Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, which also includes the former Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary, is located in the Western Ghat mountain regions of Southern India. The tiger reserve also constitutes part of the border regions between the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Parambikulam Tiger Reserve (www.parambikulam.org) is situated at a distance of 89 kilometers from Palakkad and 44 km from Pollachi, adjacent to Anamalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu. Although Parambikulam belongs to the state of Kerala, it is accessible only via Pollachi in Tamilnadu. The Western Ghats mountain range along with Anamalai Hills and Parambikulam is currently under consideration for selection as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Latitudes: 10˚ 20’ to 10˚ 26’ North; Longitudes: 76˚ 35’ to 76˚ 50’ East.
The park was started in 1973. It was declared as Tiger Reserve during 2009 with total area of 643.66 Sq. Km., which includes core area of 390.89 Sq. Km. and 252.77 Sq. Km. Buffer area.
The park is thickly forested with bamboo and other such tropical wet and evergreen trees. The terain is hilly owing to it being a part of the western ghats. The reserve supports diverse habitat types viz., evergreen forests, semi evergreen, moist deciduous, dry deciduous and shola forests. Other unique habitats like montane grasslands and marshy grasslands locally known as ‘vayals’ are also found here. Considerable extent of man-made Teak plantations and presence of three dams of deep freshwater ecosystem created under Parambikulam Aliyar Project added to the diversity of Parambikulam.
Flora and Fauna
Parambikulam has a rich treasure of 1438 species of flowering plants falling under 704 genera and 136 families. It includes 81 species of Orchids both terrestrial and epiphytic. The natural forests of the Reserve are a rich treasure of medicinal plants. About 50 endangered medicinal plants are found in the Karianshola (MPCA) alone in addition to the common species. About 17 of them are already listed in the Red Data Book of IUCN which emphasizes the importance of their conservation. There are about 285 rare endemic and endangered species of flora found in the Sanctuary. Haplothismia exannulata, a monotypic genus of Burmanniaceae rediscovered here after 1951. Coscinium fenestratum, Utleria salicifolia, the IUCN 'redlisted' medicinal plants endemic to Anamalais are also found here, apart from Syzygium palghatense, Pteroceras monsooniae and Medinilla anamalaina, which are endemic to Parambikulam Tiger Reserve.
The sanctuary includes 36 species of mammals, 16 species of amphibians, 268 species of birds, 61 species of reptiles, 47 species of fish, 124 species of butterflies and more than a thousand species of insects. The animals consist of lion-tailed Macaque, Nilgiri Tahr, elephant, tiger, pantThe common species found here are Asian Elephant, Gaur, Royal Bengal Tiger, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Barking Deer, Common Langur, Nilgiri Langur, Malabar Giant Squirrel, Sloth Bear, Panther Wild Dog etc. The common birds found are Drongos, Bee-eaters, Treepies, Mynas, Woodpeckers, Kingfishers and Birds of prey. Reptiles like Pythons, King Cobras, Pit Vipers, Lizards and Tortoises are also found. The rare species include Tiger, Lion-tailed Macaque, Mouse Deer, Nilgiri Tahr, Nilgiri Marten, Great Pied Hornbill, Peninsular Bay Owl, King Cobra, Cane Turtle, etc. Besides Tomopterna parambikulamana, an endemic frog of Parambikulam and Garra surendranathanii, an endemic sucker fish of Parambikulam are worth mentioning.
The area falls under intense monsoon showers, both south-west and north-east monsoon. The average annual rainfall is 1600 mm. The reserve experiences wet tropical climate with temperature varies from 150C to 320C. The reserve has altitude ranging from 300 msl to 1438 msl.
Pollachi, Palakkad and Coimbatore are the nearest towns. From Palakkad and Coimbatore, you must go via Pollachi and Topslip to enter Parambikulam Tiger Reserve.
Coimbatore airport is the nearest international airport to Parambikulam - approximately 100 km (via Pollachi and Topslip). International flights to Singapore, Sharjah are available by Silk Air (A subsidary of Singapore Airlines), Air Arabia and Srilankan Airlines. Domestic airlines fly to Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and other Indian cities.
