Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve
Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve / Wildlife Sanctuary
Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, the second-largest protected area in the state of Tamil Nadu, is located in the southern Western Ghats in Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari District.
The reserve covering a core area of nearly 895 square kilometres and a total extent of 1602 square kilometres (including the buffer/forest zone area) was created in the year 1988 by combining Kalakkad Sanctuary and Mundanthurai Wildlife Sanctuary.
More about the reserve
Rivers, Dams & Waterfalls – The reservoirs, waterfalls, dams and other water bodies attract tourists in huge numbers. The reserve has 14 rivers originating from it and so it is also referred to as the ‘River Sanctuary’. The rivers flow into three main watersheds namely Thamirabharani, Manimuthar and Upper Kodayar. The reserve also hosts 11 dams that include Karaiyar Dam, Kodumudiyar Dam, Servalar Dam, Papanasam – Upper and lower dam, Manimuthar Dam, Kadananathi Dam and Ramanathi Dam. The major waterfalls in the reserve are Banathirtham Falls near Karaiyar Dam, Agasthiyar Falls, Manimuthar Falls and Kalakkad Thalayanai.
Agriculture & Hydel Projects – Agriculture is the main occupation in the buffer area of the reserve, the irrigation of which is facilitated by the rivers originating from the reserve. The water from the rivers is also used for three hydroelectric power stations in the Tiger reserve.
Biological Values – The wide variation in climatic and topographical features of the reserve supports a variety of wildlife and floristic compositions. The place is rich in biodiversity and unique vegetation suitable for endemic flora, fauna and avian species. Bird watching, trekking and boat rides are other highlights of the Tiger Reserve. Trekking trails are to be experienced at the designated places with permission from the forest authorities.
Flora & Fauna – The reserve has a rich flora that includes endemic plants, reptiles, fishes, amphibians, birds and mammal species. The wildlife in the reserve includes tiger, leopard, elephant, guar, chital, Nilgiri tahr, giant squirrel and many other endemic and rare species of animals.
Human Settlement – The oldest race of inhabitants in the forest area are the Kanis or Malaiarasans. They are engaged in land cultivation and also employed as Forest Guards and Watchers and Anti-poaching watchers by the Forest Department. Their expert knowledge of the forest and the wild habitats is inimitable.
Religious Significance & Aesthetic Value
Apart from the biological values of the reserve, the place is also visited by a number of pilgrims. The places of religious importance include the Gorakhnathar Temple and a Durgah beside the temple, Sorimuthuayyanar Koil and Nambi Kovil.
About 35 square kilometres of area at the side of the eastern foothills of the reserve is attributed for tourism. The moist evergreen forest surroundings of the reserve are a thrilling experience for photographers, nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.
Ideal time to visit Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve
The best season to visit Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve is between October and March, before summer sets in when the climate becomes humid. The reserve is open from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM on all days.
- Guided trekking for about 2 hours is available at a rate of Rs. 200 per person (maximum of 10 persons) and Rs. 1250 per trek (minimum of 5 persons).
- Guided view for 1 hour of Agasthiyar Peak, Nagapothigai, Iyanthalai Pothigai and Pandiyan Kottai is available at a rate of Rs. 25 per person (maximum of 15 persons) and Rs. 200 per trek (minimum of 5 persons) in a slot.
- Guided visits for about 1.5 hours of Pandiyan Kottai is available at a rate of Rs. 25 per person.
How to reach Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve
The Reserve is at a distance of 10 kilometres from Ambasamudram. Regular buses are available to Mundanthurai from Tirunelveli which is 50 kilometres away. The nearest rail head is at Cheranmahadevi (20 kilometres away) and Tirunelveli Junction (around 62 kilometres away). The nearest airports are at Madurai (20 kilometres away) and Thiruvananthapuram (140 kilometres).
The high mountains, lush green meadows, secluded valleys, dense rain forests thundering waterfalls and the diverse and unique flora and fauna makes the Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve a treasure trove for the visitors. Explore the breathtaking scenery of the place and the world of wildlife keeping in my mind of all the don’ts that would annoy its residents and pollute the reserve.
Official Government Website: http://kmtr.co.in. Please check this website for Accommodation and activities inside the tiger reserve.