Located in the Idukki district of Kerala, Mathikettan Shola National Park is between other national reserve forests such as Eravikulam National Park and Pampadam Shola National Park. Established initially to encourage cardamom plantation, it was declared as a national park in 2003 to protect the environment, and it's ecology, flora and wildlife. It now stands as a conservatory for wildlife and flora alike.
Meaning of Mathikettan
'Mathikettan' - the name of the park, is derived from Tamil directly translating to 'mind confuser.' This is credited to the belief that one may lose their way once they enter the forest.
The vast forest plays a vital role in the environment serving as a biodiversity hot spot. The tall forests transform into a natural sanctuary where it also is an excellent spot for bird-watching. Tourists may even spot animals such as elephants, tigers, panthers, rat snakes, flying squirrel, giant grizzled squirrel, king cobra, crocodiles, Nilgiri tahr, spotted deer among others.
Adventure Activities & Animal Spotting in the Forest
This park is highly appropriate for trekkers and ones who seek adventure due to its undulating terrain and multiple paths, and the possibility of losing your way in the forest. It also is an excellent place for wildlife photographers as many animals can be spotted easily. It is a guaranteed adventure of a trip with its winding paths, tall trees and varied array of wild animals. Not only do people lose their way through the forest, but it has also been noted that even elephants that wander in the forest from another lose their way and tend to get stuck there. The promise of a true adventure is what makes this park a must-visit, and it certainly deserves a spot in every traveller's itinerary.
History of Mathikettan Shola National Park
Notified initially as a reserve forest by the Travancore government in 1897, part of the land was intended for cardamom production. The Mathikettan region was a part of the Cardamom Hummock Region or CHR as reported in the Travancore government journal on 24th August 1897. The region was also reported to a reserve forest in the journal under Section 18 of Regulation I of 1068. The region was declared to be a national park in November 2003 to preserve and protect wildlife and its environment. Certain parts of the forest are still used for cardamom production.
Where is Mathikettan Shola National Park located?
It is located in the Idukki district of Kerala between other national reserve forests such as Eravikulam National Park and Pampadam Shola National Park. It covers an area of 12.82 km² thus giving way to a wide range of flora and fauna.
Flora and Fauna at Mathikettan Shola National Park
The forest includes many tall trees, medicinal herbs, animals, reptiles and a wide array of birds. The forest is adorned with orchids, ferns, lichen and mosses; and with medicinal herbs such as litsea wightiana, chionanthus ramiflorus, syzygium gardneri, callophyllum austro-indicum, bhesa indica etc. Animals and reptiles such as elephants, tigers, panthers, flying squirrel, giant grizzled squirrel, jungle cat, wild dog, crocodiles, Nilgiri tahr, spotted deer, turtles and lizards; snakes such as king cobra, cobras, vipers, rat snakes and pythons inhabit here.
The climate at Mathikettan Shola National Park
This region receives a fair amount of yearly rainfall (2000 - 2700 mm) and overall has a cloudy and misty environment. The highest temperature is 40°C, and the lowest is 10°C. The recommended time for visitation is between November and March.
There are plenty of other activities one can engage in here such as trekking. The nearest city is Munnar which is beautiful in itself and also deserves a visit. One may also visit the Western Ghats, Kumarakom and Thekkady which are all in the park's vicinity.
How To Reach There
The nearest airport is Cochin International Airport which is about 140 km from the park. The roads are well-connected to the park, so the trip is not uncomfortable. Theni Railway Station is about 55 km from the park and is the closest railway station; the roads are also well-connected to the park which will not make for a tiresome journey. The closest city is Munnar, and if one opts to travel via road, they may as the roads are well-connected with all of the major cities. There are plenty of public and private bus or vehicle services that provide the road journey to the park, and they leave at regular intervals.
This labyrinth of a journey that this national park promise is nothing shy of an unforgettable adventure that awaits anyone who dares to explore it. It is indeed a trek to traverse through the national park in search of sightings of various birds and animals. The forest is adorned in an array of different flower species which makes it a feast for the visual senses; the calm and pleasant weather of the forest also makes it comfortable for the visitors. Thus, a visit to this park is a guaranteed adventure that its seeker may never forget, which makes it a must-visit destination on your itinerary.