ⓘ Anaimalai Hills


ⓘ Anaimalai Hills

The Anaimalai or Anamala Hills, also known as the Elephant Mountains, are the range of mountains that form the southern portion of the Western Ghats and span the border of Tamil Nadu and Kerala in Southern India. The name animala is derived from the Tamil/Malayalam word anai or ana, meaning elephant, and malai or mala, meaning hill - thus Elephant Hill.

Anamudi Peak 8.842 feet lies at the extreme southwestern end of the range and is the highest peak in southern India. Palakkad Gap divides the Western Ghats to the north. The lower slopes of the hills now have coffee and tea plantations as well as teak forests of great economic value. Dense monsoon forests including rosewood, sandalwood, teak, and sago palms cover most of the region, which helps the coffee and tea plantations and teak plantations grow.

The Western Ghats and Anaimalai Sub-Cluster, including the Anaimalai Hills, are currently under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for selection as a World Heritage Site.


1. Geography

The hills are located between 10° 13 and 10° 31 N. and 76° 52 and 77° 23 E with a central point of: 10°22′N 77°07.5′E. They are south of where the Western Ghats are broken by the Palakkad Gap, which in, turn is south of the Nilgiri Hills. They border on Kerala to the Southwest and the Cardamom Hills to the southeast. The Palni Hills lies to the east.

Their geological formation is metamorphic gneiss, veined with feldspar and quartz, and interspersed with reddish porphyrite. Twelve major forest types are found in the area. The landscape is fragmented by many coffee and tea plantations on the lower slopes and teak plantations higher up. Monsoon rains are heavy. Annual rainfall varies from 2.000 mm to 5.000 mm in the area. Formed by fault-block movements in the Holocene Epoch i.e., about the past 11.700 years, the Anaimalai Hills descend to form a series of terraces about 3.300 feet 1.000 metres high.


2. Fauna

The Anamala/Anaimalai Hills are known for their abundant wildlife. Eravikulam National Park, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary, and Anamalai Tiger Reserve located among these hills are well known for elephants. Numerous wildlife species can be seen including elephants, gaur, water buffaloes, tigers, panthers, sloth bears, pangolins, black-headed orioles, crocodiles, green pigeons, civet cats, dhole, sambar and 31 groups of endangered lion-tailed macaques. Birds seen include the Pied hornbill, Red whiskered bulbul and Drongo.

Recently, a new frog species, Beddomixalus bijui, was found within the forest.


3. Hydrology

There are several rivers in the area including the Aliayar River, Apambar River, Chinnar River, Kaddambarrai River, Neerar River, Mannambhally, Pambar River and Parambikulam River. There are several large dams are in the area, including: Aliayar Dam, Amaravathi Dam, Kaddambarrai Dam, Neerar Dam, Sholayar Dam one of the largest of its kind in Asia, Mannambhally Dam, and the Parambikulam Dam.


4. Tourism

The Anaimalai Hills are a popular trekking destination in the Western Ghats. Due to heavy rains during the wet season, the ideal time for tourism is between the months of November and May. SH-17 passes through the Anaimalai Hills, between Udumalapet and Munnar. The nearest town is Munnar. The nearest international airports are Cochin International Airport and Coimbatore International Airport.