Silent Valley

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silentvalley
Silent Valley National Park (Core zone: 89.52 square kilometres (35 sq mi)) is located in the Nilgiri Hills, Palakkad district. The local names of the valley and the river that flows through it, resurrect the grand tale of the Mahabharata. In local lingo, Silent Valley is called

Sai-randhiri-vanam literally meaning Sairandhri's forest in Malayalam (synonymous with Draupadi, wife of the Pandavas) and the river is called Kunthipuzha (synonymous with Kunti, mother of the Pandavas).

 

 

The first English exploration of the watersheds of the Silent Valley area was in 1847 by the botanist Robert Wight. The British named the area Silent Valley because of a perceived absence of noisy insect Cicadas that are generally abundant in tropical rain forests (although, cicadas form an integral part of this forest now).

The flora of the valley include about a 1000 species of flowering plants, 108 species of orchids, 100 ferns and fern allies, 200 liverworts, 75 lichens and about 200 algae. A majority Of these plants are endemic to the Western Ghats. Rare bird species found here include Ceylon Frogmouth and Great Indian Hornbill. Birdlife International lists 16 bird species in Silent Valley as threatened or restricted: Nilgiri Wood-pigeon, Malabar Parakeet, Malabar Grey Hornbill, White-bellied Treepie, Grey-headed Bulbul, Broad-tailed Grassbird, Rufous Babbler, Wynaad Laughing Thrush, Nilgiri Laughing Thrush, White-bellied Shortwing, Black-and-rufous Flycatcher, Nilgiri Flycatcher, White-bellied Blue-flycatcher, Crimson-backed Sunbird and Nilgiri pipit. And there are at least 34 species of mammals at Silent Valley including the threatened Lion-tailed Macaque, Niligiri Langur, Malabar Giant Squirrel, Nilgiri Tahr, Peshwa’s Bat (Myotis peshwa) and Hairy-winged Bat.

Silent Valley gets copious amounts of rainfall during the monsoons, but the actual amount varies within the region due the varied topography. The mean annual rainfall ranges from over 5000 mm in the Neelikal area in the west to around 3200 mm on the eastern side of the park. The park being completely enclosed within a ring of hills, has its own micro-climate and probably receives some convectional rainfall, in addition to rain from two monsoons. Kuntipuzha River divides the park into a narrow eastern sector of width 2 kilometers and a wide western sector of 5 kilometers. The river is characterized by its crystal clear and perennial nature. The Kuntipuzha River drains the entire 15 km length of the park from north to south into the Bharathapuzha River.

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