There is no exaggeration if you say that Parambikulam is the Wildlife capital of Kerala as there is no other place in the state where you can spot wild life in such abundance as in Parambikulam. The destination is a fine blend of everything that you expect in a Wildlife Sanctuary. Nature lovers are welcomed here with the saying “Once the entire world was wild, then we came we remade the world as we desired and now we wonder how the world was like earlier, this place shows how it was all like”. These words become absolutely true when you feel the beauty of the place while moving into the arms of the nature. The sanctuary is now a Tiger Reserve also. The way in which the sanctuary is maintained is highly appreciable. With proper restrictions and strictness the authorities are successful in allowing only the interested tourists/true nature lovers to explore the destination. Thanks to the effort put in by the Kerala Forest Department.
Day 1 (22.05.2010)
We (Shinu, Anoj and I) started our journey from Trivandrum at 4.30AM in a WagonR and in order to avoid the heavy rush through NH we decided to move via MCRoad ie via Kottarakkara Adoor- Chengannoor- Changanassery- Kottayam- Ettumanoor- Koothattukulam- Muvattupuzha – Vazhappally- Perumbavoor- Kalady. We had our breakfast from Koothattukulam. One could see the Pineapple cultivation in Muvattupuzha side which I was told is that of Mauritius origin. Although Kodanad the elephant training camp is near Kalady, we didn’t have enough time to visit there. We entered the National Highway in Angamaly and instead of going via Thrissur we agreed upon Shinu’s decision to go via Athirappally, Valparai Pollachi road to enjoy the scenic beauty of that route. Though I have been through this route with family, I couldn’t enjoy the drive as much I did this time. It’s safer to travel through this route without family.
Athirapplly can be accessed easily from Angamaly via Karayamparambu and through Planatation Corporation area. We could almost save 18 KM going via this route. But roads were not that good. We reached Athirappally at about 11AM. After spending half an hour enjoying the beauty of the waterfalls we moved further towards Valparai which is about 84 KM through dense forest. There is always a danger of elephant crossings and traffic through this route is very low. I think it is the longest public route through forest area after Pathanamthitta Kumily road via Gavi. We reached Valparai at about 2.45PM via Peringalkutthu, Malakkappara, which is the Kerala border. In between one could see Lower Sholayar Dam, penstock to Sholayar Power House. The Upper sholayar dam belongs to Tamil Nadu. After Malakkappara, where there is a forest check post and Police Station, most of the areas are tea plantations. This area is known for Leopards entering residential areas of plantation workers and attacking children. So there is always a danger to move via this route during night time.
After having lunch from the Green Hill Restaurant, Valparai we moved at about 3.45 PM. We took a break at Attakketti and had a good glimpse of Lower Aliyar Dam and Upper Aliyar Dam from the TNEB Guest House with the help of Bhadran who is known to Shinu. We then had to get down covering 42 hair pin bends down the hill to reach Aliyar Dam sight. After the dam via Kottor, which is the easiest route, we reached Anamalai (9KM) at about 7.15PM. As it was already late we didn’t try our luck to go to Parambikulam that night and settled in VPR Lodge (Ph: 04253-282250), near Masani Amman Kovil in Anamalai. An A/c room was charged 650/- We had good food from a small restaurant nearby. Anamalai is somewhat a moderate city where there are mobile towers and ATM centres (SBI). After going for a walk through the streets we settled in the room after 11PM.
DAY 2 (22.05.2010)
We had Darsan at Masani Amman Koil, Anamalai which had quite heavy rush during the morning time. From Anamalai, Topslip is almost 25 KM. We started at about 6 AM for Parambikulam. Till Sethumadai, roads are in good condition. For entry to Topslip Tamil Nadu forest Department charges Rs 15/- per person as entry fee and Rs 25/- for the vehicle. The check post authorities checks the vehicles and issues a bag to keep any plastic wastes. There is also a check post in Top Slip which belongs to Tamil Nadu. Permission need to be taken to enter the Kerala Forest Area for private vehicles.
