Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary is a nature-lover's paradise.

Was is it the sun, that conspired to come in a little late or was it my mind, which paused that moment; Dawn! Neither of it, I guess. Dawn is just sheer magic. Didn't know how long that moment lasted; sure felt like infinity.

Is it the night that is happily surrendering to the day? No, it is the day that is slowly devouring the night; whatever, it ultimately dawned on me that I have been missing the dawns. Not just about the light, it is also the sounds of nature that are mesmerising, the noisy crickets of the forest fading off and the chirpy birds tuning in at the same time.

Lured by the tune

Come to think of it, it was one such sound that woke me up so early, any one hearing that sound for the first time will surely agree with me that it definitely was a happy person whistling a beautifully composed tune. Surprisingly, early for me; 5.45 a.m. was the time when I slowly sneaked out of the tent and quietly wandered off the camp site.

Lazily, I looked out for the person whistling past and there was not a soul around. Gave up and just stood still breathing in the fresh morning air and there he was; not a man but a little fellow right behind me perched on the fence, weighing less than a kilo but with the whistle that will travel not less than a couple of kilometres.

The Malabar Whistling Thrush, aptly named, is a small black bird. He would whistle and immediately from a distance the same tune is whistled back and after some time there they are, together. I let them be and walked a little further and, whoa! A herd of spotted deer stared right at me — super alert, ears pointed right up, scared vigilant looks — they were on their marks, getting set and I took one step, and go. A 50-m dash and stopped. I was still; they were still; a few seconds passed; I took one more step and they scattered out in all different directions except towards me, of course; should I have been a tiger, impossible it would have been to catch one.

Telling me to be a little less clumsy next time around a herd of ever-alert deer, I took a u-turn back to the tent. Did you know a gang of wild boar can actually kill a leopard? And I didn't too; not until the day before.

Here I was taken by shock, the words of the guide echoing again “a gang of wild boar can kill a leopard”, when a gang of wild boar was right beside me and the biggest of the lot grunted and the speed walk which I picked up came to a halt only when I crossed the door of my tent. Did I look back to check if they were chasing me? No way!

My little solo adventure in Parambikulam ended there. I left the rest of the adventure to be led by the guides who had better plans and better survival skills at hand.

Parambikulam is the second tiger reserve of Kerala, which is a true representative of the Western Ghats. The richness of flora and the abundance of wildlife with splendid landscapes sure make this place one of my favourites.

Fact file

Area: 285 square kilometres

Location: 100 kms off Palakad, Kerala, and 45 km from Pollachi, Tamil Nadu

Getting there: One can drive down or take a KSRTC bus by 7.45am from Palakkad and from Pollachi TNSTC bus that starts by 6.05am and one at 3.00pm. (Trust me, there are loads of thing to do here, in a day.)

Stay: There are lots of options from dorms, tents, tree houses to island tree tops.

Unique sight: The Kannimara Teak Tree, which is said to be Asia's largest with a girth of 7.01 metres and a height of 48.5 metres.

What to do

Forest safari

Bird watching

Trekking

Bamboo rafting

Photography

Or like me, end up writing about it.

Spot them

It has rich diverse fauna and the common species found here are:

Elephants

Indian gaur

Nilgiri Tahr

Spotted deer

Sambhar deer

Barking deer

Lion tailed macaque

Common langur

Nilgiri langur

Malabar giant squirrel

Sloth bear

Cane turtle

King cobra

Fresh water crocodile… and many more

If you are lucky, some big cats too.

Take note

Carry a pair of binoculars and a camera (preferably with zoom).

Wear sober colours like grey, olive green and khaki, and avoid bright ones like red, white and yellow.

If trekking is in your agenda, beware of leeches.

Plastics are a definite no-no; don't even carry those drinking water bottles.

Do not leave anything behind in the forest.

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