Mundanthurai Tiger Sanctuary

#1 Aug 19th, 2004, 19:54
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  • old india hand is offline
#1
Mundanthurai (also called Kalakad-Mundanthurai) near Tirunelveli, and now part of ‘Project Tiger‘, used to be included in older LP guides, but is not in the newer editions! I was there in ‘89, has anyone visited in the last few years?
#2 Jan 4th, 2005, 01:45
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#2
Just spent two nights in the Forest Rest House at Mundanthurai. Gloriously quiet, though we didn't see much wildlife - but beautiful and varied forests. Did see chital (spotted deer), sambar, nilgiri langur, bonnet macaque, mongoose, plenty of birds and fabulous butterflies.

Not so high as, for example, Periyar, although there are shola forests in parts of the sanctuary. Pretty moist at present and surrounded by dams and HEP schemes. Some beautiful waterfalls nearby (Agasthiyar). Clouded over by lunchtime each day, so walking in the afternoon OK, though best early. OK to walk on the (pretty quiet) roads outside the rest house on your own - five to seven km to go.

Rest house is well used by Indian tourists so need to book. Meals available too. Access to most of the forest requires a permit, so allow time to arrange. We will go back.

Mike
#3 Jan 4th, 2005, 20:36
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#3

crikey!

Someone's actually been to Mundanthurai! Have you tried the dams above? Lower & upper dams, servallar? tried to get to Banathirtham and check out the place of worship there?

If you need some more info, PM me, I'll try to help out!
#4 Jan 6th, 2005, 04:59
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#4
Had wanted to visit some of the sanctuaries not listed in the guides and it was well worthwhile. Walked up to Servalar on the first afternoon and planned to get the last bus back to the rest house. Unfortunately it broke down and never arrived so ended up walking back in the pitch dark. Great fireflies! Following morning walked out to the bungalow at Kodamadi (about another 7km into the forest). Last morning went up to Karayar early. Didn't have time for a boat trip. Great model of Agasthiyar and assorted animals.

Didn't pick up on Banathirtam. Would be interesting to try to do so next time.

As we came to leave, our housekeeper pointed out the leopard pugmarks I had overlooked, leading straight across the yard just outside our room! Probably after one of the monkeys.

Good to hear from you DD - many thanks, I'll be in touch.
#5 Jan 9th, 2005, 05:56
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#5

Notes on Mundanthurai, November 04 - after heavy rains (and still raining).

Papanasam; old Siva temple and huge trees overlooking the Tamiraparani river - a nice location. A small 'restaurant' on the corner near the temple provides okay food. The basic Thillai Lodge is 300 metres further up the road.
Continuing, to walk 1 km, up the road is a 'lookout point' with views of Agasthiyar falls and across to the Coats textile factory. A path leads down towards numerous falls and rapids. The final pounding falls are next to a small, rather interesting, and very wet temple - a powerful place.

Returned to the road and caught a bus (10+ km) to Manimuthar Dam which is in the reserve's buffer zone, with the core zone being on the lake's (reservoir‘s) far side, the boat trip across to Banathirtham falls (also roaring) is very beautiful, and popular with domestic tourists.

Raining again, I retreat to the small, and friendly, town of Ambasamudram, and found good food and lodging at the Gowri Sankar. And got the definite impression that not many (or indeed any) foreigners had stayed in Ambasamudram before, also confirmed on visiting the internet shop (excellent connection speeds) near the cinema on the western end of this long narrow town.
The surrounding rural scape is flat and ideal for cycling, with the nearby hills a fine backdrop. Four km north is the village of Brahmadesam with a large, old, and falling apart temple.


Within the Singampatti forest (part of the core zone of Mundanthurai / Kalakadu Wildlife Sanctuary) are the BBTC Tea Estates on a lease that expires in 2028.

I took the 5:30 am local bus from Ambasamudram and passed through a series of police checkpoints and also BBTC's check post (no checks on a crowd of jolly tea workers on a Sunday morning!!) to arrive, after almost two hours at the Manjolai Estate, the bus continued on through more charming tea estate villages and some very fine, lush, upland rainforest to the Oothu Estate - a nice bus ride.

