Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary shelters an incredible number of rare plants and animal species which are typical to the thorny vegetation. Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is bounded by Eravikulam National Park in the south and Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary in north and Kodaikanal Wildlife Sanctuary on the eastern side. The sanctuary is situated in the rain shadow region of the Western Ghats., and the altitude varies from 500 to 2400 metres.
Apart from the thorny vegetation, the undulating terrain also comprises of deciduous forests, dry thorny forest, shoals (on the higher altitudes) and grasslands. The vegetation is interspersed with plains, hillocks, rocks and cliffs.
There are 965 species of flowering plants in the sanctuary, and plants having medicinal properties are also found here. The Marayoor Sandalwood forest is located in the sanctuary.
The two perennial rivers Pambar and Chinnar dance through the area. Around 34 species of mammals have made this sanctuary their home. The habitat also houses around 225 species of birds.
Flora: Acacia arabica (karivelam), acacia leucofolia (velvelam), santalum album (chandanam), anogeissuslatifolia (mazhukanjiram), elaeocarpus recurvatus (bhadraksham), strobilanthus kunthianus (neelakurinji), and more.
Fauna: Panthers, spotted deer, Indian elephants, gaur, tigers, sambar deer, common langur, bonnet macaque, hanuman monkey, threatened nilgiri tahr, vulnerable rusty-spotted cats, vulnerable grizzled giant squirrels.
Reptiles: Species of snakes, Indian star tortoise and the largest population of vulnerable mugger crocodiles.
Fishes: Garra mullya minnows, river-carp baril,giant danio and the endangered hill stream game fish deccan mahseer, and more.
Avian-Fauna: Yellow-throated bulbuls, peafowl, bulbul, flycatcher, kingfisher, drongo, bushchats, hoopoes, and more. Some of the rare species such as green-billed malcoha lepidoptera have also made this sanctuary their home.
Gizzled Giant Squirrel: The riverine forests along with Chinnar and Pambar support a large number of highly endangered Grizzled Giant Squirrels. The sanctuary plays host to the second largest population of Grizzled Giant Squirrels in the world.
Thoovanam Waterfalls: Deep within the sanctuary, the spectacular Thoovanam waterfalls is located. The river Pambar flows eastwards through the sanctuary and plummets down from a great height on the river Chinnar. Indian Wildlife Department permit tourists to visit the falls as part of wildlife tourism.
Watch Tower: Standing on the lofty watchtower, one can have a panoramic view of the entire park and the wildlife beauties, adjoining jungles in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu and also the magnificent mountains far away.
Exact Location: Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is located 60 km from Munnar in the district of Idukki in Kerala.
Nearest Town: Munnar
Area: 90.44 sq. km.
Route: The nearest airports are in Cochin and Coimbatore. And the nearest railway stations are in Aluva and Pollachi. You can either take a flight or travel by train to any of these places and then proceed towards the Sanctuary. There are regular buses from these two airports and railway stations to reach the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. The park is also well connected by road with other major cities in Kerala.
Best Time to Visit: December to April.
Things to keep in mind
- Sanctuary timings are from 7 AM to 5 PM.
- Its an elephant country, so it is better to avoid walking or driving around the road, especially in the night.
- One can hire a guide from the Eco development committee situated next to the Chinnar forest check post.
Munnar: This picturesque plantation town is located in the South Western Ghats. Munnar is fast becoming a major tourist destination in Kerala. Along with offering plenty of visual treat for nature lovers, this town also offers boating, trekking, parasailing, hot air ballooning, camping, wild life safari opportunities to explore.