Neyyar Wildlife SanctuaryEstablished in the catchment area of the Neyyar River, the Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary is a biodiversity hot spot near Thiruvananthapuram and is popular with trekkers. It covers an area of 128 sq km and is home to a variety of flora and fauna including 43 species of mammals, 217 species of birds, 46 species of reptiles, 13 species amphibians and 27 species of fish. Orchids can be seen here too. The sanctuary is also home to elephant, deer and crocodile rehabilitation centres. Trekkers can spend an enchanting day in the wilderness trekking to such spots as Meenmutty Falls and the Agasthyakoodam Peak. Apart from the forest there are also plantations of coconut, pepper, tapioca and plantains as well as rice fields in the area.
Mammals living here include the tiger, leopard, sloth bear, elephants, barking deer, bonnet macaque, wild boar, porcupine, Nilgiri langur and Nilgiri tahr. Birds to be found here include hornbills, barbets, woodpeckers, owls, trogons, bee eaters, rollers, coots, hoopoes and plovers. Reptiles such as king cobra, python, viper, flying snake and flying lizard also exist here. Since the Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary is contiguous with the Neyyar Dam, one of the easiest and quickest ways to explore the sanctuary is by boat.
The Agasthyakoodam Peak towers in the vicinity. Named after the sage Agastya, the 1,868 mt (6,129 ft) peak attracts many visitors for a shrine to the sage and his statue located at the base. Agasthyakoodam Peak is a favourite destination of trekkers. Rare medicinal herbs are found in the area which is known as the Agastyamala Biosphere Reserve and includes the wildlife sanctuaries of Neyyar, Peppara and Shendurney.
The Neyyar Dam was set up in 1958 across the Neyyar River and is a popular picnic spot for tourists and sight seers from the city. It has a height of 56 m and a length of 294 m. The best time to visit the dam would be just after the monsoons to see the water in full flow. Boating is permitted in the dam’s lake and tourists can check out the lion safari. They can also visit the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwanatri Ashram in the vicinity. The Neyyar river flows from the Agasthyakoodam Peak in to the Arabian Sea near Poovar, covering a distance of 56 km. The Kallar and Mullayar rivers are its tributaries.
The Crocodile Rehabilitation and Research Centre was established in 1977 and later named in honour of the late naturalist Steve Irwin. It is home to 44 mugger crocodiles. They are raised here and later released into the lake and river.
Limited accommodation is available at the Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary and Dam. This includes a government rest house and Youth Hostel. There are separate entry fees for the lion safari and the rehabilitation centres. The Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary is contiguous to the Mudanthurai Wildlife Sanctuary and Kalakkadu Tiger Reserve in neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
Location: 32 km from Thiruvananthapuram, next to the Neyyar Dam.
How to get there: Easily accessible by bus and car via Kattakada and Neyyar Dam Road.
Address: Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Thekkan Kurisumala Road, Vazhichal, Kerala - 695551
Timings: 8 am-4 pm. Closed on national holidays and festivals.