Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Munnar : Eravikulam National Park, Anamudi Peak and The Endangered Mountain Goat- Nilgiri Tahr

When we returned to hotel from a refreshing evening walk, receptionist told us to get ready by 9 AM next day morning for sight seeing and a private vehicle would be ready for us. I was wondering what Munnar offers other than Tea plantations.
Eravikulam National Park
Next day morning we boarded the vehicle and driver told that our next place will be Eravikulam National Park and he is taking us to the park authority office where we need to buy tickets.  From there visitors have to board the mini bus arranged by the Eravikulam National Part Authorities. These buses drop visitors till the foot of the park. From there visitors have to climb up the hill to reach the top. Private vehicles are not at all allowed inside the park to avoid air and noise pollution which will affect the flora and founa of the park. Six mini buses operate daily.
Driver gave some interseting information on Eravikulam National Park. It is home to "Nilgiri Tahr" (Mountain Goat) a rare and endagered species. This animal can be seen only in Eravikulam National Park. He also told us that one should be lucky to spot these animals on the hills.
After all formalities and buying entry tickets we boarded the mini bus along with other tourists and bus started to Eravikulam National park. Going to the park from bus itself is an experience. Bus goes through narrow roads, through tea plantations, through rolling green hills. View from the bus is mesmarizing.

View From the bus - On The Way To Eravikulam National Park

Bus dropped us till the base of the park and from there we started climbing up the hill. The Park is 97 sq. km. in extent, consisting mostly of high altitude grasslands that are interspersed with sholas. The high plateau and the hills rising above it, are primarily covered by grasslands. Shrub lands are seen along the bases of the cliffs. Shola forests are located in the valleys and folds.

The park is segregated into three regions; the core area, the buffer area and the tourism area, and you are allowed only into the tourism zone which is in the Rajamalai region. Eravikulam National Park is also called as Rajamalai National Park.

As we were climbing up the hill, my eyes were searching for the animal Nilgiri Tahr. We almost walked up 2 kilometers distance bu could not spot a single Neelgiri Tahr. But walk was refreshing with scenic and breathtaking views. We reached a place called "Anamudi". It is the highest peak in Western Ghats  and in South India having an elevation of 2,695 metres . I was so thrilled.  Anamudi means "Elephants Forehead". The Place looks like Elephant's forehead, so the name. You can even hike up Anaimudi and enjoy breathtaking views of the evergreen shola forests.  
Climbing up - "Anamudi Peak"
Anamudi Peak - Resembling Elephant's Forehead

A security guard who was standing there stopped us from moving further. He said this is the last point of tourism zone and no tourists are allowed to go further as deep forests starts from here.  I was so disappointed that I couldnot see Nigiri Tahr. Security guard said -"Madam dont worry if you are lucky you will find many Nilgiri Tahrs on the way while returning to the base of the park".
We started our return journey from Anamudi peak to the base of the hill. Shortly my hubby shouted "look at there...". Two Nilgiri Tahrs were taking rest under a tree. I could not see them properly as they were sitting very far from us. With the satisfaction that we could spot it,  we continued moving down. Aaha!!! One more Nilgiri Tahr was grazing in the bush right infront of us. It was very cute. After seeing visitors it disappeared in the bush. Very shortly we spotted one more which was sitting on the rock.

Pair Of Nilgiri Tahr's Taking rest

Nilgiri Tahr - Grazing in the bush
Nilgiri Tahr - Resting on The Rock
Finally we reached the place where bus had dropped us. We waited there some time for arrival of the shuttle. Reached the hotel in the evening after a beautiful day.

Some Observations on  Eravikulam National Park and Nilgiri Tahrs :

1. Eravikulam National Park, is under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for selection as a World Heritage Site.
2. Twenty six species of mammals have been recorded in the park including the largest surviving population of Nilgiri Tahr, estimated at about 1000 in number.
3. Private Vehicles are strictly banned inside the park.
4. Six mini-buses are operated by park staff as part of the visitor-management programme as well as a pollution-control measure.
5. A well formed security wing is working to protect the park day and night. They watch and warn the tourists for their missbehaviour.
6. Eravikulam National park is very clean and neatly maintained. Littering is banned here. If any one found littering here then fine will be imposed on the spot. Plastic is also strictly banned inside the park. Kudos to the park authorities for this :)
7. Nilgiri Tahrs are very shy animals. Shouting is banned here as it disturbs the animals.
8. Eravikulam National Park is closed for the tourists from March to June/July as this is the calving and breeding season of Nilgiri Tahrs.
9. Once upon a time Nilgiri Tahrs were abundant on the hills of Munnar. As tea plantations started occupying the hills, Nilgiri Tahrs lost their habitat. Poaching also made their situation worse and their number decreased gradually.
10. After declaring Eravikulam as National park and dedicated activities to conserve Nilgiri Tahrs, their number is increasing.


R Niranjan Das said...

Nice post and lovely clicks. Good to know that you could spot the Tahrs.

Chetana said...

Thanks Niranjan... Yes we could spot few Tahrs...

rahul biliye said...

Very Nice blog and beautifully captured pics. May i know how you added copywright watermark to pics?
and by the way you forgot to add watermark to the last pic.

Chetana said...

Oh yeah... I forgot to mark last photo... Thanks Rahul for reminding......

Shantanu Deshmukh said...

Very nicely written. Last photo of nilgiri thar is simply mesmerising, very skilfully taken