In this second of a two-part series, we explore six more of the best wildlife sanctuaries in South India. Read part 1 before you scroll down. 

 

Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary

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Spread over 834sqkm, Dandeli is regarded as the second largest wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka. Characterised by slopes, breath-taking valleys and lush forests, it is home to some the best wildlife, besides offering amazing trekking trails and fishing spots. With a high density of black panther, these dark beauties are a visual treat (if you do spot them). Do not miss the Malabar Pied Hornbills, which flock to Dandeli during August and September. A visit to Anshi National Park that adjoins the Dandeli reserve is a must.

Sightings: Dandeli is a natural home to tigers, elephants, panthers, leopards, sloth bears, the Indian Pangolin and gaur. The sanctuary also has a wide variety of birds such as the Malabar Pied Hornbills, Blue-Throated Barbet and Peregrine falcon.

When to Visit: October to March

How to Get There:

By Air: The closest airport is Belgaum (90km). 

By Road: Dandeli Sanctuary is located 485km from Bengaluru, 55km from Dharward and 90km from Belgaum. Buses ply regularly from Bengaluru.

By Train: The closest train station is Alnavar at 35km.

 

Annamalai Wildlife Sanctuary

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You can only expect a visual treat at Annamalai Sanctuary (also known as Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary), for it shares its boundaries with Chinnar Wildlife sanctuary and Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary. Nestled amidst the picturesque the Annamalai Hills, the sanctuary spreads over an area of 950sqkm.  It’s dotted with scenic waterfalls, grass hills, reservoirs and dams and is also rich in valuable timber trees.

Sightings: Annamalai is home to elephants, Indian gaurs, leopards, tigers, wild dogs, sambar/barking/mouse deer and the Nilgiri tahr. The sanctuary also has a wide variety of birds such as the Rocket-tailed Drongo, Lion Tailed Macaque, Pied Hornbill and Red Whiskered Bulbul.

When to Visit: December to April

How to Get There:

By Air: The closest airport is Coimbatore (123km). 

By Road: Annamalai Sanctuary is 460km from Bengaluru, 108km from Coimbatore and 67km from Pollachi. Buses ply regularly from Coimbatore and Pollachi.

By Train: The closest train station is Pollachi at 68km.

 

Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary

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Mudumalai Sanctuary along with Wayanad Sanctuary in Kerala and Bandipur Reserve in Karnataka providing a continuous loop of breath-taking biodiversity in the Nilgiri biosphere. The park is a nature’s work of art with its lush vegetation.

Sightings: Mudumalai is home to elephants, Indian gaurs, leopards, tigers, wild dogs, black bucks, striped hyenas, sambar/barking/mouse deer and four-horned antelopes. Also, look out for birds including paradise flycatchers, eagles, Alpine swift, streak-throated woodpeckers and more. The sanctuary is also home to reptiles such as pythons, king cobras and monitor lizards.

When to Visit: December to May

How to Get There:

By Air: The closest airport is Bengaluru (123km). 

By Road: Mudumalai Sanctuary is located 241km from Bengaluru, 122km from Coimbatore and 62km from Wayanad.  Buses ply regularly from Coimbatore and Mysore.

By Train: The closest train station is Coimbatore at 130km. Udhagamandalam Station is closer and a more scenic ride to get to the sanctuary.

 

Muthunga / Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary

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Wayanad Sanctuary along with Muthunga and Tholpetty Sanctuary is abundant in natural beauty, rich bio diversity providing a unique wilderness experience to its visitors. The sanctuaries have a healthy Big Cat population, though sighting a panther is very hard.

Sightings: Look out for herds of elephants, tigers, panthers, gaurs, deer, wild dogs and monkeys.  Malabar Grey Hornbills, eagles, woodpeckers, owls, herons and many other birds have made Muthunga their home.

When to Visit: October to March

How to Get There:

By Air: The closest airport is Kozhikode (120km). 

By Road: Mudumalai Sanctuary is located 250km from Bengaluru, 94km from Mysore and 125km from Kozhikode. Buses ply regularly from Kozhikode and Mysore.

By Train: The closest train station is Kozhikode at 97km.

 

Periyar Tiger Reserve, Thekkady

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The Periyar and Pamba Rivers flow through this beautiful reserve. Enjoy the lush green shades during monsoon and the animals flocking to waterholes during summer.

Sightings: Look out for elephants, Malabar giant squirrels, sambar deer, tigers and birds such as Oriental White Ibis, Painted Stork, Spot-bellied Eagle Owl and Black Baza.

When to Visit: September to May

How to Get There:

By Air: The closest airport is Madurai (140km). 

By Road: Periyar Reserve is located 507km from Bengaluru, 139km from Madurai and 102km from Kottayam. Buses ply regularly from Cochin, Kottayam and Madurai.

By Train: The closest train station is Kottayam at 114km.

 

Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary

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Bordering Eravikulam National Park to the south and Annamalai Reserve to the north, Chinnar is home to the rare and endangered giant grizzled squirrels of India. Nestled under the rain shadow region of the southern Western Ghats, Chinnar is a short distance from Marayur, known as Land of Natural Sandalwood.

Sightings: You will find elephants, leopards, albino gaurs, deer, giant grizzled squirrels, mugger crocodiles and Indian star tortoise here.

When to Visit: December to May

How to Get There:

By Air: The closest airport is Kochi (150km). 

By Road: Chinnar Sanctuary is located 430km from Bengaluru, 108km from Coimbatore and 64km from Pollachi.  Buses ply regularly from Munnar.

By Train: The closest train station is Kodaikanal at 140km.

Like this article? Also read: Must-Visit Wildlife Sanctuaries in South India (Part 1)

Photographs by: Kalayan Chakraborty

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