Mukurthi National Park, Ooty - Timings, Safari Cost, Best Time to Visit

Photo Credit: Flickr

Distance (From Ooty): 40 Kms

Trip Duration (Including Travel): 3 Hours

Place Location: In The Western Corner Of Nilgiris Plateau

Transportation Options: Cab

Travel Tips: Mukurthi National Park can only be entered after getting permission from the forest department.

At a distance of 40 km from Ooty, Mukurthi National Park is a protected area located in the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu state. It is one of the most attractive wildlife sanctuaries in South India and among the best places to visit as part of Ooty Tour Packages.

Previously known as the Nilgiri Tahr National Park, Mukurthi National Park is situated in the western corner of Nilgiris Plateau. The entire area of Mukurthi National Park was declared as a Reserve forest in 1886. The area was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1982 and upgraded to a National Park in 1990 in order to protect the Nilgiri tahr. The park is a part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, India's first International Biosphere Reserve. As part of the Western Ghats, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1st July 2012.

Covering over an area of 78.46 sq. km, the park is characterized by montane grasslands and shrublands interspersed with sholas in high altitude areas. It is sandwiched between the Mudumalai National Park and the Silent Valley National Park. This wildlife sanctuary is also home to Mukurthi Peak, the fourth highest peak in the Nilgiri Hills. And at an altitude of 2,554m (8,379ft), the peak attracts many trekkers to visit these forests. Three rivers - Pykara, Billithadahalla, and Kundah - flow through the park because of its inclination towards the east and south.

Mukurthi National Park is home to several endangered mammal species including Nilgiri tahr, Indian elephant, Bengal tiger, Nilgiri marten, Nilgiri langur, and Bonhote's mouse. There are also leopard, bonnet macaque, sambar deer, barking deer, mouse deer, otter, jungle cat, small Indian civet, wild dog, jackal, shrew, Malabar spiny dormouse, and soft-furred rat. The diverse avifauna of the park includes Grey-headed Flycatcher, Laughing Thrush, Black-winged Kite, Black and Orange Flycatcher, Wood Pigeon and Woodcock.

Trekking and Camping are the only activities available in Mukurthi National Park, and that too with the permission from the forest officials. They also permit and organize educational tours, but commercial tourism isn't allowed. So, either you can take permission to trek with your troop or go on the 3-5 days trekking expeditions organized by the government. Tamil Nadu Forest department does offer day trips to the Upper Bhavani backwaters and which give you a fleeting glimpse of the beautiful jungle, but the best way to experience this national park and its rich ecosystem is to stay inside at one of their forest rest houses for a few days and go on daily treks into different parts of this biodiversity hotspot.

There are many trekking options available, but the most famous trekking route is the 52 km and 4 day trip from Bangitapal via Sispara, Pocchiparai, and Silent Valley National Park. The 18 km trekking trail from the trekking shed to Nadugani via Kengerkundi comes a close second. The treks range from medium to high difficulty. Rest houses and trekking sheds are available, but they're unfurnished. So, confirm the available amenities with the authorities in advance. The department organizes the trek for a group of 20 participants at a time. All facilities such as tents, cooks, guides and eating arrangements, which are required to complete the trekking journey, are provided. The participant trekkers need to bring sleeping bags and rucksacks along with them. Permission to enter the forest is only granted to those who have special interests. Downhill treks in the region take about 3-5 days.

For visiting permission reach out to the office of the wildlife warden at Ooty or any of your nearest District Forest offices for guidance. Contact - 0423- 2444098, 0423- 2443977, 0423- 2447167

The best time to visit the Mukurthi National Park is between the months of February to May and September to November.

Timings: 9 AM - 5.30 PM, Closed on Tuesday

Entry: RS. 25 for Adults, Rs. 10 for Children, Rs. 25 for Camera & Rs. 150 for Video

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