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Silent Valley National Park

Silent Valley National Park is a national park with a core zone of 237.54 square kilometres (91 sq mi) (making it the largest national park in Kerala). It is located in the Nilgiri Hills, within the Palakkad District of Kerala, South India. This region was explored in 1847 by the botanist Robert Wight, and is a setting for the epic Mahabharatha. This park is one of the last undisturbed tracts of South Western Ghats mountain rain forests and tropical moist evergreen forest in India. Contiguous with the proposed Karimpuzha National Park (225 km2) to the north and Mukurthi National Park (78.46 km2) to the north-east, it is the core of the Nilgiri International Biosphere Reserve (1,455.4 km2), and is part of The Nilgiri Sub-Cluster (6,000+ km2), Western Ghats World Heritage Site, recognised by UNESCO in 2007. The Silent Valley region is locally known as Sairandhrivanam, which in Malayalam means Sairandhris Forest. Sairandhri is Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas in the epic Mahabharatha, who disguised herself as Sairandhri, the maid of a queen named Sudeshna, while her family was in exile. The Pandavas, deprived of their kingdom, set out on a 13-year exile. They wandered south, into what is now Kerala, until one day they came upon a magical valley where rolling grasslands met wooded ravines, a deep green river bubbled its course through impenetrable forest, where at dawn and twilight the tiger and elephant would drink together at the waters edge, where all was harmonious and man unknown. Beside that river, in a cave on a hill slope, the Pandavas halted. The first Western investigation of the watersheds of the Silent Valley area was in 1857 by the botanist Robert Wight.The British named the area Silent Valley because of a perceived absence of noisy cicadas. Another story attributes the name to the anglicisation of Sairandhri. A third story, refers to the presence there of many lion-tailed macaques Macaca silenus. In 1914 the forest of the Silent Valley area was declared a reserve forest, however, from 1927 to 1976 portions of the Silent Valley forest area were subjected to forestry operations.

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