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Things To Do In Anamalai Tiger Reserve
With towering mist covered peaks and green plains spread with tea plantations and wild forested areas, Anamalai and its milieu is undiluted, pristine nature at its best. The wilderness provides ample opportunities for hikes and trekking trips, with rivers where you could go boating and waterfalls that are a photographers’ delight.
We will tell you of the best things you can do in Anamalai Tiger Reserve and in the little towns that surround the Reserve as well. We have a shopping guide too and in addition, a little about the festivals celebrated in Anamalai so you can tune in to include the celebrations in your visit!
Forays into the forest
You could avail the eco trip van safari to the Kozhikamuthi elephant camp at Topslip. There are elephant safaris at Ulandi in Topslip too, but that depends on decent weather conditions. Elephant safaris are organized on all days from 10.30 am to 3.30 pm. Elephant safaris are great opportunities to spot lion tailed macaques, elephants, leopards and the tiger, the elusive striped cat of the jungle, if you are lucky! There are organized guided treks inside the forest, segregated into the long, medium and short treks. Get yourself well protected with dettol or lotions if you are going trekking during the monsoons, when leeches abound.
Kannimara Teak Tree
When you are visiting Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, check out the 460 year old Kannimara Teak Tree that is said to be the only one that was saved from the rampant cutting down of teak trees for timber. According to the tribals, any attempt at cutting down the tree led to a streak of blood oozing out of the trunk. The tree was protected from being chopped away and is worshipped by the tribals as Kannimara or the virgin tree.
Kozhikamuthi Elephant Camp
This is an ancient camp that had been used to train elephants to carry timber. Felling of trees was stopped by early 1970s and the camp is now a popular tourist attraction in Topslip. The elephants are taken care of by the Malasar tribes who train the elephants into kumkis that are used to control wild elephants that go on a rampage. It’s gratifying to watch the elephants gambolling in the rivers as they bathe and the mahouts give them their daily rations.
At the foothills of Valparai is one of the best touristy spots you can visit on your trip to Anamalai. The Aliyar Dam built across the Aliyar River, provides a picturesque location for a day out, not to mention the garden and the aquarium that lie close to the Dam. With the mountains at the backdrop and a well maintained park, Aliyar Dam is a must see.
Southwest monsoon rains fill up the Monkey Falls, which is one of the best places near Anamalai for a dunk in the cold mountain waters. Monkey Falls are close to the Aliyar Dam, enroute Valparai to Pollachi. Keep an eye open for the mischievous monkeys that have earned the waterfalls its name!
About 15 km from Valparai, the Grass Hills are undulating slopy hills that are just covered with meadows of grass. At an elevation of 2400 m above mean sea level, the Grass Hills are home to a variety of exotic fauna like langurs, elephants and gaur. It’s a protected area and you need permission from the Forest Department for a visit.
There is an eco shop run by the tribals at Topslip, where you can buy forest produce processed by the indigenous tribes. You could buy spices like pepper and cardamom, oils and honey, tea bags and souvenirs like key chains, caps and T-shirts with images of wild life, so you can remember your trip to Anamalai. If you are visiting Valparai, you can buy more honey, tea and spices, seeds and saplings at the nurseries near Aliyar Dam. At Pollachi you can check out the soft hand-woven cotton saris of the hamlet of Periya Negamam that’s about 15 km from Pollachi.
Winter is the best time to visit Anamalai, not only for the season, but to witness the Gaja Pooja in January. Like the traditional Pongal or Sankranthi that honours the cattle, the Gaja Pooja is an honour to the elephants, the mammoth gentle giants of the jungle. The elephants are bathed in the mountain stream and made to stand in a row as sandal paste is applied on their foreheads and are treated to special celebratory dishes. The festival signs off with a flourish, as the row of elephants lift up their trunks and salute the tourists.