On our way to Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, the entire stretch of the Anamalai forest seemed draped in a vast green cover. We visited here right after a bountiful monsoon. The Anamalai forest serves as an entry point to Parambikulam.
Tucked away between Anamalai Hills and Nelliyampathy Hills in the southern region of the Western Ghats, this tiger reserve lies in Palakkad district of Kerala.
It was established as a wildlife sanctuary in 1973 covering 285 sq km, upgraded to a tiger reserve in 2010 with an extended area spanning over 643 sq km.
From nature trails and beautiful dams to extensive teak plantations, the reserve is like a forest wonderland.
Here is all I gathered from my excursion to Parambikulam Tiger Reserve to help you plan your trip.
A Quick Glance Through
- Things To See and Do
- How To Reach
- Best Time To Visit
- Where To Eat
- Travel Tips
Things To Do and See
Parambikulam Tiger Reserve is a veritable treasure trove of exciting natural attractions that you must not miss.
1. Abundant Wildlife
One of the major attractions of the reserve is Royal Bengal Tiger but it’s not easy to spot them in a dense forest.
The tiger reserve is home to many other forms of wildlife including gaur (bison), spotted deer, Asian elephant, birds, reptiles, fishes and butterflies.
This forest is heaven for birdwatchers as birds of more than 250 species can be found here. Peacock is one of the commonly spotted birds in the reserve.
Our safari stopped for a moment when we saw a peacock crossing the road, unfazed by the presence of the vehicles.
Check this post, if you are interested to know which are some of the best places to sight wild peacocks in India.
The vast expanse of the forests along the Western Ghats serves as an important habitat for wild elephants.
We bumped into a male elephant as our safari went deeper into the forest. It wasn’t with its herd and quickly retreated into the dense bushes.
Check this post if you want to know, which are the best wildlife destinations for sighting wild elephants in India.
Snake sightings are not uncommon in the forests of Parambikulam Tiger Reserve. I stumbled upon this snake when we stepped out from the safari vehicle at one of the halt points in the forest.
2. Kannimara Teak
Your trip to Parambikulam is incomplete without visiting the majestic Kannimara teak tree in the forest.
Famed as one of the oldest and largest teak trees in the world, Kannimara teak is a major tourist attraction of Parambikulam Tiger Reserve.
Standing 40 m from the ground and measuring 7 m girth (circumference), the tree is said to be more than 450 years old.
This tree has been awarded ‘Mahavriksha Puraskar’ by the Government of India in 1994. It is considered sacred by the tribal communities living in and around the forest.
3. Dams and Reservoirs
Located on the Parambikulam river, there are three dams inside the reserve – Thunakkadavu, Parambikulam and Peruvaripallam.
These water reservoirs are used for meeting the irrigation and power generation needs of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Our guide told us that mugger crocodiles are often sighted sunbathing at the bank of the river.
You can hire rowboats to enjoy boating at Thunakkadavu and Parambikulam. While boating, it’s not unlikely that you sight a herd of wild elephants welcoming you to their territory from a faraway river bank.
5. Trekking Adventure
A lot of ecotourism activities are encouraged inside Parambikulam Tiger Reserve. Trekking is allowed inside the forest with a guide. Many youngsters from the tribal communities living here serve as guides cum naturalists.
There are a number of trekking trails inside the Parambikulam forest. Each nature trail is known with a distinct name – Bear Path Trail, Pugmark Trail, Elephant Song Trail and Kariyanshola Trail.
Bear Path Trail is a 4 km long trekking trail that passes through vast teak plantations. This route is named so as it takes you to areas where sloth bear pugmarks might be seen.
Elephant Song Trail is another 4 km long trail passing through dense evergreen forests of Parambikulam.
We saw this jumbo footprint during our trek. You must be wondering, did we drop our mobile phone there!
No, it was just to get a rough idea of how big was the elephant who made his way through this part of the forest. There was nothing else available with us to measure the size.
Kariyanshola Trail is almost 6 km long that starts from Anappady Information Center via Rock point to Kariyanshola and further through a stretch of teak plantations.
The longest trekking route is 10 km long and known as Pugmark Trail. It begins from Peruvaripallam Dam winding its way through the Kannimara Teak, Thunakkadavu and eventually you return to Anappady.
