The thorny scrub of Chinnar is a unique habitat at the eastern margin of Kerala. It houses the relics of stone age rock art and cave paintings. The dry deciduous and thorny jungles of this eastern slope of the Western Ghats form a rain shadow country. It nurtures the sandalwood forests of Marayur and the Grizzled Giant Squirrels, Star Tortoise, Tufted Grey Langurs and much much more… The mystery of Pambar and Chinnar rivers includes big mammals like Elephant, Gaur, Spotted Deer, Sambar Deer and a variety of birds and butterflies.
I visited this unique valley encircled by Eravikulam National Park on the west and south, Indira Gandhi WLS on the north and Kodaikanal forests on the east with an artist friend Jain in the first week of May 2010. We saw plenty of Spotted Doves and Tufted Grey Langurs. The landscape of the dry valley was breathtaking. The dry jungles of Chinnar lie at an average elevation of 600-500 meters MSL. From Munnar we can reach hear by driving down north east some 50 km through Marayur.
The blue mountains in the background and the lemon green forests in the foreground formed a spectacular and highly soothing view. We saw peafowls in the dry grass. Spotted deers ran past us as we entered the thorny bush. A tribal forest watcher told us that it is also home to the endangered Mugger crocodiles which are rare in South India. There are dormitory, rooms, tree huts and log huts by the Forest Department for travelers.
We entered the Tamil Nadu side and drove through Indira Gandhi WLS towards Udumalpet for a few miles to see a herd of wild elephants calmly grazing by the highway. A mother and calf were enjoying their time together without much concern about the onlookers. I could go up to 70 meters near them. A forest guard was there to check the people.
While returning from this wonderfully and unbelievably close elephant encounter, before entering Kerala I noticed a big pale pigeon on a wild fruit tree. Stopping the vehicle I approached the tree with my camera and found a splendid Green Imperial Pigeon in its sheer beauty and grace. Its glorious green wings and whitish underparts and head were visible in the dying light of the Chinnar sun. I could also hear the yearning call of this pretty pigeon that animated and resonated the whole landscape and sunset at Chinnar.