Parambikulam, Located near the Kerala – Tamilnadu border is the exact place where the Royals dwell, The Royal Bengal Tigers! Though far away from their homes i.e Bengal , these giant cats have made this place their home. Parambikulam Tiger Reserve is a host to more than 40 Royal Bengal Tigers. Protected and maintained by the Government of Kerala, this heavenly Wilderness is home to a variety of flora and fauna. One can experience the nature up close and enjoy the refreshing orchestra the nature offers you.The sanctuary is the home of four different tribes of indigenous people including the Kadar, Malasar, Muduvar and Mala Malasar settled in six colonies.
Parambikulam Tiger Reserve implements the Participatory Forest Management Scheme (PFMS). People from tribal colonies inside the reserve are engaged as guides for treks and safaris, and are provided employment through various eco-tourism initiatives. The tiger reserve hosts many capacity building training programmes conducted by Parambikulam Tiger Conservation Foundation in association with various organisation.
I had been to this Reserve just before the monsoon in this part of the world. Kerala receives rain twice a year i.e June – September ( Southwest Monsoon ) and during October – Mid November (Northeastern Monsoon). So I had been there just before the second rain. Since the Reserve is located at an altitude of around 800 m above the sea level, the mercury drops a bit. The temperature here is a bit low and cold breeze flows all the time.
How to get there:
This place is not much connected to major cities or towns. You will have to travel a lot to reach here.
By Road :
If you are coming by bus there are not much choices to make. If you are coming from Kerala side there is only a bus by Kerala SRTC from Palakkad to Parambikulam at around 8 am.
Palakkad – Pollachi – Parambikulam
If you are coming from Tamilnadu you can get here via Pollachi. Since there is no connected bus, one has to get down at Pollachi and the bord a bus from Pollachi to Parambikulam.
Coimbatore – Pollachi – Parambikulam
The approx. Distance from Palakkad to Parambikulam is 90 kms and from Coimbatore is 100 kms. Pollachi to Parambikulam is about 65 kms.
So Coming from Kerala is much more easier.
By Rail :
The nearest Railway Station is Pollachi i.e in the state of Tamilnadu and Palakkad Jn i.e in the state of Kerala.
One can easily get buses from Palakkad Jn to Pollachi.
I had been there via Bus from Palakkad, the travel was good. One can experience nostalgic indian country side and refreshing paddy fields on the way. Pollachi also known as ‘Coconut city’ is on the way. One can enjoy the vast coconut fields too. Since the reserve is a mountain, one will have to experience a lot of turns during the journey.
On reaching the top, we had to contact the information center since we had booked a package there. Prambikulam offers a number of Eco-Tourism Packages for the tourist. I suggest every visitor to be here in a Package to enjoy the Nature to its maximum. For further deatils contact their official website.
I was in a package which included Food, Accomodation, Safari, Bamboo Rafting and Morning Walk.
The Accomodation varies according to Packages, my Accomodation was in a Tent , you read it right a Tent!!! The Forest Department has taken atmost care in serving the nature well to their visitors. Tent was quite opposite to what I expected because the Tent was incredibly awesome !
We reached there by 10 am and were alloted with our respective tents. Our first Destination was, The Kannimara Teak , you might have thought why I expressed that word Boldly, The reason is quite simple. Its simply Majestic!
Regarded as the largest in Asia, this tree has lived above 4 Centuries and still living. With the height of around 40 m this living giant deserves a long description.
The next destination was at the banks of Parambikulam Dam Reservoir for our next activity Bamboo Rafting, Boating along the calm water, one can get a glimpse of mammals coming down to drink water. The experience is quite overwhelming. The calm waters will provide you with immense peace and will indeed make one happy.
Throughout the journey we were accompanied by guides who were the local tibals. Living in the forest is indeed a terror , they told us about their close encounters with such carnivores and how they managed to survive in the wild these days. On the way, our safari van stopped at numerous spots for sightseeing and bird watching. Glimpse of Guars and Sambhar Deer were common .
