Nilgiris - Cherambadi - Mudumalai

About the Park

You can lose yourself in the lush green forests of the Nilgiris and return to experience it all over again. Never a dull moment, this green world either rings with langur alarm calls or quivers with the passing of an elephant herd.

Covering a tract of over 5000 square kilometers, the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is India's first biosphere reserve with extensive forests, a rich repository of flora and fauna and a source of great rivers, including the Kaveri. Home to several tribal communities like the Todas, Kotas, Irullas and others, ‘Nilgiri’ after which the mountain range is named spreads across the borders of the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.

Part of the biosphere, Cherambadi is about 40 km from Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu. It is known for its tea and coffee plantations of major groups such as Harrisons Malyalam, Tata, etc. While ambling through these estates, you can watch out for wild elephants, leopards and other smaller mammals that frequent here. The area acts as an elephant corridor between the three states.

Once upon a time, Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, now also a declared tiger reserve was made up of old forest blocks, used for big game shooting. During World War II, the forest was used as a training camp for soldiers to be sent to Burma. Today, it is one of the safest refuges for the Asian Elephant with over 600 pachyderms found here – the largest concentration of elephants in India. Mudumalai literally means “old hills” and is also home to the gaur, leopard, wild dogs, tiger, chital, sambar and a host of birds.

What you can do inside the park

The sanctuary organises its own jeep and bus trips inside the forest on fixed routes. These go 15 km inside the forest and leave twice a day – morning and afternoon. You can also opt for an elephant safari, which can be reserved at the Wildlife Warden’s office or at the Reception Centre at Theppakadu. Station yourself at a machaan or saltlick overlooking a waterhole, to sight wildlife unobserved. Visiting the gushing Moyar Falls may be worthwhile too.

What to look out for

Make sure to visit between December and June for the best sightings. Elephants and gaurs are found in large numbers, so look out for herds crossing over to or from Bandipur. If you’re lucky enough, you might witness a pack of dholes (wild dogs) chasing deer for dinner while chital, sambar, gaur, sloth bear, wild pig pop up unexpectedly in shadows or sunshine. The loud drumming of the White-bellied Woodpecker with its striking crimson chest is captivating while snakes and lizards remain well hidden in the scrub. Mudumalai is a versatile canvas with grasslands, semi-evergreen, moist and dry deciduous and dry thorn forests adding to its many shades.

Fun things to see and do outside the park

Visitors can explore Ooty, a tranquil hill station, which offers something for everybody. For adventure lovers, there is trekking, angling, horse riding and mountain biking, while leisure seekers can stay at a lush green tea plantation or enjoy a quiet homestay and bonfire.

Conservation issues

Due to excessive cattle grazing, there has been an extensive growth of invasive species such as lantana that hinders the natural regeneration process of the forests. Wildlife habitats stand to be significantly impacted due to the construction activities of the proposed India-based Neutrino Observatory at Singara, Masinagudi. The wildlife corridor is likely to be disrupted by the five-year work plan and it repercussions in terms of human footprint, vehicular pollution and new support infrastructure.

Nilgiris

Park Information

How to Book:

Enquiries regarding accommodation and bookings can be made at the Wildlife Warden's office at Mudumalai Sanctuary, Coonoor Road, Ooty, Tamil Nadu - Tel.: 0423-44098.

Park Timings:

The park is open for visitors in the morning from 7 am to 9 am and then in the afternoon from 3 pm to 5 pm.

Getting Around the Park:

Jeeps and buses are arranged for by the sanctuary to run on fixed routes, 15km into the forest. These tours run twice a day – in the morning and afternoon. An elephant ride can also be reserved at the Wildlife Warden’s office or at the Reception Centre at Theppakadu. Private vehicles and hiking on foot are not permitted inside the sanctuary.

Entry Fees:

Rs. 110/- per person
Jeep Safari – Rs. 600/- for 6 people for 45 minutes
Forest Department Vehicle – Rs. 300/- per head

By Air: Coimbatore (160 km). Transport can be hired from these airports to drive to the park.
By Rail: Udhagamandalam or Ooty (64 km)
By Road: Gudalur (16 km) is the nearest town. Small government minibuses choose the short route along the Sighur Ghat road, while larger vehicles prefer the route from Gudalur to the reserve, which takes an hour longer. Private buses or Cheran Transport buses can be taken from Ooty to Masinagudi. Buses run every couple of hours between Theppakkadu and Masinagudi. Jeeps can also be shared or hired.

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