Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, locating in Thekkady is the perfect example of nature’s bounty with great scenic beauty and rich biodiversity. In this astounding location of Kerala, the Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is considered as the most protected area for the elephants and the tigers. One of the most renowned national parks in South India, the Periyar National Park is set high at the Western Ghat ranges. The protected area is widespread along the area of 925 sq km (357 sq mi). The rest of 350 sq km (140 sq mi) of the core zone was declared as the Periyar National Park in the year 1982.
The park is being adorned with a picturesque lake at the heart of the sanctuary which is an artificial 100 years old lake at Thekkady and is basically known for its wild elephants and thickly established Western Ghats forests. Many of the intense valleys of Periyar contain tropical evergreen forest with extremely thick tree cover with hardly any sun-rays to get penetrated. These trees are fully grown at the amazing heights of up to 130-140 feet. Some of the areas in the park contain marshy grasslands near the edges of the lake and other water bodies. Spread out across the park are also patches of semi-evergreen forest used as important cover by many of the animal species.
Periyar Lake – the Periyar Lake is situated at the sanctuary area and the reserve is named after this lake only. The tourists can enjoy the full scenario of the sanctuary by boating around this lake.
Kumily – A small town near Thekkady and Periyar which is best known for cardamom hills located in the district of Idukki in Kerala. Due to the abundance of presence of holy temples this place attracts both the nature lovers as well as the spiritual people.
Mangla Devi Temple – the Mangla Devi Temple is located at the distance of 15 kms from the region of Thekkady. With ancient Pandian type architecture at the height of 1337 m on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, the temple attracts many pilgrims. Prayers are conducted in this 2000 years old temple only once in a year on a full moon day in between the month of April and May.
Pullumedu – Located at the distance of 43 kms from Thekkady, Pullumedu is the area famous for wildlife sanctuaries and greeneries. Besides, tourists can also get to visit Shri Ayappa Temple and the Makara Jyothi temple at this region.
Earlier was under the reign of the Pandayas in 12th century a dam named Mullaperiyar was constructed across the west flowing river Periyar. As a result, it created an artificial lake in the area which today stands at the centre of the sanctuary, enhancing its beauty to greater extents. With the creation of this lake, the landscape and the features of the valley changed drastically.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, the reserve was the hunting ground of the Travancore kings, which is today the part of most of the Southern Kerala. In 1899, the area was declared as a forest reserve called the Periyar Lake Reserve with an intention of protecting the hunting areas of the kings from the encroachment of tea plantations. Further, in 1934, the lake reserve was converted into a game sanctuary, the Nellikkampatty Game Sanctuary. The Game Sanctuary covered an area of about 500 sq km. In 1950, some more area was added to create the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. In 1978, the sanctuary was included in the Central Government initiative to be known as the Project Tiger and was renamed as Periyar Tiger Reserve.
In 1992, the reserve also became a part of Project Elephant when it was launched by the Central Ministry of Environment and Forests to protect the free ranging populations of wild Asian elephants in various states of India.
By Air : Kochi (Cochin) at 200-kms or Madurai in Tamil Nadu at 140-kms is the nearest airports from Periyar.
By Rail : Kottayam at 114-kms is the nearest railhead from Periyar.
By Road : Kumily, the nearest town from Periyar is well served by both state and private buses from Kottayam, Ernakulam and Madurai in Tamil Nadu.
The temperature ranges from 15 degree C to 31 degree C. The highest temperature is found during Aril and May and the lowest is experienced in December. June to September is the monsoon season, which provides average rainfall. October to December also gets rainfall due to the northeast monsoon. Heavy to moderately mild rainfall can be experienced during this season.
Summer: The summer season starts in March and ends in May. Though it is easy to spot animals that come to quench the thirst near the lake, the climate will be hot and dehydrating. Evening safari tours are common during summer. The temperature can go as high as 36 degree C and the vegetation would be lean.
Monsoon: Monsoon season is the worst time to visit the park. Water activities might be stopped due to heavy rains. The animals would be hard to spot and many interesting safaris to many regions inside the park would be restricted.
Winter: October to March is the winter season in Thekkady. The water bodies will be rich with water. The vegetation will be lush with recent rains. The temperature will be mild and showers, if any will be very mild. Many flowering plants will be at bloom during this season. Animals can be spotted with their small ones and, many migration birds are easy to spot. Rafting and boat cruise would be more interesting due to recent rains.
Longitude: 76°57′ and 77°25′ E
Latitude: 9°16′ and 9°36′ N
Altitude: 100m. to 2016 m. above msl.
Rainfall: 2500 mm.
Temperature: Minimum: 15°C, Maximum: 31°C
The best season to visit Periyar wildlife sanctuary is from the months of October to June.
Inside Periyar National park, you will find forest guesthouse to stay. Prior booking is required for accommodation. Due to high demand getting accommodation during peak season is rare.
Thekkady has three 5-star hotels, 15 4-star hotels, 23 3-star hotels and numerous budget hotels. There are hundreds of hotels in Murikkady, Kumily and other surrounding areas. There are a few government hotels and lodges inside the park too.