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Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Munnar

  • Kerala, the southernmost Indian state, has a pleasant range of protected areas. One of these is Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary on the northern side of Marayoor in Idukki district. Recently, this wildlife sanctuary has bagged the accolade of being the only one rehab centre for star tortoise—majorly in India. The fauna at this wildlife sanctuary is widespread. There are 28 mammal species, 225 of bird, 156 of butterflies, 29 of snakes, 101 of spiders, and others. But, the flora is all the more mesmerizing with a total of 963 species!

    At this wildlife sanctuary, river Chinnar and river Pambar source the water supply for drinking, bathing, and irrigation purposes. The Chinnar river floats around the northwest border of Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary and becomes Amravati when it reaches Tamil Nadu. 
    In comparison to that, Pambar river floats back down from the Taliar Valley to reach Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary on the eastern side.

    And one thing that attracts tourists toward this river is Thoovanam Waterfall. 
    Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary borders around Tamil Nadu and has other sanctuary and national parks nearby. Some of them are Marayoor Sandal Reserve, Anamudi Shola National Park, and Kurinjimala Sanctuary (Tamil Nadu). Overall, these are the main reasons for nature lovers to tour this sanctuary for a planned family weekend.

    Overview


    - Timings: 
    This wildlife sanctuary is open from 8 AM to 5 PM every day. However, for the purpose of wildlife safari, the timings can change to 6 AM to 6 PM. The safari would last for about 2 hours

    - Entry Fee: 
    For Indian adults it is Rs. 10; for Indian kids below 12 years of age that is Rs. 5, but for every foreigner that would be Rs. 100 only.
                        Also, it costs Rs. 150 more for bringing a video camera. The same charge is for bringing your own heavy vehicle for safari and exploration.
                        Otherwise Rs. 50 is charged for bringing still camera or light vehicle in.

    - Location: 
    This wildlife sanctuary is located at the Western Ghats of the Idukki district of Kerala, 18 km away from Marayoor,. The whole area is 90.44 km². 

    - Best Time To Visit Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary: 
    During summers, the climate of this region gets scorching hot. People do not visit much often around that period. However, during the monsoons, there is a slight downpour, enough for revitalizing the wildlife back to its energy. which leaves us only with winter. Therefore, verified tourists and other travellers have mostly visited this sanctuary during winter months of Oct-Jan to get a better glimpse of flora and fauna.

    How to Reach Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary 


    By Road:
    Districts in Kerala like Munnar, Ernakulam, and Kochi have clear road transportation facilities to reach Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. 
    Via Udumalpet Road, it takes 1 hour 45 minutes’ drive to reach from Munnar. Otherwise, from Kochi, tourists can take NH544, which is one of the fastest ways to commute. It takes about 5 hours and 30 minutes to reach. From Palani, follow the Kolumam Road to reach the destination within 2 hours.

    By Rail:
    Nearest railway stations are Pollachi and Alluva to reach Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. Pollachi railway station is 60 KM far and Aluva is 200 KM away.

    By Bus:
    From Pathom, bus services run twice per day to commute passengers to Munnar. From there passenger will have to taxi to reach the final destination.

    Tourists Attractions in Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary 


    1. The Forest Museum: It is located at the entrance of Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. The curators here explain everything that one has to know about the wildlife at this sanctuary. Other than that, there is a wide display of flora and fauna on the billboards. Children always love to explore this museum.

    2. Tree Houses: There is a provision to rest or dine at the various range of tree houses like Jellimala Log House, Thoovanam Log House, Squirrel House, etc. in and around Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. Tourists have to pay charges around Rs. 3000-4000 for two persons for a complete package that includes guides, cooks, complimentary food, etc. However, foreigners would have to pay more.

    3. Visiting The Medicinal Garden: The forests alongside Pambar and Chinnar river have been famous for medicinal plants. By hiring a local guide, who can tour the travellers around, medicinal gardens are a way to enjoy the day walk in between the forests and the sound of fresh and gushing water flowing nearby.

