Flamingos and Salt Pans of Tuticorin (Thoothukudi)

Flamingos and Salt Pans

Tuticorin (Thoothukudi)

Also see: FAM Trip of Tamil Nadu

At glance it seems like endless snow field but the scorching heat will soon take you back to reality and it is not snow but salt. Under the blazing sun, the mounds of blindingly white crystals as far as the eye can see, creates a striking contrast with the deep blue sky in the backdrop.

Flamingos at the salt pans of Tuticorin (Thoothukudi)

Flamingos at the salt pans of Tuticorin (Thoothukudi)

Located at the far south of the Coromondal Cost, Tuticorin (Thoothukudi) is a major port city in Tamil Nadu and home to much of the state’s salt harvesting terrain. This industry is over a century old in these parts.

Salt pans of Tuticorin (Thoothukudi)

Salt pans of Tuticorin (Thoothukudi)

Tamil Nadu ranks second in country’s salt production. Gujrat tops the list with almost 80% of the national production. Covering about 30,000 acres Tuticorin salt fields contribute to about 10% of the national salt production.

Salt pans of Tuticorin (Thoothukudi)

Salt pans of Tuticorin (Thoothukudi)

The process of salt making starts at the beginning of the year. First the salt pans are prepared during January – March.

The slat pans are shallow pools with elevated mud borders and prepared solely by manual labour.

Next the sea water (brine) is pumped into big tanks, from where the brine is transferred to smaller shallow pans for the water to evaporate.

As the water evaporates the salt is harvested, which is again a labour intensive process.

The harvested salt is left to dry in mounds and is finally sent to the nearby salt refiners for cleaning and idolization process. Apart from edible salt the salt pans of Tuticorin also produces industrial salts.

Salt pans of Tuticorin (Thoothukudi)

Salt pans of Tuticorin (Thoothukudi)

The harvesting takes place during October after after which the Tuticorin receives rains from the retarding north east monsoon.

Interestingly Tuticorine region hardly receives any rainfall during the monsoon season of June – August.

Long stretches of dry period makes the Tuticorin region an ideal for salt production, but however non seasonal rains can jeopardize the entire process.

No wonder just like agriculture the salt making in India is a “gamble in monsoon,” had posses high risk to the salt pan owners and also to the labourers.

Salt pans of Tuticorin (Thoothukudi)

Salt pans of Tuticorin (Thoothukudi)

But in spite of its uncertainty the salt pans of Tuticorin creats a stunning landscape resembling endless snow fields. They also create an unique eco-system and attracts a wide variety of birds from far and wide.

Greater Flamingos at Tuticorin (Thoothukudi) salt pans

The Greater Flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus) are definitely the most wanted visitors of Tuticorine. The feathered gust fly in from from parts of Africa, southern Asia, Middle East and southern Europe to the east and west coast of India, which also includes the area around Tuticorin.

A lone Painted Stork among a group of Greater Flamingos, Tuticorin (Thoothukudi)

A lone Painted Stork among a group of Greater Flamingos, Tuticorin (Thoothukudi)

The extreme heat of their native place fporce them to maigrate to the costal regions of India. They come during the month of August to October when water level in the salt pan are low. This helps the birds to find food easily.

Panoramic view of Aqua Outback and its adjoining beach, Tuticorin (Thoothukudi)

Panoramic view of Aqua Outback and its adjoining beach, Tuticorin (Thoothukudi)

I visited Tuticorin as part of a FAM (familirazition) tour organized by Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation Ltd. (TTDC) in early October 2021.

Aqua Outback, Tuticorin (Thoothukudi)

Aqua Outback, Tuticorin (Thoothukudi)

It was bit late for Flamingo watching as the birds were all set to return to their native place.

But I still managed to spot a fairly large group of about 25 Great Flamingos in one of the salt pans near Aqua Outback Resort, our night stay stop at Tuticorin.

Aqua Outback is located 25 km north of Tuticorin (Google map location). It is right on the sea beach along the Gulf of Mannar and is a ideal destination for aquatic sports.

The adventure sports include kite surfing, kayaking, snorkelling, scuba diving and many more. The resort also conducts Flamingo watching tours.

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  1. November 1, 2021 at 1:48 PM

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