Nature Trails

Nanmangalam reserve forest.   | Photo Credit: Special_Arrangement

Chennai is not entirely a concrete jungle. In its immediate fringes are scrub jungles with fairly thick foliage of tall trees that nurture life in all forms – birds, reptiles and small mammals.

There are wetlands that are homes to lovely marine life forms and also provide warmth to migratory birds that fly thousands of kilometres to escape from icy cold winters.

The city’s south, especially, is dotted with popular forest patches like the Vandalur zoo and the Pallikaranai marshland as well as the lesser known Nanmangalam Reserve Forest and wetlands in Perumbakkam and Kovalam. The Hindu features these precious natural resources for nature enthusiasts to take an early morning walk or an evening stroll in, and glimpse the beautiful wildlife on offer

Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Vandalur

With ample shade and plenty of open space, Vandalur zoo offers the perfect getaway for families.

Spread over 510 hectares of dry evergreen forests, it is the largest zoo in the country. The chimpanzees, lions, tigers, leopard and panther are a huge hit with visitors.

One can tour the zoo in battery-operated vehicles or hire bicycles. There is also a dedicated play area for children.


Entry fee: Rs. 30 for adults; Rs. 10 for children

How to get there: Take Chengalpattu-bound MTC buses from Tambaram or travel in local trains on the Chennai Beach-Chengalpattu line. Get down at Vandalur and take a bus from there


Pallikaranai marshland

Located in south Chennai, the marshland, spread over 618 hectares is home to some exotic varieties of birds and rare types of fish.

The heterogeneous ecosystem of the marshland supports about 337 species of flora and fauna.

Environmentalists say the region has a bird biodiversity about four times that of Vedanthangal. It is also home to some of the most endangered reptiles such as Russell's viper and birds such as the glossy ibis and black-winged stilts.


Entry fee: None

How to get there: Pallikaranai is well-connected by MTC buses from all parts of the city. Get down at Mylai Balaji Nagar bus stop on Velachery Main Road or in Thoraipakkam on Rajiv Gandhi Salai


Nanmangalam Reserve Forest

Not many people are aware of the existence of the reserve forest, which was once a practice ground for the Army.

Spread over 320 hectares, it lies a few kilometres west of Pallikaranai marshland. The forest is home to nearly 500 species of flora and fauna, and over 83 species of birds. An abandoned quarry in the forest is home to at least a horned owls.

It is best to visit the forest in the morning, around 7 a.m., since birds are most active then.


Entry fee: None. Prior permission from the forest dept. is needed.

How to get there: The entrance to the forest is on Velachery Main Road. MTC buses ply there from Velachery and Tambaram


Perumbakkam wetland

An extension of Pallikaranai marshland, the wetland is sandwiched between Rajiv Gandhi Salai and Perumbakkam.

Located in the midst of IT parks, hospitals and massive apartment complexes, the wetland has been the focus of an improvement project of the forest department.

An interpretation centre here helps people learn about the unique habitat and its vegetation. Patient visitors can witness black-winged stilts chase aggressive crows that try to peck at their eggs.

The wetland receives water from hillocks that dot Perumbakkam, Medavakkam and Sithalapakkam


Entry fee: None

How to get there: Plenty of buses go to Perumbakkam and Sholinganallur. Get down at Global Hospitals or Wipro ELCOT bus stops and take a stroll along the wetland bunds


Kovalam wetland

It is located on both sides of the link road connecting Old Mahabalipuram Road in Kelambakkam and East Coast Road in Kovalam.

It comprises vast sheets of water, as far as the eye can see. On the southern side of the road are salt pans, while on the northern side, there are colonies of birds, mostly pelicans, storks and egrets and even ducks, teals and avocets.


Entry fee: None

How to get there: Buses on OMR halt in Kelambakkam and those plying ECR halt in Kovalam. The link road is a wonderful stretch to take a long walk on in the early morning and evening hours – the best times to spot the birds



K.S.S.V.P. Reddy, Vandalur zoo director -- Several measures are being initiated to make the zoo litter and pollution free. Visitors can bring in only water bottles. The latest attraction at the zoo is the ostrich park. A butterfly park too will be opened shortly

K.V.R.K Thirunaranan, Nature Trust, NGO -- We are very happy with the action taken by the government to preserve Nanmangalam. The reserve forest will turn into a live biological space, and not lose its distinct wilderness touch

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Printable version | Oct 14, 2021 7:47:07 PM |

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