Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary
Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary was created in 1967 for conservation of Blackbuck, an endangered and endemic species of India. The sanctuary is located in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu. This vast swampy tract of Point Calimere is the scene of one of India’s greatest avian spectacles. Point Calimere encompasses 17.26 sq KM of sandy coast fringed by saline swamps and thorny scrub around the backwaters.
Blackbuck, locally called Velimann, is the key species of the sanctuary. They are mostly seen grazing in the open grassland area. Other important animals of the sanctuary include Spotted deer, Jackal, Civet, Wild boar, Jungle Cat, Bonnet Macaque, Blacknaped Hare and the Common Indian Mongoose. A notable feature of the sanctuary is the presence of feral horses.
Olive Ridley turtles have been regularly nesting in the sanctuary beach. During winter, Dolphin sighting is common along the sanctuary coast. Between October and March, it is crammed with a great variety of birds – terns, gulls, storks, herons and enormous congregations of coastal waders, but the most spectacular are the Lesser and the Greater Flamingos.
With the arrival of north east monsoons, migratory birds start congregating in and around the sanctuary. More than a hundred species of migratory birds visit the sanctuary. They include Flamingo, Painted Storks, Pelicans, Teals, Terns, Ducks and a variety of shore birds. About 20000 Flamingoes visit the Sanctuary every year. The rare Spoonbill Sandpiper has also been sighted in the sanctuary. White bellied Sea Eagle, Montagu’s Harrier, White-eyed Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon, Common Kestrel, Osprey, Blue faced Malkoha, Pied Cuckoo, Blue tailed Bee eater, Yellow billed Babbler, Chestnut-tailed starling, Asian Paradise- flycatcher, Greater Flamingo, Lesser Flamingo, Spot billed Pelican, Great Cormorant, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Western Reef Egret, Eurasian Spoonbill, Northern Shoveler, Red-crested Curlew, Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Black tailed Godwit, Asian Dowitcher, Pallas’s Gull, Caspian Tern, Great Crested Tern, Black-capped Kingfisher are some of the other important species.
Several historical sites like Ramar Padam, Modimandapam and Old Chola lighthouse are located in the Sanctuary. Ramar Padam carries the stone footprints of Lord Rama. One can have a beautiful view of the sanctuary from the watch tower located near the shrine.
The ruins of a 1000-year old Chola light house stands at the point known as Point Calimere. Here, the Bay of Bengal meets the Palk Strait. A modern lighthouse constructed in 1890 lies close to the spot.
The easy sighting of birds in a mix of habitats adds to the appeal of Point Calimere. There are reportedly more than 250 avifaunal species in this sanctuary. Boat-rides facilitate bird-watching in some parts.
Thanjavur, just 90 km away, was the seat of the celebrated Chola kings from the 10th to the early 14th century. Its famous medieval temple architecture provides a break from the wildlife.
Open Season Throughout the year
Best time to visit – November to April
Climate (March to October) 20oC – 40o C
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