Have you had your head in the clouds dreaming of paddling through the calm waters with trees caressing you?
Situated along the shores of the Bay of Bengal, 30 minutes away from the holy temple town of Chidambaram, is a coastal village named Pichavaram. The backwaters of Pichavaram are home to the world’s second largest mangrove forest, after the Sundarbans.
The forest extends to around 3000 acres with 50+ plus islands of different sizes, 4,400 canals and hosts over 200 species of birds. Mangrove trees grow only in saline coastal areas and are usually dense, thus making it a habitat for birds who feed on the fish below. It is considered to be the healthiest mangrove in the world.
The experience –
Hop on to a boat ride to be fascinated by the experience of sailing through this dense patch of mangroves. The Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation provides boating facilities to tourists; Row boats as well as motor boats function daily from 5 am until 6 pm. Both the jungle and the beach can be covered in a two-hour motor boat ride or four-hour trip in a row boat. However, if you wish to feel the swish of paddles and make your way through the mangroves, choose the rowboat.
The soothing boat ride will take you through blue seas, blue skies and the mangroves in the center. As you pass through the dark narrow canals you will be amazed to see how the trees are deeply rooted in the shallow water and with barely any sunlight, the long overhanging branches will awe you.
Somewhere in the corner you will find an egret feeding herself. A fascinating world with a unique eco-system created by the blend of tidal backwaters plus the river fresh water thus providing shelter to some of the most compatible life forms.
- It gets too hot during the day so the best time to visit would be 5 am as the sunrise from the Pichavaram forest is picturesque.
- Do note that the boatmen will demand a tip of a few hundred rupees for taking you deep inside the smaller, narrow canals. Motor boats cannot go inside these canals, choose a row boat if you’re interested seeing them.
- Carry enough drinking water.
Best time to visit:
One can visit Pichavaram throughout the year, however the weather is considerably pleasant through November – February and is the best time for bird watching.
Where to Stay:
Options for accommodations in the area are limited –
- Pichavaram Adventure Resort, in Tamil Nadu Tourism Development
- Corporation’s Arignar Anna Tourist Complex
You can choose from in hotels in and around Chidambaram.
Try the local Tamil cuisines such as Sambar, Dosa and Idli combined with Pan-Indian food like Chicken Curry. TTDC restaurant can be your other option.
How to reach Pichavaram –
The city can be reached by rail, Chidambaram being the nearest station. But we recommend driving up to Pichavaram. It is around 213 km from Chennai (roughly 4-5 hours). Zoom on with family and friends and enjoy a pleasing drive past paddy fields, villages with colorfully painted houses, traditional style huts with thatched roofs and women selling fish by the roadside. Covering a total distance of around 430 km, you can choose to rent either the classic or XL.