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Thrissur India
Happy Bird watching !!!
Nov 06, 2014 12:14 PM 7249 Views
(Updated Nov 19, 2014 10:48 AM)


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Hi guys. I had mentioned in my previous review of the Suzuki gixxer that I would write a review of the Thattekad bird sanctuary as soon as I got the time. Unfortunately my laptop went kaput. Hence the delay. So here goes.

The Salim Ali bird sanctuary better know as the Thattekad bird sanctuary was established in 1983 and was the first bird sanctuary in Kerala. Dr Salim Ali AKA the birdman of India, was a famous ornithologist who once described Thattekad as the richest bird habitat in the  Indian subcontinent. Thattekad is located around 90 km from Thrissur and around 60km from Ernakulam. The best time to visit is after the monsoons, from October, to the beginning of summer, in march.

We set off at around 6:30 am. Since it was only 90 km and there wouldn't be much traffic in the mornings, we expected to reach the sanctuary in 2 hours. We would travel to perumbavoor on the nh47 for 60km and then turn left for another 30km. Unfortunately, just before the town of perumbavoor, there was heavy construction and maintenance work on the kalady bridge. This resulted in a huge traffic jam for almost 3 kms and it took us around 30 minutes to cover this small distance and to add further misery, we got lost. There are no sign boards indicating which road led to the sanctuary. Luckily, the gps in my Lumia saved the day. The first signboard we saw of the bird sanctuary was just 5 or 6 kms before the destination. This is rather shameful work done by the kerala tourism department, considering the fact that according to sites like tripadvisor, the Thattekad bird sanctuary is the number one tourist destination in Ernakulam district and one of the top tourist spots in Kerala. The roads leading towards the sanctuary are in good condition and there are only a few potholes scattered around.

As soon as you near the sanctuary, you feel the cool breeze blowing through the trees on either side of the road. Before reaching the destination, you first reach the periyar river bridge. This is a good spot to photograph the huge periyar river and is a wonderful site to spend a few minutes. There is hardly any sort of traffic and the bridge Is quite wide enough so your parked car wont create any traffic hazard. After spending about 10 minutes here taking pictures and the usual activities like throwing stones and spitting into the river:), we decide to move on. 5 minutes later we reached the bird rehabilitation center. As It was some special nature day or something, can't remember what exactly, there was no entry fee. I think actual fee is about Rs20. Thank god for that, or we would have left disappointed. There was absolutely nothing to see inside except 2 pythons, a couple of cranes, a tortoise, an eagle and a few fishes. Not worth the entry fee. We left quickly and reached the sanctuary. There was no forest guard or any ticket collector present due to it being a free entry day, so I don't know if you have to take a separate ticket or how much it costs, although there was a sign indicating where the ticket counter was. As soon as you enter, there is a small map to your right, indicating important landmarks and trails inside the sanctuary. It also shows the distances you have to hike to reach those places. A slight problem with the map is that it is written in malayalam, so pretty much worthless if you don't know the language. Best to take a quick photo. Very helpful in finding your way in case you get lost. Foolishly enough we didn't think of it and promptly got lost within an hour.

We started walking along the forest paths. There was hardly any one there since it was almost 10:30am and most of the birdwatchers come at 6am and leave by 9am since that is the time frame during which birds are most active. Even so we kept walking. At places where the path splits, there are small markings indicating which direction you have to walk. Sadly, they don't tell you where the path leads to. What happened next is a comedy of errors. As we were walking alone, one of our close friends called us on my cellphone. P.S bsnl is the only cell service that has signal in these parts. So as we were talking to my friend and walking, we came across a point where the path split into 3. Without giving much thought, we just took one path and continued walking. We came across a lot of birds, a few monkeys, some very beautiful butterflies and insects and a solitary deer. There are also a lot of streams. Try avoiding the wet, muddy areas since we did come across some spots that had leaches. We saw a lot of bird species and some very remarkable looking insects and butterflies. We noticed that most of the birds were usually gathered around small streams. After walking a bit more we grew tired since the terrain, once you leave the main jungle trails, is very hilly and all we had for breakfast was a pack of lays and a mountain dew just before entering the sanctuary since we thought we would be leaving in maybe 2 hours. By now it was almost 1pm and it was beginning to get hot. We were sweating profusely and were feeling dehydrated. As we proceeded hoping to reach the exit, the trail kept growing narrower until it started becoming non existent. Now we were truly lost.Once again out came the gps. To my horror, all it showed was a blue spec, that was us, in a sea of green. We were a long way away from the exit. We had hiked for almost 3kms along the banks of the Idamalayar river and the shortest way back was atleast 2kms. Not an easy thing to do in the difficult terrain. We would jog for a few hundred meters, then take a 10 minute break. By the time we reached the exit, it was just past 3 pm. We had spent 5 hours instead of the pre planned 2 hours.We were dead tired and hungry and we proceeded straight to a small hotel located in the town of kuttampuzha, just a 10 minute ride away.

There are hardly any places to eat here though we did come across a swanky beer parlour, located just before kuttampuzha town. We also heard there was some tribal colony located here but we decided to skip it. After having lunch, we went straight to Bhoothathankettu dam.

Only 10 minutes were spent at the dam since it was getting uncomfortably hot and also a bit crowded. We decided to head on to the idamalayar dam located 16kms from here.We decided that on our way back from the dam we would take a short cut to reach the nh47. By doing this we would be able to avoid travelling on the main roads and avoid the kalady bridge construction delay. Also this route was shorter by 13kms and we would be able to enjoy the cool breeze since the road was situated inside the forest and went right beside the periyar river. So we, along with a few other bikes and a family from Bangalore in their car proceeded to the Idamalayar dam.The roads are twisty and were in very poor condition for the entire stretch and we hardly got the chance to put the bike above 3rd gear. We came across a few lumps of elephant dung along the way. At reaching the dam, we were all shocked to find out that entry to the dam had been closed for almost the past 3 years due to concerns of naxal attacks. We left feeling disappointed and angry having made this bone jarring trip for nothing.Had the tourism dept put up signs warning us the dam was closed, this whole bit could have been avoided. We were met with further disappointment on our way back when we found out that the shortcut we had planned to take was also chained off for security reasons and we had to take the long way back home. All in all it was a decent trip. Not as mind blowing as I had hoped it to be but fun nevertheless.

some tips if you plan to visit:

1)There are a whole load of resorts and home stays ranging from Rs500 a night to almost 15K a night. Confirm bookings in advance. Also some of them are all natural, meaning no electricity or running water. Check this before booking.

2)Best to visit from October to February. A lot of migratory birds from the north end up here during the winter season.Also make sure you get to the sanctuary by 6 or 7am atleast if you wish to see a lot of birds.Maintain silence and refrain from shouting or talking too loudly as this will scare away the birds.

3)There are very few hotels in the immediate vicinity and the food is not that good. Best to parcel something from the numerous big hotels en route or take snacks like biscuits or fruits. carry plenty of water.

4)Try and obtain a forest guide since they will know where the best spots are inside the forest. Also they know the area like the back of their hand so zero possibility of you getting lost.

So I guess that's it. Hope you enjoy your trip.Farewell

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Thattekad Bird Sanctuary