Periyar Tiger Reserve
South IndiaThe Periyar Tiger Reserve in ‘God’s Own Country’ of Kerala is a spectacular expanse of greenery and seemingly unending chain of hills in the southern region of the Western Ghats, with some of the best wildlife activities for keen wildlife visitors to enjoy. The reserve along the river Periyar, which originates in the heart of these forests, spreads over an area of 925 sq km amidst Thekkady’s spice-scented Cardamom Hills. More than 60 species of mammals are found here; including the Asiatic elephant, Bengal tiger, Indian bison, sambar deer, Indian wild dog, leopard and barking deer. Periyar is, perhaps, one of the best reserves in India to observe families of Asiatic elephants together by the lake shore. The Western Ghats are believed to be amongst the oldest mountain chains in the world, and boasts of a wealth of diverse flora, fauna and terrain. The reserve is bordered by the Kerala-Tamil Nadu interstate line from Kumily in the north, the Ranni and Kakki reserved forests, a...nd the Kottayam division forests. The artificially-created Periyar Lake that covers 26 sq km is the park’s nucleus and main visitor focus. The forests around the lake were declared reserve forests in 1899 by the then Maharaja of Travancore, and thereafter a tiger reserve in 1978 under Project Tiger. In 1982, the core area of the park was notified as a national park. The highest peak in the park is the 2,019 m-high Kottamala. The reserve nestles beautiful trails for treks and nature walks. Interestingly, it also offers opportunities for night-trekking deep into the forests, which has been a crowd-puller in recent years. Periyar Tiger Reserve has 1,965 species of flowering plants, including 171 grass varieties and 143 species of orchids. The only south Indian conifer, scientifically known as Podocarpus Wallichianus, grows in the forests here. Though elusive and mostly confined to the quiet interiors, more than 40 tigers prowl these forests. Smooth-coated otters are often seen near the lake. Nilgiri tahrs are aplenty in the high-altitude rocky areas, whereas the endangered lion-tailed macaques are seen in the interior evergreen forests. Both the bonnet macaques and Nilgiri langurs inhabit the trees here. Similarly, the reserve also boasts of a rich variety of amphibians, fish and reptiles. The reserve has recorded 322 bird species, who are mostly permanent residents.
How To Book
Lodges in the region do take care of bookings for their guests. You can also buy your tickets directly at Forest information Centre counters in the park. To book tickets online, please visit: http://www.periyarfoundation.online/
The park is open throughout the year from 6AM to 5PM every day. However, the boat rides are available only at specific times in a day. The park remains closed during floods or heavy rain.
Getting Around the Park
Boat rides are the most commonly-used mode of transport to move around the park. Serious wildlifers are also allowed to trek the forests with local guides, but with prior permission from the park officials.
Rs 45/- for Indian tourist (adult) Rs.15/- for Indian child (below 12 years) Rs.500/- for foreign tourist (adult) Rs.180/- for foreign child (below 12 years) Rs.45/- extra for camera. Bus fare to the Park is Rs.20/-
By air: Madurai (About 140 km) and Cochin (About 190 km) are the nearest airports to Thekkady. By rail: Kottayam (110 km) is the nearest station By road: Kumily is about 4 km from Periyar
Eco-friendly properties in the area
The Wildernest is a ten-room bed & breakfast lodge located in the small town of Kumily close to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary.
Nestled in Kerala’s spice-scented Thekkady highlands, Spice Village was conceived in 1991 at the beginning of a journey by its founder Jose Dominic into lodge sustainability, and now is part of his family’s multi award winning CGH Earth group.
Cardamom County is a natural retreat tucked away in Periyar’s cloud-hugging Cardamom Hills on the very borders of this reserve, part of the Xandari portfolio of lodgings.
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