The first planned eco tourism project implementation done in India, is in and around the Parappar dam and Shenthurinny wildlife sanctuary forests of Thenmala. The eco tourism project here in Thenmala is a joint venture by the Forest, Irrigation and Tourism departments of Kerala. Thenmala is a small village in the valley of western ghat mountain ranges and is covered in the tropical deciduous mixed forested land.
Thenmala the Malayalam word means Honey Mountains and the honey collected from these forests is considered special and medicinal. You being a traveller especially if comes under the category of nature lover or one who loves trekking, forest travelling and forest camps, this eco tour spot is ideal for you. You can do trekking and forest explorations in the dense greenery, cladding the mountain slopes and valleys here in Thenmala.
Eco Tourism zones of Thenmala
The eco tourism project attractions and activities of Thenmala are distributed in 3 zones coming in around 500 meter radius. The major spots of this ecotour spot are:-
Sculpture Garden :
What you can expect here is sculptures blended into the green extravaganza of the tropical dense forest, in this small valley village of western ghats. The leisure zone and sculpture garden are beside the Thenmala dam, the Irrigation-hydro electric dam of Kollam district / Kerala. The main attractions of the leisure zone and sculpture park are, as the names imply, sculptures and interesting resting points inside the forest outskirts of Shenthurinny wildlife sanctuary beside the dam.
Nature trails, board walks, hanging bridge across the river stream that continues from the dam spillway etc are other attractions. The sculptures of animals, cosmic flying men, depiction of ideas and thoughts, mythical characters like Vikramaditya and Vethala, Lord Shiva, Parasurama the Hindu avatar of God etc are arranged in various points of this sculpture park. We have to walk through the eco nature trail to have a sight of these sculptures and in the middle there are nicely designed, stepped resting platforms inside the forest. The resting points are vast enough for a group of 50 to 60 tourists to be seated together and can have some leisurely activities in between your tour trip.
Thenmala Leisure Zone
We visited the adventure zone before being here by 5:30pm of the day. It will be better to visit the adventure zone before leisure zone in-case you are here after 4 pm as adventure zone will be closing by 5:30 pm whereas leisure zone by 6:30pm.
Leisure zone is much near to the tourist facilitation centre from where you have to get the entry tickets and directions to various spots of this Kerala's eco tourism project area.
Adventure Zone at Thenmala includes Rock climbing, Mountain Biking, River Crossing, Rapelling & Nature Trails.
The major tourist attractions here in Adventure zone of Thenmala are, Forest Canopy Elevated walkway bridge, Nature trails through the forested hills, rock climbing, mountain biking, river crossing, Burmese bridge walk, boating in the forest pond, rapelling etc. There is a place where you can do some bow and arrow practice .
You shouldn't miss this adventure spot of Thenmala ecotours, even if you are not much adventurous. Being adventurous helps you to get the most out of this eco tourism location of southern Kerala. For a Nature tourist the canopy walkway and Nature trails will be an experience with chances to watch the nature, birds and the mighty forest trees closer walking towards them.
After verifying the tickets, you will be entering right into a museum here. A descriptive display of all the types of rope knots used during rock climbing is displayed here.. From the knot museum you will move on to the Canopy Walkway or Elevated bridge of the adventure zone, a must visit here.
From canopy bridge you can either walk to the top of the hill and traverse through the nature trails or select a more adventurous way to go down to the forest pond through a rope (valley crossing), exactly the same way you have to cross the river using ropes. The elevated walking bridge rises up through the forest tree canopy. The information board says, "Resemble Canopy Walkway. The canopy bridge hangs suspended over the forest floor". Specifications of the bridge is given as, Length of the Bridge: 120 meter, Number of Steps: 109, Number of tree canopies: 11 big trees. The platform of the bridge is done with lot of wooden planks paved over steel structure,very similar to the old hanging bridge of Punalur.
Photos of Big trees found in the Thenmala forests and the river Kallada that find its way through this green lush evergreen forests of western ghats are found here. The nature of the forest here in and around Shenduruny Wildlife Sanctuary is mixed deciduous forest with evergreen ones. The trees here in this post are photographed from the Deer park of Thenmala eco tourism. Most of the trees found here are huge tall evergreen trees-the typical Western Ghat Nature. The deer park is meant to protect the deers which stray out of inner forests.
The greenery of the forest is preserved around the park as the name suggests- ECO TOURISM. Have found some interesting trees along the river side of this park. Interesting in the sense of trunk shapes and sizes especially when coming to the bottom part. Most of the forest trees in this park are having a name board with their names including scientific names. Some of the trees found here are Therakam, Karanjili, Kambakom, Karimarom etc. You may have heard about Kambakom, the tree renowned for its strength and which is used in the construction of bridges and even elephant training cages in olden times. The vehicular hanging bridge of Punalur was having Kambakom wooden planks in its platform.
There is a tree to the right seen while walking around in the deer park after taking snaps of some of the deers there inside the fenced part of the deer rehabilitation centre. Comparing to other ones this tree is small, but the tree trunk appeared like layers rooted into the ground.
Forest Tree House at Thenmala Eco Tourism Deer Park :
Thatched Tree house built of Canes,Bamboo,Ropes etc for tourists can be seen here.
Near to the canopy of the forest trees the tree house stands tall like a watch tower for the vegetation and wildlife around. This tree house is added as one of the many eco tourism attractions in and around Thenmala forests, ie the Shenthuruny wildlife Sanctuary forests of Western Ghats.
From olden times man used to make tree houses in forests and in trees near to farm lands, to cater as a safe dwelling from wildlife in the forests and also to guard farm lands and all. These days many of the Nature Tourism spots of Kerala has tree houses mainly for tourists. If the tree house here in Thenmala is just for the sake of climbing up and watching around, there are many tree houses as part of tourist resorts in and around Kerala, mainly in the Wayanadu district, which are equipped with all the amenities a modern tourist will need in his room to make his holiday stay here in Kerala memorable. Most of them are exactly like a well furnished resort room, with balconies. Differentiating them from ordinary resort rooms, they will be made entirely of wood and bamboos and ofcourse will be placed over a tree, thereby people can call them tree house resorts.
Various walking routes into the forests can be seen and if you a group of people with plenty of time to spend here, no harm in walking into the park forests. What you will witness for sure in these forests are big trees of the western ghats and most of them with a name board fixed by the park authorities, so that you won't end up disappointed thinking of what tree this can be.
In the deer park you can see Barking Deer (Kezha Maan in Malayalam), Sambar Deer (Mlave), Spotted deer[Chittal, Cheetal, Axis deer, Pulli Maan in Malayalam].
The forest in the deer rehabilitation centre is a collection of huge trees and many of them are having interesting trunk shapes. The deers are fenced inside the forested land and you can walk around the fence and watch for the deers. Deer herds can be seen around the water tanks near to the fencings. The information about deers given here are obtained from the tourist information board fixed at some places of the deer park.