Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary Kerala

Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, (CWS), is located 18 km north of Marayoor on SH 17 in the Marayoor and Kanthalloor Panchayats of Devikulam Taluk in the Idukki district of Kerala state in South India. It is one of twelve Wildlife Sanctuaries among the Protected areas of Kerala.

It is under the jurisdiction of and contiguous with Eravikulam National Park to the south. Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary is to the north and Kodaikanal Wildlife Sanctuary is to the east. It forms an integral part of the 1,187 km2 (458 sq mi) block of protected forests straddling the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border in the Annamalai Hills. The Western Ghats, Anamalai Sub-Cluster, including all of Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, is under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for selection as a World Heritage Site.


CWS is located between latitude 10º15' - 10º21' N and Longitude 77º5' - 77º16' E. The Munnar – Udumalpet road SH 17 passes through the Sanctuary for 16 km and divides it into nearly equal portions. Average annual rainfall is only 500 mm, spread over about 48 days, because it is in the rain shadow region of the southern Western Ghats.

The altitude ranges from 400 meters (1,312 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 River 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 spectacular Thoovanam water falls lie deep within the Sanctuary on the Pambar River. This breathtaking cascade is a major tourist attraction. The Chinnar, Pambar, Kabani and Bhavani are the only rivers of the 44 in Kerala that flow eastwards.

Settlements and crops

There are 11 tribal settlements inside the Chinnar WLS, each is well demarcated by temporary stone walls. The main inhabitants are Muthuvas and Pulayars. Cultivation of maize, ragi and lemongrass is practiced in the settlements. The Mudhuvas carry out small scale ganja cultivation for their religious purposes.


34 species of Mammals live here, including many Panthers and Spotted deer, 50 -60 Indian Elephants, Gaur, Tigers, Sambar Deer, Common langur, Bonnet Macaque, Hanuman monkey, threatened Nilgiri Tahr, vulnerable Rusty-spotted Cats and about 240 of the only vulnerable Grizzled Giant Squirrels in Kerala. 245 species of birds including Yellow-throated Bulbuls. 52 species of reptiles including 29 species of snakes, Indian Star Tortoise and the largest population of vulnerable Mugger Crocodiles in Kerala live in the Sanctuary. Most common of the 42 species of fishes observed in the Chinnar and Pambar rivers are Garra mullya minnows, River-carp baril, Giant Danio and the endangered hill stream game fish Deccan Mahseer. 22 amphibian species live in the Sanctuary. There are 156 species of butterflies.


There are 965 species of flowering plants in the sanctuary Ecoregions of the sanctuary comprise mostly grassland and wet grasslands vegetation and some South Western Ghats montane rain forests and high shola at the higher western elevations. South Western Ghats moist deciduous forestss at mid elevations give way to dry deciduous forests and thorny scrub forests in the lower dryer eastern edges of the valley. The major Xerophyticspecies in the throny scrub forests are Acacia arabica, Acacia leucofolia, Acacia concinna, Prosporis juliflora, and Opuntia stricta.

The Marayoor Sandalwood forest is located here.

Major attractions include:

Gizzled Giant Squirrel: The riverine forests along with Chinnar and Pambar support a large number of highly endangered Grizzled Giant Squirrels. The sanctuary plays host to the second largest population of Grizzled Giant Squirrels in the world.

Thoovanam Waterfalls: Deep within the sanctuary, the spectacular Thoovanam waterfall is located. The river Pambar flows eastwards through the sanctuary and plummets down from a great height on the river Chinnar. Wildlife Department permit tourists to visit the falls as part of wildlife tourism.

Watch Tower: Standing on the lofty watchtower, one can have a panoramic view of the entire park and the wildlife beauties, adjoining jungles in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu and also the magnificent mountains far away.
[edit] Things to DO

Tourists can enjoy the natural walk along the Chinnar and Pamber river banks. They can also find the grizzled giant squirrel. This is an amazing place for the trekkers also. They can enjoy the scenic beauty of the nature by moving towards Thooyanam Waterfalls. Tourists can enjoy camping here.

 Regional Cooperation

Contiguous protected areas like Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary and Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary will benefit from Regional cooperation. Senior officials of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (India), Principal Chief Conservators of Forests of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, together with other senior forest officials of these states and the Union Territory of Pondicherry, met at Thiruvananthapuram on November 3 and 4, 2006 and resolved several mutual issues concerning conservation and protection of forests and wildlife of the region.

This formalization of interstate cooperation on protected areas administration will improve effectiveness in the areas of daily staff communication including common wireless frequencies, joint enforcement action, boundary survey and demarcation, management of cross border resources like Biosphere Reserves, National Parks, Tiger reserves and Wildlife Sanctuaries, technology, staff and intelligence sharing and coordinated communication with the Govt. of India. A regular conference of the Forest Ministers and forest officials of the southern states are held once a year, in rotation in each State.

 Visitor information

Eco-tourism is promoted and organized jointly by the Forest Department and the Eco Development Committees (EDCs) of the local tribal communities, the objective is to empower latter and involve them in the conservation of the forest ecosystem.

Trek paths most commonly used are the Chinnar – Chullipetty and Chinnar – Koottar. Trekking to the Dolmens, the megalithic burial sites of tribal communities in Alampatti, can be arranged. Daytime sighting of crocodiles and boars is possible while hiking along the riverside. The trail will also take you to the enchanting Thoovanam falls and to the watchtower in Jellimalai.

Chinar watchtower

The lofty Chinnar Watch Tower has a panoramic view of the entire sanctuary, and beyond to the jungles of Tamil Nadu to the east and the majestic hills of the Western Ghats in all directions. The watch tower is accessible to the public with the permission of the forest department. The watchtower is a 20-minute walk from the Chinnar check post. A fee of Rs. 15 per person is collected at the tower. A Forest guard and tourist guide accompanies visitors. The guide charges Rs. 100 a day.

Accommodations are available in three suites at the Forest guesthouse for Rs. 400 per room without food. Treetop machans, arranged by the Forest Department, cost Rs. 1,000 for an overnight stay for two. Camping overnight in tribal huts at Vasyappara gives opportunities to sight elephants, peacocks, langur, deer and the giant squirrel. Camping at the Vasyappara huts cost Rs. 2,000 (including dinner, night stay and breakfast). The Forest Department also arranges accommodation at log houses in Churlipatti. Dormitory facilities are also available at Chinnar. However visitiors must be warned that there are no means of buying anything to eat or drink at chinnar except the odd pack of milk biscuits and a few bottles of water.

Contact: The Wildlife Warden, Munnar division, Munnar-685612. Ph: 04865-231587; Email: or: The Wildlife Warden, Idukki Wildlife Division, Idukki, Vellapara, Painavu P.O, Kerala-686 603, phone: 0486-232271 or: The Assistant Wildlife Warden, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Marayoor P.O. via , Munnar, Idukki District, Kerala.

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