After top slip is the Kerala forest area which is lush green and dense. The Kerala forest check post at the entry itself is a good building. We were amazed to see a peacock welcoming us to Parambikulam with the traditional dance spreading his plumage. That was something rare that one could see in such a close distance. We also saw Bisons, Deer, and Monkeys on the way itself. We reached the Parambikulam Check Post at about 8AM and after paying the required fees for the Tram way trek we moved further. Babu, our guide, joined us and we proceeded towards Parambikulam via Thoonakkadavu. At Thoonakkadavu there is a good tree top where the forest department provides accommodation. The details can be obtained from the official website of Parambikulam (www.parambikulam.org). We reached Parambikulam at about 8.30AM. We had our breakfast from a small hotel there. The food is tasty but there is no guarantee for the water. We had covered a total distance of 472KM from Trivandrum to reach Parambikulam via Valparai route.
Tramway Trek in Parambikulam
After parking the vehicle at the Forest office, we started our 20KM Tramway trek at about 10AM. Babu, and Sulaiman, forest guides accompanied us with sleeping beds and required materials for the preparation of food. We moved beside Parambikulam Dam and reached the starting point of tram service which was operated by the Britishers to transport heavy wood from Parambikulam forest to Chalakkudy. The remainings of the rail heads and other items were found. Most of the good materials have been taken over by some private agencies on winding up of this service by the Britishers.
The forest was quite dense and even after one KM walk we could see pack of wolves attacking and killing a deer. Even within a short span of time the wolves had eaten half of the prey and on seeing us they ran inside the forest and were hiding behind the trees. Babu told that they will be coming back soon after our departure to eat the remaining part of the deer left over there. Babu was skillful in identifying and smelling the presence of animals. We saw several peacocks, deer and bison in between. Amazing thing about the animals in Parambikulam is that they are never frightened of human presence and here all live in tandem. After 8 km walk through the forest we reached Salim Ali Centre where there is Forest Range Office. We took half an hour break there.
We can see a watch tower at rather good height which belongs to Forest Department. This forest range is also having good number of Sandal wood and therefore there is night patrolling to track poachers. The skills of Britishers in construction of bridges are admirable and these bridges are still strong enough. We got lot of information from Babu about their experience in forest and things going on there. Gopalakrishnan, one of the tribes who work as laison also joined us and he was explaining us their grievances. This helped us to forget the long walk and strain that we had to undergo to cover this 20KM trek.
We had our lunch at Medanchalu which is enroute to Orukomban where the trek ends. We chilled ourselves by having a dip in the river before having our lunch which made us fresh. We reached Orukomban at about 4.30PM after a long "effortless" walk of 20KM. We were provided accommodation in the one of the forest cottages which is having only limited facilities as it is deep inside the forest. I was stunned to know from Babu that Vazhachal is not more than 15KM if we travel through the forest. But there is no specific route and these guys go by walk through this route quite often. River is nearby and we had a nice and long bath in the river in the evening. After dinner prepared by Sulaiman, we settled in the room early as we were all very tired.
Day 3 (23.05.2010)
We were lucky to get a forest jeep going to Parambikulam from Orukomban and thus we could avoid the 20KM walk back. We had arranged local sight seeing in Parambikulam with the help of Gopalakrishnan. Tunnel view,the place where the water from Parambikulam reservoir is taken and Kannimara Teak, which is the largest teak, are the main attractions in addition to some other sight seeing spots.
We were lucky enough to escape from the attack of an elephant on our way to Tunnel view. We could spot the elephant only when we reached so close to him in a turning road. He got irritated with the red colour of the vehicle and Sulaiman tactfully faced the situation with less panic. Even though we waited there for so long, the elephant didn’t move an inch. He was standing there as if he was doubtful that we would cause danger to his group. We managed to escape from the spot after waiting for a long time. We could also spot a huge bison in a gap of 10metres. It was oily black but due to heavy risk we could take a snap of the bison from inside the vehicle only.
After having lunch from Parambikulam, we returned at about 3PM via Sethumadai, Pollachi- Thrissur road to reach Wadakkancherry via Nenmara which is the easiest route to reach Trivandrum. After a long drive (almost 350KM) we reached Trivandrum late night.