Mudumalai, which means ancient hills, is one of the first sanctuaries of India and the first
in South India when it was established in the year 1940. The 321 sq kms sanctuary is found in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu at the confluence of the Nilgiri Hills and Eastern Ghats about 80 km northwest of Coimbatore in the extreme northwestern corner of the state. It is a continuation of Bandipur National Park with the Moyar River separating the two. The Mysore-Ooty highway runs through the park. The Sanctuary has been designated both as a national park as well as tiger reserve. The park spans 103 sq kms within the Sanctuary.
The vegetation found at Mudumalai Sanctuary is a various mixture of flat land, open grassland, swamp and valleys. Trees and plants such as bamboos, natural teak, anogeissus latifolia, terminalia, crenulata/terminalia tomontosa, grewia, labumusum, aredesia and solanancea thrive here. Wildlife enthusiasts find the place interesting for its wide range of animal and bird life and the rich fauna it supports. There are an estimated 55 species of mammals, 50 species of fishes, 21 species of amphibians, 34 species of reptiles, 227 species of birds and four of the 15 cat species in India, such as tiger, panther, jungle cat and leopard cat inhabit the Sanctuary.
Main Attractions: Tigers are one of the main attractions of Mudumalai but sighting the big cats require luck and determination. If not, there are other creatures of the jungle that can be sighted more easily such as the herds of endangered Indian elephants, vulnerable gaur, and chital along with Bengal tigers and Indian leopards and other threatened species.
Some of the major birds listed in the sanctuary are peacock, grey jungle fowl, red spur fowl, grey partridge quails, goggle eyed plower, malabar whistling thrush, large racket-tailed dronge, the magpie-robin, spotted babbler, small green barbet, green pigeons, brown dove, malabar grey hornbill, bulbuls and mynahs as well as eagles, hawks, buzzards, harriers, falcons and vulture. Migratory birds from within the country flock here in the winter chief among them being the critically endangered species like the Indian White-rumped Vulture and the long-billed vulture.
To move inside the park, there are jeeps available for hire at reasonable prices and mini bus safaris are organised by the park authorities. However, it is the elephant safaris that will make it a complete wildlife experience.
When To Go: The best time to visit Mudumalai Sanctuary is from September to May.
How To Get There: Gudalur (16 km) is the closet town from the Sanctuary. The nearest rail station is at Ooty located at a distance of 64 kms. The nearest airport is at Coimbatore which is 160 kms away. Regular bus services ply from all the major adjoining cities to the Sanctuary.
Where To Stay: Mudumalai has plenty of stay options. There is a state-run rest house in Theppakkadu, the elephant camp. If not, there is a TTDC's Youth Hostel and several the rest houses in Abhayaranayam, Masinagudi and Kargudi.