Situated within the confines of the Western Ghats in the southern Indian state of Kerala, Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve is one of the most captivating wildlife parks in the world. The picturesque lake in the heart of the sanctuary was originally 26 sq km but now spans an area of 55 sq km. This perennial source of water, which initially led to the submersion of large tracts of forestland, slowly attracted wild animals. It eventually resulted in the adjoining forests being granted protection by the Maharajah of Travancore.
Periyar (also Thekkady) is a park where one can witness playful pachyderms, whose population is currently around 800. The population of tigers is also increasing appreciably. The terrain ranges from hilly to flat grassland areas at the edges of the lakes. The vegetation is of moist deciduous type.
The months of March and April constitute the driest part of the year, because of which the animals spend a lot of time near the lake in the Periyar National Park. Even the tiger may be spotted approaching the waters in the Periyar National Park. Animals may be seen from motorboats on the lake or from watch towers set up in the Periyar National Park. There is a good chance of spotting an occasional tiger in this relatively peaceful corner at the Periyar National Park.
Flora and Fauna:
The flora here is composed mainly of marshy grasslands. The forests are a mixture of grasslands, fire-resistant low-growth vegetation, deciduous forests, semi-evergreens, and tropical evergreens. It is good to be cautious of the blood-sucking leeches that are found in plenty here
Major Wildlife Attractions:
While at Periyar you just cannot miss enjoying the Fauna. Periyar and elephants are synonymous and one cannot be thought of without the other. Herds of playful wild elephants have made Periyar Lake their favourite haunt for frolicking in the water. Scores of them can be witnessed bathing and swimming here. The Indian female elephants do not possess tusks like their African relatives. They are also not as swarthy as their African counterparts.
Some 260 species of birds are found at Periyar. These include darters, cormorants, ibises, grey herons, mynas, flycatchers, orioles, wood pigeons, kingfishers, kites, ospreys, thrushes, and an appreciable number of blue-winged parakeets.
Other inhabitants of Periyar include the leopard, wild dog, barking deer, mouse deer, Nilgiri langur (a primate), bonnet macaque, sambhar, porcupines, squirrels, gaur (Indian bison), wild boar, and sloth bear. There are approximately 40 tigers in the area as per the latest census. The tigers, along with the Nilgiri tahrs (a kind of a wild goat), are elusive creatures. However, an early morning visit, with luck on one’s side, can yield positive results.
Boat rides offered on the Periyar lake provide you with the best chance of observing wild life. Sightings of large herds of elephants and other animals are quite frequent during boat rides. The timings for boat rides are 7, 9, 11 AM & 2, 4 PM.
Best Time to Visit:
The best time to sight The Periyar National Park from October to June). The best time to spot animals is during the dry months as after a shower the water resources fill up and the animals do not feel the need to come out in search of water.
How to Get there:
Air: The park is accessible from Kochi and Madurai airports.
Rail: The nearest major rail junction to the Periyar National Park is Kottayam, well connected to Delhi.
Road: The Periyar National Park is well connected by bus service to the state capital Thiruvananthapuram (271 km). To access the place from Cochin, take the NH49 to Thripunithara. From there, state highway 15 will take you to Ettumanur via Keecherry, Thalayolaparambu and Vaikom. Take the SH1 to Kottayam and finally NH220 to Thekkady via Kanjirappally, Peermade, Vandiperiyar and Kumily.
General Info / Tips:
The only entry point to the park is through Thekkady village (4 km from Kumily). The starting point is the boathouse (2 km from entry gate), from where all treks, boat rides and walks begin. The tourists can register for trekking and other activities at the Eco-tourism centre, near the boat house.
The best way of observing the place would be to take a boat ride in the Periyar lake.
Park charges Entry Fee : Rs. 25 (Indians) & Rs. 300 (foreigners).
Park timings are 6 AM to 6 PM.
Carry all the essentials including prescribed medicine, a flash light etc. A pair of binoculars and a camera will enhance your experience. It is advisable to carry your own binoculars as those available for hire are generally of poor quality.
Elephant, Tiger, Leopard, Nilgiri Langur