Covering nearly 900 square kilometers, the combined area of the Kalakad Sanctuary and the Mudanthurai Wildlife Sanctuary is a treasure trove for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers. Extremely rich in biodiversity, one can spot Mundanthurai wildlife in all its surrounding beauty. The dense, dark forest cover is thrilling in its mystery with the promise of a surprise at every corner. It is the 17th declared Tiger Reserve in the country. Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve has been classified as a Type-1 Tiger Conservation Unit (TCU) representing tropical moist evergreen forests in the world.
Nestled between Kerala and Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, the Agastya Mala Hill Range forms the core area of the Wildlife Sanctuary and is one of the five named biodiversity and endemism centers in India. It is also under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee as a world heritage site. A trust has been working with the locals to educate and provide them with alternative sources for fuel and creating awareness about the value of the biodiversity of the sanctuary delicate and the need to protect it.
Unique in its climate and vegetation in such as different parts of the sanctuary receive different amounts of rainfall, Mundanthurai is also a great place to connect with nature. There are trails for trekking and one can do so at these designated places after seeking permission from the forest and wildlife authorities. Apart from endemic flora and fauna, avian life thrives in these forests.
Located between 8° 25′ and 8° 53′ N latitude and 77° 10′ and 77° 35′ E longitude, Mundanthurai has a unique and different forest cover, with different parts of the forest receiving different amounts of rainfall. The lower forests receive an average annual rainfall of less than 1,000 mm while the upper forest gets more than 4,000 mm rainfall each year. The upper reaches of the forest is mainly tropical wet evergreen while the lower is dry deciduous.
The average temperature in the summer is 44 degrees C while in winters it is a pleasant 24 degrees C. Monsoons arrive later here than the rest of the country. The western half of the sanctuary receives the lashings of the southwest monsoons while the eastern part receives the gentler northeast monsoons.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit is between October and January. The sanctuary is open to the public from October to the summer months, but given that it becomes uncomfortably warm, one should consider visiting the sanctuary before summer sets in.
Wildlife at Mundanthurai Sanctuary
Birds: Grey-headed Bulbul, Great Pied Hornbill, Malabar Grey Hornbill, the Oriental Bay Owl and Broad-Tailed Warbler.
Mammals: One can spot the Royal Bengal Tiger, Leopard, Mouse Deer, Rusty Spotted Cat, Brown Palm Civet, Sambhar, Spotted Deer or Chital, Malabar Giant Squirrel, the Nilgiri Langur, Sloth Bear, Bonnet Macaque, Brown Mongoose, Indian Pangolin, Nilgiri Martin, the King Cobra, Python, Monitor Lizard, Flying Lizard and Pit Viper. The Ceylon Mouth Frog is one of the many endemic species to be on the lookout for.
One can spot the Gaur and herds of Asiatic Wild Elephants at neighboring Kalakad Sanctuary.
Distance from Major Cities
Mundanthurai is 45 kilometers from Tirunelveli. It is 487 kilometers from Ooty and 92 kilometers from Mysore. Ambasamudram is a mere 10 kilometers away.
Chennai– 681.6 kilometers
Delhi– 2779.9 kilometers
The nearest airport is Trivandrum Airport, 200 kilometers away.
Nearest Railway Station
The nearest railways station is the Tirunelveli Junction about 38 kilometers away.
From Manjolai, it is a 47.4 km drive on the NH 45 which takes about 1 hour and a half. Regular bus services are available Tirunelveli which takes a little over than an hour.
The Forest Department’s Rest House has two suites and dormitory style accommodation. Suites are reserved for visiting forest officials. One can call ahead and reserve accommodation at the Rest House.
Ambasamudram has a few mid-budget bed and breakfast hotels. There are many hotels and resorts around Tirunelveli.
Useful Contacts for bookings and accommodation
Hotel South Avenue
Babuji Nagar, Tirunelveli Junction
Forest Rest House (INR 100 per day plus INR per additional person)
Chief Conservator of Forests & Field Director