The Voice of Silence
For those who love to fall in the immense beauty and bliss of the nature, Silent Valley is a befitting choice. Situated in the Nilgiri Hills, Palakkad district of Kerala, Silent Valley houses amazing varieties of flora and fauna. Untouched by the human intrusion, the plateau stays vivid and dense, exhibiting the mystical casts of nature’s artistry. The denseness of the forest, presence of the wild beasts, steep mountains and frothing fresh water falling through them makes it a perfect God’s own abode in God’s own country.
The park, which is locally known as ‘Sairandhrivanam’ has its historical significance dated back to the days in Mahabharata. It is said that Pandavas explored the valley during their period of exile and decided to settle besides the river that flowed through the fearful forest. The river was a sign of unity with the elephants and tigers, coming together to drink water at dawn and twilight ignoring the signs of enmity between them. Thus, the river was named as ‘Kunthipuzha’, signifying ‘Kunthi’, the mother of Pandavas. Sairandhri is Draupathi, the wife of Pandavas.
The British explored the place in 1857, by the Botanist Robert Wight who spend 30 years in India. The place was said to be named as Silent Valley due to the absence of the noisy Cicadus, an insect. There are a few other stories that claim the derivation of name, one of which says that it is derived from the scientific name of lion-tailed Macaques ‘Macaca Silenus’.
The enroute to Silent Valley National Park begins at Mukkali forest check point, where the travellers get permission for the forest safari through the buffer area and a trekking through the core zone. The buffer zone is the outer periphery of the park, where there are tribal habitations and private properties. The core zone is the interior of the forest which requires a minimum of four hours of walk through the dense forest. The trekking is tedious and is open to the danger of leeches. It is necessary to carry the salt or tobacco to ward off the leeches. Although leech proof socks is an option, many a times they do not prove much useful. Experienced guards and drivers in the area prefer to leave their legs open, at least by which they can spot the leeches in advance.
Carrying enough of water and fruits like banana are essential, as there are no temporary rest places in the midst of forest. The travellers are also prevented from carrying plastic covers and bottles, and if carried, need to be brought back and disposed elsewhere. This has proved useful in maintaining the serenity of the place as well as safeguard the animals from accidently consuming the plastics.
No place of stay is available nearby, hence, the travellers have to arrange it in prior. The guest house in the middle of medicinal garden, facing ‘Bhavani’ river is one option for the stay and travellers can book the cottages in advance.
The roads through the midst of the forests are not smooth and only registered Mahindra jeeps with the forest drivers are allowed inside for the safari. These drivers are also guards and they are experienced localities who are well-versed with the routes.
The journey is restricted only till the river site, perhaps 23 kms rom Mukkali. To go beyond, the travellers need to acquire special permission from the Conservator of Forest, Palakkad.
Begin the journey a little early, so that the time will not be constraint to enjoy the lovely melancholy of the forest. The undulating mountains and the lush green forest has many wonders in store for any keen observer. Lion-tailed Macaques are in abundance and they can be found on the trees jumping at a fast pace before your camera could spot them. Malabar squirrel, snakes, varieties of birds, butterflies, Nilgiri languor are the other creatures awaiting the travellers. Although leopards and tigers are also habitants of the forest, it is quite rare that they come near the travellers’ pathway.
The trees and plants also offer a source of wonder by displaying varieties of shades and shapes. Silent Valley is a rich source of medicine, many of which still stay unrecognized by the scientific community.
The nearest town is Mannarkad. Private and Government bus transportation is available till Mukkali. A jeep can be hired from the place for the journey into the forest. For booking and other details, visit: http://silentvalley.gov.in/SilentHome.php
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