The Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is a well-guarded treasure trove of nearly a thousand species of flowering plants. It’s not just flora, the Chinnar forest is also home to a thriving animal life. From birds and butterflies to mammals and moths, the 90.44-sq km sanctuary is home to a wide variety of species. It is also credited with having the largest number of reptilian fauna among other sanctuaries in the state, including a celebrated inhabitant – the mugger crocodile.
The Thoovanam waterfall, a spectacular waterfall located in the sanctuary, is also an attraction for travelers. A watchtower in the sanctuary offers an unbelievably beautiful view of the sanctuary, vast expanses of green forests extending to the nearby state of Tamil Nadu and far away mountains. The sanctuary, a trekker’s paradise, is situated about 60 km away from Munnar and the Munnar-Udumalpet road passes through the sanctuary.
Trekking to the site of dolmenoids
Trekking, camping at Vysiappara
Watchtower at Jellimalai
The eco-tourism programmes in the sanctuary are offered by the Department of Forests and Wildlife, Government of Kerala, in association with Eco-development Committees.
The flora of Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary includes a stunning variety of flowering plants numbering up to 965
species. Rare medicinal plants, many of them endemic to the Western Ghats, can also be found in the sanctuary.
The vegetation of the sanctuary falls under six categories (according to Champion and Seth, 1968, and Chandrasekaran, 1962). They are Southern tropical thorn forest (Scrub jungle), Southern dry mixed deciduous forest (Dry deciduous forest), Southern moist mixed deciduous forest (Moist deciduous forest), Tropical riparian fringing forest (Riparian forest), Southern montane wet temperate forest (Hill shola forest) and Southern montane wet grassland (Grasslands).
The predominant vegetation is dry deciduous forest followed by scrub forest. Together they constitute about half of the total area which is in the low altitude areas. The riparian fringing forests are found on the hill folds and shola forests constitute a small portion.
The Chinnar forests support a diverse variety of mammals, reptiles, birds, and butterflies. The star among them is the Grizzled Giant Squirrel, a large tree squirrel. In Kerala, the Grizzled Giant Squirrel is found only in the riparian forest of the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. The rare Manjampatti White Bison, a gaur noted for its distinctive ash-grey color, is another special inhabitant spotted in the sanctuary.
Other important mammals found in Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary are the rare Rusty Spotted Cat, Nilgiri Tahr, Elephant, Tiger, Leopard, Gaur, Wild Boar, Sambar, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Porcupine, Wild Dog, Common Langur, Bonnet Macaque, Jackal, Sloth Bear, Nilgiri Langur, Jungle Cat, Bison, Spotted Deer and Sambar.
Leopards also live in the sanctuary but don’t assume that the tiger is an inhabitant of the sanctuary if you spot some. They are visitors from the neighboring forests. Bonnet Macaques, Elephants and Gaur are also present. White Bison has been recently sighted in the Chinnar plains. 28 species of mammals have been found in the sanctuary.
The Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is noted for the presence of a whopping 52 species of reptiles. Nilgiri Keelback (Amphiesma beddomei), an endemic snake species found only in the Nilgiris and the Western Ghats is a rare inhabitant. Besides Echis carinatus, species belonging to different families like the Blind Snake group, Colubrid, Boas, Elapids, and Viperids are found in the sanctuary.
The scrub forest land in the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is home to the Indian Star Tortoise (Geochelone elegans). Kollegal Ground Gecko (Geckoella collegalensis), a gecko species found in India and Sri Lanka, is another inhabitant. A wide distribution of Agamids is also present.
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is home to Amphibians. There are 15 species of amphibians, the Black Torrent frog (Micrixalus Saxicola), a small frog species found in forest streams, is endemic to Kerala. Others include Ridged Toad (Bufo parietalis), Malabar Flying Frog (Rhacophorus malabaricus) and Night Frog (Nyctibatrachus genus); all endemic to the Western Ghats.
The Chinnar and Pambar rivers which flow through the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary are home to around 14 species of fishes, including Garra Mallya Barilius gatensis, Danio aequipinnatus, Tor khudree, Puntius arnaticus and Garra gotyla stenorhynchus and Barilius bandelisis.
The Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is home to a thriving avian life including Yellow Throated Bulbul. 225 species of birds have been spotted. 156 species of butterflies are also present. During the monsoon season, the sanctuary witnesses migration of butterflies.
Munnar, the nearest major town, is situated about 60 km away. The marayoor town is 20 km away. The Munnar-Udumalpet road passes through the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary.
Cochin International Airport: 208 km
Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu): 115 km
Pollachi: 60 km away
Coimbatore: 115 km
Aluva: 160 km
The visitors’ timing of the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. The sanctuary is managed by the Munnar Wildlife Division under the Department of Forests and Wildlife, Government of Kerala. Contact the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary authorities or the Idukki District Tourism Promotion Council before planning your visit.
It is advised to contact the park authorities for details on trekking and other eco-tourism options well in advance. Accommodation facilities are available in Munnar.
The Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary offers a host of trekking options to know the wild. There is a two-night and three-day trek option in which travellers can explore the woods and visit some pre-historic sites known for cave paintings and dolmenoids. Another interesting option is the trek to Vysiapara which includes an overnight stay in a thatched hut atop a scenic hill. Visit to tribal settlements is part of both the options. For those who are on a short holidaying, a one-day trek is offered which includes bird watching.
The treks are organized by the Department of Forests and Wildlife in association with Eco-development committees formed by tribal communities. It is strongly recommended to contact the Eco-development Committee or Sanctuary authorities to plan the options well in advance.
Forest Information Centre
Wildlife Warden’s Office
Munnar P.O. – 685612
Tel: +91 4865 231587
Eco-development Committee Office
Chinnar Check Post
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary
Marayur P.O. – 685620
The area falling under the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is the habitat of two tribal communities – the
Muthuva and Hill Pulaya tribes. Members of the communities still live within the sanctuary in 11 tribal settlements. The two communities have varied social, cultural and anthropological specialties. While the uthuvas live in 7 settlements, the Hill Pulayas occupy the rest.
The tribal inhabitants would stun a traveller for their knowledge on the forests, animal behavior and climate. So don’t miss a chance to visit a tribal settlement during your visit to the sanctuary.