The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the oldest protected areas in the country. It is also known as Thekkady the name comes from 'thekku'or teak trees while Periyar is named after Periyar or the big river. The Mulla Periyar Irrigation dam which was constructed in 1895 inundated a large tract of land and created 26 sq km long lake. This lake is the main watering hole of the reserve.
The park has tropical evergreen and deciduous trees, bamboos, reed banks and savannahs spread over the 777 sq km of hills, valleys, plains and waterlogged areas. It gained the status of the wildlife sanctuary and was brought under Project Tiger after 28 years. The core area was declared a National Park in 1982 and 2004 the Periyar Foundation was formed together with park administration and locals to strengthen conservation efforts.
There is only one entry point to the Periyar Tiger Reserve through the small village of Thekkady, 4 km from Kumily which lies on the Kerala-TamilNadu border. The starting point of the reserve is the boathouse located 2 km from the entry gate. There are several eco-tourism programmes in the Periyar Tiger Reserve including day and night trekking, camping and bamboo rafting. They present exciting opportunities to spot animals and birds. The best way to view wildlife is during boat rides on the Periyar Lake. It has many creeks, promontories and small islets serving as habitats for wildlife. It is common to find herds of elephants grazing on the hills surrounding the lake.
Periyar Tiger Reserve has about 63 species of mammals including tiger, elephant, sloth bear, gaur, wild dog, and sambar and barking deer. There are few endangered species like lion tailed macaque, slender loris,Nilgiri marten and tahr.Over 320 species of birds out of which one third are migratory are found here. Some of the birds are Malabar grey hornbill, Rufus babbler, Nilgiri wood pigeon and crimson-backed sunbird. The reptile species found around 45 and 160 species of butterflies including southern bird wing and endangered Travancore evening brown.
Best time to visit:
September to March is the best time to visit the reserve without rains. For bird watchers also this is the time to spot migrant birds.
Where to Stay
Thekkady has a wide range of stay options ranging from luxurious to budget hotels. Most of them offer packages which include stay, meals and visit to the Tiger Reserve.
By Air: The nearest airport is Kochi international airport,Nedumbassery connected by daily flights to Thiruvananthapuram,Bangalore,Mumbai,Delhi and host of other cities.
By Rail: The nearest railhead is Kottayam connected to Delhi by Kerala Express and to Mumbai by the Kanya Kumari Express and other major cities also have direct rail links.
By Road: Thekkady is 5 km from Kumily which is on NH220 ,the highway that links Kollam to Theni in Tamil Nadu via Kottayam,Peermade and Vandiperiyar.Thekkady is on SH19 which connects Munnar to Periyar.KSRTC runs regular bus services from Kottayam,Alappuzha,Kochi,Thiruvananthapuram and Munnar.