Kerala never ceases to fascinate its visitors. Every time, each visit turns out to be a new discovery. Take Thekkady and Periyar National Park for example. The very mention of the name brings images of elephants playing in the mud, the arresting aroma of the spice plantations and the lush greenery harboring mysteries of the forest. This sanctuary on the Kerala – Tamil Nadu border, is known for its expansive stretches of dense forests, savanna grasslands, and diverse wildlife.
Reaching the wildlife reserve
Thekkady is easily accessible from the cities of Trivandrum, Madurai, and Kochi. Once you fly down from your point of origin, you can do a cab booking in Kochi which is closer to the sanctuary. If traveling by road, you can alight at the Kottayam railway station, the nearest to Thekkady.
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The wildlife in Periyar National Park
The highlight of Thekkady is the Periyar National Park – one of the most intriguing wildlife sanctuaries in India. Spread across 777 Sq. Km. of the natural forested area, Periyar National Park is known for its rich, vast, and varied flora, fauna and vegetation. From being a home to exotic species of wild animals to being the apt place for jungle adventures, the Periyar National Park is your complete vacation destination in the wild.
The national park houses an artificial lake, formed by the outflow of the Mullaperiyar Dam, which adds to the beauty of the park. The lake also acts as the watering hole for the wild animals dwelling in the Periyar forest.
The best part of this expansive sanctuary is its tiger population which has been conserved and declared a ‘tiger reserve’ since 1978. Other members of the wild community are innumerable elephants, sambar deer, Indian bison, lion-tailed macaques and Nilgiri langurs.
Of flora and fauna, the Periyar National Park is a treasure trove of nature. You can find at least 171 species of wild grasses in this sanctuary, followed by 140 species of orchids, medicinal plants like eucalyptus, sandalwood, bamboo and more.
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Exploring the Periyar National Park
If you are in for a thrilling wildlife expedition, then there are various options to wander through the wilderness of Periyar National Park.
Jungle Trek: Join a jungle trek and take a walk into the wild. There are guided treks available for tourists, where you can walk along the nature trails, spot any of the 266 species of birds and soothe your eyes to the sight of wildflowers. These paths often cut through thick forests of evergreen and deciduous trees that add to the density, and sometimes cross marshy grasslands. For a more in-depth exploration, take the jeep safari.
Boat Ride: For a different kind of experience, skirt the peripheries of the lake on a boat ride. For those unaware, Periyar National Park is the only natural sanctuary in India where you can have a candid encounter with the wild family, while on a boat. Boats run between 6 am and 6 pm.
Spice Plantation tour: If you are not fascinated by animals, then discovering rare plants and vegetation could be a way to explore this national park. Thekkady is favored for its spice cultivation. Take a spice plantation tour, away from the thickets and awaken your senses with the aromas of cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, coffee, tea and various local spices and herbs.
Elephant Ride: Want to see the sights the traditional way? Take an elephant ride for about an hour and roam around like a king. Rides usually take between half an hour to an hour and you can hail a ride anytime between 10 am to 5 pm.
In all, Thekaddy makes for an uncommon holiday destination. You can easily book Madurai cabs to get to this destination. And the irony of this exquisite natural enclave is that it’s too vast to complete in one day. Hence, as they say, if you have to see nature from within, you have to keep coming back for more.