Located near Chidambaram in the Cuddalore district, The Vellar-Coleroon estuarine complex forms the Killai backwater and the dense Pichavaram mangroves.The backwaters are interconnected by the Vellar and Coleroon river systems and offer abundant scope for water sports such as rowing, kayaking and canoeing. The Pichavaram forest(the second largest mangrove forest in the world) not only offers waterscape and backwater cruises, but also another very rare sight the mangrove forest trees are permanently rooted in a few feet of water. There are more than 400 water routes available for boating.
How to Reach:
The place is 2 hours drive from Pondicherry.
Nearest Railway station is Chidambaram which is 15km away
Public buses are plying daily Pondicherry to Chidambaram at an inteval of 15mins. Chidambaram to Pichavaram is about 15km and buses are available after every 30mins.
On the way:
The road leading to Pichavaram is an absolute feast for a city-dweller’s eyes. You will pass paddy fields, villages with colourfully painted houses, traditional-style huts with thatched roofs and women selling fish by the roadside.
The Mangrove Forest and Backwater:
The backwater consists of a number of islands interspersing a vast expanse of water covered with green trees and dense mangrove forests covering a total area of about 1100 hectare and separated from the sea by a sand bar.
Apparently, the forest has 4,400 big and small canals. The small canals are sun-flecked tunnels of roots and branches, some hanging so low that there’s hardly any room to pass through. Except for the swish of paddles, the sound of birds and the roar of the sea in the distance, all is silent and still.
Rhizophora and Avicennia are the two widely distributed tree species throughout the forest.
Things to Do:
Boating through the dense mangrove forests
Pichavaram has facilities for boating. Paddle boats and motor boats, operated by the Tamil Nadu tourism department, take passengers through the mangrove forest daily from 9 am to 6 pm.
If you want to explore the dense part of the forest through narrow canals, you should opt for a paddle boat or country boat as motor boats can’t go inside these canals.
The Pichavaram mangroves attract an appreciable bird population of residents, local migrants and true migrants. The season for birds is from September to April every year. Peak population of birds could be seen from November to January.
Silver hued fishes leaping out of the water occasionally will add beauty to the boat ride.
We spotted a pelican, few kingfishers, flamingos and a few other anonymous varieties of birds. Also, we were lucky to spot a fox when our boat was anchored near an island with dense forest.
Festivals and Events:
The place which has been shot to fame with many popular South Indian movies attracts multitudes of tourists to witness the Dawn festival. Observing the fishing style of Irula tribes, folk and traditional music shows, sea food dinner, and bird watch and boat ride early in the morning are among the key features of the festival.
Tips before going:
The place is quite remote. So keep some dry foods along with you which you can enjoy during the boat rides.Offer some to the boatman and strictly don't throw anything on the backwater.
Boats having fixed rates based on the hours of ride. We paid 600/- for an hour ride in a country boat.You can pay them extra to take you to deeper forests. You can bargain but don't do it like a Turk. They are really needy people with most of them having lost their families in Tsunami.
Reach there as early as possible to enjoy an early morning boat ride to avoid crowds and to enjoy the virginity of the place to the fullest.
You can utilize the option of enjoying French cuisine and sea food on the way back at Pondicherry.