The friendly gentleman, probably from junior management, who invited me into his home for tea was quite sure that the working conditions on the estate are exemplary.
In the short time available I seemed to find no contact with any of the 1999 strikers or mention of the Tirunelveli massacre. The estates appeared, to the casal eye, to be well managed and harmonious.

Walking along the pleasant road I was invited to join four well connected lads from Chennai, their driver, and guide (the local senior police officer).
The destination was Upper Kodaiyar near the state border, and a normally closed area because of dams and hydro-works etc. The interesting thing here was that water was being pumped up the mountain to a higher storage dam, and had something to do with directing more water into TN. No one took photos.

The road continued higher to arrive on an ‘edge’, a short walk led to an amazing sweeping lookout - just stunning - rugged hills, forests, high grass lands and numerous lakes (most or all the result of dams?).
Another 1/2 km around the mountain are more top views from the Upper Kodaiyar ‘winch station’.

A v. large “bison” (?) nearly collides with the vehicle. The Chennai lads had also encountered elephants earlier that morning on the lower slopes.
We returned down the hills to regular India, and this wonderful day in grand country and good company came to an end.


Also in this corner of TN is Courtallam (or Kuttralam) and its impressive (after the rains) bathing falls. The Siva-Parvati temple next to main falls is very friendly - a favourite.
And although the edges of the village have grown considerably, the Parani Lodge (with falls view) and ‘the falls bazaar’ have changed little since ’89.
#6 Jan 10th, 2005, 17:14
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#6

I'm

chuffed, I say after I saw your report. I feared the worst, imagining the things that would have gone awry with those places.
#7 Sep 1st, 2005, 00:31
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#7
I would be interested in visiting this area with my husband in early February. This is our first trip to India so I'm not too familiar with how to get around off the beaten track. I am thinking of stopping here (Mundanthurai) enroute to Madurai from Kerala.
I have found a phone number to make reservations at the Forest Guest House. Is that the only way to make reservations? What is the accommodation like (private bath?)?
I see that the train from Quilon arrives at Ambasamudram (6 km away from Mundanthurai?) at 5 pm each day. Is there then a way to get to the Forest Guest House from there?
Or would it be a good idea to spend a few days in Tirunelveli and do day trips from there, including to Mananthurai?
#8 Sep 1st, 2005, 00:49
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#8
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Originally Posted by LindaK I would be interested in visiting this area with my husband in early February. This is our first trip to India so I'm not too familiar with how to get around off the beaten track. I am thinking of stopping here (Mundanthurai) enroute to Madurai from Kerala.
I have found a phone number to make reservations at the Forest Guest House. Is that the only way to make reservations? What is the accommodation like (private bath?)?
I see that the train from Quilon arrives at Ambasamudram (6 km away from Mundanthurai?) at 5 pm each day. Is there then a way to get to the Forest Guest House from there?
Or would it be a good idea to spend a few days in Tirunelveli and do day trips from there, including to Mananthurai?

I'd suggest you try acco. in Ambas. When you get out of the station, you need to ask around. The town is slightly unplanned. Going to tirunelveli is about 30-35kms from Ambas. not a good idea unless you don't like the hotel aco. in Ambas. If not Ambas, try further up in Kallidaikurichi, it's about 2 km from Ambas across the river tamparaparani. YOU WILL have to cross the bridge to get there. BTW, both these are in the opposite directionof where you want to go. When you step out of the station AND walk up to the main road, you will see a school out there facing you named Vikaasa. Towards the right is Mundanthurai and towards your left will the direction of town centre (sort of) and Kallidaikurichi.


Yuo might need to hire a car to get to the Forest house. Don't have any details about that. Closer to Ambas is Manimuthar Dam & falls, which you can make it 30-45minutes depending on the traffic. If the rains have been good this year, the dam might be a good spot and the falls a place to bathe.

PM me, if you need more info.
#9 Sep 4th, 2005, 04:37
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#9
Hi LindaK

Sorry for the delay in responding. When we were there in December there were occasional buses that pulled up outside the rest house. I am fairly sure they came from Ambasamudram. They are mainly for workers at the dams and seemed to go on to both Servalar and Kerayar sites.

