Anamalai Hills: Spot the Rare Birds and Animals, Breathe the Herbs, Go for Treks and More
Looking for a quiet and a lazy mountain holiday? Check out Anamalai hills. Every walk in the jungle is exhilarating. This quiet and beautiful hill has the largest sanctuary in Tamilnadu and is inhabited by wild tribes. A place to visit if you are a nature lover longing to see rare animals and birds and breathe in those air laden with freshness and herbal aura. If you are a shutterbug, this is the place to be. Make sure to bathe in the gentle monkey falls, a natural and refreshing waterfalls, along the valparai ghat road.
More on this paradise of hillstations –
ANAMALAI HILLS, a range of mountains in southern India, in the Coimbatore district of Madras, lying between 10° 13′ and 10° 31′ N. lat., and between 76° 52′ and 77° 23′ E. long., forming a portion of the Western Ghats, after this range has been broken by the Palghat Pass, south of the Nilgiris. They really consist of a forest-clad and grassy tableland, with summits rising about 8000 ft.; the Anaimudi mountain, which is the highest in southern India, having an altitude of 8850 ft. The only inhabitants are a few wild tribes who live by hunting and collecting jungle produce.
Location: Along the Western Ghats
Also Called: Elephant Hills
Attractions: Some of the places to be visited: Monkey Falls, Aliyar, the Crocodile Breeding Centre at Amaravati, Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, Attakatti, Mirar, Kullipatti, Manompally, Chinnar, Varagaliar, Manjampatty, etc
ANNAMALAI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY and NATIONAL PARK:
The Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, the largest and well preserved sanctuary in Tamil Nadu, lies in the Western Ghats south of the Palghat Gap better known as Anaimalais (Mountain of Elephants). With an area of 958 sq.KM, it is rich in flora and fauna. Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park (also called Annamalai Wildlife Sanctuary) is a full-fledged visitor’s centre at Top slip. This sanctuary is situated at an altitude of 1,400 metres in the western ghats near Pollachi. It has various kinds of exotic fauna like elephant, gaur, tiger, panther, sloth bear, pangolin, black headed oriole, green pigeon and civet cat. The Amaravathy reservoir in the Anamalais has a large number of crocodiles. There are also many places of scenic beauty such as Karain Shola, Anaikunthi shola, Grass hills, waterfalls, groves ,teak forests, estates, dams and reservoirs.
This protected area constitutes the most important watershed for the agricultural economy and power supply. Major reservoirs like Parambikulam, Aliyar, Thirumurthi, Upper Aliyar, Kadambarai, Sholayar and Amaravathi are fed by the perennial rivers which originate from the Sanctuary. The tribal communities living in the sanctuary are Kadar, Malasar, Malai Malasar, Muduvar, Pulayar and Eravalar. They participate in the management as Forest watchers and Antipoaching Watchers.
Nature at its Best – Breathe the Air Carrying the Aroma of the Best of Medicinal Herbs
The Anamalais rise from foothills at the height of 300 m to Topslip-Parambikulam Plateau at 800m and to the Valparai Plateau, between 1000 and 1250 m. The elevation range includes an array of habitats ranging from dry thorn forests in the low foothills to semi-evergreen stretches to grass hills and evergreen shoals in Valparai. The floral diversity has been estimated to be over 2000 species, of which about 400 species are of medicinal importance. The Karian Shola NP has been identified and designated as a Medicinal Plant Conservation Area (MPCA) due to its medicinal plant diversity.
Apart from its rich tree diversity, over 100 species of orchids, a wide variety of ferns, grasses, palms and canes abode here.
For the Animal and Bird Lovers: Opportunity to See the Best of Extremely Diverse Species
The sanctuary supports extremely diverse faunal population and several species are exclusive to this area. A wide variety of herbivores inhabit this Sanctuary including elephant, gaur, Sambar, spotted deer, barking deer, mouse deer, nilgiri tahr and wild boar. This is equally matched by carnivore diversity with Tiger, Leopard, Wild Dog (Dhole), Indian Fox, Leopard-cat and Jungle cat. Primates are represented by bonnet macaque, common langur, nilgiri langur, lion-tailed macaque and slender loris. Other important mammals include the Sloth Bear, Small Indian civet, Toddy cat, Ruddy mongoose, Stripped-necked mongoose, Common Otter, Smooth Indian Otter, Nilgiri marten, Indian Flying fox squirrel, Indian Giant Squirrel, Dusky stripped squirrel, Flying squirrel, Black naped Indian Hare, Bandicoot Rat, Grey musk shrew, Indian Porcupine, Indian Pangolin.
