I was visiting my cousins in Thrissur last weekend. We were meeting after a long time and therefore had a long chat. We had no other plans than to eat, chat, sleep on repeat mode; which is when my uncle and aunt gently suggested that it would be a good idea if the young went out and explored outdoors and left the boring schedule to them old people. After dithering a bit, we finally agreed and decided to visit the Chimmini Wildlife Sanctuary and also embark on a trek there.
PC : Manoj K
The Chimmini Wildlife Sanctuary, which was established in 1984, lies adjacent to Peechi - Vazhani sanctuary. It is at a height of 1116 m above sea level. The highest point here is the Punda peak, which we planned to scale up. Chimmini is home to many animals like elephants, sambars, gaurs, squirrels, sloth bears, tigers, lion tailed macaque etc., living in joyous abandon.
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There are about 160 species of birds in the sanctuary. Dense forests dotted with streams and rivers elevate the numerous trekking trails along the sanctuary. Covering a mixture of tropical evergreen, semi evergreen and moist deciduous forests, the lush surroundings bestow an ideal home for flowering plants, birds, butterflies and wildlife. Southern Birdwing, the largest butterfly in India can be spotted here.
PC : Manoj K
The best time to visit Chimmini is between October and March.
Chimmini Wildlife Sanctuary is about 40 km from Thrissur. We decided to drive down and took the Ambalur - Varandarapilly - Palapilly road to reach Chimmini. It took us 1.5 hours with detours to take photos, and drink chaaya (tea).
We arrived at the forest check post and after completing the formalities and paying the fees, they sent the designated guides to join us. The forest department arranges for trekking programmes. To trek the outskirts of the forest, only half a day is required. But if your trek route falls within the forest, then a full day is required.
PC : Manoj
We started our trek with the sanctuary as the base camp. We could barely see the magnificent Chimmini lake which was tucked behind hills and shrubs. We trekked in complete silence, to save a chirp from the birds or chatter from the crickets. We were told not to talk too loudly and disturb the forest ecosphere. The guides informed us that we can watch birds in full flutter if we visit Chimmini in November/December.
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We marched in the marshy forest and the guides made sure to educate us about the presence of wild animals and how to identify them at each point. We saw dung that was still fresh and the guide informed that an elephant herd must have just crossed the way. It was freaky to think about, but the guide assured that it was not that dangerous. We also saw a few pug marks, which was the footprint of a leopard.
We also saw a captivating, large butterfly with hues of blue and wondered what the species was called. "Blue Mormon" came the answer from my cousin who turns out is a butterfly enthusiast. She also told us that it is the second largest butterfly found in the Western Ghats.
PC : Aruna
We proceeded to a rocky area and in front of us opened a beautiful waterfall. We decided to break here a little and played around in the water like little kids. We had almost trekked for two hours and this was a much needed break. The water was an excellent pain reliever for the muscles that were tired from the trek.
We managed to see Malabar Hornbill, Malabar Parakeet, Brahminy Kite, Orange Thrush, Jungle Crow, and White-breasted Kingfisher. All these were identified by our guides, of course. We could not spot any animals and were disappointed. Our guide chided us saying that this is their habitat and we must not have any expectation that they should give us an appearance. We couldn't agree more with him.
PC : Aruna
Our descent meandered through the forest and circumscribed the Chimmini Lake. We reached our car at 4 pm and headed back home.
I heard great things about the Moonlight Sonata, which involves rafting on full moon nights. This sounds super romantic and I cannot wait to try it the next time I visit my cousins.