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article imageDiscover the wilder side of India

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By Bryen Dunn     Mar 14, 2011 in Travel
India is the land of magic and mysticism, religion and ruggedness, from Bollywood to the Taj Mahal. Once you've seen all the key touristic sites, it's time to return and experience the real continent.
Kerala, 'The Gods Own Country', is known for its prestine natural beauty and backwaters. However, very few know that Kerala has a wilder side too and that also goes beyond Periyar. While Periyar has remained the most famous and renowned National Park, many other parks and wildlife sanctuary have also come up which are yet to make a mark in the Wildlife Circuit of India. Not many people are aware that Kerala boasts of 12 Wildlife sanctuaries and two National Parks.
Eravikulam National Park is situated along the crest of the Western Ghats in the High Ranges of Idukki district of Kerala state, and is known for its abundance of fauna, some quite endangered of extinction. The Park has the largest surviving population of Nilgiri tahr (Hemitragus hylocrius). This endangered animal is endemic to the southern Western Ghats, with an estimated population inside the park of around 700. Apart from tahr, the Park is the abode of other little known fauna such as Nilgiri marten, ruddy mongoose, small clawed otter, dusky striped squirrel, and many more. Elephants make seasonal visits, while about 120 species of birds have been recorded, such as endemics like black and ornage flycatcher, Nilgiri pipit, Nilgiri wood pigeon, white bellied short-wing, Nilgiri verditer flycatcher, and Kerala laughing thrush. Endemics confined to the shola-grass land ecosystem like the red disk bush-brown and Palni fourwing are among the 100 odd butterflies listed inside the Park. The Park is accessible from Kochi (Kerala) and Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu) airports, which are located at about 148 Km and 175 Km distance away respectively.
Silent Valley National Park is located in the Northeastern corner of Palakkad district, combining area of 90 sq km. Despite its name, Silent Valley is a rich kaleidoscope of Western Ghats biodiversity, with more than 1,000 species of flowering plants. These include about 110 species of orchids, more than 34 species of mammals, about 200 species of butterflies, 400 species of moths, 128 species of beetles, and about 150 species of birds, including almost all of the 16 endemic birds of southern India. The wildlife in The Park includes elephants, tigers, leopards, wild boar, sambhar, gaur, and the endangered lion-tailed macaque. There are also a number of snake, lizard and amphibian species.
Kerala is also a popular tourist destination famous for its backwaters, Ayurvedic treatments, and tropical greenery. Bestowed with a pleasant and equable climate throughout the year, Kerala is a tropical land with the coast running down its entire length, and the Western Ghats forming a protective barrier against the dry winds from up north. Monsoon seasons (June-September, October-November) and summer (February-May) comprise half the year, while winter sees only a slight drop in temperature from the normal range of 28-32C.
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