Palani Hills Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park

Palani Hills Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park

Infobox_protected_area | name = Palani Hills Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park (Planned)Location map|Tamil Nadu
label=Palani Hills WS&NP

location = Dindigul
nearest_city = Kodaikanal
lat_degrees = 10
lat_minutes = 17
lat_seconds = 30
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 77
long_minutes = 31
long_seconds = 0
long_direction = E
area = 736.87 km² (PRO)
planned establishment = 2008+
visitation_num =
visitation_year =
governing_body = [ Tamil Nadu Ministry of Environment and Forests]

The Palani Hills Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park is a proposed in Dindigul District, Tamil Nadu State South India. The Park will be an upgrade and expansion of the 736.87 km² (PRO) Kodaikanal being established in 2008.cite web
author= National Wildlife Data Center
publisher= Wildlife Institute of India
date= 2006
title= List of Proposed Wildlife Sanctuaries in India
retrieval date= 3/26/2007
] The park includes about 36% of the 2,068 km² in the Palani Hills. [Tamil Nadu Ministry of Forests and Environment, Policy note 2006-2007, Demand 15, Dept. of Forests, page 4 [] ] [The Hindu, "Call for protection of Palani hills",Pleas to the Forestry Minister during the Southern Forest Ministers Conference on November 3 and 4., Nov 04, 2006 [ Southern Forest Ministers Conferance] ] The park is located between Latitude 10°7' - 10°28' N and Longitude 77°16' - 77°46' E. Central location coord|10|17.5|N|77|31|E is .7 km west of the Aeon centre of Cosmology [Aeon centre of Cosmology [ Aeon centre] ] and 7.4 km N X NE of Kodaikanal.


In the early 1990s, the Tamil Nadu Forest Department submitted a proposal to the State government to protect much of the Palani Hills by declaring the area a wildlife sanctuary or a national park. [The Hindu, Frontline,Volume 20 - Issue 16, August 02-15, 2003, "On The Danger List" by Ian Lockwood, an excellent and comprehensive description of the Palani Hills [ "On The Danger List"] ] The Sanctuary has been under consideration of the Government of India in consultation with the Government of Tamilnadu since 1999. [ENVIRONMENT AND FORESTS DEPARTMENT, POLICY NOTE ON FOREST DEPARTMENT 2001-2002, DEMAND NO. 44 - FORESTS AND DEMAND NO.58 - CAPITAL OUTLAY ON FORESTS [ 9. WILDLIFE SANCTUARIES] ] The actual park boundaries have not been finalized.

The increasingly important economic role of Eco-tourism, including: trekking, hiking, camping, mountaineering, rock climbing and bird watching may help local vested interests to welcome this new Protected area. It remains to be seen whether the Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park will stimulate or stifle commercial development and tourism. The decision to finally establish the Park must balance short term financial benefits of the status quo versus long term stability of the natural and human community.


The western extremity of the Park is contiguous with Manjampatti Valley in the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park and with The Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala. The Kurinjimala Sanctuary in Kerala borders the southwestern corner of the Park. [Kurinjimala and Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuaries, [ Map] ] These Wildlife Sanctuaries are adjacent to the recently established Eravikulam National Park.

The Park area includes only reserve forest land, including Palni Hills Northern Slope East, Kallar, Palni Hills Southern Slope East, Upper Palni Shola, Allinagaram, and Palni Hills Northern Slope West Reserve Forests in the Dindigul [Asian Nature Conservation Foundation,The Asian Elephant In Southern India, DINDIGUL - TERRITORIAL FOREST DIVISION, Data, p 53 [] ] and Kodaikanal Forest Divisions. [KODAIKANAL - TERRITORIAL FOREST DIVISION, Data. p 59 [] ]

These forests are already among the protected areas of Tamil Nadu. Their upgrade to Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park will increase their IUCN status from level VI to II and improve habitat and wildlife conservation.


The Palani Hills are formed of pre-Cambrian gneisses, charnockites and schists; they are among the oldest mountain ranges in India. [Markham Clements Robert (1862) "Travels in Peru and India, while superintending the collection of chinchona plants and seeds in..." , Chapter XXIV, p. 390 - 407, William clowes and sons, London, retrieved 3/28/2007 [,+sispara&num=20#PPA400,M1 (1862) Journey to the Pulney Hills] ] The Park is an eastward extension of the Western Ghats hills formed by separation of the India-Madagascar-Seychelles blocks of East Gondwana in the Early Cretaceous period about 120 million years ago.

