Complete Travel Guide to Periyar
In God's own country, Kerala, God created a magnificent setting draped in dense deciduous forests and shades of green. Man then intervened and damned the river within to create a spectacle of wondrous blue water at the heart of it all. This is what's known today as the Periyar Wildlifwe Sanctuary, spanning 777 Kms, of which nearly 350 Kms of core area is protected as the Periyar National Park & Tiger Reserve.
Nestled among the wooded hills and the green foliage, the Periyar Lake within the sanctuary, makes for an excellent hotspot for the wild elephants. And in this, lies the charm of this place-watching entire families of wild elephants blissfully at play. For those interested in serious adventure, summon your courage and be intrepid enough to join a band of poachers-turned-protectors for a thrilling trudge through the forest after midnight. Although the chances of actually meeting a tiger are minimal, but the anticipation of it all keeps the adrenalin going. A splendid chance to spend night inside a watch tower is provided here.
For those of not-so adventurous types at Kerala's Periyar, you can easily settle for a daytime rendezvous with the forest folk with a morning or after-noon four-hour-trek under the guidance of a trained guide. Another remarkable experience is the lazy cruise along the meandering Periyar Lake, watching the forest glide by. Instead of boats, an indigenous bamboo rafts secured with coir ropes can also be used. An early morning cruise vastly increases your chance of sighting some other animals apart from the elephants.
Do keep in mind that the elusive tigers do not fancy a human presence at the Periyar National Park & Tiger Reserve. But Nilgiri Wood Pigeons, Black-winged Kites, Blue-winged Parakeets, Great Indian Hornbills, White-bellied Tree Pies, Laughing Thrushes, Fly Cathcers, Darters, Cormorants, Barbets & Plovers, turn out in their finery and amuse you with their acoustic skills. Sometimes, you also get to see sambar, gaur, boar, the rare lion tailed macaque or the rampant Nilgiri langurs.
If you have had enough of boat cruises and foot treks, then turn to an elephant ride. The advantage is that apart from beng fun, you will always be assured of remaining at a safe height when you encounter a tiger!
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary Travel Tips:
1. There are several options to accommodate your bags, your taste buds and the amount you wish to spend. Some good hotels are located within the core area of the forest while others are on the periphery.
2. Periyar can be reached easily by:
Air: From Kochi (200 Kms), Madurai (140 Kms).
Rail: Kottayam (114 Kms)
Road: Kumily, 4 Kms from Periyar, is well connected by both state and private buses from Kottayam, Ernakulam & Madurai in Tamil Nadu.
3. Ample opportunity for wildlife photography is available. The entry charges in the park are nominal, but you will have to pay extra for your camera.
4. Remember to carry a camera, a torch and a nice pair of binoculars.