Parambikulam Tiger Reserve
Parambikulam, Anappady, Parambikulam Road, Palakkad District, Parambikulam, Kerala 678661, India
Trek through the best of protected forests of Western Ghat Mountains in Kerala.
Location of Parambikulam Tiger Reserve
More about Parambikulam Tiger Reserve
Parambikulam Tiger Reserve is a well protected ecological area lying between Nelliyampathy and Anamalai Hills of the Western Ghat Maountains. Located in Chittur Teluk of Palakkad District of Kerala State in Southern India, it occupies a total area of 643.66 square kilometres among which 390.89 square kilometre are the core area and 252.77 buffer.
Much of the reserve is a part of Anamalai Hills with four peaks towering in each boundary - Karimala Gopuram (1,438m) in the South, Vengoli Malai (1,120m) in the East, Puliyarapadam (1,010m) in the West, and Pandaravarai (1,290m) in the North. Part of Neliyampathi Hills joins the boundary of the reserve in the north as well. The reserve is in a tilted position towards Southwest acting as a drainage forming the river Chalakudy at the point where it meets with the neighbouring Sholayar Reserve Forests.
The reserve is rich in flora and fauna due to the presence of ample water supply and is excellently conserved due to total protection and minimal human interferences. The area is also home to four races of tribal people who are an integral part of the prevailing harmonious eco-system- they are Kadara, Malasar, Muduvar and Mala Malasar tribes settled in six colonies.
The reserve areas varies from altitudes of 300 to 1,438 meters above sea level and the temperature ranges from 15 degree Celcius in January/ February to 32 in March/ April. The reserve has three man-made reservoirs - Parambikulam, Thunakkadavu, and Peruvaripallam, with a combined area of 20.66 square kilometres providing much needed water to its inhabitants.
A little bit of History of Parambikulam Reserve Forest
During the 19th century, the forests of Parambikulam were two broad administrative units - Sungam Forest Reserve and Parambikulam Forest Reserve. In 1886, British started heavy exploitations of teak and other timbers from Sungam Reserve, and it was accelerated by the introduction of tramway in 1907 in the forests. This tramway was abolished in 1951 due to the obvious damages to the environment. In 1962, a special Teak Plantation Division was constituted in Parambikulam Forest Reserve and in the mean time the Sungam Forest Reserve was declared and renamed as Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary. Later in 1973, the Teak Plantation Division was merged with the already declared sanctuary.
Cochin State Forest Tramway- the remains of forest exploitations
Parambikulam Tiger Reserve has remnants of the Cochin State Forest Tramway which was constructed in 1907. The tramway was used to divulge more into the forest and take out the wood to the harbour at Kochi and then to different locations of the world. The tramway was abandoned in 1951 by the Special Finance Committee and the remains of it can be still seen in the area. One of the popular trekking routes in the reserve brings you closer to the tracks of the tramway.
Eco-tourism activities in the reserve
Eco-tourism activities at the reserve provide the visitors an opportunity to explore the scenic landscapes, the vegetations, and in some instances the sightings of rare and endangered wildlife. The activities provide meaningful employment to the tribal communities in the reserve as well. The revenue generated through the activities are channelled towards the forest protection and educational activities related to sustainability and for research endeavours.
The Eco-tourism activities are conducted at the buffer zones of the reserve so that the core zones always remain unaffected by human intrusion. There are multiple options for trekking and safaris and there is an eco-shop which sells products such as honey extracted from the forest, paper bags, medicinal herbs and much more.
Trekking options at the reserve
There are multiple options for trekking available in the reserve such as - Cochin State Forest Tramway Trek, Karianchola Trek, Karimalagopuram Trek, Early Morning Safari, Salim Ali Centre Trek, Moon light census, Tellikkal Nights. You will have to pre-book the trek at least a week before you plan to go by contacting the forest office in the following given information:
Forest Information Centre, Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary: +91 4253 244500
Wildlife Warden, Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary: +91 4253 244500
Wildlife Warden, Parambikulam Wildlife Division: +91 4253 277233/ +91 9447979102
Experienced forest guides accompanies you at all times during trekking. There are single day activities and tree-top houses inside the forest to stay overnight. Details of these also needs to be checked by contacting the office.
Nature Interpretation Centre
The Interpretation centre in Anappadi is equipped with three dimensional models of bio-diversity hotspots of the world, Western Ghats, Kerala, and Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary. The tiger cell here provides a repository of informations on the large cat. There is an audio visual section where one can come across different sounds of the forest and wildlife. The medicinal plants section will take you to the wonderful world of rare and endangered medicinal plants of Western Ghats and Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary.
Wildlife present in Parambikulam Tiger Reserve
The reserve is famous for its Tiger population which shows periodical increase in censuses. The reserve and the surrounding sanctuaries are home to 32-36 tigers according to the 2010 census.
