The park is named Indira Gandhi National Park, and Silent Valley is the name of the place, but it is also called Silent Valley National Park. It is a wonderful place to visit for tourists.
- , The Wildlife Warden, Silent Valley National Park, Mannarkkad, Palakkad dist, Kerala, ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Silent Valley is considered one of the most ecologically diverse areas on the planet.
In the 1950s, the Kerala State Electricity Board wanted to build a dam across the Kunti river, which flowed in the deep forest. Nationwide protests in India by environmentalists and mass publicity by the media led the then prime minister, Indira Gandhi to order the state government to abolish the hydroelectric project. The area was declared a national park.
Tropical evergreen forest, the highest peak is 2,383 m above sea level. Huge trees, thick undergrowth. Heavy rains during the monsoons. Shola grasslands higher up.
- Core forest: 89 km2
- Buffer Zone: 148 km2
- Total area: 237 km2
The tourists are taken 22 km into the buffer zone and only 1 km inside the core forest. You can see the board 'Silent Valley National Park' at the entrance of the buffer zone. You will see the same board again after 22 km at the entrance of the core forest. The ride back is in the same route.
Flora and fauna
The park is inhabited by 16 species of birds, 34 species of mammals, 730 species of insects, 128 species of butterflies, and a 1,000 species of flowering plants. The mammals in the park include the threatened lion-tailed macaque, tiger, panther, leopard cat, civet, mongoose, otter, sloth bear, flying squirrel, Indian pangolin, porcupine, wild boar, deer, elephant, giant squirrel, Nilgiri tahr, Peshwa's bat and the hairy-winged bat.
Humid during the rains (June, July, August), otherwise generally hot and tropical.
The nearest railway station is Palghat Junction. From Palakkad, go to Mannarkkad, and from there to Mukkali. KSRTC buses are available every half an hour. If you are planning to stay at Mukkali, reserve rooms in advance at the Forest department resthouse. Or else you can stay at Mannarkkad or Agali Hills and hire a jeep to reach Mukkali by 8AM. Mukkali is about 60 km from Palakkad, with Mannarkkad en route. The visit to the Valley and Kunti river will take only a day, and you can return to Palakkad the same evening.
Another nearby railway station is Coimbatore Junction. From Coimbatore, take the road to Anakatty (around 30 km) and from there to Agali Hills (15 km) and then to Mukkali (20 km). The total distance via the Coimbatore route is only around 65 km. Its almost a straight road drive from Coimbatore to Mukkali. The scenic roadway keeps one captivated all through.
Fees and permits
- Those who have reserved over the telephone can approach the Forest department ticket counter at Mukkali between 8 am and 1 pm including Sundays and pay the following fee:
- Govt bus: ₹325 per head (more comfortable)
- Govt Jeep: ₹1,700 (only five adults are allowed)
- Additional payment is required for camera
- You have to stand in a big queue to reach the tiny counter at the park gate in Mukkali, even though you have a reservation. Once cash is received you can wait for the vehicle to come. So this five hour trip can cost you more than seven hours. So spare a full day for the trip and remember to reach before 10AM at latest.
Entry into the valley is allowed only from 8AM to 1PM. The Forest Department deliberately does not allow going to the valley early in the morning to minimize disturbance to the animals. Every vehicle will have a free guide. The vehicle will move slowly all the 23 km and they will stop a few times on the way for five minute photo sessions. Animal sightings are quite rare and the view from the watch tower at the end is quite spectacular. Only 12 adults are allowed into the watch tower at a time. But a lot of Indians ignore this warning and get into it creating a dangerous situation to the fragile structure. This point is 1,050 meters above sea level. You can trek down to Kunthi river and see the hanging bridge. One hour is allowed in this place.
Apart from that, the trip can disappoint you if you are not a tree bum. Thick vegetation of the silent valley evergreen forest is the only attraction. The road is unpaved and the terrain very bumpy. They take a total of five hours for the trip. If you forget to take drinking water, you are lucky, very tasty mineral water is available free behind the parking space at the watch tower. If you are carrying a bottle of commercial 'mineral water', you can empty the bottle and fill it to the brim with this pristine water.
The signboards of the government on the main road outside can mislead you because distance to the park is shown including the 22 km inside the park. So every time you see 'Silent Valley National Park', you have to reduce 22 km. Similarly the distance to 'Attappadi' means that so many km more to finish Attappadi region and not so many km to reach Attappadi. You cannot reach Attappadi because it is not a place but a region. The entire stretch between Mukkali and Agali is called 'Attappadi' and Agali town is also sometimes referred to as Attappadi.
Inside the park
Enjoy the thick jungle, see the birds, you are lucky if you see the big mammals (on the short trek). Mostly you will see the Malabar Giant Squirrel, black langurs and of course many kinds of birds. Trek down to the Kunti river. There is also a watch tower overlooking the jungle. The back of the Inspection Bungalow at Mukkali is a great place for bird watching.
