Silent Valley National Park, Kerala
Area of the park: Core area of 89.52 sq km and buffer area of 148 sq km
Year of Establishment: 1984
Best season to visit: The best time to visit the Silent Valley National Park is from December to April.
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An integral part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, the Silent Valley National Park is a one of a kind habitat of wild animals; it is also the exclusive preserve of some of the most stunning tropical forests that one will get a chance to lay one's eyes on. The park is enclosed from all sides by high and perpetual ridges and sharp slopes giving it a magical charm. These ridges and slopes, in addition, insulate the park from the extremes of climatic and help reduce human intervention to a minimum. Consequently, unlike what you find in other parks, the Silent Valley National Park has its own micro environment where it continues to flourish. Moreover, with anthropogenic activities almost nonexistent, the park retains its pristine form, which is one major reason why the park continues to be rated so highly by visitors. The River Kunthi which flows down from the Nilgiri Hills through the park is a life-giver for the flora and fauna of the park; in fact the river flows through the entire length of the valley before finally entering the plains.
Silent Valley lies in the revenue districts of Palakkad and Malappuram and come under the 76° 24' and 76° 29' East Longitude and 11° 4' and 11° 13' North Latitude.
The Climate and Topography of Silent Valley National Park
The climate of the park is tropical in nature with the monsoon being the major contributor of precipitation observed in the park. The average minimum temperature of the park hovers between 8° to 14 °C, while the average maximum temperate ranges from 23 ° to 29 °C. In the months of April and May, the average temperate is 23 °C making them the hottest months. Meanwhile, the coolest average temperate of 18 °C is observed in the months of January and February. The park witnesses average annual rainfall of 2717 to 4543 mm.
The landscape of the park is strewn with sprawling, circuitous and steep escarpments and hills. The elevation of the hills ranges from 900 m to 2,300 m. The distinction of being the highest peak is in the name of Anginda peak.
Vegetation of the park
The park is overflowing with plant life of every form and is a true delight for anyone who loves exploring the surprises bestowed by Mother Nature. As many as 1000 species of flowering plants, 107 species of orchids, 100 ferns and fern allies, 200 liverworts, 75 lichens, and around 200 types of algae have been so far recorded in the park. To make matters interesting, of this wide array of species, a large number of them are endemic species that are only found in the Western Ghats. The Silent Valley Reserve Forest can be basically categorized under four forest types, namely, West-coast tropical evergreen forest (600 to 1100 m), Southern subtropical broad leaved hill forest (1300 to 1800 m), Southern Montana wet temperate forest (above 1900 m) and Grassland.
Among the flowering plants, Orchids contributes 108 species and includes many rare, endemic and highly endangered species, such as Ipsea malabarica, Bulbophyllum silentvalliensis and Eria tiagii. Other important species that are well represented include Grasses (56), Legumes (55), Rubiaceae (49) and Asters (45). When it comes to economically valuable species, cardamom Ellettaria cardamomum, black pepper Piper nigrum, yams Dioscorea spp., and beans Phaseolus sp. are notable mentions. In addition, the park is also a repository of no less than 110 plant species which are used in Ayurvedic medicine.
A large variety of trees are also found in the park, which is a mosaic of diverse habitats; in fact, the existence of the lion-tailed macaque is contingent on the flowering of the Cullenia exarillata in the forest.
Six distinct tree associations inhibit the valley, with the southern sector accounting for three of them, Cullenia exarillata & Palaquium ellipticum, Palaquium ellipticum & Mesua ferrea (Indian rose chestnut), and Mesua ferrea & Calophyllum elatum. The remaining three associations –Palaquium ellipticum & Poeciloneuron indicum, Calophyllum elatum & Ochlandra sp., and (Poeciloneuron indicum & Ochlandra sp.) –are mostly concentrated in the central and northern areas of the park.
As per a study, all 12 important tree species of the tropical rainforest of Silent Valley National Park has shown a remarkable tendency to regenerate. The trees that were picked for the study include Palaquium ellipticum, Cullenia exarillata, Poeciloneuron indicum, Myristica dactyloides, Elaeocarpus glandulosus, Litsea floribunda, Mesua nagassarium, Cinnamomum malabatrum, Agrostistachys meeboldii, Calophyllum polyanthum, Garcinia Morella, and Actinodaphne campanulata.
