Named after the legendary ornithologist Dr Salim Ali, Thattekad Bird Sanctuary in Ernakulam district of Kerala in south India is one of the important bird sanctuaries of India. The wildlife sanctuary, spread over an area of 25 sq km, is home to over 280 species of birds including Crimson-throated Barbet, Sunbird and Fairy Blue bird.
The sanctuary is the catchment area of Bhoothathankett Dam. Undulating terrain, has mixed deciduous forest with patches of grassland. The bird sanctuary is located near the Periyar River, in the shadow of the Western Ghats and consists of evergreen, tropical semi-green and moist deciduous forest. The literal meaning of Thattekad is flat forest.
- If you intend to visit the sanctuary on a day trip, ensure you reach as soon as the visiting hours start. The sanctuary is open from 6 AM-6 PM. Indian nationals will have to pay an entry fee of Rs. 10. An additional fee will have to be paid if you are carrying camera (Rs 25) and video camera (Rs. 150).
- Monsoon is best avoided. In addition to the danger of wild animals lurking in the undergrowth, you will also have to deal with blood sucking leeches.
- Hire a guide for your visit to the sanctuary. In addition, to helping you make the most of your bird sighting exercise, guides can also help protect you from potential dangers. Guides are available at the entrance of the sanctuary or at the Assistant Wildlife Warden’s office.
The sanctuary was notified by Kerala government based on a recommendation by Dr Salim Ali in 1983. Dr Ali described the sanctuary as the richest bird habitat in peninsular India, comparable only with the eastern Himalayas. Though much has changed since Dr Ali’s survey and parts of the forest have made way for teak and mahogany plantations, but what survives today continues to be an unparalleled haven for the flora and fauna wealth of Kerala. Surprisingly, the number of birds is found in the Sanctuary shows a marked increase from the original survey of 1930 carried out by Dr Ali.
Where to stay
Options for staying in Thattekad are limited to homestays and the forest department inspection bungalow. The Jungle Bird homestay is the only homestay located inside the park. For booking room at the forest department inspection bungalow, contact the Assistant Wildlife Warden Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, Njayapilli P.O., Kothamangalam, Phone 0485 588302. However, those who refuse to rough it out and would prefer the comfort of hotels or resorts; they can be found in Munnar. Private lodges can be found at Kothamangalam. Privately run eco-adventure camp is another option to stay. The camp has well appointed cottage tents set amidst the forests. Though power supply is limited and entertainment means listening to the chirping of birds, the cottages come with comfo rtable beds, en-suite attached European style closet, shower and running water.
Where to eat
Places to eat are limited to the odd roadside hotel in Thattekad. To avoid hassles, it would be advisable to check into a homestay which would ensure your meals are taken care of.
Best time to visit
The weather remains pleasant throughout the year at Thattekad. Though Kerala is a good destination to visit during monsoon (June-September), it is advisable that plans to visit the sanctuary are not made during the rainy season. Large part of the sanctuary becomes inaccessible because of the rains. The best season to visit is between October and April.