CHINNAR WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
Lying at Devikulam taluk of Idukki district, Chinnar was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1984. It is located in the rain shadow region of the Western Ghats. It is the second habitat for the endangered giant grizzled squirrel in India. With an area of 90.422 sq.kms, Chinnar has the unique thorny scrub forest with Xerophytic species.
The undulated terrain with rocky patches increases the scenic splendour of the sanctuary. As the altitude varies from 500 to 2,400 meters within a few kilometer radius, there is a drastic variation in the climate and vegetation. The highest peaks are Kottakombumalai (2144m), Vellaikal malai (1863m) and Viriyoottu malai (1845m). Unlike in most other forests of Kerala, Chinnar gets only about 48 rainy days in a year during October-November (Northeast monsoons). The forest types comprise thorny scrub forests, dry deciduous forest, high sholas and wet grasslands.
The following species are found in the thorny scrub forests: Acacia arabica (Karivelam), Acacia leucofolia (Velvelam), Acacia concinna (Cheevaka), Prosopis juliflora (Prosopis) and Opuntia dillenii (Kallimul).
Dry Deciduous Forests
Santalum album (Chandanam), Anogeissuslatifolia (Mazhukanjiram), Tamarindus Indica (Puli), Terminialia arjuna (Nirmaruthu), Pongamia lanceolata (Ventheku), Dalbergia latifolia (Rosewood), Tectona grandis (Teak), Cassia Fistula (Konna), Terminalia bellerica (Thanni), Emblic officianalis (Nelli) etc. are the common species.
High Sholas and Wetlands
Rhododendrom nilagiricum (Kattu Chemarathi), Elaeocarpus recurvatus (Bhadraksham) and Strobilanthus kunthianus (Neelakurinji) grown in these areas.
Elephant, gaur, panther,spotted deer,sambar, giant grizzled squirrel, hanuman monkey, rabbit etc. inhabit the Chinnar forests. The giant grizzled squirrel is an endangered species. It is dull gray in colour.
The Chinnar sanctuary is accessible by good roads from the airports of Coimbatore and Kochi. The nearest railway stations are Aluva (200kms) and Pollachi (60kms).
As you travel along the road from Karimutti to Chinnar, you can spot elephant, spotted deer, sambar, hanuman monkey and even peacocks on either side of the road. This is a unique experience because generally one has to go deep into the jungle to see wildlife as in the case of most other sanctuaries.
Private lodges are available at Munnar, Marayoor and Udumalpetta. One could also find accommodation in the government guest houses at Munnar and Udumalpetta.
Some Vital Information
: 10° 15' to 10° 21' N
Temperature varies from 18° C to 30° C and 24° C to 35° C during winter and summer respectively.
Almost throughout the year during October- November.