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National Parks in Kerala: Everything You Need To Know About God's Own Wilderness


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The southern region of the Western Ghats in India falls majorly in the deciduous forests of Kerala. The national parks in Kerala are a great place to explore the unique eco-system that is home to a variety of rare flora and fauna.

Kerala is a part of India that has something for every kind of traveller. From indulging in a relaxing massage while watching the sunset to hiking and waiting for a glimpse of an Old World Monkey in its last remaining habitat, Kerala has it all!

To get your fix of wildlife and head to these national parks in Kerala.

Hosting the largest number of endangered Nilgiri Tahr, the Eravikulam National Park is a massive expanse, which sustains a bio-diversity unseen anywhere else in the world. The grassland eco-system can be accessed through Rajmalai, the only region that tourists can access, after which lies the buffer zone and core. No private vehicles are allowed inside the park. Having the largest population of Nilgiri Tahr means protecting the area with utmost precaution and care. The Eravikulam National Park remains closed during the calving season of the Tahr (early months of every year) and requires a permit for admission during the rest of the year. Other important fauna here are Nilgiri Langur, leopard, tiger and Indian Bison.

Photos of Eravikulam National Park, Kannan Devan Hills, Kerala, India 1/1 by Sreshti Verma

How to reach: The nearest railway station to Eravikulam National Park is Aluva (109km from Munnar) and the nearest airport is in Madurai (142km away). You can easily drive till Rajamalai from Munnar.

Photos of  1/1 by Sreshti Verma

While you are here: The Anamudi Peak, the highest peak in southern India, lies within the Eravikulam National Park. You can enjoy a nice view of the peak while strolling on the Kurinji grasslands in Rajmalai. Also visit the Lakkom Waterfalls on the way to Munnar and Marayoor.

The Periyar National Park is a massive tiger reserve that spreads across the districts of Idukki, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta in Kerala. Also known for a remarkably high and well-protected population of wild elephants, the Periyar National Park is making great efforts towards wildlife conservation in India. The park is also home to several other mammals, such as the Nilgiri Langur, Indian Giant Squirrel, Salim Ali's Fruit Bat and the Nilgiri Marten.

Photos of Periyar National Park, Mlappara, Kerala, India 1/1 by Sreshti Verma

How to reach: The nearest railway station to Periyar National Park is Kottayam (114km from Periyar) and the nearest airport is in Madurai (140km away). You can easily drive till Kumily (nearest town from Periyar National Park) from Kottayam and Madurai.

Photos of  1/1 by Sreshti Verma

While you are here: The national park organises several trekking programs across the Periyar National Park, offering travellers a chance for birdwatching, observing the flora and catching a glimpse of exotic wildlife. Trekking here costs upto Rs 200 per person and begins at 7 am. Contact the officials at the national park entrance for bookings. Boat cruises are also a great way to explore the national park, head to the dock as early as 7am to board the boat cruise organised by the national park authorities every morning. You can also explore the neighbouring Cardamom Hills in Periyar, which are a small ride away.

The Silent Valley National Park is an evergreen tropical forest in Kerala that came into the attention of media and environmental activists when a plan for a hydroelectric plant threatened to flood a large portion of the forest. A movement in 1973 was started to save the natural habitat of the Lion-tailed Macaque, an Old World Monkey, which is indigenous to Kerala. After the tireless efforts of environmentalists, the forest was declared a national park in 1984. The Silent Valley National Park stands as one of the last untouched tracts of Southern Western Ghats, and forms the core of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Photos of Silent Valley National Park KERALA, Karuvara, Palakkad, Kerala, India 1/1 by Sreshti Verma

Where: The railway station nearest to Periyar National Park is Olavakkode (75km from the park) and the nearest airport is in Coimbatore (155km away). You can easily drive till Mannarghat (the nearest town from Periyar National Park) from Palghat and Coimbatore.

