Silent Valley National Park

Silent Valley National Park

photo by Anoop Madhavan

Silent Valley National Park

Silent Valley National Park is one of India's most untouched and pristine natural environments. It is part of the larger Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve at Palakkad District in Kerala, South India. Its landscapes of mountains and somewhat inaccessible terrain is what ensured it stayed intact over the years. Its tropical forests have created an ecological hotspot. The 90 square kilometer park is always buzzing with the sounds of its inhabitants and located in Palakkad's northeast.

Habitat
The park is densely forested and includes the Nilgiri plateau and the crystal clear waters of the River Kunthi. It contains around 1,000 different plants, including lichens and orchids. Animals that live here are truly in their natural environment. It is home to elephants, lion tailed macaque, tigers, Nilgiri Tahir, leopards, butterflies, and king cobra; to name a few. When you visit, it is unlikely that you will see a tiger or elephant, as they are so used to living undisturbed that they would rarely venture towards the road that you travel on, but you could get lucky. You will most likely see a variety of birds, the Malabar squirrel, and lion tailed macaque, a native monkey with a distance silver mane.

Visiting
The park is open to visitor all year round, however it does not allow camping within it. It is best to avoid the hottest time of the summer because due to the heat the animals tend to stay hidden and less active. The best time of year to visit is between December and April. It is also good to avoid monsoon season. Even though you cannot camp, there is some basic but comfortable accommodation in Mukkali. When you enter the park make sure to bring water and snacks as your guides do not provide this. It is very important that you do not leave any food or garbage in the park, always bring it out with you and dispose of it properly. Also, make sure you are dressed appropriately to a jungle environment. This means good hiking boats and khaki colored clothing. It will also help you avoid leeches, which are common on some areas of the trail.

Getting There
To get to Silent Valley you need to go to Mukkali via the road from Mannarkad, which is 20km. You need permission to enter the park, which can be obtained from the Wildlife Warden in Mannarkad or the office in Mukkali. Entry is permitted only from 8am to 1pm. Once at the park, you have two options ¨C either trek from Mukkali or travel in one of the park's jeeps to Sairandhri. You cannot drive a regular vehicle into the park. Sairandhri is a forest station at the edge of the park's core region. Once in Sairandhri it is possible to enjoy the waters of the River Kunthi and climb to the top of the watchtower for some excellent views. It is a good idea to bring binoculars with you as it increases your chances of spotting wildlife.
You can either drive yourself to Mukkali or take a bus to the park. There is a bus from Palakkad town train station to Manarkkad, where you then change for a bus to Mukkali.


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