Eravikulam National Park (Idukki - Kerala)

To begin with, I wasn't sure if I wanted to visit Eravikulam, but then I decided to visit. The reason - Nilgiri Tahr, an endangered species, in the heart of the Biodiversity Hotspot of Western Ghats under UNESCO! First I thought it was an amazing thing that I spotted a leopard in wild. But guess what, there are about 12000-15000 leopards in India and there are only 2200 - 2500 Nilgiri Tahr in this big world!!! The maximum population is here in Eravikulam Wildlife Sanctuary. While Indian Leopard is Vulnerable, Nilgiri Tahr is Endangered in IUCN red list. Spotting a Nilgiri Tahr is more special than spotting a Leopard!

I was quite literally warned by the people at Windermere Estate that visiting this place on Sunday was pointless as its almost a tourist spot on Sundays filled with several tourists. But anyways, I wanted to visit the place. So I went there, as early as possible at 8 AM (the place opens at 7:30 AM). Luckily for me, there was just 1 person ahead of me in the ticket counter and the queue for bus, there were about 15 people in front of me.



This exact location is called Rajamala. Here, your own vehicle has to be stopped at the parking lot close to the ticket counter. From here, the travel is only using the Forest Department's mini bus. Food isn't allowed, but can be stored at a closet near the ticket counter. Other things like liquor, cigarettes, fireworks etc shouldn't be carried inside (that's common sense, but that isn't so common, right?!). This bus goes in for about 4 km and drops at a point where there's a museum, shop, cafe and toilets. Beyond this point about 1.4 km can be accessed by walking. This is a black topped road that goes slightly inclined. Its absolutely not a trek, its just a simple walk on tar road that almost anyone can take up, and you don't even need sneakers for this, a simple flat shoes would do.
This walk takes you through some spectacular scenaries. At the end of this 1.4km is a barrier. Even beyond this, certain vehicles go. Those are the vehicles that carry the employees of the KDHP tea plantation estates that goes through a small section inside the national park and then goes down south from there. 
I kept straining my eyes and my zoom lens throughout, as again, I was warned at the resort that the color of the boulders there and the color of the Nilgiri Tahr is almost the same and its easy to miss. I thought all that straining was worth it when I spotted 1 Nilgiri Tahr standing in a slope of the mountain with its specialty hoofs and grazing away! 


But then my luck was further more and further ahead where there there were more than 30 Tahr-s sunbathing on a vegetation-less face of the mountain, almost merged with the background! That's 30+ of the only 2500 Nilgiri Tahr-s! And yes, that's the specialty of Nilgiri Tahr. Their hoofs are unique that they can get hold of the slope-iest of the mountain surfaces, not only for food but also the escape from predators which cannot balance on slopes!

Spotting even one Niligiri Tahr is not an assurance when you enter this place. I was told by my cab driver that a guest who visited this place did not spot any of the first two visits and got to see one only in the third!!!
Nilgiri Tahr is not the only sighting that you get to see. Quite a few types of birds are here as well. That's a Brown Breasted Flycatcher. The most special flora here is the Kurinji flower (Strobilanthes kunthiana) that blooms once in 12 years. When it blooms, the entire face of the mountain is filled with this purplish-blue flowers. No, I haven't seen it yet!!!
Another specialty flora here is Sundew (Drosera), the carnivorous plant!!! Remember my Drosera spotting at Narttamalai in Pudukkottai??!!!
Here's a tip: The ticket can be booked online. If not, reservation can be done with a payment of Rs.50 extra, apart from the ticket cost at the Information Centre in Munnar town. Per day only 2200 tickets are sold, so if you're planning to go in the evening, it is better to reserve! But the best is to go early in the morning, to get the best chance to spot the animals. More the disturbance, the more the get away from the road. Going early was the reason I got to spot some animals in Silent Valley as well as here!
In this 1.4km walk, all the plants are labelled. Keep an eye out to spot Kurinji & Drosera.
There are also several other guided treks and walks organized by the Forest Department incl a day long trek through the mountains, a 3 hr Kurunji Trail, 1 hr Lakkom Waterfall trail etc. All of these have to be pre-booked.

Entry Ticket: Rs.90.
Camera fee: Rs.38
Can be bought online on their website

To get there:
On Google maps: Eravikulam National Park
From Windermere Estate: 12km
From Munnar Bus Stand: 9.5km

Dedicated to Venkat.

