The Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over 55 sq km of undulating forested highlands on the slopes of the Western Ghats. The highest peak here - Katti Betta - rises to a majestic 1145 m above sea level.
Covered with tropical and semi evergreen forests, the Aralam Sanctuary is home to a vast variety of flora and fauna endemic to the Western Ghats. Elephant, gaur, sambar, spotted deer, barking deer, Nilgiri langur, Hanuman langur, Malabar giant squirrel, etc can be seen here.
Aralam, a village in Thalassery, Kannur, is also noted for the Central State Farm, a 3060 hectare farm started in 1971 by the Government of India. This is one of the main production centres of hybrid coconut seeds in the country.
The district of Wayanad lies on an elevated picturesque mountainous plateau in the Western Ghats. Historians are of the opinion that organised human life existed in these parts of Kerala at least ten centuries before Christ. In this virgin land, which has not seen much human habitation later, is Begur. The forests here are amongst the most beautiful locales of Kerala. The region has a wealth of diverse species of plants and animals and is of great interest to nature lovers. The Begur Wildlife Sanctuary is situated about 20 km east of Manathavady in Wayanad.
The dense tropical forests of Chimmini, shelter diverse flora and fauna. The dam across the Chimmini river offers a breathtaking view. This picturesque picnic spot is a favourite haunt of the local people. Located in the Mukundapuram Taluk of Thrissur district, Chimmini is only a tow-hour drive from Kochi.
The Chimmini Wildlife Sanctuary which was established in 1984, lies contiguous with the Peechi - Vazhani sanctuary. The sanctuary is endowed with scenic beauty beyond compare. Living here in joyful abandon are elephants, sambars, gaurs, Malabar squirrels, sloth bears etc.
The forest department organises trekking and bamboo rafting programmes in and around the sanctuary. But the best of all experiences is the Moonlight Sonata, which involves rafting on full moon lights.
A unique thorny scrub forest with xerophyte species, Chinnar is the habitat for the endangered Giant Grizzled Squirrel of India. Their total number here would be less than 200. Located in the rain shadow area of the Western Ghats, unlike other sanctuaries in Kerala, Chinnar gets only less than two months of rain every year. Rich in wildlife, the mixed deciduous forests here are ideal for trekking.
An extensive Sandalwood forest nearby is an added attraction at Chinnar. This is also an ideal place for watching herds of gaur and elephants amble past. Dry deciduous forests, high sholas and some grasslands add to the diversity of the sanctuary. As one travels from Karimuthi to Chinnar, elephants, spotted deer, sambar, hanuman langur and even peacocks can be spotted on either side of the road.
It is an ideal place for seeing the biodiversity of high elevation shola-grassland ecosystem. Visitors are taken to Rajamalai in forest dept vehicles and given an opportunity to see all this. Private vehicles are not allowed here. The National Park is usually closed at the time of calving of Nilgiri Tahr which is usually during the early months of every year.
A sanctuary for the endangered mountain goat of South India, the Nilgiri Tahr (Hemitragus hylocrious), the Eravikulam National Park stands out for the stark beauty of its rolling grasslands and sholas, spread over 97 sq km in the Kannan devan hills.
Anamudi, the highest peak (2695 m) south of Himalayas, stands majestically in the core area of the national park. The slopes of the hills abound in many kinds of rare flora which include rare terrestrial and epiphytic orchids, and beautiful wild balsams. Important fauna here are the Nilgiri Tahr, Nilgiri Langur, leopard, tiger, Indian bison, etc.
Rajamalai is the tourism zone of the National Park, where the visitors are taken in forest dept vehicles and introduced to the shola - grassland eco system unique to this region. There is a very informative interpretation centre at Rajamalai.
A protected area, the sanctuary is divided into three regions - the core area, the buffer area and the tourism area. Visitors are allowed only to the tourism area - Rajamalai - the region lying beyond the road entry into Eravikulam. Here one can observe the Nilgiri Tahr at close quarters. Don't make this your destination during the early months of the year, the park may be closed for visitors because it is calving time of the Tahr.
