in Palode Forest Range under Thiruvananthapuram Forest Division. The Mankayam River, a tributary of the Chittar River, flows through this scenic tourist spot. Ecotourism is a form of tourism involving visiting fragile, pristine, and usually protected areas, intended as a low-impact and often small-scale alternative to standard commercial (mass) tourism. Mankayam acts as the focal point for a huge array of picnic spots in the area.
Situated at an altitude of around 500 m, Manakayam is known for its picturesque milky cascades. The undulating terrain with rocky patches shelters the Kalakkayam Waterfall, one of the biggest falls in this area. There is a small pond at the bottom of the falls which is cool and taking a refreshing bath in the pond is a great experience. The entire area from Mankayam to Kalakkayam covers a long stretch of forest vegetation on the banks of the Mankayam River. Also, there are two smaller falls in the Kurisadi area. Fed by the Mankayam River, these waterfalls are the most popular weekend getaways for the residents of Thiruvananthapuram.
Manakayam also has a diverse range of trekking trails with the one leading to Ayampara Waterfalls being a favorite among the locals. Here one has some really interesting camping options as well. The second highest mountain in this region is known as Varayadu Motta. Besides Eravikulam National Park, the Varayadumotta area has a large number of Nilgiri tahr. This hilltop is one of the biological and ecological hot spots of South India. It's better to seek the assistance of the authorities and the locals as they know the forest very well. The Vanasamrakshana Samithi (Forest Protection Group) working under the Forest Department, oversees the guiding facilities at Mankayam. They have trained guides who can arrange for camping facilities.