Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, Ernakulam

Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, popularly known as Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, is situated at the foot of Western Ghats. The sanctuary expands over a staggering 25 km on the North side of Periyar River. The forest was raised to its current status of a sanctuary in the year 1983, as this was done in line on the recommendation of Dr. Salim Ali. Hence, the sanctuary was named after Dr. Salim Ali, as Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary. Dr. Ali used to be a scientist and ornithologist at this place. In his report on the avifauna life in the region, he described this place as the richest bird habitat in peninsular India. Later after that report in 1930, most parts of the forest diverted to be used for the planned cultivation and Teak and Mahogany Plantation. Whatever is left in the forest is now a preserved bird sanctuary, which is phenomenally the biggest bio diverse habitat in Kerala. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is now home to a large number of resident and migratory birds.

Thattekad Bird Sanctuary is an interesting place to visit, as it offers a plethora of activities to its visitors. The activities are connected mostly to the sanctuary itself. The most common thing to do here is bird watching. Guided tours of the sanctuary are organized by the forest authorities, which are conducted at individual as well as group levels. Trekking through the preserved forest is restricted to a particular area. The area which is allotted especially for the purpose of trekking is mesmerizing itself. While trekking through, the forests one comes across a large variety of exotic and rare birds.

Named after the legendary ornithologist Dr Salim Ali, Thattekad Bird Sanctuary in Ernakulam district of Kerala in south India is one of the important bird sanctuaries of India. The wildlife sanctuary, spread over an area of 25 sq km, is home to over 280 species of birds including Crimson-throated Barbet, Sunbird and Fairy Blue bird.

The sanctuary is the catchment area of Bhoothathankett Dam. Undulating terrain, has mixed deciduous forest with patches of grassland. The bird sanctuary is located near the Periyar River, in the shadow of the Western Ghats and consists of evergreen, tropical semi-green and moist deciduous forest. The literal meaning of Thattekad is flat forest.


  • If you intend to visit the sanctuary on a day trip, ensure you reach as soon as the visiting hours start. The sanctuary is open from 6 AM-6 PM. Indian nationals will have to pay an entry fee of Rs. 10. An additional fee will have to be paid if you are carrying camera (Rs 25) and video camera (Rs. 150).
  • Monsoon is best avoided. In addition to the danger of wild animals lurking in the undergrowth, you will also have to deal with blood sucking leeches.
  • Hire a guide for your visit to the sanctuary.  In addition, to helping you make the most of your bird sighting exercise, guides can also help protect you from potential dangers. Guides are available at the entrance of the sanctuary or at the Assistant Wildlife Warden’s office.


The sanctuary was notified by Kerala government based on a recommendation by Dr Salim Ali in 1983. Dr Ali described the sanctuary as the richest bird habitat in peninsular India, comparable only with the eastern Himalayas. Though much has changed since Dr Ali’s survey and parts of the forest have made way for teak and mahogany plantations, but what survives today continues to be an unparalleled haven for the flora and fauna wealth of Kerala. Surprisingly, the number of birds is found in the Sanctuary shows a marked increase from the original survey of 1930 carried out by Dr Ali.


Options for staying in Thattekad are limited to homestays and the forest department inspection bungalow. The Jungle Bird homestay is the only homestay located inside the park. For booking room at the forest department inspection bungalow, contact the Assistant Wildlife Warden Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, Njayapilli P.O., Kothamangalam, Phone 0485 588302. However, those who refuse to rough it out and would prefer the comfort of hotels or resorts; they can be found in Munnar. Private lodges can be found at Kothamangalam. Privately run eco-adventure camp is another option to stay.  The camp has well appointed cottage tents set amidst the forests. Though power supply is limited and entertainment means listening to the chirping of birds, the cottages come with comfo rtable beds, en-suite attached European style closet, shower and running water.


Places to eat are limited to the odd roadside hotel in Thattekad. To avoid hassles, it would be advisable to check into a homestay which would ensure your meals are taken care of.


The weather remains pleasant throughout the year at Thattekad. Though Kerala is a good destination to visit during monsoon (June-September), it is advisable that plans to visit the sanctuary are not made during the rainy season. Large part of the sanctuary becomes inaccessible because of the rains. The best season to visit is between October and April.


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