There are there are 39 species of mammals in the sanctuary including Lion-tailed Macaques, Nilgiri Tahr (a kind of wild goat native to the region), elephants, tigers, leopards, wild boars, Bonnet Macaques, Nilgiri Languars (a type of old world monkey), sloth bears, Nilgiri Marten, flying squirrel and Gaur (Indian Bison).
61 species of reptiles includes King Cobra, Kerala Shield-tail, Travancore Kukri Snake, Travancore Wolf Snake, Cochin Cane Turtle, Travancore Tortoise, South Indian Forest Ground Gecko, South Indian Rock Lizard, Mountain Skink, Mugger Crocodile, Varanus, Pond Terapin, Chameleon, Indian Cobra, Krait, Green Keelback, Olivaceous Keelback, Western Rat Snake and Vine Snake.
Out of the 47 species of fish found, seven are endangered and 17 are found only in the Western Ghats. 124 species of butterflies are recorded with 34 either rare or native to only the Western Ghat mountains. In addition, around 1,000 species of insects and 23 species of amphibians are also found in the reserve.
Bird life in the reserve includes Lesser Adjutant Stork, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Peninsular Bay Owl, Broad-billed Roller, Great Hornbill, Darter, Little Cormorant, Black Eagle, Black-capped Kingfisher, and Black Woodpecker. Out of the 268 bird species found here, 134 are listed as rare and 18 are only found in Western Ghats.
The sanctuary has a variety of trees, mainly Teak, Neem, Sandalwood and Rosewood. One of the oldest teak tree- Kannimara Teak grows here in the reserve.
Story of Kannimara Teak- one of the largest teak tree in the world
Kannimara Teak, one of the worlds largest teak grows in Parambikulam Tiger Reserve. The teak has a girth of 7.02 meters and a height of 40 meters. The Reserve was awarded Maha Virksha Puraskar in 1994-95 due to this teak tree. The award gives recognitions to individuals and organisations for preserving and protecting trees of the notified species.
This old tree is worshipped by Kadar people (a tribal community), calling it ‘Kannimara' or Virgin tree. According to the tribal belief, blood started to spurt out from its slash when the tree was tried to cut down. Since then the tribes started to worship it.
Getting to Parambikulam Tiger Reserve- a mesmerising adventure on its own
The reserve is accessible by a scenic road from Pollachi in Tamil Nadu State. Although the reserve is located in Kerala State, there are no legal ways to reach there through the state. It is highly recommended to reach by own vehicle/ taxi as there are only three daily buses to the reserve- two starting from Pollachi (starting at 6.15 AM and 3.15 PM, return at 8.45 AM and 5.45 PM) and one from Palakkad (starting at 8.45 AM, return 12.30 PM) in Kerala. These timings are tentative, do confirm with the bus stations. Visitors should alight at Annapadi where the Information Centre of the reserve is located.
The route to the reserve is filled with lush greenery with occasional spotting of wild animals such as elephants, bison or peacocks. There is a checkpoint in Kerala before entering the reserves, private vehicles without prior permissions from Parambikulam Reserve will not be allowed beyond that area by the authorities.
For the day visitors, there are park managed vehicles that takes one on a safari but that would barely touch the surface of the reserve even though you may see some animals. The reserve is more for visitors who wants to take the trouble of exploring it in few days thereby spotting many of the wild animals in their natural habitat. You will have informations on options available at the Annapadi Information Centre.
Challenges to the reserve
Although forest fire is extremely rare, when it occurs it damages large areas rather quickly. In April 2007, a wild fire in the reserve and the adjoining forests destroyed hundreds of acres of forest and plantations. The main reason for the spread of fire was the dryness caused due to the lack of pre-monsoon showers that typically arrives in the month of January to March in the region.
Some of the visitors throw away plastics, cans, wrappers etc inside the reserve. Even though the staff at the reserve cleans them away daily, animals can sometimes consume them and get sick. The more the visitors, the more the presence of artificial materials in the reserve.
Demand for expanding the tourism zone is also a concern. There are recommendations from multiple channels to expand the tourism zone to the core areas as well so that the reserve can be developed to a unique and highly engaging tourist spot owing to its rich bio-diversity and animal habitats. This will result in building new roads into the core areas, not an ecologically friendly option. Not to mention the noise and the pollutions from high volume visitors that the reserve have to absorb disturbing the animals.
A study conducted in 2002 by Kerala Forest Research Institute recommended limited tourism with participation from the local tribes. The eco tourism activities that are presently available in the reserve are adhering to this study thereby providing benefits to the tribes and causes minimum damage.
Demand for construction materials such as granite has resulted in destruction of the hills and hillocks in the adjoining areas such as Nelliyampathy. These quarrying activities are destroying the habitats of the animals.
Best time to visit Parambikulam Tiger Reserve
The reserve is open throughout the year but it is best to avoid it during monsoon season between June to September. The rains make the hillside unstable and highly exhausting due to mosquitoes and other insects which are in abundance.
The nearest major towns with railway stations are Palakkad in Kerala(100 km) and Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu (84 km).