Chinnar is an artist’s muse, a trekker’s getaway and a nature lover’s paradise. The place is a splash of colors where nature has unleashed its bounty. With brooks, streams, rivulets and crystal clear water gushing through rocks and flowing over pebbles, it’s a delicate eco-system that’s at work here.
The Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary comes under the rain shadow region in the eastern slope of the Western Ghats. Once you cross the rain-blessed Munnar hills and touchdown on the slopes, the rain effect is felt no more. The beauteous Chinnar lies on the forest tract when you trek down from Marayoor in Kerala to Udumalpet in Tamil Nadu. With deciduous trees, thorny shrubs and vast grasslands, the place is a nature lover’s hideaway.
It literally means a forest which gets only the shadow of rain, never the real drops. To carry the concept further, it’s a place which stands on one side of a mountain, dry and thorny for want of rain, while the other side enjoys all the showers. Hence, the rain-shadow region becomes arid and hard. But Chinnar will not disappoint you. It’s a freak formation, blessed by nature in secret!
The place blessed with two rivers meandering through the deciduous forests to form Koottaar. The stunningly beautiful Thoovanam waterfalls and the tree houses are the special sights here. A night in a tree house is an experience worth looking forward to.
An early morning drive from Munnar to Marayoor would be ideal. The Eravikulam National Park lies en route to the sandalwood forests. A stop at Eravikulam will offer you the pleasant sight of the Nilgiri thar grazing around unmindful of all the attention it’s getting.
Early bird gets the view
It is better to reach Chinnar by noon as you will have to trek through forest paths to reach Koottaar Log House, the tree house where tourists are put up. Sundown, increases the chances of an encounter with wild animals - not even the best or the boldest guide would risk his life for such misadventure.
Far across the hills lie the magnificent Thoovanam waterfalls which look like strands of thread falling over the hills. The Thoovanam Log House is close to falls which needs to be booked well in advance. A night beside the roaring falls from the Pambar river is an experience in itself. The greenery around is of short and shrubby plants with thistles and thorns. There are vast stretches of such thistle forests. This is the special nature of Chinnar. As for Pambaar, it’s one of the three rivers which flow eastward.
To get in to Chinnar, you need to pay an entry fee at the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border. You are then given a guide who will take you through the dense shrubby forests. From there, the walk becomes an experience of a lifetime. Vehicles can be parked under the trees around the forest office. Beware of the Hanuman langurs that will jump out of trees. They jump atop your vehicles, dance on them, stamp on them and go berserk. They may grin at you, even while planning an attack. The moment they realize that you are not afraid of them, they flee - a loud shout or pretense of a counter attack is enough.
A stay by Chinnar
It’s a 'chinna' (small) 'aar' (river) that flows through. Even on the rare occasions when it rains, the water level in Chinnar never goes above one’s knee. The water is crystal clear.
The tree house in Koottaar stands, over rocks and boulders, protected by the foliage. A bedroom, an attached bathroom and a small sit-out make up the house. The watchman might try to sell his theory of strong friendships being forged in the forest, because you have only each other to turn to in the midst of the wild.
You can go out, sit by the river bank or on the rocks and have your dinner. It’s a perfect setting for friends, families, and couples. You couldn’t possibly ask for a lovelier setting for dinner with the whirr of crickets, the splendor of a starry sky above and the gurgle of the Pambar making up the holiday ambiance.
Go on a clicking spree
Chinnar is a shutterbug’s paradise. You have an opportunity at every turn. The main attraction is to click the giant grizzled squirrel. In the early morning hues, Chinnar is spread out like a canvas of colors and you need to move across the spread to spot its occasional, elusive scamper.
Chinnar would easily send an artist into a rapture of ecstasy. Its natural beauty defies description. Tiny rocks, green patches and grassy spreads complete the portrait. The two rivers, Chinnar and Koottaar flow along smoothly, then merge into one to flow into the Amaravathy Dam far beyond. Amaravathy is known as the crocodile’s natural habitat.
Hawks are a special feature of Chinnar. They build huge nests amidst the branches of tall trees. Chinnar forests, though quite unlike the ones of the Anamalais, is however, home to wild animals.
There are tracks and well-trodden paths through the shrubby forest. A walk through the woods is an enriching experience. You have wild squirrels, plenty of them for company. Spotted deer stand still looking on with curiosity. But they dart off at the slightest sound, so does the sambar deer, that come out into the open to graze. Chinnar’s animals, including elephants, have their hideouts.
Thoovanam Log House - Rs3,000 (for Indians) Rs4, 000 (Foregin nationals) per night
To book click here
Koottaar Log House - Rs3,000 (for Indians) Rs4, 000 (Foregin nationals) per night
To book click here
(50% of the room charge will be collected online and rest has to be paid on arrival
There will be additional entrance fee – Rs300 for foreign nationals and Rs24 for Indians)
Nearby City: Munnar (48.3km)
Nearby Airport: Kochi (155km)
Nearby Railway Station: Aluva (156km)