Papathy Shola, locally meaning the ‘Forest of Butterflies’ derives its name from being one of the areas for the annual migration of large numbers of butterflies – the word shola denoting the local name for high altitude cloud forest. This patch of high altitude rain forest is located on the slopes of the Western Ghats mountains near the British-era tea town of Munnar. Nestled at an altitude 5200 feet above sea level, these forests lie South of the famed Mathikettan Shola National Park – another high altitude rain forest, recently notified as a National Park due to its significantly high endemism in both flora & fauna.
By October, rain-filled clouds bring copious rainfall to many areas on the other side of the Western ghats along the Tamilnadu border. This is ideal time for breeding of large numbers of butterflies and they fly up to migrate in their tens of thousands to the moist areas of Kerala’s mountains & plains. Most notable are include Dark Blue Tiger, Striped Tiger, Common Indian Crow and Double-Branded Crow . The migratory Butterflies leave the Ghats before the South-West monsoons starting in June. This is the annual migration that passes through this Papathy Shola aptly named ‘Butterfly Forest’ to the people of the Kerala side of the border.
There are also a good number of mammals that can be observed within the canopy of the forests – small mammals like the Malabar Giant Squirrel, Bonnet Macaques and Muntjacks to large species like Indian Bison (gaur bosus) and the Asiatic Elephants. In addition, there are large numbers of birds, many of them endemic like the Kerala Laughing Thrush, Nilgiri flycatcher, Black & Orange Flycatcher, the White-bellied Treepie and the Malabar Grey Hornbill. A walk through this living forest is indeed a naturalist’s delight.
Best time to Visit:
The best time to visit this area is from August to May
Kalypso Adventures offers Butterfly Forest trek with naturalists to this forested region, which is a great way to explore this area. You can see more details about the program using the following link: https://www.kalypsoadventures.com/itinerary/rainforest-trek-at-munnar