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Periyar is the best-known wildlife sanctuary in south India. Though billed as a tiger reserve, Periyar is really famous for its wild elephants, 100-year-old artificial lake and its setting in the beautiful thickly forested Western ghats. This is not your best shot at spotting the Bengal Tiger considering there are less than 40 of them that inhabit an area of 777sq.km but there’s plenty of other game like the Nilgiri langoor, Nilgiri tahr, bison, deer, antelope and about 700 elephants to make the trip worthwhile.

The Asian elephant is diminutive compared to its larger African cousin but the thrill of spotting a herd of them lumbering through the dense shola (forest) or wading into a lake is going to be no less than seeing the African elephant in the Masai Mara grasslands. There are more than 700 of these large grey animals that have for a long time been a symbol of Indian exotica. Over a 100 species of butterfly and at least 240 species of birds inhabit the area.

Around the park are some interesting aromatic spice gardens. Many have good guides who’ll tell you about the medicinal value of each spice and maybe startle you with how much of the research is millennia old.

Best Time to Visit :

The tourist season is from September to May and particularly the Christmas - New Year holidays. From February onwards it starts getting warmer and though this could be distinctly uncomfortable, it has its benefits. The animals are easiest to spot now as elephant and chital (spotted deer) alike flock to the waterholes. Avoid weekends when the park can get quite full with people looking for a daylong getaway.

Places to See in Periyar :

The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary : The rich forest area of Periyar in Thekkady is one of the world's most fascinating natural wildlife reserves. Spread in an area of 777 sq km, of which 360 sq.km is thick evergreen forest, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary was declared a tiger reserve in 1978. The splendid artificial lake formed by the Mulla Periyar dam across the Periyar river adds to the charm of the park. Here, you can enjoy the unique experience of observing wildlife at close quarters from the safety of a boat on the lake. Though the greatest attraction of Periyar are the herds of wild elephants, you can also see gaur, sambar deer, tiger, jungle cat, sloth bear and wild boar which can be sighted from the boats. There are about 265 species of birds including migrants, which make your boat ride more lyrical.

Kumily : About 4 kms from Thekkady, this plantation town is closely associated with Thekkady. Situated on the outskirts of the Periyar Sanctuary, Kumily is an important shopping centre and spice trade centre.

Murikkady : Situated 5 kms from Thekkady. Washed in fresh spice scented air, Murikkady is a panorama of cardamom, coffee and pepper plantations.

Pandikuzhi : This is about 5 kms away from Kumily. Cradled between Chellarkovil and the Tamil Nadu State border, this picturesque place is a popular picnic spot. Pandikuzhi offers great opportunities for trekking and is a photographer's delight.




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