Pichavaram Forest Information
Pichavaram is about 56km from Cuddalore and 16km from Chidambaram. A unique natural phenomenon in the form of mangrove forests which sprawl over 11,000 hectares of backwaters is the tourist attraction here.
The Pichavaram mangrove forest is a magical place. Nestled between the Vellar River to the north and the Coleroon River to the south, separated from the Bay of Bengal by a solid band of sand, this coastal ecosystem is like no other place on earth. There are thousands of islands it is impossible to keep count as the numbers shift with the tides that dot the many channels, canals and creeks that flow around and over them. The only way into the forest is by boat, or, on the shallower waterways, by foot. The place is a veritable maze, and only the local boatmen know their way around some of the parts of the forest, and are intimately acquainted with the ebb and flow of the tides. They will take you around, and are happy to point out the wealth of bird, marine and flora life.
This is a forest unlike any other. The roots of the trees burrow into several feet of saline water and are visible above the water as well. The canopy is dense and deep inside the forest; it is a zone of permanent twilight with the sunlight barely making it through the thick leafy cover overhead. It has a unique ecosystem that includes tree, seaweeds and sea grasses, rare varieties of aquatic life, and a healthy population of birds of over 200 varieties, including waterfowl, cormorants, egrets, storks, herons, spoonbills and pelicans. The birding season is from September until April, with the cooler months of November to January being the peak period for bird watching.
This is a popular place for water sports, as well as canoeing, kayaking and rowing. The tourism department of Tamil Nadu and the administration of the district of Cuddalore have established a Dawn Fest, or Vdiyal Vizha. Promoted as an eco-tourism event, it includes activities like boat rides through the backwater and watching the local irula tribal's catch prawns and crabs; enjoying music performed on a floating platform on the water; watching the spectacular sunrise from one of the many islets in the forest; yoga on the beach to the accompaniment of traditional music; and a seafood fest.
This mangrove forest is vibrantly healthy. During the terrible tsunami of 2004, the Pichavaram mangroves saved the coast to its west. The thick forest absorbed much of the force o the water as it slammed into land, its strength and impact were further weakened as the water was channeled into the network of waterways. Had the mangrove forest been any les healthy and dense, the coastal communities behind it would have suffered the same devastation as those with no natural protection.
Pichavaram an early morning boat ride in the backwaters of Pichavaram takes one into the deepest quiet of the mangrove forests. Thousands of finger like roots stretch achingly towards the marsh earth as slender boats negotiate the narrowest waterways through dark tunnels canopied by mangroves. Filmmakers who fancy its cinematic appeal have captured Pichavaram's hypnotic charm. Tamil Nadu's film icon and former Chief Minister MGR shot his Idaya Kani film here in the 1970s, and recentl film star Kamal Hasan's Dasavatharam, put Pichavaram back in focus by capturing it on celluloid.
Until recently, tourists had negligible options except to picnic briefly en route to or from Chidambaram. Now the Saradharam Eco Ressort is a convenient perch for overnight stays. It has clean and decent rooms and great food served at their rooftop restaurant with the added bonus of superb views of the backwaters at dawn and dusk. The TTDC Arignar Anna Tourist Complex has a view tower and a boathouse with several boats that tour the Pichavaram backwaters.
Pichavaram is about 14km east from Chidambaram. Arignar Anna Tourism Complex, Pichavaram 608102. Open 7am to 6pm. Guided Tours: Boatmen double up as guides Phone: 04144-249399.
From Chidambaram to Pichavaram the road is a deeply rutted, potholed track with the occasional patch of tar. It is advisable to take the buses that ply hourly from Chidambaram.
Dawn Festival - Pitchavaram
Dawn Fest (Vidiyal Thiruvizha) is organized annually by the District Administration of Cuddalore in association with TTDC. The main attraction of Dwan Fest I the early morning visit to an island near Pichavaram with lush coconut groove in well lit and welcoming with live classical instrument music with the sunrise. It would be a life time experience to practice yoga among this ambience together with the demonstration and rhythmic yoga exercise by a team of yoga experts. Then the guests are taking for a bird watching cruise in the mangrove forest. Mangroves in local community are called 'Thillai Natarajar Kovil) since time immemorial.
The festival also host a cultural evening full of art forms such as Thappattam, Silambattam, Mayilattam, Karagattam including performances by the local Irula tribal community Irula's tribal community Irula's Kolattam.
This event is founded by the Department of Tourism, Tamil nadu and supported by the Department of Environment of Forest and the Town Panchyat of Killai.