The beautiful Eravikulam National Park is situated in the high ranges of the southern western ghats, a short distance from the tea town of Munnar. The place is especially known for supporting a large population of the Nilgiri tahr, a mountain goat seen in parts of south India.
Once a hunting reserve for the British, the place was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1975 and further accorded the status of a national park in 1978. The lush green surroundings are the result of the abundant rainfall that it receives. Temperatures may dip below the freezing point at night time during winters.
The park remains open for visitors throughout the year except for a small period between January and March. The best time to visit the park are the months of September and October, when the entire area is covered with greenery and blooming flowers and which is also the best time for animal spotting.
Flora and Fauna:
Eravikulam National Park harbours the largets surviving population of Nilgiri tahr (Hemitragus hylocrius). This endangerd animal is endemic to the southern Western Ghats. Its nearest relative is the Himalayan tahr. The fully grown male is known as ‘saddle back’ is much bigger and darker than the female and has a silvery saddle like patch on its back. Mating takes place during monsoons and the birth season is January-February. The estimated population of tahr inside the park is about 700. Wild dog, leoperd and tiger are the main predators. Apart from tahr, other little known animals such as Nilgiri marten, small clawed otter, ruddy mongoose, and dusky striped squirrel are also found. Elephants make seasonal visits.
About 120 species of birds have been recorded which include endemics like black and ornage flycatcher, Nilgiri pipit, Nilgiri wood pegeon, white bellied shortwing, Nilgiri verditer flycatcher and Kerala laughing thrush. Endemics confined to the shola-grass land ecosystem like the red disk bushbrown and Palni fourwing are among the 100 odd butterflies listed inside the park.
The shola-grassland ecosystem is a strange admixture of temprature and tropical qualities due to the combined effects of altitude as well as latitude. It is exceptionally rich in orchids and balsams. The spectacular mass flowering of the shrub neelakurunji (Phlebophyllum kunthianum) takes place in the grasslands in cycles of the 12yrs. The next neelakurunji ‘outburst’ is due in the year 2018.
Major Wildlife Attractions: The national park has a large variety of flora and fauna with over 26 species of mammals, 132 species of birds, 101 species of butterflies, 19 species of amphibians and 20 species of orchids already registered in the park books.
Besides the Nilgiri tahr, other fauna found in the park includes the elephant, Nilgiri langur, Nilgiri marten, small-clawed otter and a rare tiger or leopard. Avian residents register their presence with over hundred species including the Nilgiri wood pigeon, Kerala laughing thrush and the white bellied shortwing. Other added attractions of the place are the beautiful and colorful butterflies and the blooming orchids.
Vehicles are not allowed inside the sanctuary. Tourists have the option of walking from the Rajamallay checkpost up to the core area of the park. While walking, keep an eye for the tahr. An interpretation centre is located near the checkpost.
Best Time to Visit: Eravikulam National Park is in the months of September and October.
How to Get there:
Air: Kochi is the nearest airport.
Rail: The nearest railway station in Kerala is Aluva (120 Km away from Munnar) and in Tamil Nadu is
Coimbatore (165 Km)
Road: To reach the place from Kochi, take the NH49 to Munnar from where a state road leads to the Eravikulam National Park. Alternately to access the park from Coimbatore, take the NH209 to Udumalpet via Pollachi. From here, follow the state road to Eravikulam via Amaravathy.
General Info / Tips:
The park receives plenty of rainfall and the tourists should be prepared for rainfall any time of the day.
Entry tickets can be purchased from the Rajamallay checkpost, about 5 km from the main road.
After purchasing the tickets, the visitors can walk along the road till the core area, where tourist entry is not permitted.
Some of the park charges include Entry fee : Rs. 15 (Indians) & Rs. 200 (foreigners), Vehicle entry : Rs. 200 (heavy vehicles), Rs. 50 (light vehicles)
Avoid littering in the place, especially non biodegradable material like polythene bags, which can even lead to the death of animals.
Public conveyance facilities like buses and taxi, telephone, fax, postal, internet and e-mail facilities are available at Munnar. Boarding and lodging facilities of various categories exist in this small township.
Munnar (15 Kms.)