The Sanctuary is a birders’ paradise. Over 300 species of birds have been sighted. Apart from the Great Pied Hornbil-the flagship species, rare birds like the Frogmouth, Red-winged crested cuckoo are found here. Birds of prey like Crested Serpent Eagle, Spot-billied Eagle , Black Eagle, Crested Gohawk, Rufous bellied Eagle, Jerdon’s Baza, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Owl. Grey Jungle fowl, Painted Bush quail, Red Spurfowl, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Malabar Grey Hornbill, White-bellied Woodpecker, Alpine Swift, Brown-backed Needletail, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Dollar bird, Malabar Trogon, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Blue-bearded Bee eater, White bellied Treepie, White-bellied Shortwing, Wynad Laughingthrush, Hill Myna, Nilgir Flycatcher. Many species of flycatchers, Drongos, Treepies, Birds of prey, Thrushes, Warblers, Babblers, woodpeckers, Parakeets, Pigeons, Shrikes, Cuckoos, Swifts and Owls are also found here.
Shortwing, Wynad Laughingthrush, Hill Myna, Nilgir Flycatcher. Many species of flycatchers, Drongos, Treepies, Birds of prey, Thrushes, Warblers, Babblers, woodpeckers, Parakeets, Pigeons, Shrikes, Cuckoos, Swifts and Owls are also found here.
PLACES OF INTEREST
Topslip is the place of first choice to most of the tourists. Ample accommodation, vehicle ride, elephant ride and regulated nature walk are provided. Adjacent Karianshola a tropical rain forest with tall rising trees and well-developed canopy forest is for serious visitors. Medicinal Plants Conservation area (MPCA) and interpretation centre here cannot be missed. In the west, it connects with Kerala’s Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary and a joint visit would give a taste of varied landscape and lot of surprises. Arrangements are available at Topslip to take tourists around the Sanctuary on elephant back or by van.
Elephant camp at Chinnar is 25 KM from Topslip. Grassy swamps and teak plantations and the Seychalli valley are other interesting spots.
Valparai is one of the highest mid elevation hill resort in the country. The tea plantations are surrounded by evergreen moist deciduous forest a rich elephant tract and a panther prowl. Valparai by itself a place to visit as hill station. We will cover Valparai as a separate destination in our forthcoming post.
Grasshills can be reached conventionally through pollachi over the Attakatti ghat or from topslip via vargaliar and manompally. The shoals and grass lands which are continuous with the grass lands till Konalar hut and a briddle path connects the grass hills of the Eravikulam National Park in Munnar district. Rhododenron, Kurinji are popular in this tract. Tiger, panther, Elephant Nilgiri Tahr and many other wildlife are found to be peacefully existing in this area. The grass hills road ends at Konalar, a small mountain stream across which the Konalar hut is located.
The Crocodile farm at Amaravathi dam is one of the four major crocodile farms in the country and is a popular destination. The crocodile farm is also the home of grizzled squirrels with many nests located on trees within the farm. The forests around are ideal elephant tracts.
Monkey falls located at the 29th km junction on the Pollachi-valparai road, is the place for a refreshing bath from the natural falls
Attakatti is about 36 km. on the pollachi Valparai state highway. A well maintained trekking shed is available near Attakatti. The area is an ideal dry deciduous and moist deciduous forest tract and home of wildlife like Elephant, Tiger, Nilgiri Tahr, Sambar etc.
Monompally is about 85 km from Pollachi and about 20 km from valparai has a beautiful trekking shed close to Manompally river. The place is known for its thick shola forests, fast flowing rivers and scenic beauty.
Manjapatty valley is a unique elephant country. The Dhallinji and Manjampatti tribal settlements are within this area.
Chinnar is situated at about 25 km from Amaravathi. Elephants are very common here. Deers and Bisons are also seen in large numbers. It has abundant population of Elephants, Grizzled Squirrels, wide variety of small mammals, birds and reptiles. Tigers are a common sight for visitors on this road.
Several interesting trek routes are available and regular guided treks are conducted during favourable season. Prior notice of a fortnight is necessary. Some of enchanting trek routes are
- Top Slip-Karianshola-Pandaravarai-Topslip trek of 12 kms takes 5 hrs. It is best done during September – March. It is a trek for animal and bird watching. There will be no need for camping enroute.
- Akkamalai-Thanakka malai-konal Ar- Fishing hut – Akkamalai. Moderate to steep climb to a distance of 10 kms and climbing down for 20 kms takes 7 hrs. during june. The route passes through vast stretches of rolling meadows with evergreen shoals. Herds of Nilgiri Tahr a mountain goat are found.Fishing hut at Konalar is an exciting camp site.
- Elumalaiyan Odai-Kamanuthu pungan odai-udumalpet moonar road. A steep climb for two kms and gentle undulating ground for 7 kms.takes 3 hrs. done during December- June. Panther, Gaur, Sambar, Deer, Elephant, Tiger and a variety of birds are sighted. Observation tower at Kamanuthu provision for halt at Amaravathi.
