Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary or Thekkady, Kerala

Tucked away near the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, amidst breathtaking scenery is Thekkady, one of the must visit places in India. In Thekkady, you will definitely spot mass of elephants, deer, gaur, lion-tailed Macaques, tigers and Nilgiri Langur, which forms a mind blowing view known for its natural diversity. One of the main attractions to Thekkady is the impressive artificial lake formed by the Mullaperiyar Dam across the Periyar River. Many wild elephants, deer, and bison come down to enjoy a swig of water in the lake. This sanctuary which is open to public can be accessed through a trekking, boating or a jeep safari.

Thekkady has natural spices like black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon nutmace, nut mugging, and clove aplenty, thereby known as the spice bag of the state. The Periyar wild life sanctuary is one of the best natural wildlife reserves and is covered with thick evergreen forest. This is the only wildlife sanctuary in the country where visitors can enjoy the natural wildlife while having a pleasure ride on the lake. Every year thousands of tourists visit the sanctuary for its wildlife diversity and scenic beauty.

Thekkady enjoys moderate climate all through the year. But the best time to visit the place is from September to March. Winters which fall from October to February are the best months to visit Thekkady as the weather is cool and is ideal for sightseeing. Various festivals are also held during this time. Summers from March to May is not the best time for visits as the temperature can go up to 36°C. However, for an animal enthusiast, this season is a treat as it is ideal for spotting animals and exploring wildlife of the place.

There are various things to do in Thekkady like trekking, nature walk, rafting, and so on. A nature walk on the tiger reserve ideally covers four to five kilometers and lasts for three hours. Different species of birds, butterflies, and other large animals can be spotted on this walk. A trained tribal guide is accompanied along with the group.

The Periyar tiger trail is a project implemented by the Kerala Government to promote sustainable Eco tourism. It is an adventurous trekking and camping programme, coordinated by a group of rehabilitated poachers and tree cutters of the park. A maximum of six tourists are taken at a time accompanied by five guides and one armed forest guard. Here, you may have a chance to see elephants, deer, giant squirrels or even the tiger itself. The government offers two packages, one night and two nights stay. A paradise for the animal lover in you!

Border Hiking is a trek that passes through altitudes of 3000-4300 feet. Tourists may encounter Elephants and Indian bison on this trek. Two guides and an armed officer accompany the tourists on this trek. One of the best chances of viewing the wildlife is during the boating rides on the Periyar Lake. Having many creeks and islets, these lands serve as a habitat for elephants, gaur or the sambar deer. These trips are usually undertaken by the Government of Kerala or the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC).

Bamboo Rafting is unique water activity that lasts for three hours. A minimum of two people and a maximum of ten people are taken per day for this activity. This involves trekking through different habitats during the day and sailing back in the evening. This is definitely a must-do activity when one visits Thekkady.

The Reserve organizes a Heritage Programme that lasts for two hours. There are five tribal communities in the Periyar area and a tribal guide takes you to the tribal settlement and shows you around the heritage museum. This is a beautiful way to gain an in depth understanding of the tribal communities in Kerala, this is also a great way to showcase the rich cultural roots that Kerala still harbors. A natural trail through the typical houses they live in- grey thatch roofed houses give one an insider’s perspective into their lifestyles and habits.