(Last Updated on : 22/01/2009)
Annamalai Hills are responsible for the picturesque locales of the Coimbatore district, Tamil Nadu
. These are often referred to as 'holy hills' in Thiruvannamalai as well. The name of the Annamalai Hill is derived from the Tamil term 'Anai' which signifies elephant and 'malai' which signifies hill. When put together the term 'Annamalai' signifies 'Elephant Hill'. The secret of Annamalai's mesmerising beauty lies in its geographical location. These hills form the meeting point of the Western and the Eastern Ghats. Hence it receives adequate rainfall during monsoon. This is also one of the prime reasons why the Indian flora and fauna has thrived here. In fact the Annamalai Wildlife Sanctuary is a major tourist attraction. Annamalai hills are also known as Arunagiri, Arunai, Arunachalam, Sonagiri, Annamalai and Sonachalam
The greenery, the lack of ridges and valleys set Annamalai hills apart from the other numerous rugged hills and mountains. Besides the pristine nature Annamalai Hills are also known for the Annamalaiyar Temple. The latter is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The tranquility and serenity that prevails in the region makes it perfect for introspecting. Therefore, Annamalai Hill is also considered an important holy place for people practicing 'atma vichara' or self-enquiry and it ranks amongst the five main Shaivite pilgrimage in South India.
It would not be flawed to term to Annamalai hills as the assimilating point for all kinds of tourists and travelers. While nature admirers can bask in the glory of the warm sun and cool breezes and pilgrims bow down before the gods; the adventure lovers can go for trekking and explore the wild fauna and flora of the region. The Annamalai Sanctuary is a haven for numerous species. Amongst these there are 140 species of birds, jungle cats, chevrotains, civets, crocodiles, wild dogs, sloth bears, wild boar, elephants, spotted deer, barking deer, langurs and carnivores, such as, tigers, leopards and others.
Apart from Parambikulam Sanctuary, another renowned wildlife sanctuary that is located in the Annamalai Hill at an altitude of 1400 meters in the Western Ghats is the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park. Over here also one may be able to observe different species of animals like water buffaloes, gaur, panthers, tigers, sloth bears, black-headed orioles, pangolins, macaques, crocodiles, civet cats and green pigeons. Several irrigation projects have also been undertaken in the region around the Annamalai hills. Sholayar Dam is one of the major dams here.
The unconventional beauty of the Annamalai hills attracts tourists from all over the place. The ideal time for visiting these hills is from November to mid May. As tourists one may also drop into check out the tea and coffee plantations that lie on the lower slopes of Annamalai hills. In fact Annamalai hills is one of those regions in Tamil Nadu where nature is at its best with ripe fruits, green plantations, spirituality ringing in the air and harmony sprinkled everywhere.