Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is a unique protected area located in the rain shadow region in the eastern slope of Western Ghats, 18 km north of Marayoor adjoining Tamilnadu. Unlike other sanctuaries in Kerala, Chinnar gets only less than two months of rain (500 mm) every year. Rich in wildlife, the mixed deciduous forests here are ideal for trekking.
With a total area of 90.44 km2, the southern side of the sanctuary lies the Eravikulam National Park, North lies the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and to the east lies the Kodaikanal Wildlife Sanctuary. The area falls in the Marayoor and Kanthalloor Panchayat of Devikulam Taluk in Idukki District and is regarded as one of the important protected areas in the Western Ghats due to its ecological, floral and geomorphological significance.
The Munnar-Udumalpet road SH 17 passes through the sanctuary for 16 km and divides it into nearly equal portions. An extensive Sandalwood forest nearby is an added attraction at Chinnar. This is also an ideal place for watching herds of gaur and elephants amble past. Dry deciduous forests, high sholas and some grasslands add to the diversity of the sanctuary.
Chinnar is around 60 km away from Munnar. The nearest town is Marayur (16 km). You can make a visit to Marayur, which is the land of natural sandlewood and also dolmens (ancient burial chambers) and local sharkara (yellow sugar) making units.
It falls under the jurisdiction of Munnar Wildlife Division which has its Headquarters at Munnar. The habitat types range from shola-grassland to dry thorny scrub, across a diverse cultural landscape as well, making the protected area unique in comparison with others. In May 1942 the area was notified as a reserve forest.
The area is diverse in ecosystems and rich in ethnic cultural heritage. It is a well-known repository of medicinal plants and supports a healthy population of grizzled giant squirrel, star tortoise, tufted grey langur, gaur, spotted deer, slender loris, wild elephant, crocodile, tiger, leopard and many a birds, insects and plants. As one travels from Karimuthi to Chinnar, elephants, spotted deer, sambar, hanuman langur and even peacocks can be spotted on either side of the road.
There is an Interpretation Centre at Karimutty, two eco shops, one each at Chinnar check post and Aalampetty, an amenity centre, inspection bunglow, dormitory and cafeteria/at Chinnar check post to cater to the needs of visitors.
The altitude ranges from 400 meters (1,300 ft) at east end of the Chinnar River to 2,522 meters (8,274 ft) at Kumarikal Malai peak. Other major peaks in the sanctuary are Nandala Malai 2,372 meters (7,782 ft), Kottakombu malai (2,144 meters (7,034 ft)), Vellaikal malai (1,863 meters (6,112 ft)) and Viriyoottu malai (1,845 meters (6,053 ft)). In contrast, Anamudi peak 2,695 metres (8,842 ft), located 23 kilometers (14 mi) away in the adjacent Eravikulam National Park, is the highest peak in South India.
The Chinnar and Pambar rivers are the major perennial water resources in the sanctuary. The Chinnar originates near Kumarikal Malai, follows the interstate boundary along the northwest edge of the sanctuary for 18 km and becomes the Amaravati River in Tamil Nadu.
The Pambar River originates in the Anaimudi Hills and is joined by seasonal rivulets and a few perennial streams originating from sholas in the upper reaches. It traverses the Turner’s Valley in Eravikulam National Park and flows down into the sanctuary through the Taliar Valley between Kanthalloor and Marayoor villages and eastwards through the sanctuary. It joins the Chinnar River at Koottar. The Thoovanam water falls lie deep within the sanctuary on the Pambar River. This cascade is a major tourist attraction.
Activities at Chinnar
Chinnar wildlife sanctuary is famous for its eco-tourism activities, jointly organized by Forest Department and the Ecodevelopment Committees of the local tribal communities. The eco-tourism facilities include river trekking, trekking to the cultural site, nature trail to the watch tower, a trek to the Thoovanam falls, interpretation activities and medicinal garden, tree house at Chinnar, trekking and camping at Vasyappara.
Koottar River Side, Watch Tower, Churulipetty River Side& Thoovanam Water Falls Trekking
The guided trekking to the dry deciduous forests and through the riparian forest along the Chinnar River, visit to the archaeological remnants, the dolmens, and the sandal forests are all the more exciting. The luxurious waterfall, spreading over about 100 meters wide will steal the hearts of all. Bird and butterfly watching are added advantages. There are chances of wild life sighting on the way. Refreshments and complimentary snacks will be provided.
Vasiyapara Ethnic Hut and Trekking
Stay at ethnic hut built in tribal style at Vasiyappara. Trekking through the scrub forest and jungles leading to Vashyappara Ethnic hut near a swamp is a pleasant experience. Reporting time 3 Pm at Chinnar Check post. Tariff: Rs. 4000/-for two Indians and 5000/- for two foreigner persons. Extra person Rs. 1000/- for Indians Rs. 1500/- for foreigner Service of experienced field guides, watchers, cooks as well as complimentary food and refreshments are provided during stay.
Stay at Karakkad tree top house
Tree top huts (machans) are built and furnished in a well-protected manner at two sites and provide good ariel view of surrounding forests. Water and solar power is available. Reporting time before 3pm at Chinnar check post. Tariff: Rs.3000/- for two Indians and Rs 4000/- for two foreigner. Extra person Rs. 1000/- Service of experienced field guides, watchers, cooks as well as complimentary food and refreshments are provided during stay.
Stay at Thoovanam log house near water falls, Jellimala Log house
There is a solar electrified and fully equipped log house facing the water falls in the deep forests with all facilities for a comfortable stay. Reporting time at 3 pm at Alampetty eco-shop. Tariff: Rs.3000/- for two Indians and Rs. 4000/- for two foreigner. Extra person Rs. 1000/- Service of experienced field guides, watchers, cooks as well as complimentary food and refreshments are provided during stay.
Stay at Churilipetty log house,Paambar or Koottar log house
Stay at fully equipped log house at Chinnar valley in the deep forests. The log house with forest ambience can accommodate two people. Reporting time 3 pm at Chinnar check post. Tariff: Rs.3000/- for two Indians and Rs 4000/- for two foreigner. Extra person Rs. 1000/- Service of experienced field guides, watchers, cooks as well as complimentary food and refreshments are provided during stay.