The Pichavaram Mangrove Forest near Chidambaram is the world’s second largest mangrove forest. Pichavaram mangrove forest is located between two prominent estuaries, the Vellar estuary in the north and Coleroon estuary in the south. It is located in the Shevaroys range of hills in the Eastern Ghats. It is situated at an altitude of 1515 metres (4970 ft) above sea level, and the highest point in Yercaud is the Servarayan temple, at 5,326 feet (1,623 m).The hill station is named owing to the abundance of forest near the lake, the name signifying Lake Forest.The total extent of Yercaud Taluk is 382.67 km2, including reserve forest. The entire county is administered as a township. Yercaud also has a village council.

Mangrove forests

Pichavaram consists of a number of islands interspersing a vast expanse of water covered with mangrove forest. Pichavaram mangrove Forest is the second largest mangrove forest in the world covering about 1100 hectare of area. It is separated from the Bay of Bengal by a sand bar. The biotope consists of species like Avicennia and Rhizophora. It also supports the existence of rare varieties of economically important shell and finfishes.

Fauna

The mangroves also attract migrant and local birds including snipes, cormorants, egrets, storks, herons, spoonbills and pelicans. About 177 species of birds belonging to 15 orders and 41 families have been recorded. High population of birds could be seen from November to January due to high availability of prey, coincidence of the time of arrival of true migrants from foreign countries and local migrants from their breeding grounds across India. The availability of different habitat types such as channels, creeks, gullies, mud flats and sand flats and adjacent sea shore offers ideal habitat for difference species of birds and animals. It is calculated that 8 tonnes of organic plant detritus per hectare per year is produced by the withered mangrove leaves in Pichavaram mangrove. These leaves are colonized by bacteria and fungi, which in turn is eaten by protozoans. All these give rise to rich particulate organic matter, forming the source of food the several animals like crabs, worms, shrimps, small fishes which in turn form prey to more than 60 spices of larger fish living here. Several species of small organisms live inside the proproot system, which form the food for post larvae, juvenile and adult fishes and prawns like Penaeus indicus, P. monodon, P. semisulcatus, Metapenaeus dobsoni and M. monoceros. The mangroves are used as breeding grounds for the prawns like Macrobrachium spp. and certain fish.
An earlier study of the food web pattern (Prince Jeyaseelan, 1981) shows that 67 species of fishes belonging to 51 genera and 33 families are living in this area. Commercially important fish species belonging to the family Mugilidae, Chanidae, Clupeidae, Pomodasyidae and Gerridae are harvested from this mangrove. Seeds for aquaculture of fish and prawn species are available in plenty.

How to Go

Pichavaram is located about 30 minutes drive from the temple town of Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu. It’s a picturesque route past paddy fields, villages with colorfully painted houses, traditional style huts with thatched roofs, and women selling fish by the roadside. A taxi will cost approximately 800 rupees for a return trip and is the most convenient way of getting there. Alternatively, local buses run hourly between Chidambaram and Pichavaram, with tickets costing about 10 rupees.

When to Go

November to February is the best time, particularly for bird watching. For a peaceful experience, avoid weekends and public holidays as it does get busy then. Also avoid visiting during the scorching summer months, in April and May, as the high humidity is extremely uncomfortable.

Where to Stay

Options for accommodations in the area are limited. Pichavaram Adventure Resort in Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation’s Arignar Anna Tourist Complex, is your best bet. There’s a dormitory, as well as rooms and cottages. However, since there’s no competition in the area, amenities are poor. There are better budget places to stay in Chidambaram.

How to See 

The mangrove forest can be explored by row boat or motor boat. Motor boats are ideal for sizable groups, and you’ll be able to go all the way to the beach through the mangroves in a couple of hours. However, these boats are too big to fit inside the narrow canals. If you’re interested in venturing deep inside the jungle, you’ll need to take a row boat. It’s well worth it. Boats operate from around 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. It gets very hot in the middle of the day though, so it’s recommended that you go early in the morning or late afternoon. Boating is not strictly regulated. The Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation and Tamil Nadu Forest Department conduct official boating activities but local non-government boatmen are also available. Various packages are offered with costs based on boat type, number of people, distance, and attractions covered. You can expect to pay about 1,700 rupees per hour for a motor boat, and 300 rupees upwards for a row boat to go inside the mangrove jungle.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here