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Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala

“The lost seem to find their way into these woods”

Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is another one of the 12 wildlife sanctuaries that has found its place amidst the Western Ghats. Lying in the Munnar district of Kerala, this sanctuary seems to suffer from the “rain shadow effect”. That is to say, this area receives relatively less rainfall due to the nasty winds here. Nevertheless, this place has many feathers in the hat, ones that you would never want to miss!

chinnar-wildlife-sanctuary2
Photo by Dhruvaraj S, CC BY 2.0

An interesting aspect about Chinnar is the newfound presence of many critically endangered species such as Albizia lathamii, the Grizzled Giant Squirrel and the Indian Star tortoise. These and the amazing endemic diversity of flora and fauna here are bound to dazzle you. A trip to the Thoovanam waterfalls lyind within the sanctuary is a must! For the adventure freaks, many trekking options are available at the hilly terrain of Chinnar. There is a li’l something for everyone!

Climatic Conditions

Due to the ‘rain shadow effect’ at Chinnar, the climate remains hot and dry for most part of the year with temperature staying between 18˚C to 25˚C. The sanctuary receives very less rainfall for 40 days or so during the month of October-December. The climatic conditions are colder at higher altitudes.

Best Time To Visit

The best time to visit Chinnar is around October-November when the climate is cool and pleasant enough for you to enjoy your stay.

Wildlife & Vegetation

1. Animals

jackal
Photo by Bernard DUPONT, CC BY-SA 2.0 

Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is abode to the only surviving population of the Grizzard Giant Squirrel. The legendary white bison has been reported here. Other animals found here include the panther, leopard, spotted deer, porcupine, wild dog, langur, bonnet macaque, wild boar, sambar, chital, tiger, jackal, Nilgiri langur etc.

2. Birds

yellow-throated-bulbul
Photo by Kalyan Varma, CC BY-SA 4.0 

As many as 211 species of birds are found to reside at the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. For all you Bird Watchers, it ain’t no less than a paradise! The globally threatened species of yellow throated bulbul was also discovered here, which was the first record from Kerala in the 20th century.

3. Reptiles

Chinnar is highly rich in reptilian species harbouring a total of 52 species of which 29 species are snakes! The variety of snakes includes the blind group snakes, vipers, colubird, boas etc. Some rare species of snakes including the Ampheiesema beddomei and the lesser-found gecko can also be seen crawling through these woods. The rare Indian Star Tortoise and a huge population of the Mugger Crocodiles can also be found here.

4. Vegetation

The undulating terrain and the hot & dry climate of Chinnar makes way for a heterogeneous habitat consisting of sub-temperate sholas to dry scrubs needed to support the rich biodiversity here. Almost 50% of the forest area is covered by dry deciduous forests in the low altitude regions. Lemon grass cultivation has been a common practice. Teak and eucalyptus plantations can also be found in small patches.

Distance From Nearby and Major Cities

The nearest town near Chinnar is Marayoor. Distance from this and other cities is as follows:
• Marayoor: 9 km via Munnar-Udumalpet Rd
• Munnar: 48.3 km via Munnar-Udumalpet Rd
• Pollachi (Tamil Nadu): 63.5 km via via Munnar-Udumalpet Rd or NH 209
• Coimbatore: 106 km via NH 209
• Kochi: 175 km via via Munnar-Udumalpet Rd
• Aluva (Kerala): 203 km via NH 47
• Bangalore: 423 km via Nh 7 and NH 47
• Chennai: 554 km via NH 45
• Hyderabad: 993 km via NH 7

How To Reach

• By air: Nearest airports are Kochi (180 km) and Coimbatore (110 km).
• By rail: Nearest railheads include Pollachi (60 km) and Aluva (180 km).
• By road: The Munnar-Udumalpet Rd extends from within the sanctuary upto 16 km, almost dividing the area into two halves. This road is connected to many other cities. Buses are available from Munnar towards Chinnar at Rs. 40/head and time taken for the journey is around 1.5 hrs. Private taxis can also be hired.

Local Attractions

• The town of Marayoor is known as the land of sandalwood. You can also find here dolmens and local sugar making units. These dolmens are set up during the Neolithic period as burial grounds for the then royal dynasty.
• Vagavurai Valley contains a huge population of the exquisite variety of Vaga trees that turn into a bright red hue when in full bloom. A waterfall within this valley adds to the scenic beauty of the place and is a great spot for photography.
• A guided trekking tour is available across the Chinnar River, towards the archeological dolmens, the sandalwood forests, sparkling waterfalls and getting to know the wilderness along the way.

Accommodation

• Vasiyapara Ethnic Huts near a swamp are provided to give you a full experience of the village life in the wild vicinity. Guides, cooks, watchers and complimentary refreshments are provided. Reporting Time at Chinnar Check post: Before 3 pm. Tariff: Rs. 3500/two persons; Rs. 1000/adult and Rs. 500/child (Max. 4 persons)
• Ever wanted to stay in a tree house? Well, here’s your chance! Accommodations are available at well-furnished tree top huts with water and solar power. Reporting Time at Chinnar Check post: Before 3 pm. Tariff: Rs. 2000/two persons; Rs. 500/ additional person (Max. 3 persons)
• A fully equipped log house is available near the Thoovanam waterfalls. Reporting Time at Chinnar Check post: Before 3 pm. Tariff: Rs. 2000/two persons; Rs. 500/adult and Rs. 500/child (Max. 4 persons)

Other Useful Information

• Timings: 7 am to 6 pm

• Entry fee:
Rs. 10/head/day (for Indians)
Rs. 5/child (for Indians)
Rs. 100/head/day (for foreign tourists)
Rs. 25 for still camera
Rs. 150 for camcorder
Rs. 50/day for light vehicle
Rs. 150/day for heavy vehicle

• Trek-tour details:
Duration: 3 hours
Timing: 6 am to 11 am & 3 pm to 6 pm
Fee: Rs. 200 (Indians) ; Rs. 300 (For foreign nationals)

• Contact details:
Forest Information Centre
Wildlife Warden’s Office, Munnar PO, Idukki Dist.
Kerala, India.
PIN:685 612
Tel: 91-4865-231587
Mob. 91 8301024187, 91 8547603199
E-mail: enpmunnar@gmail.com

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