    4. Natural Trails: This sanctuary is 90.44 km² in area. Therefore, many natural trials around the forest are allowed for tourists to walk around and enjoy nature. For the purpose of eco-friendly visits nearby this sanctuary, natural trails are one of the activities young crowd can try out during the day time.

    5. Watchtower, Jellimalai: Visitors are allowed to stand on this lofty watchtower during the peak season. From here, the panoramic view of the district is entirely mesmerizing. Even the boundary of the neighbouring state, Tamil Nadu, can be viewed from here. 

    6. Thoovanam Waterfall: This fall is a sight to behold as the Pambar river floats down to meet the Chinnar river from a great height. Tourists swarm around the bank of this waterfall to enjoy the scenic pleasure. Afterall, waterfalls are always a great sight for the nature lovers and this one is too.

    7. Camping: Near the Thoovanam Waterfall, there is a lot of space for families and young adults to camp around. In fact, there is a better chance to enjoy a weekend getaway with family at night, camping beside the riverbank and having a light picnic as well.

    8. Trekking: Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is flanked by forests and hilly area nearby. Thus, it allows adventure seekers to trek around the natural trails or riverbanks as well. The travellers just have to wear trekking shoes and go in groups to avoid any uncertain circumstances, mainly at night. A local guide is always advisable for amateur trekkers.


    Flora and Fauna at Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary 


    Get To Know the available species: If the tourists are heading toward this wildlife sanctuary, they should know that this forest is famous for its flora and fauna. There are about 101 species of spiders, 54 of reptiles, and 225 of birds. However, there are enormous grasslands, gardens, natural walkways, scrubs, and forests around the area of this wildlife sanctuary.

    1. Bird Watching: There are many ways in which visitors can happily indulge in watching the existing bird species spotted around Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. Birds like yellow-throated bulbul, Sri Lankan Frogmouth, Nightjar, etc. are found here. 

    2. Hire Local Guide: One of the best ways to enjoy the rare species of flora and fauna of this wildlife sanctuary would be to hire a local guide or an ornithologist. These people are much more informative than the internet these days. Their daily work is to study birds, animals, and plants 

    3. Visit The Museum: As explained before, another chance to explore the wide range of flora and fauna, that’s prominent in and around Chinnar, is to visit the museum, located at the starting trail of the wildlife sanctuary. 

    Herein, travellers can spend either 2-4 hours or maybe the entire day studying about the local, seasonal, and rare birds, plants, and animals which are targeted recently or have been there for a long time.

    4. Lodge At Tree House For Bird Watching: Another option at hand for families is a day’s stay at the tree houses. There is a wide variety for these tree houses like Karakkad Tree Log and Squirrel House. Around the latter, the world’s second-largest grizzly squirrels can be spotted. It could be thrilling and exciting for the kids and bigger families.

    5. Go For A Jungle Safari For Better Exposure: This Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is home to primates like Nilgiri Langur, Wild Boar, Spotted Deer, Jungle Cat, and so many others. Though it is not possible to spot all of them at once. For that, jungle safari rides are the best. 

    Visitors can tour in groups, and with cameras or binoculars, travellers can enjoy the natural exploration while the tour guide will keep explaining the particular areas as the jeep passes through the same.

    6. Tigers & Deers: There is a particular season for tigers and leopards to be spotted while you are on the Jungle Safari. However, the leopards and spotted deer are more common to witness than the tigers. 

    Safari at Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary 


    1. Whenever tourists plan for wildlife tourism, a Jeep Safari is a must. It gives a holistic experience in exploring the nature and habitat of a particular place. The same goes for Jeep Safari at Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. Herein, famously spotted exotic species include bison, elephants, monkeys, spotted deer, and others.

    2. As per the duration, it takes roughly 2 hours to explore the guided area for Jeep Safari. And tourists are allowed to bring video cameras, though extra charges might be applied for the photography/videography.