A land-locked district, Idukki is one of the most nature-rich areas of Kerala. The Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary here spreads over an area of 105.364 sq km in the Thodupuzha and Udumpanchola taluks of the district. Situated at an altitude of 450-748 m above sea level, this sanctuary occupies the forest land between the Cheruthoni and Periyar rivers. There is a scenic lake around the sanctuary, covered by an enchanting canopy of tropical ever-green and deciduous trees, and offers boat rides.
Elephants, bison, sambar deer, wild dogs, jungle cats, tiger, wild boar etc. are seen here apart from various species of snakes including cobra, viper, kraits and numerous non-poisonous ones. Birds include grey jungle fowl, Malabar grey hornbill, several species of woodpeckers, bulbuls, flycatchers, etc. The wildlife here is similar to that of Thekkady. This sanctuary lies adjacent to the world renowned Idukki Arch Dam.
The Kadalundi Bird Sanctuary is spread over a cluster of islands in a scenic area surrounded by hillocks where the Kadalundi River flows into the Arabian Sea. The place is locally known as Kadalundi Nagaram.
This virgin land is the abode more than a hundred species of native birds and over 60 species of migratory birds, like seagulls, terns, sandpipers, sandplovers, red and greenshanks, turnstones, that flock here in large numbers from November to April.
A hillock nearby, which is 200 m above sea level, offers a splendid view of the river mouth and the sea. Kadalundi is also known for a wide variety of fish, mussels and crabs. The mangrove vegetation here shelters otters and jackels.
Kumarakom bird sanctuary, spread across 14 acres, has an interesting variety of birdlife.
If you are a bird enthusiast, visit the sanctuary between June and August, the breeding season of resident wetland birds such as Indian Darter, Little cormorant, different species of egrets and herons, white ibis, several species of kingfishers, etc. Between the months of November and May, the bushes and woods of the sanctuary play host to some rare migratory birds. The Vembanad lake body attracts waterfowl like pin-tailed duck, garganey teal, spot-billed duck, birds of prey like osprey, marsh harrier, steppe eagle, etc
Bird lovers can also take a boat trip to the nearby Kaipuzha Muttu, Pathiramanal, Narakathara, Thollayiram Kayal and Poothapandi Kayal to watch local birdlife and migrants which could easily be more than a hundred species.
Mayiladumpara is a grove at Nedungathpara takes its name from the large number of peacocks (mayil) found here that can be sighted often at dawn and dusk. About 200 peacocks inhabit the extensive forests of the Mayiladumpara Sanctuary at Nedungathpara near Palakkad. Not bound by gates, the sanctuary which has been home to peacocks since ages, allows free access to visitors.
Established in 1973, Muthanga Wildlife sanctuary is contiguous to the protected area network of Nagarhole and Bandipur of Karnataka on the northeast and Mudumalai of Tamil Nadu on the southeast. Rich in bio-diversity, the sanctuary is an integral part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. The management lays emphasis on scientific conservation with due consideration for the general lifestyle of the tribals and others who live in and around the forest region.The Sanctuary has a large population of pachyderms and has been declared a Project Elephant site.
Elephants roam freely here and tigers are sighted occasionally. Various species of deer, monkeys, birds etc also live here. The Reserve is also home to a small population of tigers, a profusion of birds, butterflies and insects. The trees and plants in the sanctuary are typical of the south Indian moist deciduous forests and west coast semi evergreen forests. A drive along the road to Muthanga and further, offers chances to watch these roaming animals.
A repository of some of the rarest medicinal herbs, the Neyyar Dam located about 32 km from Thiruvananthapuram, is a popular picnic spot with a lake and a picturesque dam site. The lake formed by the dam across the Neyyar River is the bluest of blue, making boating irresistible for tourists.
The Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary of which the dam is a part is the habitat of over a hundred species of fauna including Asian Elephant, Tiger, Leopard, Slender Loris and reptiles like King Cobra, Travancore Tortoise, etc. A crocodile breeding centre and a lion safari park are also located in the dam site.
Pakshipathalam in Wayanad district of Kerala, is located 7 km northeast of Thirunelli , which is about 32 km from Mananthavady, and about 66 km from Kalpetta. It is situated at an altitude of 1740m above sea level.
Wayanad, the northern hill district of Kerala, is covered with dense, moist deciduous forests. Elephants, tigers, leopards, jungle cats, civets, bison, peacocks, various other bird species can be seen here. In the sylvan solitude of this land, perched at a 1740 m above sea level is Pakshipathalam, a picturesque sleepy little place.
Pakshipathalam - the very name of the place refers to the richness of birdlife here. Here virgin forests, rivulets and steep hills together offer challenging avenues for trekking. A cave which rishis (saints) are believed to have used for meditation in ancient times, has become a major attraction for tourists. Close by is Kuruvadweep, an island (dweep) well known for its rare ecology. Located 17 km from Mananthavady, Kuruvadweep is a 950 acre stretch of evergreen forests on the banks of the Kabani river, and home to rare species of birds, orchids and herbs.
Situated on the Kerala-Tamilnadu border in the district of Thiruvananthapuram is Pandipathu. Here, nature in its full glory, beckons those who love the solitary charm of wilderness and also those who enjoys wandering and exploring the best that is available.
Pandipathu comes under the Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary, and is accessible from Bonacaud, which was once famous for its tea plantations, and is also one of the entry points to Agasthya peak.
Sensing the tourism potential of Pandipathu, the Forest Department of Kerala State has given shape to an eco-tourism project called 'Visit To Bison Abode'. It has been named so, due to the presence of the Indian Wild Buffalo or the 'Gaur' on the rolling grasslands and hillsides of Pandipathu. It is reckoned as a special place, where one can sight these majestic bovine in close proximity, grazing throughout the day. Pandipathu has a physical setting that comprises plains, hills and valleys, offering a variety of visual treat to the visitor.
Located around 110 km from Palakkad district of Kerala, Parambikkulam is an oasis of tranquil greenery nestled in a valley between the Anamalai ranges of Tamilnadu and the Nelliyampathy ranges of Kerala. The Parambikkulam Tiger Reserve spreads over an area of 285 sq km in the Western Ghats. The sanctuary offers an exotic experience of the rare fauna and flora of Kerala. Quite a few hill tribes, like the Malayars, the Kadars and the Muthuvans also live in the jungles of Parambikkulam. The fauna here include Nilgiri langur, Lion-tailed macaque, tiger, Nilgiri tahr, Asian elephant, Spotted deer, Indian wild dog, several species of snakes and spiders, and innumerable bird species.
The sanctuary also has a variety of trees mainly teak, neem, sandalwood and rosewood. The oldest teak tree 'Kannimari' stands tall here.
Boat cruises can be arranged in the Parambikkulam Reservoir. Trekking in the sanctuary is possible with the permission of forest officials. There is a tree-house in the Reserve Forest area in Thoonakkadavu, the headquarters of Parambikkulam, which has to be booked in advance. The Rest Houses of the State Forest Department at Thoonakkadavu, Thellikkal and Elathode offer comfortable lodging.
The Peechi-Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary in Thrissur district is a good spot for nature lovers.
Established in 1958, this 125 sq km sanctuary is about 20 km east of Thrissur, in the catchment area of the Peechi and Vazhani dams. The sanctuary is part of the Palapilli-Nelliampathy forests and forms the Northern boundary of the Chimmini Sanctuary.
