After years of exploring the northern glory of India – The Himalayas, it’s time to point the compass towards the exhilarating south and experience the diversified wildlife of the region. There’s no better place than the Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary to spot rare animal species like lion-tailed macaques, sambar deer and Indian bison, and some prominent ones like elephants and tigers.
All About Periyar National Park
‘Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary’ near Thekkady lies in the area of Idukki and Pathanamthitta in Kerala. It is South India’s most famous wildlife sanctuary and the oldest among the 27 wildlife sanctuaries in India. The Periyar Lake lies at the heart of the park. Besides magnificent Indian elephants, there are many more animals to look out for in the woods like Gaur, Wild Pigs, Sambar, Barking Deer, Mouse Deer, Dole or Indian Wild Dog and Tiger.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Periyar is from April to July and October to March as these are non-monsoon months boasting pleasant weather.
- Weather from April to July
Average temperature: 29 degrees to 35 degrees Celsius.
During these months, Periyar experiences mild summers. The area remains relatively dry making it easy to spot animals.
- Weather from July to August
Average temperature: 22 degrees to 32 degrees Celsius.
Since Periyar remains open in monsoons, you can visit the sanctuary during these months. The lush greenery of the forest becomes brighter in these months allowing for great sights.
- Weather from October to March
Average temperature: 20 degrees to 32 degrees Celsius.
In winter months, the days are bright and sunny and the nights fairly cold. A good time to visit Periyar, wildlife safaris and boating are most enjoyable in this season.
How to get there
- By Air: Cochin is the nearest international airport to Periyar, at a distance of around 140 km. Several international and domestic airlines connect the city of Kochi to major cities in India and abroad.
- By Train: Kottayam (110 km) serves as the nearest railhead for Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Kottayam is well linked with various express as well as local trains across the country.
- By Road: Kumily is the nearest town to Periyar which is well connected by road.
Tips for a Great Visit
- There are some Forest Reserve rules to be observed by all the visitors. Strictly follow the gate timings (7 am – 6 pm).
- Animal sightings are a matter of chance. Be patient.
- Total silence and discipline enhance chances of animal sightings.
- Travelling alone is prohibited especially in the Elephant Reserves.
- Do not wear colourful clothes or perfumes. Khakis, browns and greens are best suited for forests.
- Always carry drinking water.
Where to rest
There are many hotels and resorts in Thekkady near Periyar where you can stay and have easy access to the sanctuary.
What to do
- Boat Ride: The most fascinating thing to do at the Reserve is to take a boat ride across the lake. It’s an hour and a half long boat ride and you might just spot some wildlife. If you take the early morning boat trip, you will be mesmerized by the mist blanketing the lake water.
- Bamboo Rafting: Try your hand at the famous bamboo rafting which is a whole day activity. It starts at 8 AM and stretches till 5 PM. One can spot animals like elephant, gaur and sambar. This includes three hours of bamboo rafting and three hours of nature walk with breaks for lunch and snacks.
- Nature Walks and Hikes: Another way of exploring the Periyar National Park is by taking a simple walk through the magical woods. It offers an excellent opportunity for bird-watching, spotting butterflies and other wildlife.
- Tiger trail: Those who are daring enough to be out in the jungles at night and are ready to have an intimate experience with the untamed can opt for the tiger trail. It’s the best way to spot the magnificent cat, Nilgiri Langur, Giant Squirrels and Deer.
- Elephant Rides and Culture Tour: Culture enthusiasts can go for an elephant ride and a culture tour. These will take you around the park and the Tusker Trail which is a great tourist attraction. One can come across the Mannans who are the oldest Periyar tribal inhabitants living here since the 1940′s. They earn their livelihood through fishing. Explore the Tribal Heritage Museum that displays the Mannan history and settlement and dives deep into their practices, cultural events and rituals.
- Border Hiking, Jeep Safari and Spice Trade Tour are some other ways to explore Periyar.
Nearby Towns and Tourist Hot Spots
Periyar National Park has a lot to offer and is a promising location for nature lovers.
- Kumily: Kumily is around 4 km from Periyar. This town has many tourist attractions set in beautiful surroundings and flourishing spice trade.
- Gavi: 14 km away from Kumily, lies the small village of Gavi. En route Thekkady, you can reach here by taking a diversion from the town of Vandiperiyar. Spread across the Periyar Tiger Reserve, a journey through this tropical evergreen forest is known for abundant animal sightings.
- Vagamon: This hill station is located 46 km from Thekkady. It is filled with hills covered in green tea plantations. With cool temperatures and mist, it makes for an ideal detour.
- Other places worth visiting are the Cardamom Hills that offer breathtaking scenic views and the Garden of Eden where you can discover how spices like turmeric, cinnamon, pepper and chilli are grown.
Any traveller who visits this place never leaves without feeling enchanted. So, if you are ready to see the wonders of the wilderness, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is the perfect place to be!
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