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Friday, January 7, 2011

Pichavaram Mangrove Forest - Second largest in the World

In tropical and sub tropical countries where ever a river meets the sea, back waters and estuaries get created. In certain places there could be swamps as well. These places are ideal grounds for a type of evergreen vegetation known as Mangroves. They have the capacity to sustain in saline waters. They also have a queer root system which partly remain in the air and some penetrate deep in the waters. The roots hanging above the water surface also have the capability of drawing its oxygen directly. Their seeds also have the ability to germinate when they are still on their branches. The water body surrounding the Mangrove Forests, affords a conducive climate for a variety of marine life, including various species of fish and prawns.

World’s largest Mangrove Forest formations are found in the Indian Sub Continent. They are the “Sundarbans”, 60% of which is in Bangladesh and 40% in India, the home of the famous Bengal Tigers. The second largest Mangrove Forest is also in India known as “Pichavaram” created at the confluence of Vellar and Coleroon rivers on the Bay of Bengal. This is spread over an area of 2800 acres (11 square kilometres).

The availability of different habitat types such as channels, creeks, gullies, mud flats and sand flats and adjacent sea shore offers ideal habitat for different species of birds. There are at least 177 species of birds inhabiting 

the area. Amongst others, one can view birds like Watersnips, Cormorants, Egrets, Storks, Herons, Spoonbills and Pelicans. The season between November to January is considered to be most fascinating for bird watchers as during that period the bird population is maximum, inclusive of  migratory birds from different countries. Apart from the eco-diversity of this forest, the mangroves were  instrumental in protecting the hinterland during the devastating Tsunami in the recent past.

Traversing through hundreds of channels leading to the sea is an experience which can not be simply explained in words. The Tamilnadu Tourism Development Corporation has a boat house at the spot offering boat rides through the groves. It is preferable to opt for the slow moving boats instead of the mechanised ones. The sea front is equally beautiful. The sea water creates fascinating patterns on the sands more akin to modern art.

Pichavaram is reachable from Chennai via Chidambaram (Railway Station). From Chidambaram Pichavaram is at a distance of 16 kilometres. Although accommodation is available at Pichavaram as well, but it is better to make Chidambaram the base for one can have the option of different types of accommodation as well as food.