They say ‘its’ never a free lunch’. But they forget the most beautiful, calming, vivid, dynamic and diverse thing around is absolutely one hundred percent free. Why, Nature of-course! Be it the lush green trees – cooling the air, wafting a light fragrance and providing the perfect canopy for a gorgeous walk or the glorious golden sand – blending its hue with that in the sky twice a day with the clear, sparkling, refreshing water splashing away. Nature has a way of providing us with any emotion that we might seek- excitement, adventure, serenity, awe, peace, magic! And the government has made it even easier to hunt for a mesmerizing place by branding them as National Parks. So, here are the 5 best national parks in Tamil Nadu you should consider visiting atleast once:
1. Mudumalai National Park
The Nilgiri range is one of the most exotic hill stations in India, aptly called the Blue Mountains owing to the scenic views of the water and the sky from there. Perched on the Niligiri hills is the quaint Mudumalai National park offering exotic flora and fauna and a climate which is very hard to top. It is one of the places in India where you can hear the mighty roar of the Bengal Tiger. Other rare animals that you can hope to spot here are giant Elephants, quick leopards and ferocious vultures. The most enjoyable way through the National Park is on an Elephant Safari- interacting with the elephant and enjoying its antics.
2. Mukurthi National Park
This is another National Park in the Nilgiris but has a special connection with it. It was basically built to protect the Nilgiri’s own species- the Nilgiri Tahr, a wild goat. Causal tourists are not permitted inside Mukurthi National Park but it does provide a unique experience by allowing people to trek and camp. What takes the experience to the next level is the guide appointed by the corporation who works as the cook as well. This guy will show you the clean streams to drink from, the safe berries to try, narrate folk-lore and even warn you against actions that might disturb the animals. You’ll feel connected to the place like never before!
3. Indira Gandhi National Park / Annamalai National Park
Indira Gandhi National Park is located in the Anaimalai Hills. Perhaps the most famous and definitely the well-developed location in the National Park is Top Slip, a place which was used to roll down timber logs once upon a time and has retained the functional name. They have pretty cottages and other houses that you can live in which give you fascinating views! The place is known for spotting Dhole, a wild dog, lion-tailed Macaque, brown mongoose and Indian giant squirrel among the other specialties of the region. The national Park also has a captivating bunch of tribal groups living there. The adventurous kind can make their way around trekking while there is a Safari van for the others.
4. Guindy National Park
If you can’t travel too far for exploring a National Park, this one is just for you- located inside the bustling city of Chennai. It is relatively small in size but offers quite a good range of flora and fauna. The Blackbuck is the pride of this National Park. The other species that can be spotted in Guindy National Park are the spotted deer, bonnet macaque, pangolin and the three-stripped palm squirrel. They have an exotic collection of birds too- parrots, paradise fly-catcher, golden-backed woodpecker to name a few. They boast of a snake park holding a king cobra, pythons and other snakes. But the icing on the cake is their Children’s park- a play area where animals like blackbuck, spotted deer, monkeys and beautiful birds wander freely. Here, your kids will truly feel like a part of nature.
5. Gulf Of Mannar Marine National Park
If aquatic species are what you fancy, the Gulf Of Mannar Marine National Park is located in the the Indian Ocean. You can go to Mandapam and get into a glass-bottomed to boat to explore this exotic National Park. The sights you see will blow your mind. You’ll spot coral reefs- of the most dazzling colors and the most vivid shapes, brightly colored fishes like the Butterfly fish, squirrel fish, Parrot fish, Clown fish- a real life version of Finding Nemo! Dugong, a marine mammal, is the flagship mammal of the park but the park also boasts of Dolphins, whales and turtles! Underwater is a whole new world, bright, dynamic and colorful- waiting to etch itself on your memory!
It is really easy to glimpse at images on a screen and marvel at how beautiful it all is. When that itself brings a smile on your face, imagine what the real deal will feel like! Remember that the digital devices can only satisfy your eyes- and that too only partially. When you actually head out into the wild, all your five senses will come alive and give you an experience like never before. The fragrances- of the grass, the mud, the rains; the sounds- of the birds chirping, the wind whistling, the water splashing will hypnotize you. Go and feel alive!