It is surrounded to the north, east and south by the Deccan Plateau formed later in the massive Deccan Traps eruption 65 million years ago. [Wikimapia, satellite view [ satellite view] ]

The Palani hills are most accentuated towards the west, ranging from 1,800 m to 2,553 m (5,906 ft - 8,376 ft). Prominent peaks are: Vandaravu 2,553 m (8,376 ft), Vembadi Shola 2,505 m (8,219 ft), Gundar 2,461 m (8,219 ft), Karunmakadu 2,451 m (8,041 ft), Sandana Parai 2,404 m (7,887 ft) Venkombu 2,327 m (7,635 ft), Tina Vardi 2,270 m (7,448 ft), Perumalai 2,236 m (7,336 ft) and Velori Malai 2,229 m (7,313 ft), The hill station of Kodaikanal stands in a 2,195 m (7,202 ft) high basin at the southern edge of the central part. The eastern end of the park is made of hills 1000-1500 m (3,281 ft - 4,921 ft) high. [Gurung Dr. Harka (Sept, 1999) "Mountains of South Asia", Asia Pacific Mountain Network,Vol. 4, No. 2, retrieved Mar 14, 2007 [ "Mountains of South Asia"] ]

The Tamil Nadu Department of Geology and Mining has completed detailed Geo-Technical Studies of the Palni Hills determining moderate to high landslide danger in much of the area. [Industries Department, POLICY NOTE - 2005-2006, DEPARTMENT OF GEOLOGY AND MINING [ Industries Dept.] ]

There are many waterfalls throughout the Park which are popular tourist attractions. Some of the prominent falls associated with the park are: Anju Veedu [Five House] (27 km from Kodaikanal), Bamen, Bear Shola (2 km from Kodaikanal), Fairy (5 km from Kodaikanal), Glen, Neptune rapids, Pambar (also called Vatakanal)(4 km from Kodaikanal), Silver Cascade (55 m (180 ft) high, 8 km from Kodaikanal), Skamba (8 km from Kodaikanal), Snake and Thalaiyar Falls.


Temperature varies from moderate to quite cool - during March to May) the temperature range is between 11°C - 20°C. The temperature can rise to a high of 35°C. During Dec-Feb it is between 8.3°C - 17.3°C. In January, night temperatures sometimes drop to freezing, and thin ice is seen on the lake edges.

The average annual rainfall is 1,650 mm, mostly during the north-east monsoon from June to September. [, Kodaikanal climate [] ] [ [ Falling Rain Genomics, Inc - Kodaikanal] ]


Nomadic Paliyan tribes people have been seen living in some of the several caves in Manjampatti Valley. Paliyan people can be seen near Kukal Cave. The Tamil speaking Pulayan are referred as the MalaPulayans, a group categorized as scheduled caste by State government of Tamil Nadu. Their traditional livelihood is foraging yams and small gaming in the nearby forest areas combined with cultivation of several species of minor millets in small plots located near their hamlets to meet their subsistence requirements.

They live in small hamlets in huts and government constructed colonies. The sedentary life started with the construction of group houses by the government in the early sixties. The community is vertically divided into two sub divisions called Koora and Kanni, further subdivided into 47 sub sects. Each sub sect is called Kootams, which regulates certain social events. Each kootam has it own deity, which is common to the entire group and once yearly the members of the same kootam assemble to worship the deity. [P.Thamizoli, K.Balasubramanian, M.S.Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai and P.Ignatius Prabakar, Department of Anthropology, University of Madras, Chennai (2003) "Folk Narratives from the Palni Hills: The Pulayans left behind the dead cattle, driven to the mountain’s edge, shown the dry waterhole" [ "Folk Narratives from the Palni Hills..."] ]

Many native tribals in the Palani Hills have partially assimilated modern culture but are marginalized on the fringes of society. Their social, economic and physical survival has become a difficult challenge for them and several public and private agencies. Their ancient culture in this area is well documented [Bicultural Versatility as a Frontier Adaptation among Paliyan Foragers of South India, by Dr. Peter Gardner, Edwin Mellen Press, 2000, ISBN13: 978-0-7734-7819-0 [ "Bicultural Versatility..."] ] , [Gardner, Excerpts [,M1 "Bicultural Versatility..." exerpts] ] .

