Mathikettan Shola National Park, Udumbanchola, Idukki, is located in the high ranges of Southern Western Ghats, in the north-east part of Cardamom Hills. It was constituted in the year 2003 and has an extent of 1281.74 hectares. The forest patches of the Park are the last remnants of the original forests of the Cardamom Hill Reserve. The unique vegetation and climactic conditions support many endemic species of flora and fauna. The unique montane evergreen forest ecosystem along with the poorly explored lower forms of flora and fauna of the Park providing opportunities for students and researchers to conduct their studies.
The Park is the watershed area for the drinking water and irrigation needs of the people of Shanthanpara and Pooppara region. Three tributaries of the Panniyar river also originate from the Park. The Park is an active corridor of elephant movements, and it is considered as a stepping-stone for future connectivity between Periyar Tiger Reserve and Munnar Forest Division.
The vegetation types of the park include West coast tropical evergreen forests, West coast semi-evergreen forests, South Indian moist deciduous forests, and Grasslands.
A rapid plant exploration of the Park identified 324 plant species belonging to Pteridophytes and Angiosperms. Of these, 144 taxa are endemic. Among the plants that are threatened, four are critically endangered, seven are endangered, and 17 are vulnerable.
36 species of mammals and 108 species of birds have been reported from the park. In addition to this, 16 species of reptiles, 27 species of amphibians, 121 species of butterflies, 23 species of odonates and 20 species of ants have also been reported.
The flagship species of the park is the Galaxy frog (Melanobatrachus indicus). It is a beautifully pattered frog that has a specific microhabitat. Herpeto-faunal surveys have reported its presence in the park. The species is ‘Endangered’ because of its limited distribution which makes it vulnerable to threats like habitat degradation.
The Anayirangal dam as seen from Choondal area provides a visual treat for the tourists. The Park is ideal for birdwatching and has facilities including huts and a trekking trail.