Marayoor is one of the famous tourist spots in the Idukki District of Kerala state, South India. It is the land where nature, history and culture merge harmoniously into tourism. 42 kilometers north of Munnar through the Udumalppetta route, Marayoor is the only place in Kerala that has natural sandal wood forests. Ancient dolmens and rock paintings in Marayoor tell the story of a muted history dating back to the Stone Age. In 1991 Marayoor had a population of 9,590.
Marayoor is famous for its natural sandalwood forests grown in natural abundance. Marayoor is the only place in Kerala where natural sandalwood forest is seen. There is a sandalwood depot near Marayoor town where sandalwood is being processed. Sandal wood or Santalum album is a parasitic tree of having fragrant and close-grained yellowish heartwood. Sandalwood oil, otherwise called the 'liquid gold' is extracted from the roots and wood of sandalwood. This oil is a costly item marketed at a few choosy outlets all over the state. Less rainfall is suitable for the growth of best sandalwood trees from which good quality oil can be extracted. The 93 km˛ Marayoor reserve forest is believed to have about sixty thousand naturally grown sandalwood tress, of which nearly 2,000 trees had been allegedly plundered in just one year since January 2004, when the last survey was conducted. The auction rate for first quality Marayoor sandal is quoted at Rs. 1100 per kg, according to forest department sources (2004)
There is a rock painting at Manala in Chinnar wildlife sanctuary of Marayoor near the Alampetty tribal settlement. Here, a picture of a deer and man can be seen. In close proximity to this art site a new rock painting is newly discovered.
Marayoor has more than 1000 species of flowering plants and is a well known repository of medicinal plants. There are 114 endemics and Aibizia lathamii, a critically endangered tree has been recently reported from the dry frosts. Chinnar the wildlife sanctuary in Marayoor has recorded the largest number of reptilian fauna in Kerala including the mugger crocodile. With 225 recorded species of birds, it is one of the richest areas of south India in avian diversity.
Rajiv Gandhi children's park is located in the heart of Marayoor. The serene park spread across a hectare of land under the vast canopy of a single banyan tree attracts tourists and Marayoor population alike. From the park one can spot monkeys, deer and other animals in the adjoining reserve forest.
Deep with in the Chinnar Wildlife sanctuary lies the spectacular Thoovanam water falls. The river Pambar flows eastwards through the sanctuary and forms the waterfalls. The enormous waterfall on the Chinnar River, with its breathtaking silvery cascade is a major tourist attraction. As a part of wildlife tourism, the Wildlife Department allows tourists to visit the falls. Guided trekking from Karimutti Forest Station can be arranged to Thoovanam waterfalls. Trekking through the pristine scrub forest offers advantage of watching wild animals and rare flora from the path when venture deep into the forest. Many endemic and rare species enrich this dry and deciduous forest.
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is located 18 km north of Marayoor on Udumalpett road. It is one of the famous places for wildlife tourism in South India. Marayoor is the gateway to Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary and shares its western boundary with Eravikulam National Park and is contiguous with Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary in Coimbatore district to the East.
The Evergreen Rain forest, Mannavan Shola is the largest shola forest patch in Kerala, is near Kanthalloor. This is a 14 km˛ of unique ecosystem facing devastation. The vegetation, including many rare and endemic flora and species are part of Marayoor's great natural wealth. This is one of Kerala's unique and delicate ecosystems forever. The biggest high altitude moist-rain forest in the peninsula, located at altitude of 2100 meters.
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