We were now heading towards our next destination for tribal symphony (included in the package). We were introduced with the local tribals living there by our guide. One can experience that they are as same as us just the extra thing they do is live in the wild. They had organised a special tribal dance for us , which was indeed spectacular. Even though I couldnt understand what was going on for a few initial minutes! But I somehow managed to understand what they were trying to convey. They were describing about their life in Forest and the hardship they have to undergo living here. As the dance progressed the beat of their drums and the music just got deep into our mind as if it had hypnotized our minds.
Soon it was going to be dark and we had to retreat. We were happy but at the same time we were sad because we didnt see what we had expected ‘The Royal Bengal Tiger’. On our way our guide explained how hard it is to spot a Tiger in the wild, because these cats were shy creatures. On our way back our driver stopped the van and pointed towards a water body, we were expecting another Gaur or Sambhar but to our luck suddenly out of no where, there it was ‘The Royal’ creature just behind the trees.
We were shocked to see the Gigantic Creature at the same time happy too! We had never seen one of this kind just a few meters away from us. It was a spectacular sight!!
Soon it was dark and the driver wanted to reach back to base because it was too dangerous to be in the forest at night fall. We reached back soon and delicious food was waiting for us , prepared by the locals here. The meal was sumptuous and delicious. Soon we were in our tents. One could hear numerous sounds emerging from the forest. Sounds of Elephants, Gaurs , Deers and sometimes Tigers too. It was indeed a horrific night.
Morning walk was scheduled at 6:00 am and hence we had to be ready by 6:00. It was too cold out but once the walk started everything was fine. Our guide warned us to be silent during the walk as wild animals dont like noise and they cant predict they would react to it. These things increased the fear in us and we could hardly make a move without any instructions. Suddenly our Guide stopped and told us to be still. We were indeed terrified but yet we managed to listen to what he said. He pointed towards a group of Elephants and we were flabbergasted to see them. They were too close to us.
We continued our walk and explored the wilderness. Soon we spotted pugmarks of Tigers and Sloth Bears. Our Guide Explained how they map these pugmarks and count the number of tigers.The walk ended and soon we were about to return.
Though the trip was short but the experiences gained from here were wonderful. I never wished to leave that place, I also wished if I could live here in the forest forever. Away from all the chaos and deadlines in the concrete jungle.
The trip was extraordinary, we got more than we expected. I suggest to have a look at this place if you plan for holidays in Kerala. Parambikulam has much more things to offer, the Forest is filled with surprises and will surely fill the visitors with Peace!
Travel Tips for Parambikulam Tiger Reserve :
1) Travelling Requires Planning:
This Forest Area is managed by the Kerala Govt. and falls under the Kerala Tourism Department. Kerala Government has taken atmost care in providing the travellers with the best service possible and has tried to take the wilderness up close. Parambikulam Tiger Reserve has various packages for the travellers to enjoy the rich serenity of the forest. I suggest every traveller to visit this Reserve under a package so that the wilderness can be enjoyed . The Rates and details are provided in their official website http://www.parambikulam.org/
2) Guides are your Friends:
Since this Reserve is managed by the Kerala Government, there are a lot of Forest officials to aid the travellers. And an imporatnt thing is to listen to the Guide always. The Reserve is home to a major sector of carnivores and there are incidences where travellers encountering those carnivores and quite a few number of Deaths happening too, but thats a weak probabilty to happen and there are precations taken too. So try following your Guide .. Its for your safety!!
3) There is No Alcohol:
Since this area is situated about 1000 m above the sea level and being an isolated region there are no Bars or Pubs available there. And alcohol is strictly prohibited.
4) Carry Sufficient Amount of Money:
The only problem travellers are gonna face is the lack of an ATM machine in parambikulam. So inorder to be in the better side I suggest carrying Money along before entering the Forest area.
5) Is it good for Solo Travellers ?
I say a NO, Enjoying the wild with your near and dear ones are much appreciated here.