    3. Things that are advisable to carry along are Jackets (in winters), sunglasses and sunscreen (in summer), water bottles, and other necessary first-aid kits, in case of any emergency.

    4. Also, there is a provision for travellers to avail the night safaris as well. These safaris start from 10 PM to 12 PM. The average costing of the Jeep Safari might be around Rs 3000-4000 per Jeep, and the guide will also be assigned along the Safari.

    Other Important Information 


    Places to Stay near Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary

    1. Vasiyapara Ethnic Hut: It is built with tribal architecture. It is located near the swamp where trekking is done. Reporting time for lodging here would be 3 PM at the check post. Charges are Rs. 4000 only per two Indian tourists.

    2. Thoovanam Log House: This tree house has electricity and waterfall facing windows and entrance. Reporting time is 3 PM at Alampetty Eco-shop to lodge here for a day or two. Charges are Rs. 3000 only per two Indian visitors.

    3. Karakkad Tree House: It is a machan--the top tree house from where tourists can get a vast panoramic view of the jungle. Water and electricity are available around the clock here. Charges are Rs. 3000 only per two Indian tourists. 


    Places to Eat near Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary


    1. Wildcafe Coffee Shop: A cafe that is near about 11 minutes of drive from the Chinnar Wildlife Santuary’s entrance. Here tourists can get minimal number of snacks like cookies, biscuits, or sandwich with coffee to munch on.

    2. Jens Bakery Products: It is a bakery shop which is 9.2 Km far from the check post and has pastries, coffee, tea, and other local desserts to offer the tourists.

    3. Rahul Hote: It is around 20 minutes drive away from Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary and it is a typical Kerala restaurant. There are South Indian dishes like Dosa, Uttapam, etc available.


    Transportation

    - Journey to Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is pretty easy with ample options at hand. Private cars, taxis, railways, and roadways; almost every type of commute is possible to arrive here.
    - Travellers can hail a taxi from either of the places like Cochin, Madurai, Munnar, Calicut, or other towns nearby. Besides that, to reach these towns, either you would need to board a train or opt for airways.
    - There is also a regular bus service, around Kalamassery to Angamaly or from Pathom to Munnar. Afterwards, taxi services from Munnar are convenient to hire.
    - However, to explore inside the sanctuary, it is advisable to go on foot for trekking or hire a local guide. Otherwise, a Jeep Safari is the best bet.


    Medical Facilities


    - Medical facilities would not be much of a problem around Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. There is a medical hospital named Government Ayurveda Tribal Dispensary which is about 8-10 minutes from the forest area.
    - Except that, there are 3 medical facilities, south of the forest area namely the Adams Hospital, Govt. Hospital and Primary Health Centre. All these are near to each other but around 9 KM away from the sanctuary.
    - So, for immediate medical needs, we advise every traveller to carry a medical kit in the backpack.


    Network Connectivity


    Travellers have been continually uploading videos and photos during their ride to Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary on social media platforms. Hence, there is no such connectivity problem while on the tracks for Jeep Safari and around. 

    However, there might be network connectivity issues on the hilly areas or inside the depth of the forest.

Attractions

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Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary

Skirted by Eravikulam National Park in the south and by the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary in the north, Chinnar wildlife sanctuary is home to the famous endangered India grizzled giant squirrel, and also a soothing habitat for Elephants, Hanuman Monkeys, tufted grey langur, Gaur, Spotted Deer, Crocodile, Tiger, slender Loris, Leopard along with a plethora of plant and bird species.

The Forest Department and the Eco-development Committees of the local tribal communities encourage eco-tourism in the sanctuary enabling a wild encounter in a friendlier manner.

Location: 
Munnar - Udumalpet Road, Munnar, Kerala 685612

Timings: 8 AM - 5 PM

Entry fee: INR 10 for Indian adults, INR 5 for children and INR 100 for foreign nationals.

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