Pampadum Shola, which is near hill station Munnar in Idukki district, was declared as the national park in 2003 and is the smallest such park in Kerala. This region is home to various species of animals that are endemic to the Western Ghats.
The tropical forest and the rich bio-diversity of Pampadum Shola (shola means forest) is part of the Palani Hill, and some places are 1,600 to 2,400ft above sea level. From time immemorial, Pampadum Shola is known for its vast reservoir of medicinal plants. The region has 22 varieties of trees, 74 types of small plants and 14 creepers, and a top soil that is devoid of any pollutants.
The verdant forest is the habitat of many rare and endangered species such as brown palm civet, Nilgiri marten and Nilgiri langur, among others. Other attractions in the wilderness are Nilgiri tahr, Nilgiri woodpecker, unique butterflies, Indian bison, sambar deer and barking deer. Though there are elephants and leopards in the area, they don’t usually venture on to the roads.
The eco-development committees under the Forest Department have put in place many ecotourism projects in the region. A trek through the Shola forest and overnight stay in the log houses can only be an exhilarating experience for the visitors. The staff of the Forest Department will accompany the trekking group and provide invaluable tips to the trekkers.
Pampadum Shola is also bird watchers’ delight. The walk through the old Munnar-Kodaikanal forest path to reach the watch tower, which is located inside the forest, is also equally thrilling, and this exciting walk is known as the ‘nature trail’.
Vattavada and Chilanthiyar villages, known for cultivation of winter vegetables, are near Pampadum Shola.
Once you enter the forest area of Pampadum Shola, you are not supposed to stop your vehicle for the first 8km, disturb the wild animals or photograph them. There are also curbs on using plastic products in the area, and the either sides of the forest path are replete with eucalyptus trees. After a while, one would reach a check post, which is the gateway to the Koviloor-Vattavada road, and Vattavada is 3km away from this point.
On the way to Vattavada, there are two tree houses, besides dormitories, in Pampadum Shola national park, adjacent to the forest. Nature camps and related activities are conducted at Pampadum Shola where accommodation is available for two families.
Pampadum Shola is 35km away from Munnar town, 135km from Ernakulam and 148km from Kottayam. It is better to avoid travel in this testing COVID times and you can hit the road again after the current situation eases.