The Tamil Nadu government recently issued a notification declaring Arittapatti and Meenakshipuram villages in Madurai district the first biodiversity heritage site in the State.
- It aims to prevent the loss of biodiversity and preserve the cultural and architectural heritage, the government, as recommended by the Tamil Nadu Biodiversity Board, has declared Arittapatti a biodiversity heritage site.
- The site, comprising 139.63 hectares in Arittapatti village (in Melur taluk) and 53.58 hectares in Meenakshipuram village (Madurai East taluk), will be known as the Arittapatti Biodiversity Heritage Site.
- Arittapatti, known for its ecological and historical significance, houses around 250 species of birds, including three important raptors — Laggar Falcon (Falco jugger), Shaheen Falcon (Falco peregrinus) and Bonelli’s Eagle (Aquila fasciata).
- It is also home to wildlife such as the Indian Pangolin (Manis crassicaudata), Python (Python molurus) and Slender Loris (Loris spp).
- The area is surrounded by a chain of seven hillocks or inselbergs, that serve as a watershed, charging “72 lakes, 200 natural springs and three check-dams”.
- The Anaikondan tank, built during the reign of the Pandiyan kings in the 16th century, is one of them.
- The site also features various megalithic structures, Tamil Brahmi Inscriptions, Jain Beds and 2200-year-old rock-cut temples adding to its historical value.