Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the rain shadow region of the western ghats in the Idukki district of Kerala. Declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1984, the area is covered with mixed vegetation which includes dry deciduous forests, high sholas and wet grasslands.
The altitudinal variation of the region that ranges from 500 to 2400 mts blesses it with a diverse variety of flora and fauna. The sanctuary is home to some of the highest peaks including Kottakombumalai (2144 mts), Vellaikalmalai (1863 mts) and Viriyottumalai (1845 mts). The wildlife sanctuary is located at easily approachable distances from the Eravikulam National Park and Annamalai Wildlife Sanctuary.
Flora and Fauna: Due to the significant variation in altitude and rainfall, Chinnar has a wide array of habitat types like deciduous forests, dry thorn scrub, riparian forests, shoals and grassland.It has about 1000 species of flowering plants and is a well known respository of medicinal plants.There are 114 endemics and Aibizia lathamii,a critically endangered tree has been recently reported from the dry frosts. Chinnar has recorded the largest number of reptilian fauna in Kerala including the mugger crocodile. With 225 recorded species of birds,it is one of the richest areas of south India in avian diversity.The riverine forests support a healthy population of the endangered Grizzled Giant Squirrel, the pride of Chinnar.The famous and extremely rare white bison has been recently reported.Other important mammals found are elephant, tiger, leopard, guar, sambar, spotted deer, Nilgiri tar, common langur, bonnet macaque etc.The phenomenon of butterfly migration occurs in between the monsoons.
Major Wildlife Attractions: A drive of a few kilometers in the park along the road will introduce you to a variety of bird and butterfly species, especially the Lepidoptera. The park is home to more than 225 species of birds including Peafowl, Bulbul, Flycatcher, Kingfisher, Drongo, Bushchats, Hoopoes and other rare species such as the green-billed malcoha.
Besides these, other wild attractions of the area include animals like the common mongoose, huge mammals such as Elephants and Gaur, some species of deer including sambar and cheetal, a leopard or perhaps even a tiger.
A major attraction is the highly endangered Grizzled Squirrel, which can be seen playing around on the trees near the Chinnar checkpost.
Other Attractions: The forest department does not offer any conducted safaris, however there are other options like the ‘river trekking programme’ (from 6 to 11 AM & 3 to 6 PM, Rs. 50/person) and the ‘trek to thoovanam waterfall’ (Rs. 35/person). Other options include the trek to the pre-historic dolmens. Bookings can be made for all these programmes from the checkpost or the Eravikulam wildlife warden’s office.
Best Time to Visit: The best time to sight The Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is in Winter months
(The sanctuary remains open throughout the year).
How to Get there:
Air: Cochin International Airport is the nearest airport. Cochin is connected by regular flights from Delhi
Rail: Ernakulam is the nearest railhead, connected by daily trains from Delhi
Road: The Munnar-Udumalpet road passes through the sanctuary providing an easy access to the place. State transport buses provide regular services from all the major neighboring cities. Another option is to hire a taxi or travel in your own four wheeler.
General Info / Tips:
Some of the sanctuary charges include Entry Fee : Rs. 10 (Indians) & Rs. 100 (foreigners), Vehicle Entry : Rs. 150 (heavy vehicle), Rs. 50 (light vehicle) & Rs. 20 (other vehicles).
Sanctuary timings are 7 AM to 5 PM
Remember that this is an elephant country and walking or driving around the road, especially at night should be avoided.
The Eco development committee situated next to the Chinnar forest checkpost is the place from where most of the activities are organised. You can also hire a guide from here.
Watchtowers have been built all over the place, which are specially good for observing the wildlife.
Munnar (60 Kms.)
Elephant, Gaur, Deer