Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, spread across an area of about 90 sq km, is located around 60 km from Munnar in the Idukki district. The sanctuary is popularly known as the habitat of the endangered Grizzled Giant Squirrel of India, which is deemed to be just 240. Declared a sanctuary in 1984 and like many others sanctuaries of Kerala, the Western Ghats once again add a scenic sense as you proceed towards this sanctuary. The altitude of the region varies from 500 meters to 2400 meters with major peaks being Kumarikal Malai (2522 m), Nandala Malai (2372 m), and Kottakombu Malai (2144 m). Plus, the 965 species of flowering plants residing here give you one of the most spectacular and incredible views to capture and treasure for lifetime.
Due to significant variations in altitude and rainfall, the sanctuary hosts a diverse range of floral beauty - deciduous forests, dry thorny forest including xerophytic species, riparian types, shoals, and grasslands. The sanctuary also houses about 1000 species of flowering plants and is a distinguished repository of medicinal plants. According to the statistical survey, about 34 species of mammals, 245 of birds, 52 of reptiles, 22 of amphibians, and 42 species of fish are known to be present here. Apart from the pride of the forest, Giant Grizzled Squirrels, tourists are likely to come across herds of spotted deer, tigers, leopards, elephants, sambar deer, monkeys, peacocks, and other common mammals. Apart from the magnificent flora and fauna, the other attractions of this sanctuary include Thoovanam Waterfalls and Watch Tower, offering you a panoramic view of the entire parkland below.
Since the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the rain shadow region of the Western Ghats, it receives less than two months of annual rainfall during the months from October to December when the northeast monsoons are at play. The average annual rainfall it receives is 500 mm, which is very less compared to other wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala. The mean annual temperature stays around 36 0C, with the lowest recorded temperature being 12 0C and highest recorded temperature 38 0C. While the plains in Chinnar region are generally hot, the higher altitudes are relatively cooler.
The Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is open all through the year but the best time to visit is generally between the months December and May. Accommodation facilities are provided by private lodges located in Marayoor, Munnar, and Udumalpetta. The forest department also provides arrangements for visitors to stay at the forest guesthouses. Dormitory facilities are also available at Chinnar. The undulating relief features make the sanctuary an ideal location for trekking. The nearest railway station to the sanctuary is Pollachi (60 km), while the closest airport is Cochin International Airport, about 150 km from Munnar. Local transportations are also available to offer you pick-and-drop facilities from stations and airports to this sanctuary.
Read this article to know more about the Chinnar/Chinar wildlife sanctuary in Kerala.