There are only three bus trips to/ from Parambikulam on a daily basis. Two TNSTC buses start from Pollachi, and one KSRTC bus start from Palakkad. TNSTC bus starts from Pollachi at approximately 6.15 AM and 3.15 PM. KSRTC bus start from Palakkad at approximately 8.00 AM. KSRTC bus touches Kozhinjampara and Pollachi enroute. The KSRTC bus starts the return journey from Parambikulam at approximately 12.30 PM, while the TNSTC buses start their return journey at approximately 8.45 AM and 5.45 PM. These timings are tentative, and it is best to confirm these timings from the bus stations before one finalises the journey. Those who are traveling by bus and plans to go for a vehicle safari inside the tiger reserve should get down at Anappady, and visit the Information Centre at Anappady for purchasing tickets.
Coimbatore Junction (85 km) and Palakkad Junction (100 km) are the nearest railway stations. At present, all train services in Pollachi-Coimbatore; Pollachi - Palani, Dindigul; Pollachi - Palakkad sections are stopped due the Meter Gauge to Broad Gauge conversions. Hope the Broad Gauge work will be over by 2011. After that, visitors will have direct train services until Pollachi.
For the day visitor, there are park-managed vehicles that takes a visitor on a park safari. Private vehicles are allowed inside the reserve only if they have a prior booking for an overnight stay.
As there are only 2 buses per day, hiring taxis will be the viable option, if you want to cover both Topslip and Parambikulam on the same day. Though there are lot of tourist taxis from Pollachi, it may not be easy to get one during peak seasons or when film shootings happen around the town. It is therefore advisable to book your cab in advance and ask your tour guide or cab driver to pick you from Coimbatore Railway station, Airport, Bus terminus or Pollachi Bus Terminus.
Malayalam and Tamil are spoken but basic English is understood.
The visiting time is from morning 7:00 A.M to evening 6:00 P.M. Entry fee for light vehicles is Rs.50 and for heavy vehicles is Rs.150. A 3 hour van Safari will cost Rs. 150 per head. Private vehicles are not allowed inside the park unless you have booked your accommodation in Parambikulam in-advance. Van Safari is possible only when there are 20 people. If not you must buy the tickets for 20 people (Rs. 3000) and share it.
Community based ecotourism programmes provides a major share of employment to the tribals living in the Tiger Reserve. There are multiple eco-tourism packages. These activities are operated within the Buffer Zone of the tiger reserve with the help of local tribal guides.
Toilet facilities are available at three locations - near Parambikulam check-post, near the Information Centre at Anappady, and at Parambikulam town.
For the day visitors, Vengoli Cafe, located inside the reserve, provides eating options. While the names sounds exotic, the menu here is limited. The cafe provides Idli and Dosa for breakfast, meals for lunch, and chappathi for dinner. Some Kerala favorite snacks such as pazhampori are available in adddition to the usual packaged snacks such as biscuits. This restaurant is located near the information centre at Anappadi.
There are few eateries at Parambikulam. They also provide some eating options, menu being limited.
Multiple options are available for stay inside the reserve, managed by the forest department. The website of the reserve (www.parambikulam.org) provides these details. Tree Top houses that must be booked well in advance.
Do not tease wild animals and stay away from them. Beware of lone elephants and never attempt to tease them or take pictures as they may turn violent in no time.
Do not try to do any activity after 6 PM here.
Usage of alcohol and tobacco related products is not allowed inside the tiger reserve. Campfires are not allowed inside the reserve.
Bringing a binocular would be helpful to have a closer look at the fauna of the sanctuary.
Umbrella/ rain jacket and rain pants will be of help if there are rains.
Wear a shoe (especially a hiking shoe) if you are planning for a trek.
It is advisable to wear light colored clothing that have colors that align with the forest environment - light brown, light green etc. Avoid contrasting colors (such as red, white) when you are visiting a forest.
BSNL is the only network that works here and rest simply do not work. Please be aware that none of your datacards like Tataphoton/Reliance netconnect,etc will work. There is some payphones available in the tea shops and your accomodation.