PERIYAR WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
India 's largest wildlife sanctuary is a dream destination
Undulating hills, picture-perfect greenery, shimmering lakes, and cool, aromatic air – Thekkady has it all. Situated in Idukki district of Kerala, at an altitude of 900-1800 m above sea level, Thekkady is a dream destination for adventure travellers and Nature lovers alike. The region is also home to the richly bio-diverse Periyar Tiger Reserve. Thekkady, lying on the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, is so closely related to this renowned sanctuary that, often, the names, Thekkady and Periyar, are used interchangeably to refer to the area.
The 120 years old ‘Surki’ dam built across Peryiar, Poorna in Vedic parlance, is a major tourist attraction. This sanctuary is spread over an area of 777 Sq.Kms, surrounded by an artificial lake over an area of 25 Sq.Kms.The Country’s sole Tiger reserve, Thekkady, with its bountiful treasures of tropical flora and fauna is the ultimate reservoir of many an endangered species and a rich tribal culture. Thekkady is a pleasant heaven on earth for those who love nature in its wild manifestations.
The very sound of the word Thekkady conjures up images of elephants, unending chains of hills and spice scented plantations. The Periyar forests of Thekkady is one of the finest wildlife reserves in India. Spread across the entire district are picturesque plantations and hill towns that hold great opportunities for treks and mountain walks.
The tropical evergreen forest is a treasure house of various species of plants. It has hundreds of flowering plants, over 150 species of grass and almost as many species of orchids. There are also several kinds of medicinal plants and herbs to be found. The trees include teak, sandalwood, banyan, jacaranda, mango, bamboo and many, many more.
Mammals: The sanctuary is home to about 35 species including the Asian elephant, tiger, Indian bison, sambar deer, Indian wild dog, leopard, barking deer and smooth-coated otter, which can be sighted during a boat cruise in the Periyar Lake. The Nilgiritahr is confined to the higher rocky areas whereas the endangered lion-tailed macaque can be found in the evergreen forests. Bonnet macaques and Nilgirilangur can be seen foraging from the trees near the boat landing. The Malabar giant squirrel is also a common sight.
There are about 265 species of birds here, including migrants. The Malabar grey hornbill, The Indian pied hornbill, whitebelliedtreepie, many species of drongos, woodpeckers, flycatchers, babblers, the spectacular Malabar trogon and many more can be seen near the boat landing.
Cobra, viper, krait, a number of non-poisonous snakes, and the Indian monitor lizard live in these forests.
Frogs like the colourful Malabar gliding frog, fungoid frog, bicoloured frog, many species of toads, and limbless caecilians make for interesting sightings.
The Periyar Lake and streams have several species of fish including the mahseer, the well-known and endangered game fish of India. The smooth-coated otter can be frequently spotted from the boat, so keep your eyes peeled.
Around the sanctuary are several plantations of tea, cardamom, pepper and coffee.
If you want to spot wildlife, there are a few watchtowers inside the wildlife park that serve as excellent vantage points. Reservations can be made at the Forest Information Centre, Thekkady. Ph: 322028
Nearest railway station: : Kottayam Railway Station, about 110km away.
Nearest airport: Madurai, about 140 km and Cochin International Airport, about 190km.