Relics and artifacts of the Paliyan tribes people can be seen in the Shenbaganur Museum. [travelportalindia [ Shenbaganur Museum] ]



Full Map with
[Bellan, M.F. (1980) Palni Hills Vegetation Map, Institut de la Carte Internationale du Tapis Végétal, Toulouse, France, retrieved 3/29/2007 [ Map with
] ] There is a wide diversity of Endemic species in the Park's diverse Ecoregions. The lower elevations, 250 m - 1000 m, are part of the South Western Ghats moist deciduous forests ecoregion. Above 1000 m, the forests transition to evergreen South Western Ghats montane rain forests. In the highest portions of the park, above 2,000 m, the [ forests] give way to shola - grassland mosaic, made of frost-tolerant montane grasslands interspersed with pockets of stunted "shola" forests in the valleys.

The Palni hills are the easternmost part of the Western Ghats of India, which is one of the 25 biodiversity hotspots of the world. Some of the very rare and endangered plants and animals of India are found here. including intact relics of primary indigenous vegetation and a large number of non-native plants. [Matthew K. M. (1999) "The Flora of the Palni Hills, Parts 1–3.", The Rapinat Herbarium, St. Joseph’s College, Tiruchirapalli 620 002, India. 364. pp. Price: set Rs 600. $175, £100. [ Flora of the Palni Hills] ]

Flora and Fauna

Mammals: Wild Boars are common in areas away from human habitation and cultivation.
Threatened species in the park area include: Indian Elephant, Gaur (Wild Ox), Nilgiri Tahr and Grizzled Giant Squirrel.

Bengal Tiger populations in the adjacent Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and the Project Tiger Kalakad - Mundanthurai Reserve [ Project Tiger, Kalakad - Mundanthurai Reserve [ Project Tiger] ] in the Agasthyamalai hills could expand back into this area when it is better protected.

Plants: The comprehensive source on this subject is currently in print: "The Flora of the Palni Hills, South India" , Tiruchirapalli, , 3 vols., xcvi, 1880 p., figs., maps, $193 (set). ISBN 81-900539-3-0. Contents: [K.M. Matthew (1999) "The Flora of the Palni Hills, South India", retrieved Mar 24, 2007 [ "The Flora of the Palni Hills, South India"] ]

Volume I ISBN 8190053949: Polypetalae: Dedication. Preface. Novelties in this Flora. Precursory or related publications. References. Introduction. I. The Palni hills: 1. Location and physical features. 2. Kodaikanal: taluk and town. 3. Rivers. 4. Roads. 5. Table 2: Gazetteer of localities. 6. Climatic conditions at Kodaikanal. 7. Geology and soils. 8. History. 9. The vegetation: A. Native; B. Alien. 10. References. II. Plant explorations on the Palnis: 1. Past explorations: 1. The Bournes. 2. The Fysons. 3. The Shembaganur team. 4. Natural History Centre at Shembaganur (SHC). 5. Recent explorations. 6. References. 2. Present exploration: 1. Background and scope. 2. Field trip report. 3. Phytogeographical findings. 4. Ethnobotany. 5. Nature conservation. 3. The present Flora: Format and conventions. Acknowledgments. Family sequence. Key to families. Dicotyledones: I. Polypetalae: 1. Ranunculaceae. 2. Alangiaceae.

Volume II ISBN 8190053957: Gamopetalae: 1. Caprifoliaceae. 2. Labiatae. III. Monochlamvdeae: 1. Plantaginaceae. 2. Salicaceae.

Volume III ISBN 8190053965: Monocotyledones: 1. Orchidaceae. 2. Gramineae. II. Gymnospermae: 1. Gnetaceae. 2. Cycadaceae.

Kurinji flowers ("Strobilanthes kunthiana") which blossom in spectacular fields of violet only once in 12 years are threatened. [News about Kuringi, Endemic birds, Vattakanal Conservation Trust, the Hindu, Frontline, Volume 23 - Issue 17 :: Aug. 26-Sep. 08, 2006 [ Kuringi] ] .

