Sairandhri

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Sairandhri is a place in Kerala, southern India at about 11°5.22′N 76°27.24′E / 11.08700°N 76.45400°E / 11.08700; 76.45400. It is the entrance point and visitors center for Silent Valley National Park. Sairandhri is the site of a controversial hydroelectric dam that was proposed in 1958 and finally rejected in 1984.

The nearest town is Mannarkad, 32 km. Sairandhri is a 1½ hour drive along a 23 km steep winding road from Mukkali village that houses a Forest Department office. The road is being paved in 2007. Visiting and hiking in the park requires special permits from the Kerala State Forest Department. Entry is allowed only from 8 AM to about 2 PM. Once in the park, walking is the only way to get around. A forest guard accompanies each group as a guide and ensures that no damage is done to the fragile flora and fauna. Day visitors are permitted only 2 km past Sairandhri.

History[edit]

The area is known locally as "Sairandhrivanam", Literally, in Malayalam: Sairandhri's Valley. In Hindu history, Sairandhri is Draupadi, the wife of the five Pandavas, who disguised herself as Sairandhri, queen Sudeshna's assistant, while they were in exile.[1] Sound-icon1.png[2]. The legend says that the Pandavas, deprived of their kingdom, set out on a 13-year exile. They wandered south, into what is now Kerala, deeper and deeper into its forests, until one day they came upon a magical valley where rolling grasslands dipped into wooded ravines, where a deep green river bubbled its course through impenetrable forest, where at dawn and twilight the tiger and elephant would drink together at the water's edge, where all was harmonious and man unknown. Beside that river, in a cave on a hill slope, the Pandavas halted.

Visitors center[edit]

There is a visitors center at Sairandhri with a small exhibit building, Observation tower, parking area for authorized vehicles and a small 4 unit visitors bungalow.

There is a memorial to Indira Gandhi, unveiled by her son, the then Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi, when the park was inaugurated on September 7, 1985, ten months after her assassination.

Inside the exhibit building are photographs and information on the various species of orchids, plants and animals in the park. There is an innovative Jungle orchestra at the centre, where the sound of various animals living in the park can be heard at the press of a button.

One may get a panoramic view of the park by climbing five levels of winding stairs to a viewing platform on top of a 30 m high steel observation tower constructed to commemorate opening of the park.

Kuntipuzha River[edit]

Legend says that every morning the Pandavas would rise with the sun and bathe at the river and to that river they gave their mother's name Kunti (Puzha: is river in Malayalam) thus: "Kunthipuzha".[3]

The only way to reach the river from Sairandhri is a 2 km down hill day hike along a steep winding trail to an 18-m long suspension bridge that crosses the river. There are many perennial springs along the way and there are many leeches along the trail. Wear high ankle leech proof jungle boots and apply salt or tobacco paste to your legs as a repellent. Be prepared to roll up your trousers to your knees or wear shorts to easily spot and remove leeches who may cling to your skin. Bird watching, picnicking, and photography (Photo Gallery:[4]) may be enjoyed along the trail and near the bridge.

At present the kerala forest and wildlife department is not encouraging any overnight trekking programmes inside the silent valley national park.Therer are certain eco tourism trekking packages operating inside the Buffer Zone of the national park from mukkali. These packages are conducted by Eco development Committees constituted under participatory forest management.The only entry inside the national park permitted at present is the guided safari from Mukkali to Sairandri (23 km).

References[edit]

  1. ^ KEECHAKA VADHAM, "Slaying of Keechaka", story from the Hindu epic Mahabharatham, retrieved 3/7/2007."Slaying of Keechaka"
  2. ^ In the court of King Virata, "Narayan's Mahabharata", p. 93, retrieved 3/9/2007"Narayan's Mahabharata", Audio
  3. ^ Ullash Kumar R K (5/21/2006) "Stolen Generation - Silent Valley", retrieved 2/7/2007."Stolen Generation - Silent Valley"
  4. ^ 183 images (1/21/2006) KeralaClick Photo Gallery "God's own country - Silent Valley National Park", retrieved 3/9/2007 Photo gallery