Curled up in the Southeast low-lying hills of Western Ghats in Thiruvananthapuram district is the enchanting hide-away, the Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary. The Neyyar River flows along the base of the sanctuary towards the south, and the Neyyar Dam is situated across the river. The two enchanting tributaries of the river are Mullayar and Kallar. The peaceful destination spans over an area of 128 sq.km and lies 29 km away from the bustling capital city. The ecosystem was declared a wildlife reserve in 1958, but only by 1985 it came effective by setting up a wildlife wing and conservation has been carried in full-swing.
The climate around the year is pleasant and ranges between 16ºto 35ºC. The catchment area offer trekking, hiking and boating. A hike along the winding trails will take about 3 hours and can test your physical prowess, but will be definitely a thrilling experience. On the route, you can delight in mesmerising waterfalls, rich flora and fauna, rolling hills, rubber plantations and other splendid scenic glimpses. The tallest peak, Agasthyamalai of 6129 ft is within the Neyyar Wildlife reserve, falls an important tourist hot-spot.
The diverse flora makes the sanctuary an ideal gene pool conservation zone. One feels bliss sighting the green carpet of vegetation around the reserve. Forest types consists of Southern moist mixed deciduous, Southern tropical hill forests, West coast tropic evergreen, Southern sub-tropical savannahs, Southern hilltop tropical evergreen and Reed brakes. Apart from the flora, there are about 39 species of mammals, elephant, tiger, barking deer, sloth bear, bonnet macaque, Nilgiritahr, leopard, Nilgirilangur and gaur. Also the preserve houses 30 species of reptiles, 176 species of birds, 40 species of fish and 17 species of amphibians.
Lion Safari Park, elephant ride, Deer Rehabilitation Centre and crocodile farm set up in the habitat draws flocks of tourists to the location. The crocodile rearing centre has been introduced in 1977 to rear and breed crocodiles. It is home to 44 mugger crocodiles, which are released to lake and Neyyar River near to the dam. In May 2007 the park was known as Steve Irwin National Park or Steve Irwin Crocodile Rehabilitation and Research Center, the famous crocodile hunter who got killed by stingray. But due to some controversies the name was lifted in 2009. Travel to the Lion Safari Park will be worth the visit. It is exciting to watch lions prowl within the territory of Neyyar Reserve. The park is home to seven majestic lions. Opting for a canter safari would be a best choice, where people are taken in a bus or truck around the reserve. Guides attract them with meat loaves, which increases the chances of spotting.
For the conservation of elephants, Neyyar Elephant Rehabilitation Centre was initiated in the area which protects many elephants, i.e., from elephant calves to very old ones. Presently, an 87 year old elephant is the oldest. Elephant safari along the reserve and feeding them are organised by the centre. Visitors can enjoy boat cruise along the scenic Neyyar Lake, relishing the wider view of the forest and the unending expanses of greenery.
The fascinating Neyyar Lake is an abode of the peaceful Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram where visitors can take part in yoga courses and engage in simply delightful meditations. The beautiful enchant has huge trees growing interior to the Ashram, amazing by itself. You can enjoy the real taste of coconut juice and also the white milky or creamy layers of the coconut.
Watch tower, swimming pool, Lake Garden, miniature wildlife sanctuary are other attractions of the park. A trip to this thrilling hideout with kids or family will make it a real memorable experience.
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