Threat aversion

There is decreasing biodiversity, deforestation, grasslands destruction, monoculture tree plantations, and invasive exotic plant species in the Park.There is sewage pollution, solid waste pollution, Mercury contamination [Yashwant Shailendra "Mercury rising in Kodaikanal", Infochange India, Toxic Tours - IV, retrieved 3/28/2007 [ Mercury rising in Kodaikanal] ] , sound pollution, visual pollution, uncontrolled tourism, overdevelopment and lake eutrophication in and near Kodaikanal town. The Government of Tamil Nadu and several local NGO conservation groups are actively working to reduce some of these threats:
*The Government of Tamilnadu completed establishment of a litter free zone and awareness campaign in Kodaikanal in 2000 at a cost of Rs 1. lakh. [Govt. of Tamilnadu, Tourism, Demand No.50, Policy Note 2000-2001, State Government Schemes, Works in progress under Part-II Scheme 1999-2000, retrieved Jan 26, 2007. [ Policy Note 2000-2001, State Government Schemes] ]
* The Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board, the Public Works Department and the local bodies are executing Bioremediation of Kodaikanal Lake under the National Lake Conservation Programme, with an expenditure of Rs.33.90 lakhs incurred till 2007. [Tamil Nadu Ministry of Forests and Environment, Policy note 2006-2007, Demand 25, Dept. of Forests, page 49 [ Ministry of Forests,page 49] ]
*The Tamil Nadu Forest Dept. is implementing forest maintenance and restoration works over a period of 5 years from 2006-2007. Government of Tamil Nadu has sanctioned a sum of Rs.30.00 crores for the following components:
**Conservation and eco-restoration of degraded forests in Nilgiris and Palani Hills. During 2007-2008, it is proposed to take up degraded sholas over an extent of 3 square kilometres and to carry out other maintenance and improvement works at a cost of Rs. 590.75 lakhs.
**Improvement of roads in the forest areas of Tamil Nadu.
**Bio-diversity conservation.
**Maintenance and special repairs to Forest Department buildings.
**Raising shola seedlings for afforestation.

A sum of Rs.1327.50 lakhs has been released for this purpose during 2006-2007. [Tamil Nadu Forest Dept. (2007) Projects & Programs 2007 - 2008, retrieved 9/2/2007 [ FOREST MAINTENANCE WORKS AS PER THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF 12TH FINANCE COMMISSION] ]
*The Palani Hills Conservation Council (PHCC) was formed by concerned residents in 1985 One of its first goals was to support and push for the creation of a national park or a wildlife sanctuary in the Palni Hills. Zafar Futehally and M.S. Viraraghavan were its leaders. The PHCC made a clear connection between natural forests and water security and coined the phrase: "The health of the hills is the wealth of the plains." The PHCC generated a National Park proposal used by the Tamil Nadu Forest Department. One of the council's major contributions has been the creation of nurseries for indigenous trees. Today, thanks to its efforts, young shola trees thrive at Kodai institutions and in private gardens. The organisation sought to restrict unsustainable building development in the 1990s. The PHCC has been active in the case against mercury contamination of the once beautiful Pambar Shola. [The Hindu [ "On The Danger List"] ] , [Palni Hills Conservation Council [ Palani Hills Conservation Council] ]
*The Vattakanal Conservation Trust promotes the conservation of Palni Hills' native plants and habitats by raising plant nurseries, establishing conservation gardens, working with the Forest Department to restore habitats and acquiring properties to ensure survival of specific species and ecosystems [Vattakanal Conservation Trust [ Vattakanal Conservation Trust] ]
*Kodaikanal International School supports and leads environmental initiatives in the surrounding area. It offers an International Baccalaureate Program course on Environmental Systems. [Kodaikanal International School, Environmental awareness programs. [ Kodaikanal International School] ] .
*The Save Kurinji Campaign Council organises campaigns and programmes for conservation of the Kurinji plant and its habit. [Save Kurinji Campaign Council [ Save Kurinji Campaign Council] ] .
*The Tamil Nadu Green Movement works on Nature Education, Conservation awareness, Judicial intervention, media awareness and works with other NGOs in the Western Ghats. [The Tamil Nadu Green Movement- [ Tamil Nadu Green Movement] ] [News: The Group Endeavor for Environment and Nature Sustenance Pleas to the Forestry Minister for Palani Hills National Park. [ Tamil Nadu Green Movement, News] ] .
*Elephant Valley at Vilpatti, 8 km NW of Kodaikanal, is a convert|100|acre|km2|sing=on private nature reserve and organic farm welcoming eco-tourists. They promote the conservation of traditional varieties of fruits, vegetables and cereals, including vegetables of all colours, shapes and sizes and orchards of lime, orange, avocados, guavas and amla intercropped with coffee, pepper, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, mangoes, jack fruit, pomegranate, guavas and bananas. [Elephant Valley Organic Farm, retrieved 4/13/2007 [ Organic Farm] ]

Visitor information

Permission from the Forest Department is necessary to visit areas deep inside the forests and for trekking in forests. Forest Rest Houses are located at Kodaikkanal, Poombarai, Kookal, Kavunji, Berijam and Devadanapatty.Contact: District Forest officer, Kodaikkanal Forest Division, Kodaikanal, Dindigal District, Tamil Nadu, India.Phone : 91-4542-240287 [ [ Kodaikkanal Forest Division] ]

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