New species observed in the park
Proving that evolution is a continuous phenomenon, the park continues to evolve and today boasts of many new species. Some of the new species and genera that have been recently recorded in the park include Hedyotis silentvalleyensis, Kanjaram palghatensis, Porpax chandrasekharanhii, Silentvalleya nairii, and Nydnocarpus pendulus, to name a few.
Silent Valley Wildlife Packages
|Tour Name||South India Birding Tour|
|Duration||15 nights & 16 days|
|Destinations Covered||Trivandrum - Kovalam - Alleppey - Kumarakom - Cochin - Palakkad (Silent Valley) - Ooty - Mudumalai - Wayanad - Coorg - Mysore - Bangalore|
Wildlife in Silent Valley National Park
The Silent Valley National Park is a wildlife enthusiast's delight as it is home to 34 species of mammals, 292 species of birds, 31 species of reptiles, 22 species of amphibians, 13 species of fish, and around 500 species of butterflies. There are not many parks in the country where one will find such a diverse range of animals occupying the same space, thereby making it one of the most-loved parks. And the list is not all-inclusive; it excludes many lower level organisms, most of which are undocumented.
The park is unique in a sense that it has a big representation of mammals which are usually associated with the peninsula. Among the peninsular mammals, the prominent ones include the Lion-tailed Macaque, Nilgiri Langur, Bonnet Macaque, Tiger, Leopard (Panther), Leopard Cat, Jungle Cat, Fishing Cat, Wild Dog, Sloth Bear, Otter, Flying Squirrel, Malabar Giant Squirrel, Indian Pangolin (Scaly anteater), Porcupine, Wild Boar, Sambar, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Gaur, and Elephant.
The Lion-tailed Macaque is the flag-bearer of the park and its most famous inhabitant. It is easily distinguishable from the other animals of the park for its silver-white mane that falls down almost to its shoulders and entirely covers its head, cheek, and chin. The face of this Old World monkey, which is endemic to the Western Ghats, however, is hairless and is black in color. The Macaque is a shy creature and normally stays away from humans, and can be spotted living singly or in groups. The diet of this shy dweller is mainly made up of Cullenia exarillata fruits.
Being an undisturbed habitat with little to no human intervention, the park today is teeming with endemic and endangered primates, like the Nilgiri langur and Lion-tailed Macaque.
Insects that one can look forward to come across in the park include beetles, bugs, grasshoppers and crickets. Lepidoptera and Coleoptera species have the highest representation among all insect types.
Considering that as many as 200 species of birds are found in the park, it can be safely said that it is a great birding destination. Among them, 14 are endemic to the Western Ghats, including the Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Blue winged Parakeet, Greyheaded Bulbul, White bellied tree Pie, and Rufous Babbler.
Members of the reptile family that are residents of the park include the King Cobra, Cobra, Viper, Krait, Rat Snake, Tree frog, Bronze frog, Rufescent Burrowing Frog, and Indian Chameleon.
The park is also a prime location for spotting different types of fish, mainly because the River Kunthi and its tributaries which feed and nurture the wildlife of the park pass through it. So far 13 species of fish have been witnessed in the park, with two of them entirely new species. In addition, 19 species, of which 2 are new species, of frogs have also observed in park.
Silent Valley National Park Travel Information
How to Reach
By Air: The distinction of being the nearest airport to the park belongs to Coimbatore at 100 km from the park. It is an international airport and has all the high-end facilities that a visitor may demand. Apart from connecting major cities in India, it operates flights to international destinations like Sharjah, Bangkok, and Singapore. From Coimbatore one can travel by road to the park using various forms of transport like private buses, taxis, and public buses.
By Train: The nearest railway station is at Palakkad, which is 58 km from the park. Palakkad is a junction and the second largest railway station in the state of Kerala, so it has trains to all major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Madgaon, Alleppey, Chennai, Ernakulum, Gorakhpur, Guwahati, Hubli, Jammu, Hyderabad, Indore, Mangalore, Patna, and Trivandrum. Both buses and taxis ply between Palakkad and the park, so reaching the park is pretty straightforward.
By Road: Makkali is the entry point to the national park and is some 30 km away; one can easily hire a jeep from here to the park. Also, most neighboring cities of Kerala like Coimbatore, Palakkad, and Mannarkkad are well-connected to Makkali by state-owned as well as private buses.