Annamalai Or Indira Gandhi National Park

Annamalai National Park is also known as Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary, it sits astride the Annamalai Hills on the Tamil Nadu - Kerala border and is reached trough Topslip about 35km southwest of Pollachi.  The area boasts of a thick growth of trees, folds of terrains with evergreen shoals.  Wildlife includes elephants, tigers, panthers, wild boars, sloth bear, porcupine, spotted deer, civet cats, lion tailed macaque, Nilgiri langur, Malabar giant squirrel and Nilgiri tahr, commonly known as ibex.  The avifauna includes the Malabar pied hornbill, racket tailed drongo, red whiskered bulbul, black headed oriole, black eagle, rose ringed parakeet, paradise flycatcher etc.  The Amaravathi Reservoir houses a large number of crocodiles.  Entry to the core area is restricted.

Annamalai National Park is about 34km west of Pollachi and 65km south-west of Coimbatore.  Frequent buses operate from Pollachi to Top Slip (35km) while buses playing from Palani and Coimbatore stop at Pollachi. Private vehicles also run from Pollachi and Parambikulam. Visitors Centre, Top Slip, Coimbatore District. Open daily 6am to 6 pm. For trekking permits contact Forest Range Officer Top Slip or Wildlife Warden, 178m Neebajarau Road, Pollachi 642001 (Monday  to Friday 9am to 5pm) Phone: 04259-238360.

In the old days, the British had established teak forests in the region and used to harvest timber by 'slipping' it down a narrow canal to the plains, giving the place its name, Top Slip.  In 1845, D. Hamilton, an Englishman visited the Anamali region and noted it as 'surpassingly grand and incomparably beautiful'.  Over a century and a half later, the area continues to lure people with its profound beauty.  The Anamalais (also spelt Anaimalai and Annamalai), or Elephant Hills, were probably named after the huge population of pachyderms inhabiting its forest.  In 1976, an area if 578sq km was recognized as the Anamalai Wildlife Sanctuary for its rich birdlife and species like the gaur (Indian bison), tiger, panther, wild boar, porcupine, spotted deer, sambar, mouse deer, barking deer and wild dog.  Unique habitats like Karianshola, Grass hills and Manajampatty wee added to the sanctuary, which was renamed after Indira Gandhi and made into a National Park in 1989.  The endless undulating hills blanketed by a mixed vegetation of groves, forests of evergreen and tropical trees,teak and rosewood, valleys, waterfalls and vast reservoirs like Parambikulam, Aliyar, Thirumurthi, Upper Aliyar, Kadambarai, Sholayar and Amaravathi are breathtaking.  Nearly 300 species of birds inhabit the park including its flagship species the Great Pied Hornbill, the rare Ceylon Frogmouth and Red-winged crested cuckoo.  Nilgiri langurs and lion tailed macaques which are not found in Mudumalai, can be seen here.  Anamalai also has a rich cache of over 2,000 floral species; orchids, palms, ferns, cane and reeds.  Karianshola's vast collection of medicinal plants Conservation Area and interpretation Centre there.
Tourist opt for forest jeeps or elephant safaris to observe wildlife at close quarters.  The adventurous choose guided treks across the changing topography to Pandaravara (8km).Kozhikamuthi (12km) or the exacting hike to Perunkundru peak (32km).  Bookings must be made in advance from the Office of the Wildlife Warden in Pollachi to stay in forest rest houses or lodges.  Best season to visit is December to April and September to March as the favored time for treks.

From Pollachi buses and taxis leave for Topslip, at the base of the hill.  Entry of private vehicles is prohibited and parking is available at Topslip.  Park timing 6.00 to 8.00 and 15.00 to 18.00hr). Trekking accompanied by a Guide in the park can be arranged at Topslip.  Most of the rest houses are located around Topslip.  Accommodation is available near Pollachi.

Total Area 958 sq km Best time to visit December-June Equable warm climate Annual Rainfall 500-550mm Nearest town Pollachi 35km, Coimbatore 50km Location Western Ghats information Dy. Conservator of Forests, Pollachi Phone: 04259-225356, Reception Centre Phone: 04253-244241.