Periyar National Park (Periyar Tiger Reserve)Periyar National Park, widely known as Periyar Tiger Reserve is a part of Periyar protected area set in the mountain ranges of Western Ghats in the state of Kerala at Tamil Nadu border. Periyar, that is spread over the vast area of 777 square kilometers covers the regions of Idukki and Pathanamthitta districts. Out of the 777 sq km, 350 sq km belong to Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve, also called Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary.
Periyar National Park, one of the 27 tiger reserves in India is located on the banks of man made Periyar Lake. Covered with the thick canopy of dense, evergreen forests and savanna grasslands, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary provides shelter to 320 species of birds, 62 species of mammals, 45 species of reptiles, 38 species of fish and 27 species of amphibians.
Mammals like Indian Tiger, Asiatic Lion, Leopards, Elephants, Gaur, Lion Tailed Macaques, Nilgiri Langur, Bonnet Macaque, Common Langur, Sambar, Bison, Mouse Deer, Barking Deer, Indian Wild Dogs, Mongoose, Foxes, Flying Squirrels etc., Cormorants, Kingfishers, Darters, Malabar Hornbill, Racket-tailed Drongos and many other species of birds, Snakes, Python, King Cobra, lizards, turtle and so on reptiles, amphibians like Cecilians and frogs, fish and insects move about freely in their natural habitat here.
Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve is the foremost tourist’s destination at Thekkady. The boat ride through the artificial Periyar Lake offers an exciting opportunity to sight the wild life and enjoy the beauty of the greenery enveloping the entire terrain. The best season to visit the Tiger Reserve is summer when animals come out of their abode in search of water.
Periyar LakePeriyar Lake, one of the largest man made lakes of Asia, is the most prominent feature of Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. The national park and tiger reserve of Periyar are located on the verdant banks of Periyar Lake. This peerless artificial lake is formed by building the Mullaperiyar Dam across the Periyar River. Enclosed by dense green woods, this lake attracts the tourists in search of wild life and the wild life in search of water. A boat ride in this outstanding lake is a thrilling experience.
The most favorable hour for the boat ride is early morning when the atmosphere is pleasant and the ambience is embellished with the glory of rising morning sun. The crystal clear waters of the lake that reflect the sun in the sky and the thickets on the littoral margin create a magnificent decorum. The entire territory seems to be full of life and it enchants the lovers of the nature to no limits. The boat ride in the lake provides an optimum opportunity to sight the wildlife like elephants, wild buffaloes, langur, deer, wild dogs, foxes and at times, tigers too! Migratory birds and other local birds of majestic colors flying over the lake create a captivating vista. The Periyar Lake is an absolute panoramic site and boating in it is an experience of lifetime.
Abraham's Spice GardenAbraham’s Spice Garden is an extremely well maintained organic spice garden located near Spring Valley on the KK Road from Kottayam to Thekkady. The chief attraction of this verdant garden of spices is that, almost all the spices grown in Kerala – The God’s Own Country can be seen here. At this place, the tourists can not only enjoy a plantation tour but also get an opportunity to learn about the spice farming culture of Kerala.
The guide that will accompany you through the garden will show you the variety of spices, explain the methods of spice cultivation and organic farming and give you the scientific information about each and every spice. Apart from that, they will also explain the medicinal importance of every single spice to you. At the spice plantation there will also be an outlet from where you can buy the spices and the medicines prepared from them at reasonable prices.
KumilyKumily is a small Kerala town situated about 4 kilometers from Thekkady in the Idukki district. Kumily is acclaimed as a leading tourists’ destination and a major spice trading center in Kerala. Kumily provides budget stay for the visitors of Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve. Major attraction of this town comprises its spice market and the Ayurvedic massage and Panchakarma treatments offered here. Other than that, the classical performance of Kathakali dance and Kalaripayattu – the oldest martial art of Kerala is a must witness show that will surely give you goose bums. Do not forget to buy spices, coffee, flavored tea and home made chocolates from Kumily.
MurikkadyMurikkady, located about 5 kilometers from Thekkady is a spice heaven. Breathing the air scented with the aroma of spices in profusion is really a mind blowing experience. Being a favorite picnic spot near Thekkady, Murikkady offers perfect venue for plantation tours in its spice gardens that cultivate pepper, cardamom, coffee and many more spices.
PandikuzhiNestled amidst Chellarkovil on one side and the Tamil Nadu border on the other, Pandikuzhi is a foremost picnic spot near Thekkady. Located about 5 kilometers from Kumily, this picturesque hamlet is an Arcadia of diverse flora and fauna. The terrains of Pandikuzhi carpeted with lush greenery and embellished with wild brooks create a paradise for photographers and lovers of nature. Apart from that, Pandikuzhi also offers great trekking opportunities for the adventure seekers.
PullumeduPullumedu, a popular hill station perched about 43 kilometers from Thekkady and nearly 26 km from Periyar beckon the lover of beauty to arrive and relax in the cradle of Mother Nature. Rich with its verdurous gardens, diverse wildlife and elegant floral varieties, Pullumedu creates a heaven on earth. Traveling through the meandering roads that lead to the exotic hills of Pullumedu enveloped with lush greenery and embroidered with Periyar River is really an experience to crave for. From the top of the hills, the famous Sree Ayyappa Temple of Sabarimala and the Makara Jyothi shrine are clearly visible. Entering the regions of Pullumedu requires a prior permission from the Wildlife Preservation Officer and the only vehicle that can run on the winding roads here is Jeep.
VandanmeduVandanmedu, located about 25 km from Kumily is one of the world's largest cardamom auction centers. An excursion through the wide spread cardamom plantations at Vandanmedu is an intoxicating experience.
ChellarkovilChellarkovil, a small village famous for its grapes, cotton, coconut and vegetable cultivation is abundant in scenic beauty. The verdant mountain slopes decorated with cascading silver brooks magnify the charm of this Utopia.
Mangala Devi TempleMangala Devi Temple, located approximately 15 kilometers from Thekkady is an ancient shrine built in stone, dedicated to the local Goddess Mangala Devi. Nestled in the dense forest at the apex of a 1337 meters high mountain, this temple is designed in a typical Pandian architectural style.
The specialty of this shrine is that, devotees are allowed the entry to the temple only during the Chithra Pournami festival. At the time of this auspicious feast of Goddess Mangala, devotees from all over the place throng the region. If you want to visit this temple otherwise, you need to obtain permission from the Chief Conservator of Forests, Vazhuthacaud, Trivandrum or the Wildlife Warden of Thekkady. From the top of the peak one can get the spectacular views of surrounding mountain ranges, Ghats and the terrains of Tamil Nadu.