Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary
At a distance of 12 km from Marayur Bus Stand and 55 km from Munnar, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected reserve situated in the Marayoor and Kanthalloor panchayats of Devikulam Taluk in the Idukki district of Kerala, India. It is one of 12 wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala and among the top places to visit near Munnar.
Located on the eastern ranges of the Western Ghats, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary spreads across 90 sq.km and is canopied by lush, evergreen, and thorny scrubs. It is richly populated with a wide array of indigenous flora and fauna which makes it a popular tourist destination. The sanctuary has earned the name for an only rehabilitation center for Indian star tortoise in India. Along with the Western Ghats and the Anamalai sub-cluster, the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is under consideration by UNESCO for selection as a World Heritage Site.
Situated on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, it is bordered with Eravikulam National Park in the south, Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary in the north, and Kodaikanal Wildlife Sanctuary in the east. It forms an integral part of the 1,187 sq. km block of protected forests straddling the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border in the Anaimalai Hills. There are some significant peaks located in the sanctuary, namely Kumarikkal Mala peak, Nanadala Malai, Kottakombu Malai, Vellaikal Malai, and Viriyoottu Malai. The sanctuary receives its water from Chinnar and Pambar rivers. There are 11 tribal settlements, delimited by temporary stone walls inside the sanctuary. It is also home to the Thoovanam Waterfall, which lies on the Pambar River.
The Sanctuary has been declared as a biodiversity hotspot due to its unique topography and abundance of flora and fauna. An ideal home to a diverse range of wildlife, the Chinnar sanctuary boasts of more than 1,000 varieties of flowering plants, 225 avifauna species, 34 species of mammals, 36 different types of reptiles, 22 species of amphibians, and 42 species of fishes. Indian Elephant, Panther, Gaur, Spotted Deer, Monkey, Sambar, and Grizzled Giant Squirrel are some of the main mammals at the sanctuary. The rich variety of birds here also includes the rare species of yellow-throated bulbuls. The sanctuary is extremely popular as the storehouse of medicinal plants, as well.
Owing to its salubrious eco-system, the sanctuary is revered as one of the most wonderful eco-tourism destinations in Kerala. There are multiple entry points to the safari - at Kerala border checkpost, at Chinnar check post, and Alampetty check post. Visitors can enjoy Elephant Safari and Hunter Jeep Safaris every day between 6 AM to 6 PM. Adding more to the charm and appeal of this wildlife reserve, there is a beautiful sandalwood forest located adjacent to the sanctuary. Also, the mixed deciduous forests of the sanctuary entice adventure junkies to indulge in amazing trekking options around the foothills of the mighty Western Ghats.
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is also famous for its eco-tourism activities, which are jointly organized by the Forest Department and the Eco-development Committees of the local tribal communities. These activities include river trekking, trekking to the cultural site, nature trail to the watchtower, bird watching, a trek to the Thoovanam falls, interpretation activities and medicinal garden, tree house at Chinnar, trekking, and camping at Vasyappara. These are the guided tours (a forest guide must be accompanied) duration of the trek is usually around 3 hours. The treks are arranged between 6 to 11 AM and 3 to 6 PM. Except for Thoovanam Falls trek, other treks start from Kerala - Tamil Nadu border check post.
The sanctuary enjoys inland climatic conditions - mainly hot and dry. The region experiences hot and harsh climate during summer and a substantial rainfall during the monsoon. Hence, winter months from November to February are the ideal months to visit the sanctuary when the temperatures are mild and pleasantly cold.
Safari Timings: 6 AM - 6 PM
Kootar / Churulipetty (3 hours): 6 AM to 11 AM and 3 PM to 6 PM
Chinnar / Alampetty (3 hours): 7 AM to 10 AM and 3 PM to 6 PM
Thoovanam Falls / Mathini / Jellimala (2-3 hours): 7 AM to 10 AM and 3 PM to 6 PM
Entry: Rs. 100 for Adults, Rs. 10 for Children, Rs. 200o for Safari, Rs. 50 for Camera & Rs. 50 for Car / Jeep