An incredible green spot with an extensive variety of life and that too amid a buzzing metro! Not ready to believe? Then visit Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary, an ecologically sensitive area situated at the centre of Kochi behind the Kerala High Court building fittingly dubbed as the 'green lung of Kochi'. Primarily a bird refuge, the innate appeal of Mangalavanam is augmented by the Arabian Sea which borders the sanctuary and adds to it a panoramic ambience.
Mangalavanam, a nesting ground for a large variety of migratory birds, is a paradise for birdwatchers and twitchers. This green paradise is also a roosting place for resident as well as migratory birds. A survey conducted in 2006 revealed that there were 194 birds belonging to 32 species, in Mangalavanam.
Thickly imbedded with a variety of trees and plants, including teak, the sanctuary enjoys a cool temperature. Mangalavanam also supports many types of mangroves. The mangroves and their associated species that have their roots in the nourishing earth of Mangalavanam include Avicennia officinalis, Rhizophora mucronata, Acanthus ilicifolius and Acrostichum aureum. Among these Acanthus ilicifolius is considered to be endangered and Rhizophora mucranata as a vulnerable species, according to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
This green dreamland also shelters around six species of mammals including Indian flying-fox, painted bat, Eurasian otter, house rat and three-striped palm squirrel. Further, we have two species of amphibians, limnonectes limnocharis and duttaphrynus melanostictus.
Amid the thick greenery of Mangalavanam cascades a shallow tidal lake bordered with thick mangrove vegetation. The lake is connected to the Cochin backwaters by a canal. And down under the silent depth of this water lives seven species of fishes Anabas testudineus, Striped panchax, Orange chromide, Etroplus suratensis, Malabar swamp eel, Blackline rasbora and Sarotherodon. In the fresh air of Mangalavanam flies 17 species of butterflies, the little beauties that bedeck the sanctuary with multitudes of hues.
The best time to visit the sanctuary are the early summer months, especially from mid-January to early-March.
Nearest railway station: Ernakulam South, about 4 km.
Nearest airport: Nedumbassery International Airport, about 34 km.