Trekking is surely one of the most exciting ways to explore nature and wildlife. For those who love photography, you find numerous opportunities to capture some of the best wildlife shots.
6. Forest Camp
Parambikulam Tiger Reserve offers a large number of stay options within the forest area. You can stay in comfortable treetop huts or Forest Department’s tourist bungalow.
There are two treetop huts overlooking the picturesque reservoir, one at Thunakadavu and another at Parambikulam.
Peruvari Island Hut, a bamboo hut near Perivaripallam Dam also offers a great stay, with enticing views of the reservoir and lush green forest.
The hut is accessible only through a 30-minutes ride on a bamboo raft and it can accommodate up to 4 persons. Since there are no eateries nearby, carrying your own food is advisable.
For those who want to relax in the utmost serenity, there is a special cottage on Veettikunnu Island located on the Parambikulam reservoir.
Vettikunnu Island Nest cottages can only be reached by boat and accommodates a maximum of 5 visitors. You need to carry food from Parambikulam as there is no eatery on the island.
From the cottage, you can spot a lot of wild animals who stroll around the reservoir to drink water.
You can book the forest accommodation online. Check the official website of the reserve.
How To Reach Parambikulam Tiger Reserve
Parambikulam is well connected by road from nearby cities. Pollachi, roughly 41 km away is the nearest town to the reserve. It is easily reachable by road from Palakkad (90 km) via Pollachi and Coimbatore (100 km).
Access to the reserve is through Anamalai Wildlife Sanctuary. You first need to cross Tamilnadu Forest Division’s Sethumadai Checkpost, keep going on the same road till you reach Annapady Checkpost in Kerala.
Get your forest entry permit from Forest Information Center at Anappady. The Parambikulam forest safari ride starts from this point.
Palakkad Junction is the nearest railhead located in Kerala and it is almost 2 hours drive to the reserve from the station. The other nearest railway station is in Coimbatore. The reserve is around 2.5 hours drive from the station.
Both railway stations are well linked to cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai. Kanyakumari Express runs daily from Mumbai to Coimbatore and Palakkad.
Kerala Express runs daily from Delhi to Coimbatore and Palakkad. From Bangalore, Ernakulam Express runs on all days to Coimbatore and Palakkad.
Hire a taxi from the railway station to reach the reserve. You can catch a bus also but only a few buses ply from Coimbatore to Parambikulam.
Coimbatore International Airport (111 km) is the nearest airport to Parambikulam Tiger Reserve. Cochin International Airport (155 km) is the second nearest airport.
Both airports are connected with regular flights from many cities, such as Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai.
Given the limited number of buses from Coimbatore, the better option would be to rent a cab to reach Parambikulam.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Parambikulam Tiger Reserve is from the months of Septemeber to January. The reserve is sometimes closed from February onwards due to wildfire as the forest starts becoming dry.
Where To Eat
There are quite a few local eateries around the reserve who serve South Indian meal. Most of the forest accommodations have a cafe or small canteen nearby.
For those staying in Parambikulam or Thunakadavu treetop huts, there is a small cafe close to the hut. The choice of food is very limited. Traditional South Indian delicacies cooked with local spices are served.
Peruvari Island Hut and Veettikunnu Island Nest cottages don’t have any eatery nearby. Take your food along if you are staying overnight at these places.
- Book your accommodation in advance if you want to stay inside the reserve.
- Check with Forest Information Center if you are planning to visit anytime between February to August. The reserve closure dates are not fixed.
- The reserve gate remains open from 7 am to 6 pm but safari vehicles are not allowed to enter into the forest after 4 pm.
- Safari and Ecotourism package cost
- Jungle Safari – Rs 200 per head
- Combo package (including safari, trekking, rafting & food) – Rs 9700 per head
- Elephant Song Trekking Trail – Rs 1200 per head (For Indians), Rs 2400 per head (For Foreigners)
- Pugmark Trekking Trail – Rs 3600 per head (For Indians), Rs 6100 per head (For Foreigners)
- Bearpath Trekking Trail – Rs 1200 per head (For Indians), Rs 2400 per head (For Foreigners)
Here are the contact details of the Forest Office.
Parambikulam Tiger Reserve
Palakkad District, Kerala, India
Tel: +91-9442201690, +91-9442201691
Over To You Now…
Have you been to Parambikulam Tiger Reserve or planning a visit? Tell us in the comments below.
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