I arranged our visit by emailing the Field Director:
Dr. R. Annamalai,IFS
Field Director and conservator of Forests
Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve
N.G.O'A'Colony
Tirunelveli - 627 007
Tamil Nadu INDIA
+91 462 2552663
email: tvl_kmtrpt@sancharnet.in

Dr Annamalai visited the rest house while we were there - all the staff were lined up in their best uniforms for inspection. Probably best to be pretty formal. The Range Officer at Mundanthurai is Sivadasan, who was extremely helpful to us. His phone number is +91 4634-220388, but you may not find anyone who speaks English. If you do go please pass on best wishes from Mike and Vikki. If you wish to go further into the forest you'll need to arrange permission in advance. There are PWD inspection bungalows, but it was unclear if it's possible to stay. I was advised that it might be possible to reach the shola forests but would need at least two days.

We hired a car and driver from Trivandrum. Not expensive (c £45 for 3 days all in) and had the advantage of flexibility. Our driver was excellent and knowledgeable.

Sorry just realised you had asked another question. In the two different rooms we used there was a large bedroom with basic beds and a table and chairs (meals in the room because of the monkeys), plus a bathroom with bucket cold water. The suite upstairs which was being used by Dr A may have been grander. Food was simple but perfectly acceptable. We had brought fruit with us from Ambasamudram - a good idea.

Mind the macaques around the rest house. Enjoy your trip - we loved Tamil Nadu. PM me if you want more info.

Mike
Last edited by mikewill; Sep 4th, 2005 at 04:42.. Reason: adding info
#10 Aug 17th, 2006, 17:11
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#10

Exploring Mundanthurai

I have been to Mundanthurai and have extensively trekked the forest area in four different trips this year (2006). It is a great place to camp, especially if you can get the permission of the forest officials. I also found out that one can hire horses and Elephants to trek. If anyone is interested, please post.
#11 Aug 20th, 2006, 03:22
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#11
Hi Joe

I'd certainly be interested to hear more about your visits. Where did you get the elephants from? Did you get up to the shola forests?

Mike
#12 Jul 14th, 2009, 12:43
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#12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital Drifter View Post When you step out of the station AND walk up to the main road, you will see a school out there facing you named Vikaasa.
Sorry to bump an old thread, but couldnt resist posting this. This is the school where I did all my schooling

btw, as an update, the permission to enter mundanthurai should be got now from DD office in ambasamudram.
#13 Aug 31st, 2009, 13:53
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#13
The permission to stay in the Mundanthurai rest house is given at the Deputy Director office, in Ambasamudram. Earlier, it was in Tirunelveli.

From my experience with them, I can say that they dont have many tourists coming over there to stay and trek. The local tourists always do a day trip and return back by EOD.

I would advice you to call them up before you show up as the DD might be out of office when you go. They require you to submit a letter requesting for stay in the mundanthurai rest house. I'm not sure if they have a fax number, you can confirm that when you call them. If not, send the letter by post so that the permission will be ready when you go there.

To reach Ambasamudram, you can take a bus which goes to Papanasam from Tirunelveli bus stand. It would take around 1 to 1.5 hours to reach ambasamudram aka Ambai. From there, you can take an auto. If the local are not sure about the place, ask for A.V.Rm.V Marriage hall. The Project Tiger office is just opposite to this hall. (There is one more Forest office near bus stand, and if you go there they will refer you to the same Project Tiger office)

Few points about Mundanthurai
- They dont organise any kind of safaris.
- There are many tourist spots near the rest house such as Agasthiar Falls, Karayar dam, Panatheertham falls, etc.
- In the rest house reception, you can ask for a guide and they might provide you with a local whom you can take inside the jungle for birding, etc
- Most important point, do not expect the authorities, in the DD office and at the reception to be like their counterparts in other tiger reserves and sanctuaries. As hard core wildlife enthusiasts seldom visit, they might not know the process and might not be following exactly whatever little they know.
#14 Sep 1st, 2009, 04:05
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#14
thanx for the update!

I think I have what I need to have a fantastic visit, thanx to IM!
#15 Oct 31st, 2009, 05:39
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  • narayan is offline
#15

kalakkad

ananth,

thanks for the informataion. could you please give the phone number of DD office in Ambai. I would like to visit the place and do some trekking . Also that happens to be my native place which i have never visited though i have heard a lot from my father. I would appreciate if you can give me your phone number also so i can discuss about the trek plan in detail.

Also let me know how many days does it require from blore to blore
regards

narayan

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