The Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary & National Park, with an area of 321 Sq. Km with 108 sq.Km of National Park, is situated at the junction of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka on the North Eastern Slopes of the Nilgiris part of Western Ghats descending to the Mysore Plateau. With a 62 sq KM area, Mudumalai was declared a wildlife sanctuary in the early 1940 by the Madras Presidency. Together with Bandipur Tiger Reserve (Karnataka) in the north, and Wynad Wildlife Sanctuary (Kerala) in the west, the regiohn forms a single, continuous viable habitat for a varied wildlife fauna and forms a part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. The National Park shows a diversity of vegetation types and typical migration of herbivores caused as the Western part of the sanctualy receiving the southwest monsoon, the eastern tracts receiving the relatively gentler north-east monsoon.
The flora also shows a wide variation of Tropical moist-deciduous vegetation towards the western parts of the sanctuary and dry-deciduous and thorn-scrub along the east. It is varied with tall grasses called ‘Elephant grass’, Bamboo, valuable timber like Teak, Rosewood, Mathi, Vengai, Venteak and fine flowering trees and shrubs like Indian laburnum, Flame of the forest and Coral trees. Riverine patches and swamps add to diversity. Among the fruit bearers are jamun, nelli, jujuba and varieties of wild Figs.
It is an exciting place to see all kinds of wild animals and birds. The place is well organized with systematically laid out paths and is best explored by jeep or open vans. The trails traverse waterholes where exciting animal activity can be watched.
Elephant Camp at Theppakkadu : During early years of 1889, in the Madras Presidency , the Forest Department took up elephant capturing by the conventional Pit Method, mainly to build up the work force of elephants needed for timber extraction. Till 1972 more than 600 elephants were captured to meet the demand for working elephants. In Mudumalai, elephant capturing was taken up in 1910 and continued till 1953. Surplus elephants and elephants considered not fit enough for timber extraction work such as calves were disposed off by conducting auction sales.
The use of local tribal people as elephant handlers clearly predated the establishment of elephant camps. This system was followed mainly because of the tribals’ expertise in the jungles, their long traditional association with capture and training elephants. Even today, the local tribals are the backbone of capturing, training and handling of elephant in the forest department. The Kurubas in Mudumalai, the Malasars, the Pullayars and Kadars of Anamallais are some of the tribals who have traditional knowledge in the art of capturing, training and handling elephants.
Presently, the captive elephants in the sanctuaries and national parks are no longer used for timber extraction work, since these areas are managed exclusively as protected areas. The elephants are engaged mainly for the following Eco tourism, Patrolling for anti poaching operations, To control Man-Elephant conflict outside the Sanctuaries or other areas (Kumki work) and as a conservation & Training center for Asian elephants which can be visited by public. The elephant camp at Theppakadu serves an important educational purpose, where over a lakh visitors every year, see the management and feeding of pachyderms and thereby increasing public awareness about the species. This also serves an important center for Research and Training for capture elephant management. Theppakadu elephant camp is located close to the Theppakadu Reception Centre. There are 23 elephants. Visitors are allowed to this camp in the evening during elephant feeding to witness the feeding process. Everyday two elephants perform pooja to Lord Vinayaka inside the camp. The elephants are used for joy riding of tourists early morning and evening on charges.
Other places of interest in the area include Theppakadu, the Reception Point, where accommodation, van rides and elephant rides are arranged, Ombetta vayal – swampy area is mid way between upper Kargudi and Mudumalai gamehut is a place to lookout for elephant and Bison, Moyar River-gorge and the Chief Minister’s Watchtower, view point at Kargudi and the Ombetta Lake. The van rides in Sand Road, Circular Road, Manradiar Road, Jayadev Avenue, Bombax Road, and Public roads . Kakkanalli – Torapalli road, Teppakkadu – Masanagudi road, Moyar – Masanagudi road are rewarding places to see most wild life in the Sanctuary
Climate is generally equable throughout the year. February to May and September to October is the best time to visit the Sanctuary. The clear days from late January to early April are rewarding for wildlife enthusiasts..