Place - Parambikulam Sanctuary


Lying adjacent to the Annamalai Wildlife Sanctuary, the 285 sq km stretch of forest known as the Parambikulam Sanctuary is one of Kerala’s premier wildlife reserves. Parambikulam lies in the Annamalai Hills, south of the Palghat Gap in the Western Ghats. The area’s hilly and rocky, drained by several rivers, including the Parambikulam, the Sholayar and the Thekkedy.

Thickly forested with stands of bamboo, sandalwood, rosewood and teak, the sanctuary has some marshy land and scattered patches of grassland. Parambikulam was once home to some of south India’s finest stands of teak; most of these, however, have now been replaced by teak plantations.

Parambikulam Board

Little remains of the original teak forests, other than the famous Kannimari teak tree, the largest in Asia. The tree is about 5 km from Thunakadavu, and is one of Parambikulam’s prime attractions.

Parambikulam’s animal species include many of India’s most prominent mammals: tigers, leopards, wild dogs, sloth bears, elephants, wild boar, barking deer, spotted deer, langurs and macaques. Parambikulam is also home to Kerala’s largest population of gaur. Besides these, civet, chevrotain, pangolin, crocodile, jungle cat, porcupine and some 140 species of birds are found in the sanctuary. Although the larger cats are few and far between, gaur, monkeys and deer are fairly common in the sanctuary.

Once you enter Parambikulam, very less visitors are seen. The reason is that only 30 vehicles are allowed inside the sanctuary per day. For a day tourist, activities are very limited. But at the same time, Parambikulam offers different packages for interested people in wildlife. Even though the tramway route is 40 kms, there is very little change in elevation. More than the trek, it is a long walk.

Entry Requirements

Visitors are allowed into Parambikulam only between 7 am and 6 pm; no vehicles can leave the park after 6.30 pm. The entry fee is a paltry Re 0.50; for light vehicles an entry fee of Rs 5 is payable, for heavy vehicles, it is Rs 10.

Permits are issued by the Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) at Ph: 04253 245025, 04253 245005.

Access

The town closest to Parambikulam is Pollachi, in Tamilnadu; it is about 48 km from Thunakadavu, and there are two daily buses, at 10 am and 5 pm, from the town to the sanctuary. Pollachi is also the nearest railhead and has train connections to Coimbatore and Palakkad. Both Coimbatore (88 km from Parambikulam) and Palakkad (97 km from the sanctuary) are important railway junctions, with a number of trains coming in from even as far as Delhi. Coimbatore, in addition, has a domestic airport served by Indian Airlines and Jet Airways. Important towns in Kerala- such as Kochi, Thrissur, Nenmarra and Kollangodu- are connected by road to Parambikulam.

Touring the sanctuary is possible by boat or jeep; both can be hired from the park authorities. Alternatively, you can climb one of Parambikulam’s two watch towers for a bit of wildlife-watching. One tower is at Anappadi (8 km from Thunakadavu) and the other’s at Zungam, 5 km from Thunakadavu. The safari by the van around the forest costs Rs.655/- (for 25 persons).

Best time to visit

Parambikulam is open throughout the year, but is best avoided during the monsoon. Between June and August, the monsoon rains lash Parambikulam, making hillsides unstable and causing slush, mosquitoes, drippy roofs and other nuisances.

Accommodation

Visitors to Parambikulam can stay for a sum of about Rs 200 per night at the forest resthouses at Thunakadavu (the headquarters of the sanctuary), Thellikal and Elathode.

Another option is the interesting tree house at Thunakadavu; rooms here cost about Rs 300-600 per night. If you’re visiting neighbouring Annamalai, you could stay in the Top Slip area, the headquarters of Annamalai; the place is about half an hour’s drive from Thunakadavu and offers a number of accommodation options.

Once you enter Parambikulam, very less visitors are seen. The reason is that only 30 vehicles are allowed inside the sanctuary per day. For a day tourist, activities are very limited. But at the same time, Parambikulam offers different packages for interested people in wildlife. Even though the tramway route is 40 kms, there is very little change in elevation. More than the trek, it is a long walk.

Accommodation can be reserved through the Range Officer, Thunakadavu. Rooms at the Thunakadavu PWD Rest house and the Tamilnadu Government Inspection Bungalow can be booked through the Junior Engineer, Tamilnadu PWD, Parambikulam.

The nearby towns of Coimbatore and Palakkad, by virtue of their size and importance, offer a much wider range of accommodation, and are a good base for visitors to Parambikulam. Rooms in either of the two towns usually cost between a couple of hundred rupees for basic amenities to around a thousand or slightly more for fancier accommodation.

Further information about Parambikulam can be obtained from the Wildlife Warden at Thunakadavu or the Divisional Forest Officer, Teak Plantation Division, Thunakadavu Post, Parambikulam, Palakkad District, Kerala.