September 5, 2019
TCP : ADVERTORIAL
Beyond the pristine beaches and magical backwaters, there is a character to the landscape of Kerala which you can discover only if you seek. Hidden in the hills and plateaus of the Nilgiri Mountains, you will find the densely forested enclave of the Silent Valley National Park. With rolling grasslands, mountain bluffs, wooded ravines, and prevailing silence, this zone on the Nilgiris is a world away from the world. And sitting on its western edges, sharing its treasures is the beautiful Attapadi Reserve Forest.
The forest at a glance
While most parts of the Silent Valley are raw, wild, and devoid of human intervention, Attapadi Reserve Forest has remained a protected zone. The extensive mountain valley sits at an elevation of 2460 feet, at the foothills of the Nilgiris in the Palakkad district of Kerala. The sprawling area of the almost 250 sq. km. near the headwaters of the Bhavani River, encloses dense shola forests, the Palakkad plains, beautiful streams, and exotic wildlife. The highlight of the forest is the gigantic mountain peak of Malleswaram, which rises to almost 5460 feet from the center of the valley, flanked by the Bhavani River and the Attapadi village. One of the less-explored forests of Kerala, Attappadi defines the life of the locals and offers plenty to its visitors. The woods also home to the local ethnic tribes like the Muduga, Irula, and Kurumba, who inhabit the far edges around the mountains.
How to reach
The forests of Attappadi lie near the Mannakkad village in the Palakkad district, which is well-connected to its neighboring towns and villages. The nearest city is Coimbatore, at about 58 KM. The best way to reach Attappadi is to hire a cab from your source city/town. You can keep the car for the entire day with you for a detailed tour. If you are traveling from another city, you can easily rent a licensed car in Coimbatore with an experienced driver and reach the forests in less than two hours via the Anaikatti Rd and Mannarkkad – Anakkatti Rd. Alternatively, there are local buses that ply frequently between Attappadi and its neighboring villages of Anakkatti, Nelippathy, and Mannakkad.
When to visit
The tropical hilly forests of Attappadi are at their best during the rainy season. However, accessibility in the deeper interiors might be limited due to flooding. If you want to enjoy hiking and blazing the wild trails, the best time to visit is between November and February.
The treasures of Attappadi
The Malleswaram Mudi is the highest point of Attappady and is also considered a religious shrine by the local tribal communities. During Shivratri, the villagers celebrate their harvest season and worship the mountain as a representation of Shivalingam. There is also a temple nearby, which offers stunning views of the peak and the surrounding mountains.
On the outer edges of the forest, near the buffer zone of the Silent Valley National Park, you will find the frothy cascades of Karuvera. To reach the falls, you can drive to Mukkali, and from there, trek through the rugged slopes to reach the base of the waterfall. This is typically a guided tour and you need to get a prior permit from the forest office in Mukkali. On your way to the waterfall, you will walk through thick plantations and wild vegetation. A hidden treasure of Attappadi, the Karuvera falls is rarely explored by the mainstream crowd and remains raw and scenic.
With diverse landscape within its enclave, the jungles of Attappadi have provided shelter to various species of wildlife, some of which are rare and only found in these forests. One of the most unique animals found here is the Attapadi Black Goat, endemic to this region. You can go for a safari and spot elephants, Sambar deer, bison, the famous Malabar giant squirrel, lion-tailed macaques, leopards, and if you are lucky, you might get a sighting of tigers. Crocodiles and rattlesnakes are common around the riverbanks. If you love avifauna, then these forests make for the perfect ground for a birding expedition and offer you a chance to spot crested serpent eagle, green imperial pigeons, white-bellied woodpecker, or the streak-throated woodpecker.
Apart from these, you can also plan a tour of the Silent Valley National Park and explore the natural abundance of its rainforests.
A harmonious symphony of mountains, woodlands, and rivers, the wilderness of Attappadi Reserve Forest is an experience to cherish. Whether you are seeking a tranquil environment or simply want to admire the untouched beauty of nature, this is where you will find it.
•When exploring the wild in big groups, get a spacious Tempo Traveller on rent in Coimbatore for a convenient travel option.
•For camping around the forest grounds, check with the local forest department for permits.
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