Lying adjacent to the Annamalai Wildlife Sanctuary, the 285 sq km stretch
of forest known as the Parambikulam Sanctuary is one of Keralas premier
wildlife reserves. Parambikulam lies in the Annamalai Hills, south of the
Palghat Gap in the Western Ghats. The areas 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 Indias finest stands
of teak; most of these, however, have now been replaced by teak plantations.
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 Parambikulams prime attractions.
Parambikulams animal species include many of Indias most
prominent mammals: tigers, leopards, wild dogs, sloth bears, elephants,
wild boar, barking deer, spotted deer, langurs and macaques. Parambikulam
is also home to Keralas 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
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,
its Rs 10.
Permits are issued by the Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) at
Thiruvananthpuram (Tel: 62217), the Field Director, Project Tiger at Kottayam,
and the Divisional Forest Officer at Parambikulam.
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 Parambikulams
two watch towers for a bit of wildlife-watching. One tower is at Anappadi
(8 km from Thunakadavu) and the others at Zungam, 5 km from Thunakadavu.
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.