Having an abundance of enchanting flora and fauna and a lake where you can go boating, this place is a treat for the nature lover. There are more than 50 different kinds of orchids, innumerable rare medicinal plants, teak, rosewood, and so on. The faunal diversity includes over 25 species of mammals including carnivores like the leopard, tiger, jungle cat and herbivores like the Sambar deer, barking deer, spotted deer, Indian bison and Asian elephant. More than 100 species of birds and several species of snakes and lizards are also found here.
The highest peak in the sanctuary is the 923 m high Ponmudi. The average annual rainfall is about 3000 mm.
Location: About 50 km from Thiruvananthapuram city en route to Ponmudi, Thiruvananthapuram district, South Kerala.
Lying on the outskirts of the capital city, the Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over an area of 53 sq. km. on the Western Ghats and was established in 1938. The place is fascinating for its damsite, thick forest areas, crystal clear streams and rocky terrains ideal for adventure expeditions.
The sanctuary has a rich population of mammalian fauna and is emerging as a big attraction to wildlife enthusiasts and ornithologists. Asian elephant, sambar, leopard, lion-tailed macaque, can be seen here. Birdlife includes the endemics like Malabar Grey Hornbill, Whitebellied Treepie, Small Sunbird, etc.
Recently, a joint effort has been made by Kerala Tourism with the State Forest Department and the Kerala Water Authority to beautify the damsite and provide more entertainment/leisure facilities here.
The very sound of the word Thekkady conjures up images of elephants, unending chains of hills and spice scented plantations. The Periyar forests of Thekkady is one of the finest wildlife reserves in India. Spread across the entire district are picturesque plantations and hill towns that hold great opportunities for treks and mountain walks.
Wealth of Periyar Forests
Flora: Over 1965 flowering plants including 171 grass species 143 species of orchids. The only south Indian conifer, scientifically known as Podocarpus wallichianus, grows in the forests of Periyar Tiger Reserve.
Mammals : Thirty five species which include the Asian elephant, Tiger, Indian bison, sambar deer, Indian wild dog, Leopard, Barking deer, Smooth-coated otter which can be sighted during a boat cruise in the Periyar Lake. The Nilgiri tahr is confined to the higher rocky areas whereas the endangered lion tailed macaque can be found in the interior evergreen forests. Both the bonnet macaques and Nilgiri langur can be seen foraging from the trees near the boat landing. Malabar giant squirrel is omnipresent.
Birds : 265 species including migrants. The Malabar grey hornbill, The Indian pied hornbill, Whitebellied Treepie, many species of drongos, woodpeckers, flycatchers, babblers, the spectacular Malabar trogon, etc can be seen near the boat landing.
Reptiles : Cobra, viper, krait, a number of non-poisonous snakes, and the Indian monitor lizard.
Amphibians : Frogs like the colorful Malabar gliding frog, fungoid frog, bicolored frog, many species of toads, and limbless caecilians.
Pisces (fish) : The Periyar lake and streams have several species of fish including the masheer, the famous and endangered game fish of India. The Smooth-coated otter can be frequently spotted from the boat.
Plantations : Tea, cardamom, pepper and coffee plantations abound in the areas adjoining the Tiger Reserve.
Watch Towers : There are a few watch towers inside Periyar Tiger Reserve which are excellent for viewing wildlife.
The pride of Kerala and a testimony to nature's splendour and human innovation, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is situated on the banks of the Periyar Lake - an artificial lake, at Thekkady. Here the high ranges of the Western Ghats are clothed in dense evergreen, moist deciduous forests and savannah grasslands. Below this thick green canopy roam herds of elephants, sambars, tigers, gaurs, lion tailed macaques and Nilgiri langurs.
In addition to elephant rides, cruises on the lake and treks to the ruined Mangaladevi temple - a beautiful old stone temple situated in the heart of the Thekkady forest; this sanctuary offers the unique opportunity to watch and photograph wild elephants at close quarters.
