Cycling through the backyards of Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve: A Photo Series - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Cycling through the backyards of Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve: A Photo Series

Gorgeous lotus farm overlooking the Western ghats

Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve is one of India’s lesser known tiger reserves and that is home to a rich array of flora and fauna. It covers a massive area that changes from dry thorn forest to dry deciduous, moist deciduous and wet evergreen forests. This tiger reserve is also the starting point of 14 rivers including the iconic Thamarabharani river, which form the lifeline of Tirunelveli, Tuticorin, Virudhunagar and Kanyakumari districts for both drinking water and agriculture. It is home to a large number of dams, hydroelectric power plants, tea estates, spice plantations and so much more.

Luckily for me, I live right at the bottom of the Western Ghat mountains and very close to the buffer zone of the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve. This photo series is from my many cycling trips through the backyards of Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve. These cycling trips criss cross through picture perfect villages, lush farm land, umpteen rivers, canals, dams and waterfalls while seeing fantastic landscapes, beautiful flora and fauna and interacting with friendly local people. Hope you enjoy the photo series and may be plan a cycling holiday to this part of the country soon.

Above photo: Many farmers have converted their farm land to lotus ponds as lotus flowers fetch them a better return on investment. This lotus farm is on the banks of the Thamarabharani river at Vairavikulam village.

Confluence of Manimuthar and Thamarabhrani rivers

Above photo: This is the place where the Manimuthar river traveling north from the Manimuthar mountain range joins the Thamarabharani river traveling east from the Agastyamalai biosphere reserve. This river confluence is a gorgeous location for a picnic as it offers stunning views and pristine waters.

Lush paddy fields and banana plantations enroute Manimuthar Dam

Above photo: Most of this belt grows paddy round the year due to water being abundant. Hence, you can chance upon these golden yellow paddy fields for almost four months in a year. This scene is near the village of Earmarpuram enroute to Manimuthar Dam.

Pit stop amidst mango orchards of Manimuthar

Above photo: The entire route between the Manimuthar lower dam and the upper view point is filled with mango orchards and is a heady sight during the summer months. This is my cycle taking a break at this stunning location.

Pit stop at Iron Bridge over Thamirabharani river, Papanasam

Above photo: This iron bridge is the old bridge over the Thamarabharani river that lies in between Madura coats colony and Papanasam. If you stand on this bridge, you are treated to great views of the Western Ghats and the Thamarabharani river.

The forest river that is called Manimuthar

Above photo: This is the Manimuthar river that flows from the Manimuthar mountains of the Western Ghats. It is a raging forest river that joins the Thamarabharani river a few kilometers downstream.

Thamirabharani River, Chettimedu

Above photo: The Thamarabharani river and its many tributaries is the backbone for all of Tirunelveli district. A fairly short river (just 140 kms long), it carries water all year long. This view is from a bridge over the Thamarabharani river near Chettimedu village.

Thamirabharani river near Papanasam

Above photo: This is the lush view of the Thamarabharani river near the temple city of Papanasam.

Under a banyan tree at Vairavikulam

Above photo: Massive trees adorn these backyard roads of Kalakad Mundanthurai tiger reserve. This banyan tree near Vairavikulam was one such pit stop on my cycle ride from Kallidaikurichi to Manimuthar Dam.

Cycling through the backyards of Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

Above photo: I met these energetic young cyclists while riding from Kallidaikurichi to Papanasam. I asked them to do a wheelie. They tried, but couldn’t. We all had a good laugh over it. This happened somewhere between Chettimedu and Madura coats colony.

Gorgeous view of Thamirabharani river at Papanasam

Above photo: This lovely view is of the Thamarabharani river with the Western Ghats in the background. The river starts just a few kilometers upstream. The river flows through herbal forests and hence the water is considered medicinal in nature.

Pit stop near lotus farm at Vairavikulam

Above photo: A lotus farm enroute to Singampetty from Kallidaikurichi. The land of Singampetty and around belongs to a Zamindar. Even today, the ancestral house of the Zamindaar still stands and a part of it has been converted into a hotel.

Cows take over village roads leading to Manimuthar Dam

Above photo: Buffaloes, cows, goats, langurs, monkeys and many other domesticated and wild animals can be seen in the backyards of Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve.

At the Kannadigan canal next to Manimuthar Dam

Above photo: A photo pit stop in front of the iconic Kannadigan canal (locally known as vaykaal) that begins its journey at Manimuthar Dam. These Kannadigan canals criss cross the region irrigating thousands of hectares of agricultural land.

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