Outside the park
- Ayyappa Vishnu Temple, Near State Bank, Agali (22 km on Coimbatore Road). Majestic golden pillar, green lawn and restaurants nearby.
- Government goat farm, Vannathan Medu (29 km). Undulating green hills, streams and pretty vegetation.
- Kavundikkal Gorge, Agaly road (5 km). Two hairpin bends down to the scenic valley with an amazing windmill staring you. The surroundings of the Shishu Bhavan is idea for a picnic.
Take a bath in the Bhawani River at Mukkali.
- Take a bath in the river, Mukkali (1 km). The pristine waters of the River Bhavani will refresh you beyond description. Bhawani is the only east flowing river of Kerala state. All other rivers of Kerala flow westwards and terminate in the Arabian ocean. Bhavani river originates in the Silent Valley forest and flows 217 km towards Tamil Nadu and joins the Cauvery river.
- Get a taste of Tamil Nadu, Anakatty border (36km). Take a bus to Anakkatty village. Cross the border to Tamil Nadu by walking. A bridge with a temple separates the Kerala state from Tamil Nadu state. The other side of the village is also called Anakkatty. But, over there, everything is in Tamil Nadu style. Back to Kerala, everything has a distinct Malayali touch. The bus station is on the Kerala side and the auto rikshaw parking is on the other side of the bridge. There are separate Autorikshaw parking for the differently colored Kerala and Tamil Nadu rikshaws. Immediately before the bridge, you can see a checkpost of Kerala.
- Village visit: Pakkulam, Pakkulam (7 km on Anakkatty Road). Karmel Catholic church, St.Joseph Ashram, Church of God Bethel, Ayyappa Temple, Scenic Srikara foot overbridge, St. George convent.
- Village visit: Thavalam (10 km on Anakkatty Road). Sahiyan Meditation centre, Juma masjidh, Galaxy restaurant. scenic surroundings. Bhavani river.
- Mukkali junction. Mukkali junction has many shops offering souvenirs, clothes and toys.
There is one Sairandri restaurant at tree top resort, Chindakki near silent valley where you will get delicious food. And you have one small restaurant at Mukkali junction which is extremely crowded. For better food options, you have to get down to Mannarkkad. One small restaurant is conveniently located in front of the Park office, but they have too many customers and too little staff, and you may not get any attention for a while.
- Bottled water is available at Mukkali.
- Alcohol is strictly prohibited inside the forest. The department officials will check your luggage before they let you proceed to the valley.
The forest department has a guest house and dormitory at Mukkali. Rooms have to be booked in advance. Rooms are decent, without expecting anything more than what can be expected in remote outskirts. If your focus is nature, then it shouldn't matter. Ensure you are prepared for power cuts, which are very frequent. The forest guest house is at a good, peaceful place, with the Bhavani River just flowing behind the guest house.
More lodges are available at Agali Hills, 20 km.
- Government Lodge, Bomminyampadi near Krishnavanam, ☏ . Package of food, accommodation and tour package.
- Grand Lodge, Mukaly, ☏ . Scenic first-floor property on the side of River Bhawani.
- Tree Top Lodge, Mukkalli (1 km), ☏ .
- Vision Nature Resorts, Varagampadi village,Sholayoor,Attapadi hills,Palakkad,Kerala, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: noon, check-out: 11AM. is about an hour drive from Silent Valley National Park and very close to the tribal hamlet of Varagamapadi with modern facilities and amenities in a calm and relaxing environment with a view of mountains
Tourists are not allowed to stay overnight at the valley; they have to return to Mukkali by evening. You can ask permission from the forest department office if you wish to camp in Mukkali. Or you can camp in Agali Hills or Mannarkkad.
- Look out for leeches in the jungle. Carry table salt from Mukkali to remove leeches from your legs.
- Palakkad district is vulnerable to attacks from an Indian communist group called Maoists. In 2014, they attacked the ticket counter of Silent Valley National Park, Mukkali. As the Maoists are armed and dangerous, be careful when you trek in lonely areas. Town areas are safer because there is a strong presence of special police forces and the identity documents of tourists are frequently verified.
- Agali Hills, 20 km
- Anakkatty border town, 36 km
- Mannarkkad, 20 km
- Palakkad, 60 km
- Shornur, 75 km
- Coimbatore, 65 km
- Kozhikode, 120 km
- Kochi, 155 km
- Thrissur, 130 km
- Buses are available to Coimbatore every hour. Buses to Kerala side are more frequent, about every 20 minutes. All buses going down the hill goes via Mannarkkad from where you can go anywhere in Kerala easily. Seats cannot be guaranteed if you board the bus from Mukkali junction or Agali town. So the best option is to include a visit to scenic Anakatty border town, 36 km, as the last item of your itinerary and board a bus from the bus hub there.