Thekkady Wildlife- Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary -
The Periyar forests of Thekkady is one of the finest wildlife reserves in India. Spread across the entire district are picturesque plantations and hill towns that hold great opportunities for treks and mountain walks.
The pride of Kerala and a testimony to nature’s splendour and human innovation, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is situated on the banks of the Periyar lake – an artificial lake, at Thekkady. Here the high ranges of the Western Ghats are clothed in dense evergreen, moist deciduous forests and savannah grass lands. Below this thick green canopy roam herds of elephants, sambars, tigers, gaurs, lion tailed macaques and Nilgiri langurs.
In addition to elephant rides, cruises on the lake and treks to the ruined Mangala Devi temple – a beautiful old stone temple situated in the heart of the Thekkady forest, this sanctuary offers the unique opportunity to watch and photograph wild elephants at close quarters.
The Periyar Widlife sanctuary is spread across 777 sq km, of which 360 sq km is thick evergreen forest, the Periyar Wiild Life Sanctuary was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1978. Noted for its geomorphology, diversity of wildlife and scenic beauty, the Reserve attracts visitors all over the world and is one of the world’s most fascinating natural wildlife reserves.
The splendid artificial lake formed by the Mullaperiyar Dam across the Periyar River adds to the charm of the park. This is the only sanctuary in India where you can have the unique experience of viewing wildlife at close quarters from the safety of a boat on the lake. The greatest attraction of Periyar, however are the herds of wild elephants that come down to the play in the lake.
The Flora, Fauna, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians & Fishes found in Periyar wildlife sanctuary are :
Over 1965 flowering plants including 171 grass species 143 species of orchids. The only south Indian conifer, scientifically known as Podocarpus wallichianus, grows in the forests of Periyar Tiger Reserve.
Mammals: More than 60 species are found here which includes the Asian elephant, Tiger, Indian bison, sambar deer, Indian wild dog, Leopard, Barking deer, Smooth-coated otter which can be sighted during a boat cruise in the Periyar Lake. The Nilgiri tahr is confined to the higher rocky areas whereas the endangered lion tailed macaque can be found in the interior evergreen forests. Both the bonnet macaques and Nilgiri langur can be seen foraging from the trees near the boat landing. Malabar giant squirrel is omnipresent.
265 species including migrants. The Malabar grey hornbill, The Indian pied hornbill, Whitebellied Treepie, many species of drongos, woodpeckers, flycatchers, babblers, the spectacular Malabar trogon, etc can be seen near the boat landing.
Cobra, viper, krait, a number of non-poisonous snakes, and the Indian monitor lizard.
Frogs like the colorful Malabar gliding frog, fungoid frog, bicolored frog, many species of toads, and limbless caecilians.
The Periyar lake and streams have several species of fish including the masheer, the famous and endangered game fish of India. The Smooth-coated otter can be frequently spotted from the boat.
Tea, cardamom, pepper and coffee plantations abound in the areas adjoining the Tiger Reserve.
Nearest railway station: Kottayam Railway Station & Ernakulam Railway Station
Nearest airports : Cochin International Airport, about 190 km.