Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Pichavaram the second largest Mangrove forest in the world, near the temple town of Chidambaram, is one of the unique Eco-tourism spots in South India. The backwaters, inter connected by the Vellar and Coleroon river systems, offer abundant scope for water sports, rowing, Kayak and canoeing.

The Pichavaram forest not only offers waterscape and back water cruises, but combines another very rare occurrence - the mangrove forest trees permanently rooted in a few feet of water. The Pichavaram mangroves are considered among the healthiest mangrove occurrence in the world.

Pichavaram consists of a number of islands interspersing a vast expanse of water covered with green trees. The area is about 2800 acres and is separated from the sea by a sand bar which is a patch of extraordinary loveliness. The Pichavaram mangrove biotope, with its peculiar topography and environmental condition, supports the existence of many rare varieties of economically important shell and fin fishes.

The Pichavaram mangroves attract an appreciable bird population of residents, local migrants and true migrants. At the mangroves, so far, 177 species of birds belonging to 15 orders and 41 families have been recorded.

The season for birds is from September to April every year. Peak population of birds could be seen from November to January. This is due to high productive nature (in terms of prey organisms) of the ecosystem and coincidence of the time of arrival of true migrants from foreign countries and local migrants from their breeding grounds across India.

The availability of different habitat types such as channels, creeks, gullies, mud flats and sand flats and adjacent sea shore offers ideal habitat for difference species of birds.

In the above background, the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation and the District Administration of Cuddalore District have proposed to conduct an Eco Tourism festival namely " DAWN FEST " (Vidiyal Vizha) at Pichavaram.
Highlights of Dawn festival
Ø  Boat ride witnessing the Irula Tribes catching prawns and Crabs.
Ø  Enjoying Folk and traditional instrumental music performances on a "Floating stage "from boats.
Ø  Night dinner (Sea food festival).
Ø  Viewing 'sun rise' in the back ground of South Indian instrumental music and yoga demonstration.
Ø  Early morning Bird watch and Boating through the mangroves
Dawn fest offers a unique experience to international and domestic tourists at very nominal. This rare Eco-Tourism event also offers an opportunity to written the devastation of Tsunami and the spectacular recovery. We look forward to receiving the international and domestic guests for this greatest Eco-Tourism-Cum Ethnic event in South India. This information may kindly be paned on to the international and domestic tourists so that they have a chance to enjoy “Dawn Fest" which is nothing but a real feast to their eyes and ears.
Activities to Do
There are just two things to do in Pichavaram — drift along the waterways in a boat and take photographs. The forest officer on duty will say that you can't take pictures, but no one really seems to pay attention to him.

Pichavaram is known for its unique mangrove ecosystem, found in areas such as the Sunder bans in West Bengal and in Australia. The mangroves are trees rooted in a few feet of water and the whole area stretches to over 3,000 acres comprising more than 1,700 islets. A two-hour boat ride (Rs.125 per hour) through the forest is both soothing and exciting.

The boat meanders through overhanging branches and dark channels. The waterways are fascinating — one can see egrets, spiders, terns and other creatures that would require a pocket encyclopedia for identification. The boatman assures you that the mangroves are home to water snakes, water dogs, foxes, turtles, crustaceans, waterfowl and more — a naturalist's dream come true.

Amateur photographers would also freak out on the overhanging trees, the birds and creatures and scenic beauty of the place. For the ordinary mortal though, after a couple of hours of floating along tranquilly, there is nothing much to do after finishing one roll of film, peering into all the channels at the delicately large spider webs, identifying the few birds you know and marveling at the rest and looking around hopefully for snakes.

The boatman also tells stories of fascinating boat chases and "cinema scenes" that have been shot along the waterways — the place shot to fame with MGR's "Idayakanni". Since then, Sharath Kumar has shot there for "Sooryan", Prabhu has been there and miscellaneous governors, bureaucrats and politicians.

Pichavaram consists of a number of islands interspersing a vast expanse of water and covered with green trees. The area is about 2800 acres and is separated from the sea by a sand bar, which is a patch of extraordinary loveliness. To a botanist, rare species like Avicennia and Rhizophora will present a special attraction; to a zoologist, no doubt, the sight of numerous birds like Water snipes, Cormorants, Egrets, Storks, Herons, Spoonbills and Pelicans holds great interest.

TTDC offers boating facilities to the visiting tourists. Pichavaram can be visited at any time of the year.
It is better to avoid this place during summer. Best time to visit is after Monsoon.
Location: 16-km from Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu
Water Sports: Boating, Rowing, Kayak & Canoeing
My Experience
My experience about this spot, I heard about this spot from my friends and I went there on a Saturday. From Pondicherry some 7 of our friends went to pichavaram in bikes. Reached Chidambaram at 7 am and reached pichavaram by 8 am this one hr we spent in photo sessions on the way to pichavaram.

About a stone’s throw away are the mangrove swamps of Pichavaram, great for boating, mangrove watching, bird watching, with a picturesque island thrown in. Another world Pichavaram is all green and blue and white as we set off in the boat.

