Perched atop Anamudi, South India's highest peak, the rolling grasslands of Eravikulam sprawl across an area of 90 sq km, 8100 feet above mean sea level.
The Nilgiri forest area marks the beginning of the evergreen vegetation stretching from Rajamalai to the Tamillnadu border. The towering Anamudi, now shrouded in a delicate film of mist, and then suddenly swathed in Sunlight, is a sight so spectacular that it will remain fresh in the memory of every visitor.
Driving past the tea plantations and proceeding through the MarayoorUdumalpet Road for 30 km, you reach Vagavara. A steep climb of 18 km, which takes five hours, and you are at Eravikulam. If you start your tour from near the private power plant of the Tatas at Vagavara, you again pass through tea plantations and encounter a breathtaking sight: numerous stretches of grasslands and green medows spread before you as far as your eyes can see! And your blissful tour is punctuated by quaint clusters of shrubbery, green thickets, silver streams, mountain springs and roaring waterfalls that end up as a million splinters sparkling in the reflected sunlight. You will cherish these sights and sounds of Eravikulam for the rest of your life.
Eravikulam has the largest population of ibex (Nilgiri tahr) - the unique mountain goat of the Nilgiri high ranges. According to a survey, nearly a thousand ibexes
have been found here. The region also hosts 98 very rare types of birdlife.
Apart from a large population of elephants, birds and other wildlife, Eravikulam is home to a number of Nilgiri otters and a distinct species of tigers, the South Indian version of the Himalayan Golden Cats.
Quite often an uncommon species of birds that lay eggs on blades of grass arrive at Eravikulam. If their population has to grow, the grasslands have to be provided sufficient protection. For this reason, visitors are denied entry into the Eravikulam park area. Sometimes, during the summer months, the grass fields catch fire. Ibexes love young and tender grass leaves. So they frequently leave the confines of their usual habitat in the forest and wonder off to the burntout fields in search of fresh-grown grass. Since such foreys may endanger the animals, the Wildlife Institute at Dehra Dun often allows the deliberate burning of fireprone grasslands to attract the ibexes.
Neelikurinji, a unique species of flowers that sprout once in 12 years, grows profusely on these grasslands, transforming vast areas of hilly terrain into a floral celebration. A lot of tourists come to Eravikulam to marvel at this blue-spangled phenomenon.
There are 240 ibexes at the Tourism Zone of Rajamalai. These do not normally attempt to run away from visitors, unlike the shy Eravikulam ibexes which instantly take to their heels at the sight of human intrusion.