Periyar in the Southern most state of Kerala , is one of the sixteen Project Tiger reserves in India, and one of the most picturesque and beautiful wildlife sanctuaries in the world. With its waterways, forests and grasslands, it provides a magnificent venue for both mammal and bird watching. Despite the destruction of much of the lowland forest within the reserve as a result of the construction of a dam across the Periyar River in 1895, its 777 square kilometres provide a haven for a wide range of mammals,including Tiger, Elephant, Gaur, Sloth bear, Leopard, Dhole, and Nilgiri Langur.
Periyar National Park also has a rich and varied bird fauna and we will be hoping to see several of the species found only in southern India and Sri Lanka, such as Grey Junglefowl, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Malabar Parakeet, White-cheeked Barbet, Crimsonfronted Barbet, Black-headed Cuckoo-Shrike, Heart-Spotted Woodpecker, Rufous Babbler, White-bellied Blue Flycatcher, Rufous-tailed Flycatcher, Ruby-throated Bulbul and White-bellied Treepie.
Game viewing in Periyar National Park is done on Boats. The boat journeys provide unrivalled opportunities for observing mammals, particularly Elephants, at close range. Other mammals in abundance in Periyar National Park include Sambar, Nilgiri Langur, Malabar Giant Squirrel, Three-striped Palm Squirrel and Bonnet Macaque. Tiger sightings are relatively rare in Periyar, since game viewing is by boat and the big cats have sufficient cover to hide themselves. Another interesting activity in Periyar National Park is guided Jungle treks that are possible late night.
PLACES TO VISIT
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Thekkady:
Draped in opulent greenery, this wildlife sanctuary sprawls over an area of 777 sq. km. The man-made Thekkady Lake shimmers in a green hue, reflecting the surrounding evergreen forests. This stunning artificial lake is created by the Mullapperiyar Dam constructed across the scenic Periyar River. The sanctuary, declared a tiger reserve in 1978, is an ideal spot to catch a glimpse of this magnificent animal. It is also home to the endangered lion-tailed macaques, Nilgiri langurs, elephants, Indian bisons, boars, bears, a wide variety of deer and exotic birds. Boating is the ideal way to explore the sanctuary and to catch a glimpse of the abundant wildlife in close quarters. The park is also famous as an adventure tourism destination. This sanctuary is a perfect example of how human intervention could positively enhance the ecology. Thekkady is located at a distance of 60 km from Idukky.
Periyar Lake :
This placid lake is located near the Periyar national reserve. Tourists can go for boating and enjoy the serene surroundings. If you are lucky you may even get a chance to see herds of elephants bathing on the lakeside.
The exotic view points can be explored in a better manner from the place of Kumily and Periyar. The hills provides a pleasure that is very special and remains in some corners of the heart of the visitors for a long time.
The quaint town of Kumily lies at a distance of about 4 km from Thekkady nestled in the realms of the majestic Cardamom Hills. The plantation town is surrounded by tea and spice plantations making it an ideal place to study how Indian spices are grown and how they are used in local cuisines. The scenic beauty of the area is further accentuated by its crisp blue skies, lush greenery and mist drenched mountains. This hub of spice trade is located at the vicinity of the Periyar wildlife sanctuary and makes a perfect base to explore the region.
This vantage view point is located at a distance of 5km from Thekkady. Breathtaking views of the spice and tea plantations, the mist clad mountains and verdant valleys could be enjoyed at Murikkady. The area is famous for cardamom plantations, tea plantations and pepper cultivation. The salubrious climate here is seasoned with the tantalizing fragrance of exotic spices.
This idyllic town lies at a distance of 10 km from Idukki near the Tamil Nadu state border. The place, flanked by frothy wild brooks and the emerald greenery, is an ideal spot for picnic. The place offers some of the real Kodak moments of nature’s beauty. Trekking could also be enjoyed in Pandikuzhi.
Mangala Devi Temple:
This ancient temple built in the Pandian style sits amidst dense woods at a distance of about 15 km from Thekkady. The temple is perched on top of a cliff at an altitude of 1337 meters above the sea level. The place is open to visitors only on the festive day of Chithirapournami, when pilgrims from Tamil Nadu and Kerala flock to the temple. Panoramic views of the nearby areas could be enjoyed from the cliff. Prior permission from the wildlife authorities in Thekkady is required to visit the area.
The petite town of Chellarkovil is famous for the magnificent panoramic views of the lush green valleys, the gurgling mountain brooks and the sparkling waterfalls. The breathtaking views of the plains and the sloping valleys attract large number of tourists to this vantage point. To the eastern side of Chellarkovil is the town of Cumbum - a part of Tamil Nadu. The lush coconut groves of Cumbum could be enjoyed from here.
Come fall and fall in love with the meadows, hills, plantations and woods of Vandiperiyar. This plantation town is an important hub of commerce in the high ranges. The town is bifurcated by the scenic river Periyar which flows right through the middle of the town. The town is also famous for its myriad spice plantations along with coffee and tea plantations. A number of tea factories are located in the area. The town is located at a distance of 18 km from Thekkady.
Acclaimed as one of the world’s largest auction centers for cardamom, the quaint plantation town of Vandanmedu is set amidst endless cardamom plantations. The mere sight of these beautiful plantations and the tantalizing aroma of cardamom in the air are sure to levitate ones soul to higher realms of peace and tranquility.
Literally translated the word Pullumedu means “green meadows”. This charming little town lies along the banks of the scenic river Periyar hidden by a lush green canopy. This is a good picnic spot to enjoy bucolic life intertwined with the beauty of nature. The place retains its closeness with nature partly because of its inaccessibility and remoteness. The famous Shabarimala Ayyappa temple can be viewed from here.
This sleepy hamlet is located at a distance of 16 km from Nedumkandom along the Thekkady – Munnar road. This hilltop vantage point offers breathtaking views of the picturesque towns lying at the foot of the mountain. It lies on the border of Tamil Nadu.
HOW TO GET HERE
The nearest airport from Periyar, is situated lies at Cochin 190 km far. The other is at Madurai in Tamil Nadu.
The nearest Railway Station from Periyar is Kottayam at a distance of 114 kms.
The nearest bus stand is at Kumily 4 km away, which is well-connected by roads to other major towns of Kerala.