Annamalai Tiger Reserve
At a distance of 38 km from Pollachi and 76 km from Coimbatore, Annamalai Tiger Reserve is a protected area located in the Annamalai mountain range of the Western Ghats in Tamilnadu. It is one of the popular tiger reserves in India and among the must include places in Pollachi Tour Packages.
Annamalai Tiger Reserve was originally called Anamalai Wild Life Sanctuary notified in the year 1974 and established in the year 1976. Later, it was renamed as Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary & National Park in honor of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's visit in 1961. Located at an altitude of 1400 m, the sanctuary has declared as Annamalai Tiger Reserve in 2007 with an extent of 958.59 sq. km that encompassed the erstwhile IGWLS&NP or Aanaimalai Wildlife Sanctuary.
According to the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the Reserve presently includes a core area of 958.59 sq. km and a buffer area of 521.28 sq.km forming a total area of 1479.87 sq. km. The reserve is bordered with Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary, Eravikulam National Park, and Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. The reserve covers a total of four revenue taluks include the headquarters in Pollachi, the Valparai, Udumalpet, and Kodaikanal.
The Anamalai wildlife sanctuary has various kinds of wild animals like panthers, elephants, deer, gaur, civets, tigers, sloth bears, wild bears, wild dogs, porcupines, flying squirrels, jackals, and pangolins. The park is home to birds like the red treepie, whiskered bulbul, spotted dove, rocket-tailed drongo, black-headed oriole, and pigeon. This wildlife park also has a natural reservoir, called the Amaravati Reservoir, which is inhabited by crocodiles. Besides, this serene getaway has other elements such as Karianshola Trek, Anaikunthi Shola, Grass hills, Manjampatti Valley, groves, waterfalls, teak forests, reservoirs, and dams. However, some of these attractions would require prior permission from the respective authorities.
The best gateway for the sanctuary is Topslip, which is about 3o km from Pollachi. Other gateways are Amaravathi, Sethumadai (9 km before Topslip), and Valparai. Elephant Safari and Van services are available at the Top Slip as it is the gateway for a wonderful wildlife experience of the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary. Private vehicles are not allowed for the safaris. The Tourism Department has also identified several trekking routes starting at Top Slip and conducts guided trekking tours. Kolambumalai - 10 km, Ambuli watchtower - 6 km, Kozhikammuthy-12 km, and Karian Shola - 4 km are the some of the trekking routes available here. All visitors to Topslip need a permit issued by the Wildlife Warden office of the Forest Department at Pollachi.
Topslip also has an elephant camp called Kozhikamuthi, which is said to have the best collection of trained elephants or kumki elephants. One can even see the elephants being fed at specific times. As part of its elephant conservation effort, the Forest Department also celebrates the World Elephant Day in August here and events like drawing, public speaking, and essay writing contests are conducted for tribal students. Topslip is also a national park and a medical plant conservation area apart from its wildlife.
The best time to visit the sanctuary and experience nature at its best is during the winter months. The climate in the winter is pleasant and cold, and there are high chances for you to catch a sight of the animals in their natural and cozy habitat. It is best to avoid traveling in the months of June and August as it is the peak of monsoon and the rains make the forest too muddy and slippery. Also, avoid visiting the sanctuary in the summer when the weather is too hot & humid.
Park Timings: 6 AM - 6 PM
Forest Timings: 7 AM to 4 PM
Safari Timings: 11 AM - 2 PM for Elephant Safari, 7 AM - 10 AM and 3 PM - 5 PM for Eco Van Safari, 7 AM - 2 PM for Trekking
Entry: Rs. 80 for Person, Rs. 50 for Camera, Rs. 120 for Van Safari, Rs. 200 for Elephant Safari, Rs. 200 - 1000 for Trekking