Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, Kerala I

Well, Thattekad was off and on my list for almost 2 years now, the distance and having no company had put this off quite often. Winter is probably the best time to be there and specifically the months of December to February when the weather is pleasant the bird life is active with lot of migrants visiting here.

Planned it on a weekend in January only me and Amit made this sudden rush to the place just to have a feel of the place and its quite sure I will be again visiting for a longer period here sooner than later.

Thattekad is famous for its bird sanctuary named after the 'master' or the 'legendary ornithologist' Dr Salim Ali and is also called as the Thattekad bird sanctuary in the Kothamangalam taluk under Ernakulam district on the north bank of river Periyar. Dr Salim Ali has described this place as "the richest bird habitat on peninsular India" and true to his words, this small sanctuary of 25sq km hosts more than 250 species of birds (resident and migrants)!
How to reach ->
Air - Take a flight to Kochi International Airport, from there 2 hours drive to Thattekad bird sanctuary.
Rail - Aluva is the nearest station about 48kms away. Local buses available from here.
Bus (this is how we traveled) - Bangalore to Muvatupuzha by KSRTC Volvo bus that goes to Kottayam(we alighted at Perumbavoor just before Muvatupuzha).
Perumbavoor - Kothamangalam by local bus that is about 15kms away.
Kothamangalam - Thattekad by local bus about 13kms away.
From Perumbavoor, it took us about 90 minutes to reach Thattekad.
Local bus transport operates efficient services to Thattekad from Ernakulam, Perumbavoor, Kothamangalam and Aluwa.
Road (from Bangalore) - about 550kms - Bangalore-Salem-Coimbatore-Kanjikode (Salem-Ernakulam highway)-Thalikode-Amballoor-Chalakudy-Perumbavoor-Kothamangalam-Thattekad.

Stay - We stayed at Jungle bird homestay run by Gireesh, he and his mom Sudha are excellent guides.
Gireesh - 09847034520, Sudha - 09947506188
Facilities were sufficient and served basic Kerala food, so don't expect any fashion foods out here.

K V Eldhose - said as one of the best guides from this region, but with his increasing popularity, lot of people who go with him have been inconvenienced.

The Hornbill camp - http://www.thehornbillcamp.com/

A 3 storied watch tower inside the sanctuary has 2 beds, a kitchen and a toilet, contact The Assistant Wildlife Warden, Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, Njayapilli P.O. , Kothamangalam, Kerala Phone 0485 588302 (not sure of the number though)

Lodges available at Kothamangalam and the PWD rest house near Bhoothanthakettu dam.

Birds Lagoon -  http://www.birdslagoon.in/PHP/Tariff&Booking.php

Food - No food available here, you need to make out of what ever is available at the sole shop at the sanctuary entrance. Its better and recommended to stay in a homestay who would take care of the food and lodging.

Best time to visit - Avoid monsoons because of zillion leeches and because some part of the sanctuary would be flooded with water. Light is also an issue as the canopy is thick. October to March would be good, specifically January to February end.

Timings - The sanctuary is open b/w 6am to 6pm, lot of other interesting spots to visit other than the sanctuary for bird watching.

Entry fee - Nominal entry fee charged at the sanctuary and camera's too. Guide fees separate (around 500 for one session that lasts for 3-4 hours). Sanu is a good guide here.
Photo courtesy - Amit Krishna

Look out for the Part II with loads of photos soon... :)
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