Recently a retired justice of Rajasthan High Court stirred up a storm on Social Media by his strange remarks about the mating habits of peacocks. According to him, the peacock is a celibate bird and does not have sex to reproduce, but the peahen gets pregnant after gulping the tears of the peacock. His words set the social media on fire and thousands of people reacted through sarcastic trolls and tweets. People in India are sensible enough to know that impregnation by drinking tears happens only in mythology, but in real life, the peacock also mates like any other bird and the peahen, in turn, lays eggs to produce pea-chicks. Anyway, in a short duration of time, the waves of the controversial remarks from Rajasthan reverberated in a small village in Kerala.
Choolanur Peacock Sanctuary, a lesser known habitat of peacocks, which attracted hardly a dozen visitors a day, showed a sharp increase with more than 200 visitors flocking every day, following the bizarre statement of the retired justice. The anxiety of the human mind is limitless; often, it crosses the boundary of reasoning and wanders in an illusory world, expecting the unexpected.
Location and Landscape of Choolanur Peacock Sanctuary
Choolanur Peacock Sanctuary, exclusively set up for breeding and conservation of peacocks, is the only peacock sanctuary in Kerala and the first of its kind in India. Established in 1996, it was dedicated to the memory of the legendary Indian ornithologist and writer Induchoodan (alias K.K. Neelakantan), who hailed from the nearby village called Kavassery. It is also known as Mayiladumpara peacock sanctuary. The word ‘Mayiladumpara’ literally means “the rock where peacocks dance”.
This natural habitat of our National Bird is located in Choolanur village, 30 km away from Palakkad town, and spread across 500 hectares of tropical forest area in the Alathur Forest Range. Three villages namely Choolanur, Peringottukurissi, and Thenur of Palakkad district and a part of Thiruvilwamala village of Thrissur district share this forest land. The forest area mainly comprises of tall trees, shrubs, and vegetation, cherished by small streams. It is not too dense but provides a semi-wild ambiance suitable for breeding the peacocks. The dry rock terrains in several parts of the forest offer a perfect venue for peacocks for their shelter.
There exists a 200 hectares herbal grove of medicinal plants in this forest area is known as Kunchan Smritivanam (memory of Kunchan), named after the famous Malayalam poet Kunchan Nambiar, whose birthplace Killikkurissimangalam is located few kilometers from Choolanur.
What to See in Choolanur Peacock Sanctuary
Choolanur Peacock Sanctuary is the abode of over 300 peacocks and more than hundreds of species of an assorted breed of birds, which an avid birdwatcher would always love to watch. Plenty of colorful butterflies can be seen in this peacock park after the monsoon season. Due to minimum human interference and the semi-wild ambiance, several peacocks can be seen roaming around the area in a royal style. However, they are shy with tourists and may fly at any moment towards the branches of tall trees. The forest is well guarded by the conservation officials and significant efforts have been taken to protect it from depletion. Hunting is prohibited in this area and no trespassers attempt to kill these birds, as such it is estimated that the population of the peacocks in the park has been increasing gradually.
The sanctuary offers free access to the visitors. The forest officials will assist you to explore the sanctuary and clarify your doubts regarding these captivating birds. The local people have a special sense to spot the whereabouts of the peacocks. They are simple and sincere and, if necessary, they will readily accompany you in the sanctuary for any assistance.
If you can plan your visit in the early hours of the day, there is more chance of watching the birds in action. If you are lucky and have patience, you can witness the breath-taking Peacock Dance. The male peacocks open their wings and spread out their colorful feathers and start dancing and screaming with enthusiasm, without caring for anybody, as if they are the only creatures in the world. The enchanting peacock dance is actually their own way to attract the female partner for mating. Watch them silently and set your camera ready without disturbing them, because even a minor distraction can mess up the entire situation and the birds will escape from the ‘photo-session’.
Best Time to Visit
The ideal time to visit this Peacock Sanctuary is from October to March when the climate is pleasant and it will be comfortable to walk through the forest area. During this time the peacocks look more elegant and you can also see plenty of colorful butterflies. There will be heavy rainfall from June to September and hence it is advised to avoid the monsoon months. The summer months of April and May are also not recommended for a visit due to scorching heat.
How to Plan Your Trip
You can plan a visit to Choolanur Peacock Sanctuary as a part of your trip to Palakkad, which is a popular tourist destination in Kerala, famous for Malampuzha Dam, Fort of Tippu Sultan, Silent Valley National Park, Nelliyampathy Hill station, etc. Good accommodation facilities are available in Palakkad. In the early morning, you can proceed to Choolanur (30 km) by taxi and spend a few hours in the sanctuary. Palakkad Junction is the main railway station, which is well connected to all major cities of India. Coimbatore International Airport is the nearest airport located at a distance of 60 km from Palakkad. Cochin International airport is at 110 km from Palakkad.
Next time, when you are in Kerala, do not forget to visit Choolanur Peacock Sanctuary. It is a rare chance to watch the magnificent dance of the most beautiful birds in the world, which will fill your mind with colorful memories you will cherish for a lifetime!