Our visit to the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, stands out as one of the most memorable and unique trips made to a wildlife sanctuary. The reserve which offers a magnificent range of bio-diversity and much more was part of our trip to Pollachi. Nestled between the Anaimalai Hills in Tamil Nadu and the Nelliampathy Hills of Kerala, the reserve is an ecologically protected zone spanning an area of 643.66 km 2. Located in the Chittur taluk in Palakkad district of Kerala, the sanctuary is about 13o km from Palakkad town and adjacent to the Annamalai Wildlife Sanctuary to the east in Tamil Nadu.
We decided to take the 3.5 hour jungle safari programme that is offered for the day visitors between 7.00 am and 3.00 pm. The tour starts at the Tourist Information Centres at Anappady where you need complete the booking formalities; you are then taken inside by the Forest Development Agency (FDA) operated Safari vehicles with a trained tribal naturalist as a guide. The drive is full of surprise and excitement and one cannot help but wonder how the terrain of the region changes seamlessly from a thick forest to areas of marshy land and scattered patches of grassland as well.
The first stop at the Orientation center was informative and useful. As we moved into the forest region, you realize that it is dense and thick and dominated by bamboo, sandalwood, rosewood and teak. The rich variety of fauna includes the Nilgiri tahr, elephants, tigers, wild boar, sambar, and Nilgiri langurs among others. We were lucky to spot elephants, deer, boars and peacock.
The sanctuary has three man-made reservoirs; Parambikulam, Thunacavadu and Peruvaripallam which serve as a source for drinking water. While the tribal inhabitants are allowed to boat and fish on the lake, visitors are not allowed to boat here. The various view points covered during the tour like the dam view point and valley view are simply stunning. The tranquil waters flanked by lush greenery and magnificent hills is a perfect picture of pristine beauty that appears unblemished and immaculate. You are allowed to alight the vehicle at these points just for some time to grab a quick picture and soak in the serenity of mother nature.
The highlight of the safari was the stop over at the the Kannimara Teak Tree, which is said to be Asia's largest and one of the world's largest living teak tree. With a mind-bloggling girth of 7.02 m and height of 39.98 m, this tree hold special religious significance among the tribals in the region. This truly majestic and amazing tree was awarded the was awarded Maha Virksha puraskar during 1994-95 by the Government of India.
You also get a chance to observe the tribals in the region and their way of life from close quarters. The ecoshop within the reserve is a great place to pick up some interesting souvenirs. Nevertheless, the experience of the various facets of this incredible place make it truly memorable and one that you would recall fondly for a long, long time to come.
The reserve is easily accessible by road from Pollachi and offers various camping options as well. More details can be found on their website.