Shenduruney, another bash in a tropical semi-evergreen forest! For company, you may have some die-hard party animals - elephants, tigers, leopards, bisons, sambar, wild boar, lion-tailed macaques, nilgiri langur, deer and many of the other inhabitants of a west coast tropical evergreen forest.
The Shenduruney forest - declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1984 gets its name from an endemic species of tree called Chenkurunji (Gluta travancorica). In the central region of this moist, mixed deciduous forest, spread over hilly terrain of over 100 sq km, is the 26 sq km artificial lake formed by the Parappara dam built across the Shenduruney and Kulathupuzha rivers.
But beautiful surroundings guaranteed to give those exhausted batteries a recharge is not all what Shenduruney is famous for. According to some recent archaeological discoveries, a rock shelter has been found here which contains a few pre-historic rock engravings believed to be from the Mesolithic period (5210 - 4420BC).
The Silent Valley National Park with an area of 90 sq km is located in the Northeastern corner of Palakkad district. It rises abruptly to the Nilgiri Plateau in the North and overlooks the plains of Mannarkkad in the South. Extremely fragile, a unique preserve of tropical evergreen rain forests which is a veritable nursery of flora and fauna, some of which are found nowhere else in the world.
The core of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is the Silent Valley National Park. Despite its name, the Silent Valley (the clamour of Cicadas is conspicuously absent here) is a rich storehouse of biodiversity. It is a true Garden of Eden for students of life sciences, professional scientists and field biologists. Perhaps, nowhere else can one find such a representative collection of Western Ghats biodiversity - more than 1000 species of flowering plants which include about 110 species of orchids, more than 34 species of mammals, about 200 species of butterflies, 400 species of moths, 128 species of beetles of which 10 are new to science, about 150 species of birds including almost all the 16 endemic birds of southern India.
The River Kunthi descends from the Nilgiri hills, from an altitude of 2000 m above sea level, and traverses the entire length of the valley and rushes down to the plains through the deep forest. The River Kunthi never turns brown and is always crystal clear, perennial and wild.
The evapo-transpiration from these forests is much higher than from any other surface. This cools the atmosphere, helps easy condensation of water vapour, causing summer rains in the plains.
Thattekkad is made up of tropical evergreen and deciduous forests and some grassland patches. This globally acclaimed bird sanctuary owes much of its fame to Dr. Salim Ali, the internationally renowned ornithologist. After his famous bird survey of Travancore in the early 1930s, he reported that this area is extremely rich in bird diversity and that it should be made into a bird sanctuary. Thus his efforts were instrumental in the formation of this sanctuary to a large extent. More than 300 species of birds are found here.
Spread across 25 sq. km. the sanctuary lies between the tributaries of the River Periyar like a peninsula. Birds like Srilankan Frogmouth, Racket tailed Drongo, Bronzed Drongo, Whitebellied Treepie, Shama, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Rufous Babbler, Malabar Parakeet, Whitebellied Blue Flycatcher, Malabar Grey Hornbill, are some of the birds that can be easily seen here.
Thattekkad also has extensive plantations of teak, rosewood, mahogany. The dense forest is also home to nearly 28 species of mammals and about 9 species of reptiles.
Tholpetty Wildlife Sanctuary or Wayanad Wildlife sanctuary in Wayanad, Kerala, has a wide variety of animals. Visitors are restricted to the outer tourist zone. The sanctuary is located 20 km east of Mananthavady, 13 km from Thirunelly on the Kodagu Road.
Established in 1973, the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is contiguous to the protected area network of Nagarhole and Bandipur of Karnataka on the Northeast and Mudumalai of Tamil Nadu on the Southeast. Rich in bio-diversity, the sanctuary is an integral part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, which has been established with the specific objective of conserving the biological heritage of the region. The sanctuary is very rich in flora and fauna. The management lays emphasis on scientific conservation with due consideration for the general lifestyle of the tribals and others who live in and around the forest region.