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Mukurthi National Park

The Mukurthi National Park is located in the Nilgiris District of Tamil Nadu, the south eastern corner of the Nilgiris Plateau. Spread over 78.46 sq. km, this represents one of the very few areas which support a viable population of the Nilgiri Tahr. A fascinating feature of the Mukkurthi National Park is its endemism and relationship with the Himalayan flora and fauna.

The entire tract included in the National Park bears natural vegetation typical of higher altitudes of South India, comprising of rolling grassy downs, interspersed with temperate shoals occupying depressions and valleys. The landscape is extremely picturesque and should be zealously protected and preserved to maintain the primeval beauty and grandeur of the tract.

The natural vegetation consists of vast stretches of grasslands interspersed with numerous isolated, compact sharply defined and small woodland “Shoals’. Only two storeys of tree layers are seen. Lianas are quite common, Epiphytes are abundant and consists mostly of lichens, ferns, bryophytes and various orchids. Several plants native to Nilgiris plateau have their nearest relatives in the Himalayas.

The Rhododendrons, Black berries, Raspberries etc. are not found anywhere in peninsular India, between the Nilgiris and the Himalayas. The average elevation is around 2400 mt. Above MSL. Kolaribetta is the highest point (2630 mt.). Other major peaks are Mukkurthi (2556 mt.) and Nilgiris (2477 mt.) The general slope of the area is towards the east and the south. The area is drained by innumerable beautiful and perennial little streams. The vast majority of the streams eventually fall into the Bhavani Puzha. The Kundha Range of hills form from the western edge of the Nilgiris Plateau. Which rises steeply from Silent valley, the Nilambur valley and the Ouchterlony valley and continue as an unbroken wall.

Due to high altitude, the climate is quite cold. Temperature ranges between 20 deg. and below 0 deg C. Rainfall is about 2500 mm/per annum which occurs during April to August. Frosty nights are common from December to February. Monsoon rains are accompanied by strong winds and low visibility; mists are a factor to be reckoned within the Sanctuary.

The natural vegetation consists of vast stretches of grasslands interspersed with numerous isolated, compact sharply defined and small woodland “Shoals’. Only two storeys of tree layers are seen. Lianas are quite common, Epiphytes are abundant and consists mostly of lichens, ferns, bryophytes and various orchids. Several plants native to Nilgiris plateau have their nearest relatives in the Himalayas. The Rhododendrons, Black berries, Raspberries etc. are not found anywhere in peninsular India, between the Nilgiris and the Himalayas.

Mukkurthi’s wild animals are a fascinating mixture of plain and mountain animals. The close encounters with wild animals, are rare in the open Mukkurthi Country. The common mammalian species met with here include Nilgiri Tahr Sambar, Barking deer, Elephant, Blacknaped hare, Jungle cat, Wilddogs, Jackal, Stripe-necked mangoose, Nilgiri Martin, Otters, Giant squirrel etc., The Avifauna are mostly hill birds, such as Kestrel, Black Eagles, Grey jungle fowls, wood cock and Thrushes.

TREKKING ROUTES
1. Bangitapal – Sispara -16 KM
2. Bangitapal –Sispara-Poochiparai- Silent Valley -52 KM
3. Devabetta – Mukkurthi Peak -12KM. – Fishinghut (halt) – 8 KM.
4. Kolarikutta – Bangitapal -20 KM ( halt)
5. Western Catchment – Bangitapal – 14 KM
6. Trekking Shed – Kangerkundi – Nadugani -18 KM

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