Our camp in Silent Valley at a nice day
Lion Tailed Macaque Monkey
In Southern parts of India we have western ghats which are considered to be a semi evergreen forest. But our area called silent Valley' in Palghat district of Kerala State is the only one patch of true evergreen forest in South India.
After a camp at Cheriavalakkad (small forest), trekking is continued towards a place called Periavalakkad (higher forester) and the distance is about 20 km. This area is much thicker in vegetation. Plenty of small streams and big waterfalls are observed. The most important observation is the presence of a rare fern called Osmunda on either side of every forming a green belt. It is a rare scene that is not seen in other forests. These ferns grow to a height of 4 – 6 feet with branched spikes at the tips. The other rare fern Botrychium, not commonly found in other areas. It is a handsome fern growing to a height of about 4- 5 feet. At the ground level another rare plant species called Lycopodium grows luxuriantly. The grassland vegetation was observed at the hill tops and these are infested with varieties of snakes. Including king cobras. It was important to carry anti-venom injections. At every halt for breakfast and lunch, one has stopped on the rock surfaces along the streams.
The next camp in Silent Valley could be Sispara Pass situated at an altitude of 7500 feet. Very cold breeze and very cold water in the streams are common features here. The distance is around 25 km. This is where the silent Valley National Park' was inaugurated by Shri Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister. During the course of trekking towards Sispara Pass as in the previous areas, we could observe the canopies of trees formed over streams. Deep in the canopies along streams, there is darkness and it is lodging place of various kinds of animals. The most important observation was the presence of Lion Tailed Monkey restricted only to this Silent Valley and nowhere else in the world. Such species are called Endemic Species. Plenty of original gene pools of cereals are grown here. These grasses grow to a height of about 10 -12 feet in height. These are the ancestors of today's cereals like Maize, Wheat, Paddy, Jowar, Ragi etc. At higher altitudes famous Rhododendron trees with beautiful red flowers are common.
It is very interesting to note that herds of bison walk along the streams at 4- 5am and they drink such cold water. They just keep on moving in a herd early in the morning.
After Sispara Pass, we could trek towards the upper Bhavani water reservoir in Tamil Nadu. The distance is about 20 km. Then we came to the peripheral region of Silent Valley. This was a fascinating experience.
Tour of Attappady Hill Sation in Kerala
Silent Valley is in Palghat District and the state of Kerala, at Southern India
The beautiful Silent Valley is in Palghat District and the state of Kerala, at Southern India. This is well preserved by declaring it as a National Park, although attempts by Kerala State were made to build a hydro – electric project across the River county' (Kunti Pulam) flowing in the heart of the silent valley. If it were to be allowed, about 350 to 400 sq.km. Of forest cover would have been under water. Once such as a forest is lost, it is a permanent loss because the nature has taken 50 millions of years to build such a forest.
We arranged a trekking program into the Silent Valley. The distance of about 135 km, was trekking over a period of 5 days and four nights. Silent Valley is located in the Mannarkkad Taluk of Palghat district in Kerala State. The gateway of Silent Valley is a place called Mukhali.
About 24 km from Mukhali, the proposed dam site is located. A small hanging bridge and one or two labourer's sheds are visible. It is here one can stay overnight. Next day, 22 km of trekking was done to reach a place called Cheriavalakkad (small forest). All through this is a very deadly forest. Thicker vegetation of trees of different heights (about 40 Feet To 120 Feet) especially in the Valleys in the Valleys was observed. Such thick forest between the hills and mountain are called `Sholas'. It is here many wild animals take shelter. All along the path one could observe many streams and the path was richly infested with Leeches. The trekking team actually walked to the bed of leeches.
Every individual had leech bites ranging from 45 to 112. these leeches suck the blood and the blood does not get clotted as the animal produces an anti clotting factor called Hirudin. Various kinds of ferns, Lycopodium was observed. Every tree and the branches were armoured with exotic plants called Orchids. There are epiphytes as they grow on other plants.
The growth of the trees is so crowded that sunlight does not penetrate to reach the ground level. This is how light is prevented from reaching the ground. This creates a lot of humidity and temperature. As a result microbial activity in the soil is very great to make the soil fertile. No single species of tree are dominant, but all the species are co-dominant die they grow equally well. This does not happen in other types of forests.