Mudumalai National Park
Once a renowned game reserve of the Madras Presidency, Mudumalai, Tamil Nadu's most famous National Park was established as far back as 1940. Mudumulai, meaning 'ancient hills', occupies pristine tropical hill forests and is located at the meeting point of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Contiguous to Karnataka's Bandipur Tiger Reserve in the north separated by the river Moyar and Kerala's Wynad wildlife Sanctuary on the west, the park is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere reserve. The Reception Centre, located at Theppakadu (theppam means tank, kadu is forest), is the gateway to the National Park.
Bestowed with enviable and abundant biodiversity, Mudumalai draws naturalists, birdwatchers, wildlife buffs, anthropologists from near, and afar. Easily accessible from Ooty, Mysore and Calicut, the region is a wildlife magnet packed with resorts and forest lodges. The vegetation is dense with tropical deciduous trees towards the west, owing to the south-west monsoons and gradually changes to dry deciduous and thorny scrub towards, the east, which receives the gentler northeast monsoons. Its variable terrain of hills, valleys, ravines, flats, streams and swamps enables it to maintain varied wildlife.
The forests teem with wildlife from herbivores like elephants, gaurs, sam bars, spotted deer, Indian muntjacs and wild boars, primates lie langurs and bonnet macaques to carnivores like tigers, sloth bears and striped hyenas. Dholes or Asiatic wild dogs are sighted in masinagudi and Theppakkadu while leopards are in the Kargudi area. Fruit bearing trees and the rich vegetation of tall elephant grass, bamboo, teak, rosewood, mathi, vengai and the vibrant flame of the forest attract over 300 bird species including mynas, barbets, babblers, parakeets and several raptors. Notable species include the Malabar gey hornbill, Malabar trogon great black woodpecker with its vibrant scarlet crest, tiny-eared owl, scops owl, changeable hawk eagle, crested serpent eagle and the endangered black and orange flycatcher.
The rivers Moyar, Biden Halla and Benne Hole drain the western part of the sanctuary. The moyar Gorge, carved by the force of the river as it plunges 100m/300ft down into the Moyar Falls is a scenic spot while other viewpoints include upper Kargudi Hill and the lake swamp of Ombetta Vayal where herds of gaurs and elephants can be seen. February to May and September to October is the best time to visit. April nights are magical when the park is aglow with waves of fireflies.
Together with neighboring Bandipur National Park in Karnataka and Wynaad National Park in Kerala, in the foothills of the Nilgiris, Mudumalai is the part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (3000 sq km), one of the largest protected forest tracts in the country. The mountain chains of the Eastern and the Westhern Ghats meet in this region and hence the Mudumalai has a varied mixture of flat land, undulating parkland, open grassland, swamp, valleys, and nullas. Moist deciduous forest on the west and dry deciduous or scrub forest types. The Moyer River meanders through the sanctuary forming a series of cascades on its way.
One of the most popular getaways in South India, Mudumalai forest is home to one of the largest elephant settlements in India, gaur (Indian bison), sambar, barking deer, wild dot, Nilguri langur, bonnet monkey, wild boar, four horned antelope and the elusive tier and leopard. There are also small mammals including mouse deer, civet, giant Malabar flying squirrels, mongoose etc. The birds listed in this sanctuary are jungle fowl, peacock Malabar hornbill, woodpeckers, Malabar whistling thrush, paradise flycatchers, warblers etc. Among birds of prey, eagles, hawks, buzzards, falcons an king vulture are predominant, besides some migratory water birds. Reptiles include python, large monitor lizard's viper, and king cobra. Otters and crocodiles inhabit the Moyer River.
South of Theppakadu is the popular Elephant Camp, one of the biggest in South India. It is interesting to see these elephants scrubbed clean by the mahouts in the river Moyer. You can watch the elephants fed and learn about an elephant's diet. In the wild, elephants consume about 300km of green fodder and 90 liters of water daily. It is puja time at dusk. Two baby elephants from the camp are lead to a small Vinayaka Temple near the camp. They circumambulate the temple ringing a small bell in obeisance to the Lord.
The sanctuary's main service area located at Theppakadu on the main road between Ooty and Mysore, form the gateway to the sanctuary Timing 7.30 to 9.00 and 15.00 to 17.30hr.
Mudumalai has accommodation offered by the Forest Department and a large number of resorts have come up on the outskirts of the sanctuary in Masinagudi and Bokkapuram, 4km south of Masinagudi. Many of these privately owned properties also offer trekking and camping facilities.
Total Are 321 sq km Best time to visit September -October, February-May Annual Rain fall 2300mm, heavy rain in October - November Nearest town Mysore 90km, Ooty 65km Information Forest Ranger Officer, Ooty 0423-2444098 or reception centre, Theppakadu 0423-2526238