Photos of  1/1 by Sreshti Verma

While you are here: The safari at Silent Valley National Park starts at 8am and only a limited number of vehicles are allowed inside. The jeeps can only go 23 km inside and from there you can hike to the hanging bridge on the Kunthi River and the watchtower. Both these places provide an opportunity of spotting some wildlife. On a day off, head to Palakkad and visit Jain Temple, Kalpathy Temple, Palkkad Fort and Malampuzha Gardens.

Situated in the Idukki District, the Anamudi Shola National Park, along with Mathikettan Shola National Park, Eravikulam National Park, Pambadum Shola National Park, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary and the Kurinjimala Sanctuary, forms the massive Anamalai sub-cluster of Western Ghats. The Anamudi Shola National Park is home to an array of endangered flora and fauna, such as the Indian Elephant, Nilgiri Tahr, Indian Bison and Flying Squirrel. The three forests, Idivara Shola Reserve, Pullardi Shola Reserve and Mannavan Shola Reserve, are an indispensable part of the eco-system that sustains life in the southern region of the Western Ghats.

Photos of Anamudi, Kannan Devan Hills, Kerala, India 1/1 by Sreshti Verma

How to reach: The nearest railway station to Anamudi Shola National Park is Pollachi (100km from the park) and the nearest airport is in Coimbatore (150km away). You can easily drive till the national park from Munnar.

Photos of  1/1 by Sreshti Verma

While you are here: The Pambar River flows through the national park and the thunderous Thoovanan Waterfall is a great place to see the river in full force. Similar waterfalls can also be seen near the Chinnar River after a trek from the Karimutti Forest Station. A trek through the forest offers an opportunity of spotting wild animals and rare flora. You can also visit the Pambadum Shola National Park from here, which is really close to the Anamudi Shola National Park. To visit Pambadum Shola, reach Marayoor from Munnar and then take a jeep to the national park.

Notorious amongst locals as a mysterious maze that people get lost in, mathikettan literally translates to 'mind confuser'. Mathikettan Shola National Park shares the Cardamom Hill landscape with other national parks such as Pampadam Shola National Park and Eravikulam National Park and is situated in the Munnar district of Kerala. The Mathikettan Shola Forest was declared a national park in 2003 in an effort to promote ecotourism and multiply efforts of wildlife conservation in the area. The Mathikettan Shola National Park falls in between Thekkady and Munnar, and makes for a great stopover.

Photos of Mathikettan Shola National Park, Pooppara, Kerala, India 1/1 by Sreshti Verma

How to reach: The nearest railway station to Mathikettan Shola National Park is Kottayam (110km from the park) and the nearest airport is in Cochin (150km away). You can easily drive to the national park from Munnar.

Photos of  1/1 by Sreshti Verma

While you are here: The forest department organises treks inside the national park that take you along the best trails for wildlife spotting. Details and specific timings can be checked at the forest department office on the Mathikettan Shola National Park gate. You can also stop over at Munnar on the way and spend some time at the picturesque hill station. The Kumarakom Lake is a 5-hour drive away from the Mathikettan Shola National Park.

Pampadum Shola National Park, with an area of 1.3 sq km, is the smallest national park in Kerala. The national park falls within the Allinagaram Reserved Forest and is also part of the Anamalai Sub-Cluster, a region under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. The literal translation of the name "pampadum shola" is "the forest where the snake dances", implying the rich density of flora and snakes in the region.

Photos of Pambadum Shola National Park., Vattavada, Kerala, India 1/1 by Sreshti Verma

How to reach: The railway station nearest to Pampadum Shola National Park is Aluva (180km from the park) and the nearest airport is in Cochin (170km away). You can easily drive to the national park from Munnar.

Photos of  1/1 by Sreshti Verma

While you are here: Stop at the agriculture villages of Vattavada, Koviloor and Kottakamboor to get a glimpse of farming in villages renowned for their rich vegetable cultivation. You can even pluck strawberries and vegetables yourself, and then buy it from the farmer. Definitely head to the Keezharkuthu Falls, which are well known amongst rock climbers and mountaineers.

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