After a refreshing walk through the natural forests of Paniyeli Poru, we decided to explore at least a few more interesting places in Kerala, near and around Paniyeli Poru. A small chit chat with a group of bikers revealed Abhayaranyam zoo, Haritha Bio-park, and Bhoothathan kettu dam. An amid wildlife lover in me took no time to decide upon our next destination – the Abhayaranyam zoo.
Knowing my interest, Key keyed in the destination on google maps and the distance that we had to cover was slightly under 12 kilometers. Once again the wheels of our bike rolled over the wet soil of mangrove-style forest and reached the tarmac road. We voyaged through the rubber plantations and routine crops on a narrow and curvy road. Haritha bio-park was on our way, but our objective was to hit Abhayaranyam zoo as early as possible.
On our way to Abhayaranyam zoo, clouds formed a barricade for sun rays and proclaimed a downpour. We stopped and took shelter under an abandoned shop. My mind started floating around the memories of visiting zoo with my parents in Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum). During my childhood Trivandrum zoo was one of my most favorite weekend destinations. Seeing animals of different genre and species obviously had thrilled me. The rain did not last for long and we pursued our ride.
12 kilometers were not too much and we crossed a narrow bridge to ride into a vast parking space. We could easily spot the gate and a ticket counter to Abhayaranyam zoo. Unlike most other zoos that I had experienced, here in Abhayaranyam, I felt organic and nature friendly. Tall trees and thick bushes resembled a natural forest for a zoo. We approached the ticket counter and made the payment for two adults. While walking through the muddy paths of Abhayaranyam, we saw a less organized garden, but on it’s edge a signboard read – ‘Butterfly garden’. The sign board was true, I could see at least 8 different varieties of butterflies and a few different dragon flies, many in numbers.
A few more steps and we saw another signboard directing towards right. A path paved with tiles led us to the deer park. On the sides of the path were lean yet tall trees touching the sky. Clouds poured another time, quick and light, as we were on our way to the deer park. Suddenly the path got widened and a division was made in the middle by the clubbing bamboo trees. We took the left wing of the path to notice the spotted deer. They were left in an enclosure lower than the platform that we were standing. Many in number, some chewed on to the given feeds while the others roamed around.
The other side of the path was a similar facility for Sambar deer. The horns of Sambar deer attracted me. Some of them had long horns with branches while some others had shorter horns as if just budding. There were also some among the Sambar deer without horns. Later we learned that the Sambar deer grow horns and shed the overgrown horns to regrown a new one.
We then continued to explore the primary attraction in Abhayaranyam zoo – the elephants. Before even listening about Abhayaranyam, I had heard about the elephant camp in Kodanad. Kodanad elephant training center was a major attraction on the banks of river Periyar in Kerala. A short walk took us to the elephants on chain. We saw four elephants in a row and one behind, a bit lower than the others. The first one was a huge elephant who stayed calm and concentrated on its food. A discussion with a staff there helped us to know that the huge elephant is 50 years old and brought from Assam.
The smaller elephants besides the 50 years old one were at their 2, 4, and 6 years of age. They were young and had tender tusks. I was a bit considerate about these animals in cages and on chains. India was celebrating it’s 71st independence day then and I was watching the elephants on chains. I felt sorry about the humiliation, but the truth was different… Abhayaranyam was not an ordinary zoo and the animals there were not harassed. This wildlife facility at Kodanad in Kerala was established to protect animals. Most animals sheltered here are orphans; either they had lost their mother or they were injured and wouldn’t survive without support. Learning the noble objective of Abhayaranyam, I vouched for the Malayattoor Forest Division’s efforts.
Abhayaranyam Zoo: Travel Tips
Abhayaranyam is a nature friendly tourism destination in Kerala on the banks of river Periyar. The place is best visited for watching butterflies, deer, and elephants. The primary attraction in this animal protection center is the elephant training center or the elephant camp. Here elephants or other animals are not trapped and captured to domesticate. Most animals here are orphans and the facility offers protection for these orphaned animals including elephants.
How to reach:
The nearest airport to Abhayaranyam is Cochin International Airport (19 kilometers) while the nearest railway station is Angamally (21 kilometers). Abhayaranyam is well connected to the nearby towns and cities with roads.
When to visit:
Abhayaranyam can be visited any time during an year. However, the nearby attractions of Kerala including Paniyeli Poru are best visited between October and March. Visiting Abhayaranyam during the months of October until March may help you explore other tourist places of Kerala too.
Where to stay:
One can find hotels and lodges near around Abhayaranyam. Panileyli Poru, the near by attraction, has beautiful resorts too. If you are looking for budget accommodation, you may consider traveling to Angamali, Aluva, or Perumbavoor.
Abhayaranyam is one of the best getaway locations from Kochi. However, when planning a journey to Abhayaranyam, we would suggest you to visit Paniyeli Poru and Haritha bio-park. If you plan a two days program in and around this nature friendly destination of Kerala, you can also include Bhoothathan Kettu Dam and Malayttoor.