- Monkey falls – a linear stretch of evergreen forests is surrounded by rocky cliffs.
- Varagaliar – Kurampalliar and Varagaliar shola– Perrunkundru Malai- back – a 14 KM stiff climb taking 7 hrs, is best done during September- March. A It takes one through a stretch of lower elevation, shola supports large number of arboreal animals especially primates (Lion Tailed Macaque and Nilgiri Langur). Nilgiri Tahr and Indian Hornbill can be sighted. Forest Rest House at Varagaliar will be the camping site.
The Sanctuary is highly diverse in its topography, altitude, rainfall, climate and temperature. Therefore, it naturally supports a wide variety of flora and fauna including several rare, endemic and endangered species of plants and animals. Diversity of landscape and its components enchants one and all alike be he a tourist, a trekker, an anthropologist, a wildlifer or a naturalist.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Moderate warm climate almost through the year makes it attractive destination throughout the year but the best time to visit would be December to April.
The mercury ranges from 14 deg C to 32 deg C during March to October and to 6 deg C to 24 deg C during November to February. It is better to check the weather before travelling to avoid being there during rains.
HOW TO GET THERE
Air : The nearest airport is at Coimbatore.
Rail : The nearest railway station is at Pollachi from where there are trains to Coimbatore and Dindigul.
Road : There are regular buses from Coimbatore and Palani to Pollachi, which is the nearest big town. To reach Topslip by road tourists can catch a bus or hire a taxi from Pollachi.
Note: The Tourist Department does not allow vehicles to venture in the forest road between 6:00pm to 6:30am.
Comfortable accommodation is available at Topslip on prior booking at the reception center in the office of the Wildlife Warden, Pollachi. There are cottages and group accommodation facilities available at Topslip to suit different budgets. Catering facility is available at Topslip. Bookings are done at Office of the Wildlife Warden, Pollachi. Ambuli Illam at Top Slip, distance 2-km from the reception center, is the best place to visit and stay and it also has a restaurant. There are several other places to visit Pollachi also.
One needs to contact minimum ten days before for accomodation reservations. One can also opt to stay at Pollachi (35km away) or Coimbatore (90km away).
The Wildlife Warden,
Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary & National Park,
176, Meenkarai Road,Pollachi,
Coimbatore 642001,Tamil Nadu.
Tel. (04259) 25356
For those interested in a package tour, IRCTC conducts Pollachi-Valparai Rail Tour for a minimum of 4 pax for 4 nights / 5 days. Read more for details.
IRCTC RAIL PACKAGE
Pollachi-Valparai Rail Tour
Pollachi – Tirumurthy Dam, Temple, Anamalai & Top Slip
Valparai – Aliyar Dam, Monkey Falls, Solayar Dam, Balaji Temple, Nallamudi Poonjolai, Neerar Dam & Chinnakalar Falls.
Departure from Chennai Central railway station by Train no: 12671, Nilagiri Exp at 21:00 hours
Arrival at Coimbatore Jn. at 05:00 hrs, Pick up from railway station Transfer to Pollachi by road, On arrival, check in to the hotel. Proceed for sightseeing to Tirumurthy Dam, Temple. Later transfer to Anamalai & Top Slip. After visiting top slip, transfer back to hotel. Overnight in Pollachi
Check out from the hotel by 0800 hours After breakfast transfer to Valparai. En-route visit Aliyar Dam, Monkey Falls. By noon check in to the hotel at Valparai. After lunch visit Solayar Dam Overnight in Valparai
After breakfast, forenoon visit to Balaji Temple, and Nallamudi Poonjolai. Check out from the hotel by noon. After lunch visit Neerar Dam & Chinnakalar Falls. By 1600 Hrs transfers to Coimbatore. Drop at Coimbatore Jn. railway station at 19:30 hrs Dep. to Chennai by Train No. 12672 – Nilagiri Express by 20:30 hours
Arrival at Chennai Central at 5:10 hrs
Package Tariff:(This Price is valid from Oct’2011 To Mar’2012)
Rate per person on single sharing ₹ 9850/-
Rate per person on twin sharing ₹ 4400/-
Rate per Person on Triple sharing ₹ 4150/-
Per Child rate (5-12 yrs) ₹ 1800/-
*All prices mentioned are ‘Per Person’.
* Important Instruction: For operation of this package minimum 4 pax are required
* Surcharges will be applicable from 15 Dec 11 to 15 Jan 12
Posted on December 16, 2011, in Adventure, Attractions, Travel and tagged adventure, Anaimalai Hills, chennai, Coimbatore, family holiday, hill holiday, hill vacation, hillstation, pollachi, Tamil Nadu, topslip, travel, trek, valparai, Western Ghat. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.