Spread over a vast area, the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, also known as the Annamalai Wildlife Sanctuary, lies at a distance of 93 kms from Coimbatore city and the time taken to get there by road from Coimbatore is around one hour thirty minutes. With diverse topography, climate and rainfall patterns, it is a protected place for a variety of flora and fauna. The place was notified as a wildlife sanctuary in 1974 and as a National Park in the year 1989.
Karian Shola, Grass Hills, and Manjampatti Valley, serve as three disparate habitats of the National Park. These three beautiful habitats with a number of waterfalls, teak forests, dams and reservoirs add to the scenic beauty of the place making it a perfect place for wildlife to reside. Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary is home to the tribal group of ‘Kada’ people, who work within the sanctuary. The park also features over 2000 species of plants out of which many possess medicinal value. Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary also has a renowned medicinal plant garden and interpretive centre. Teak and rosewood trees are grown in abundance in the dense forests of the sanctuary.
The park has an elephant training centre that can be visited on a guided vehicle tour. One can explore the park in a jeep safari or can enjoy an elephant ride while doing so. Indira Gandhi National Park also offers various treks amidst nature. Along with elephants, gaurs, tigers, panthers, sloth bears, pangolins, black headed orioles, green pigeons, civet cats, brown mongoose, you may also get to see some endangered species here. Some of the rare and endangered species of flora found in the park are Combretum Ovalifolium, Dispyros nilagrica, Gymnopteris Contaimirans, Polypodum pleroupus, Angiopterris Erectra, Gnetum Ula, Impaliens Elegans, Lycopodium cernum and Osmunda Regulis.
Love watching birds and butterflies? Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary is the place for you! Enjoy watching over 250 species of birds, and around 315 species of the angelic butterflies fluttering their wings in the park, over the mountains, around trees and you. Apart from the birds that are bred here you will also be able to see some who migrate from the nearby regions. Woodland birds include Grey Jungle fowl, Painted Bush Quail, Red Spur fowl, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Great Hornbill, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Malabar Grey Hornbill, White-bellied Woodpecker, Alpine Swift, Brown-backed Needletail, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Dollar bird, Malabar Trogon, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Wyiiaad Laughing thrush and Hill Myna amongst others. This place is surely a birdwatcher’s paradise!
So pack up your picnic lunch and get ready to explore this heaven on earth. Don’t forget to carry your cameras in order to capture one of your most alluring holidays amidst nature.