Bhushavali N

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

28 comments:

  1. its a shame that Ive never been to Nilgiris :( great post Bhusha

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  2. I'm not familiar with the Nilgiris so I had to do a quick search and read about it. I love the outdoors but I'm usually scared of anything with animals when I'm in another country. Despite this, I still go for it coz I always say we gotta live for the experience. It's great how traveling makes us see and experience these.

    I would do the tour during the day for the photos :)

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  3. Awesome that you spotted the Nilgiri Tahr. I knew nothing about it. The park sounds great. If I were there, I would definitely do a trip as well! Seeing 30+ of the only 2500 Nilgiri Tahr-s is so unique! Well done. You made some great pictures.

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  4. Wow, how cool that you found the Nilgiri Tahr! I had never heard of it before. This place sounds amazing, I'd love to visit someday. What a special and unique experience you've had :) Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Your visit looks amazing. I can't imagine finding 30 tahrs in one place. You captured the animals in some hard to find places, as well. I'm glad you got in and the crowds weren't overwhelming on a typical touristy Sunday.

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  6. Entry ticket is so cheap ya...The beauty looks priceless there! One of my office friends is going there next month. Will tell her about this place.

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  7. It's nice to see so many wildlife at the park. They are just so amazing to watch and there are also a lot of outdoor alternatives at Kerala.

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  8. They are so called Nilgiri because they are endemic to the Nilgiri Hills of the Western Ghats. It's a great thing to tell the world of the ecological status of this species because this way we may all help in its preservation.

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  9. I completely agree with you about the importance of spotting the Nilgiri Tahr. I just hope something's being done about saving the Nilgiri Tahr. We keep hearing save the tiger and stuff but a slogan like Save the Niligiri Tahr is still unheard of. And, I say this from the fact that before this I'd never seen a Nilgiri Tahr or heard about it. From the thumbnail I first thought it was an ordinary goat. It's got yes, but not ordinary. It's a mountain goat. Nice captures. Eravikulam National Park is beautiful.

    - Pixellicious

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  10. So beautiful and I was checking your IG photos during your trip and everything looks so awesome. Nilgiri is beautiful and totally worth visiting.

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  11. What a beautiful day! Those animals Nilgiri Tahr are quite interesting, I would have been straining my eyes and and zoom lens to get a better view. Very nice trip indeed.

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  12. Oooohhh this park looks amazing ♡ and the Nilgiri Tahr are so funny. Lovely post

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  13. Another great post about India... I am again and again amazed of the diversity and the beauty of this country.

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  14. ive not heard of this park before. being able to see these animals is a beauty. youve captured them beautifully

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  15. What beautiful pictures! I'm a morning person, so I would definitely get there early. Trying to capture animals in their natural habitat is so hard. Wonderful shots!

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  16. I'm just amazed with the grip of the hooves of the Nilgiri Tahr. They can really hang in there despite the slant and the terrain.

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  17. Wow! They do camouflage quite well! That's pretty exciting that you lucked out and had the place to yourself. I love watching wildlife - I'll be boookmarking this for my trip to India

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  18. You know I never heard about Nilgiri until now, I did my little research about this place and oh my definitely putting this to my to do list. This pictures you have captured are so beautiful.

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  19. What a wonderful wildlife experience! It is really special when we get to rare animals and plants in our travels. And so lucky are you that reacted quickly enough to get several great photos!

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  20. Omigosh! So many animals in the wild! And leopard! Your post reminds me of a place here called Zoobic in Subic, Pampanga where people can visit animals in the wild too. I'm sure you had a fantastic time! Were you scared? I would be! Hihihi!

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  21. Kerala is in India right? Its a lovely place as shown on your picture

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  22. The Nilgiri Tahr look incredibly cool, glad you got a chance to see them. Great pictures as well! Haven't heard of this before but seems like a great thing to try out.

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  23. I am amazed at the natural beauty this place has to offer. So scenic and beautiful! if I could, I would love to visit this place!

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  24. It looks like a great place to visit. I love your wildlife pictures. Thanks for sharing!

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  25. This will be a good experience for those who have a proper binoculars and a DSLR camera to take nice wildlife shots! Love the brown breast flycatcher... gorgeous~

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  26. I heard that Kerala is wonderful and lifetime experience. I wish to go there too.

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  27. I didn't know what a Nilgiri Tahr was, I only know what they are through your pictures! There are not many in the world, in fact you must have photographed 2% of the Nilgiri Tahr population in one picture!

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