First things first, why is silent valley, called Silent Valley? Even in the most dense forests, in the deepest woods, its never silent, even in the middle of the night, coz of the screech of the crickets!!! But here at Silent Valley, there are no crickets, so its silent, except for the hustle of leaves or birds singing. In the middle of night after the birds retire for the day, its dead silent except for the leaves! That's why its called the Silent Valley.
The entire area is about 90 sq. km. The actual valley is 22 km from the point of entry. This 22 km on all sides is a buffer zone where various plantations are happening incl. teak, coffee, pepper etc. The tribals of this forest are engaged in this plantation and are given daily wages, thereby protecting their livelihood without migrating them! This buffer area is another 142 sq. km. Reaching there
In Hindu mythology this forest was called the Sailendhri forest where in Mahabharata, the Pandavas & their mother Kunti, went on a forest hideout for 14 years. In 1958, plans were made to build a dam here. Later on, thanks to the intervention of all citizens incl. students, the plans were dropped. If the dam had been built, a major portion of the valley would have gone under water! In 1984, Ms.Indira Gandhi, planned to pay a visit to this place before her assassination. In 1985, then Prime Minister, Mr.Rajiv Gandhi, visited this area and christened the place as Silent Valley and declared the place a protected area, a national park.
The main animals here are Lion Tailed Macaque, Giant Squirrel, Serpant Eagle apart from Elephants, Leopards, wild boar, bear etc. The animals that are not here are spotted deer, lion, crows, crickets, peacock. 268 types of birds and 146 types of butterflies have been documented here. There are way too many unique plants incl. orchids that are endemic.
The main reason for the extensive presence of Lion Tailed Macaques is due to the availability of its favourite food. Its called the Vedippila in Malayalam. The particular fruit that the it loves is here for 3 of the 4 seasons year long. The fruit is somewhat similar to Durian. Should be a variety of Durian. Its very thorny and hard on the outside and when you open it up, its as 5-6 wedges, that kinda tastes similar to Ice Apple! A wild cousin of Durian???
Presently there are 20 jeeps and 2 buses that provide transport from the gate to a particular point inside the forest at which they stop at a camping site after which a little trek for 2.5km is required, till the Kunti River. Beyond this point, there is no permission unless you're a researcher!!
At the camping site is a 5 floor tall watch tower and wash room facilities. So if you're accompanied by senior citizens who can't trek, they could wait here.
Here I can give you a couple of tips. Do not wear perfumes, coz that's not a natural smell in the forest and might disturb the animals. Wear outfits with colors that merge in nature - greens, browns etc. Bright colors have to be avoided. Maintain silence so animals don't go away.
The office opens up at 9. So its better to go around 8.30, so get to be the first person to go into the forest. In that case, the chances of spotting wildlife is more. The more the number of vehicles pass the dirt track, more disturbance and more chances of wildlife going away, and less chances of spotting. A jeep is about 1200 bucks. A jeep and guide could be booked over phone prior to visiting the place. If you're not really acclimatized to ghat roads, you may wanna take a medicine to prevent vomiting sensation on the route to reach the Silent Valley.
The senior most guide is Mr.Esappan who knows so much about the forest and has spent almost all his life there. And he calls himself a Lion Tailed Macaque coz of his pristine white hair!!!
So, did I spot any wildlife at all??? Hell Yeah, that's coming up on the next post!
For Registrations & Enquiries: +91 85898 95692; +91 4924 253225
Ph. no. of our guide Esappan: +91 89438 31297
More about Kerala: Kerala Tourism
TO GET THERE:
From Spices Home Stay: 19km
From Palakkad: 46km via Mundur, Thachampara, Mannarkad
This post was originally published on 'My Travelogue'.