Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary

Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary

photo by Jagadeesh SJ

Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary

Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary is a large expanse of land set aside as a protected area near the Chittur taluk in Palakkad. The park was established in 1972 and covers a total area of 285 square kilometres. It is nestled between the Nelliapathy and Anaimalai Hills. The sanctuary welcomes visitors and provides accommodation. It is fantastic location to go bird watching.

Park Structure The sanctuary is divided into three zones, which are in place to ensure to protection of the biodiversity within it. Unlike some wildlife sanctuaries, you can only enter the tourist-designated zone. The other two zones are the core zone and buffer zone. No outside influence is allowed to enter the core zone, with occasional research exemptions. This is to ensure it remains an undisturbed habitat for the preservation of the animals and plants. The buffer zone is habitat that is currently being improved to bring it back to previous levels of naturalness. When it reaches the correct point it will be changed to the core zone. The sanctuary is bordered by other sanctuaries. This combined with strict access to much of it, makes it the most protected habitat in this area.

Accommodation You can choose from a number of different accommodations in the sanctuary. These include a treetop hut and the raised tent niche. Accommodation is basic, but clean and hot water for showers is available. One thing visitors have reported is that it can get cold at night and that the blanket provided was not warm enough. If you are worried that you will get cold, try to bring a sleeping bag with you.

What You Can Do All activities at the sanctuary are escorted by a guide due to the closeness of potentially dangerous wild animals. Accommodation and activities are booked as packages; all meals are included too.

The Habitat The sanctuary is known as a biodiversity hotspot and is home to thousands of mammal, bird, insect, amphibian, reptile, and plant species; many of which are endangered. Animals you may be lucky to spot, include the leopard, the sloth bear, various birds of prey, woodpeckers, cobras, and the common langur. The sanctuary is also a designated tiger reserve. However, even though tigers live here, they are rare and you would be very lucky to spot one.

There are nearly 1,500 different types of flowering plants, including 67 types of orchid and one of India's oldest and biggest teak trees.

When to Go Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary is set amongst lush, tropical vegetation. Its tropical climate means that is gets regular rainfall with temperatures reaching 32C. March is the hottest time of year to go, while January is usually the coolest month. For the least chance of rain visit around January. July is usually the wettest time of year. Each activity is scheduled, so make sure you arrive on time, or you may miss something. Activities include a jungle safari, dusk drive, rafting, nature education, tribal dancing, and a bird watching trek. The bird watching trek is said to be particularly good.

Getting There To get to the sanctuary, you need to take the road from Pollachi, which is 39km. It is the only road into the sanctuary and also passes through the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary. Pollachi is accessible by train and is 45km from Palakkad town. It is possible to hire a chauffeur from Pollachi to take you to Parambikkulam. You can also take a bus from Pollachi. There are two buses per day leaving at 6.15am and 3.15pm.

Booking It is notoriously hard to book a visit to the sanctuary from outside India. Email addresses are listed, but people at the camp say they do not have email as to why emails go unanswered. The best way to book is to go to a local Palakkad tourist information centre and ask them to book for you. You can also try booking over the phone by calling tel. 944 220 1690 (mobile) or 04253 245025.