Ahead are the mangroves in shades of emerald, reflected in blue water against an even blue sky. On the sand bar, thousands of gulls in a long stretch of white glint silver against the sun as they take off en masse.

We slow down as we enter a narrow creek, with aerial roots brushing us lightly as we drift by. A lone egret feeds in the shallows. It’s another world out here, where the tidal backwaters mix with fresh river water from the Velar and the Coleroon to create a unique estuarine ecosystem and some of the most amazing and adaptable life forms.

Most amazing is the mangrove plant itself, growing in a few feet of shallow water, yet able to withstand the constant ebb and flow of tidal water with the aid of its aerial roots that also enable it to absorb oxygen from the air. One of the earliest eco-systems of the world, mangroves fascinate wherever they occur.

Of around eighty species worldwide, Pichavaram is home to 14 species, chief among them being Avicennia and Rhizophoro. The Pichavaram swamps are one of the healthiest occurrences in the world, and act as a nursery for a variety of finfish and shell fish. They also effectively demonstrated their role as a bio-shield in the recent Indian Ocean Tsunami; there was no loss of life in communities living next to the mangroves.

As the sun climbs higher, it’s time to get back to terra firma. The Chinnavaikal island has shady coconut groves where you can relax, eat a picnic lunch (no foil or plastic, please), and watch the gulls squabble as they roost on the mangroves in the evening. Or spend the day with the enthusiastic people of Killai town panchayat, who are proud to show the world the stuff they are made of, as resilient as the mangrove that is so much part of their lives.

If you're looking for a semi-Amazonian experience to liven up a weekend on a budget of Rs. 3,000, try Pichavaram. The road from Chennai to Chidambaram is fairly smooth and the driving is easy except for the out of control buses and pedestrians that treat the road as an extension of their backyard. It takes about four-and-a-half hours to reach the outskirts of Chidambaram. A turn-off to the left leads to the 16-km. stretch that takes you to Pichavaram. At this point, the State Government decides to take revenge for the 240-odd km of smooth road — the track to Pichavaram is a lot of stones and potholes held together with bits of tar. If you love your little car very much, park it safely at the hotel in Chidambaram and take the bus, which runs every hour.

There's no place to stay at present, but there would hardly be reason to stay overnight at Pichavaram unless one wants to study the mangroves extensively or try to commune with nature. The TTDC guesthouse on one of the many islands is closed for renovation, when open rooms are available for Rs. 200 a night.

At present one has to stay at Chidambaram and take the well-beaten road to Pichavaram — which actually has a rope strung across it for a toll-gate, with a boy collecting Rs. 15 for "road upkeep." The road by itself is interesting — the water laps against the road in places, boys dive off an ancient barrage, actor Senthil endorses fertilizer from the walls of a ramshackle post office and statues of politicians painted gold stand at every other corner.
Pichavaram is located at a distance of 16-km from Chidambaram and 75-km to the south from Pondicherry. It ranks among the most exquisite scenic spot with abundant and varied tourism resources. The backwaters, which are interconnected by the Vallar and Coleroon system, offer abundant scope for water sports - rowing, kayaking and canoeing.

Frequent Buses are plying from Chidambaram & Chidambaram is well connected to rest of the state by bus.

Air: The nearest airport is at Trichy (168-km)

Rail: The nearest railway station is at Chidambaram, which is on the Chennai Thiruchirappalli main line, between Villuppuram and Thanjavur and is well connected by rail with Trichy, Madurai, Chennai, etc.

Road: Bus routes connect Chidambaram to various places in Tamil Nadu like Thanjavur, Madurai, Chennai, Thanjavur, Kumbakonam, Nagapattinam, etc & Pondicherry also. From Chidambaram there are regular buses to Pichavaram.
General Information:
  • Getting there: Pichavaram is 16km from Chidambaram and best accessed by road.
  • Accommodation: Arignar Anna Tourism Complex, Pichavaram, Rs.250 per room. Ph: 04144-249536/249232. Or hotels in Chidambaram with rooms at Rs.390 upwards.
  • Contact: Tourism office Chidambaram: 04144-238739. Row boats are available at Rs.30 per head per hour, and can take up to five per boat.
  • Don’t miss: The Nataraja temple at Chidambaram. Also interesting is the historical Porto Nova at Devapattinam, three km from Cuddalore.
·   TTDC’s Arignar Anna Tourist Complexes houses, cottages and a restaurant catering to the needs of tourists. Bus, Auto-rickshaw, taxi, available Ph: 89232 (Killai Exchange)
Hotel List:
No Good Hotels are available in Pichavaram.  At present, people have to stay in Chidambaram or Cuddalore and take the well-beaten road to Pichavaram. Here I have listed out the List of Hotels in Chidambaram & Cuddalore along with its contact details for your easy reference.
Boating Charges:

1 HR
1 HR
1 HR
2 HR
2 HR
2 HR
40 MIN
1 HR
4 HR
Inclusive of Rest at Beach for 1 Hr
2 HR
Inclusive of Rest at Beach for 30 Min
*Forest Entry Fees & Camera Fee Extra
Working Hours: 8 AM to 5.00 PM