Etymology of Anaimalai Hills
The name of the Anaimalai Hill is derived from the Tamil term 'Anai' which signifies elephant and 'malai' which signifies hill. When put together the term 'Anaimalai' signifies 'Elephant Hill'.
Geography of Anaimalai Hills
The secret of Annamalai's mesmerising beauty lies in its geographical location. Anaimalai hills form the meeting point of the Western and the Eastern Ghats. They are the south of the portion where Western Ghats get broken by the Palakkad Gap; there forms the Nilgiri Hills. They become the borders of Kerala to the southeast and Cardamom Hills in Tamil Nadu to the southwest. The Palni Hills dwell in the east side. The geological formation of Anaimalai Hills is metamorphic gneiss, veined with feldspar and quartz, and scattered with reddish porphyrite. Twelve major forest types are found in this area.
Weather in Anaimalai Hills
Due to its favorable geographical location, Anaimalai Hills receive adequate rainfall during monsoon, which are heavy. Annual rainfall of this place varies from 2,000 mm to 5,000 mm. Formed by the fault-block movements in the Holocene Epoch, the Anaimalai Hills descend to form a series of terraces about 3,300 feet high.
Flora and Fauna in Anaimalai Hills
Heavy rainfall is one of the prime reasons why the Indian flora and fauna has thrived here. Dense monsoon forests including rosewood, sandalwood, teak plantations, sago palms, coffee and tea plantations on lower slopes cover most of the region. Nature of this portion is at its best with ripe fruits.
Wildlife of Anaimalai Hills is another attraction which drives many tourists to this place. Anaimalai Hills are well known for elephants. Other wildlife species that one may find over here are water buffaloes, gaur, panthers, tigers, sloth bears, pangolins, crocodiles, civet cats, green pigeons, dhole, sambar and 31 groups of endangered lion-tailed macaques. Birds, which are seen here, are pied hornbill, red whiskered bulbul, black headed Orioles and drongo. Recently, a new frog species named Beddomixalus bijui has been found within the forest.
Tourism in Anaimalai Hills
The greenery, the lack of ridges and valleys set Anaimalai Hills apart from other numerous rugged hills and mountains. It would not be flawed to designate Anaimalai Hills as the assimilating point for all kinds of tourists and travelers like nature admirers, pilgrims and adventure and trek lovers.
Besides the pristine nature, Anaimalai Hills are also famous for the Anaimalaiyar Temple, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The tranquility and serenity that prevail in the region makes it perfect for introspecting. Therefore, Anaimalai Hill is also considered as an important holy place for people practicing 'atma vichara' or self-enquiry and it ranks amongst the five main Shaivite pilgrimage in South India.
Apart from the pilgrimage, Anaimalai Hills are also popular for its wildlife santuary; the names of some popular wildlife sanctuaries are Parabikulam Sanctuary and Indira Gandhi National Park.
There are several rivers in this area which are Chinnar River, Aliyar River, Pambar River, Parambikulam River etc. Some dams are also constructed here and the names are Amaravathi Dam, Sholayar Dam, Parambikulam Dam etc. Several irrigation projects have also been undertaken in the region around the Anaimalai hills.
Visiting Information to Anaimalai Hills
The ideal time for visiting these hills is from November to mid May. Best way to reach Anaimalai Hills is through SH-17, which passes through the Anaimalai Hills, between Udumalapet and Munnar. The nearest city of this place is Munnar. The nearest international airports are Cochin International Airport and Coimbatore International Airport.