Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area located in the Western Ghats of Kerala, India. It covers an area of 925 square kilometers and is situated around the Periyar Lake, which was formed by the construction of the Mullaperiyar Dam across the Periyar River. The sanctuary is known for its diverse flora and fauna and is a popular destination for wildlife enthusiasts, nature lovers, and trekkers.
The sanctuary is home to a variety of animals, including tigers, elephants, sambar deer, barking deer, gaur, wild boar, and langur. It is also home to a wide range of bird species, including the Malabar grey hornbill, Indian pied hornbill, white-bellied treepie, and Nilgiri wood pigeon.
One of the most popular activities in the sanctuary is taking a boat ride on the Periyar Lake, which offers a chance to spot some of the wildlife and enjoy the scenic beauty of the surrounding hills. Visitors can also go on guided nature walks and treks, which are a great way to explore the sanctuary and learn more about its flora and fauna.
The best time to visit the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is between October and June, when the weather is pleasant and the wildlife sightings are more frequent. However, the monsoon season (June-September) is also a good time to visit as the sanctuary is lush and green during this time.
What is it famous for?
The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is famous for Indian elephants, frolicking by the Periyar lake.
How will you gain access?
Cochin (200 km) in Kerala and Madurai (140 km) are the closest airports. The airports operate both domestic and international flights connecting to all the major destinations of India and the world. Kottayam (114 km) is the closest railhead from Periyar. Kumily, the nearest town from Periyar, is well connected by state and private bus services to Kottayam, Ernakulam, and Madurai in Tamil Nadu.
What constitutes the flora, fauna, and avifauna?
Thick evergreen forests cover 360 sq km of the park. The high mountain ranges of the Western Ghats are covered with evergreen moist deciduous forests and savanna grasslands. The vegetation of tall grasslands can be found in the marshy areas along Periyar lake.
Besides the Indian elephants, other animal inmates of the sanctuary include wild pigs, Sambar, barking deer, mouse deer, Indian wild dog, Dole. The chances of spotting a tiger are very low. Lion-tailed macaque, Nilgiri langur, common Langur, Bonnet macaque, and NilgiriTahr are the other residents of the park.
The avian world of the park comprises cormorants, kingfishers, darters, the great Malabar hornbill, etc. The reptilian population mainly consists of monitor lizards, that can be seen along the lakeshore.
What are the Nearby Attractions?
Lying at a distance of 4 km from Periyar, Kumily is a fabulous attraction for tourists and travelers. Spice trade is the major occupation of the town. There a number of hotels and resorts here, catering to the needs of one and all.
The Cardamom Hills, Kerala’s beautiful possession, can be easily accessed from Periyar and Kumily. Jeeps and taxis can be hired to reach the hills.
Periyar Lake proves to be an excellent boating spot. It is one of the best options to watch the excellent wildlife of the Periyar sanctuary. One can also rent one’s own boat, as per the needs be.
Thekkady is a popular hill station located about 4 km from the sanctuary. It is known for its lush green forests, tea plantations, and scenic beauty. Visitors can take a walk around the town, visit the local market, or explore the nearby spice plantations.
Mangala Devi Temple:
The Mangala Devi Temple is a popular pilgrimage site located inside the sanctuary. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Mangala, and it is believed that a visit to the temple brings good luck and prosperity. The temple is open only during the Chitra Pournami festival, which falls in the month of April-May.
The Mullaperiyar Dam is a major tourist attraction located about 10 km from the sanctuary. It is a masonry gravity dam built on the Periyar River and is a major source of irrigation and power generation for the region. Visitors can take a tour of the dam and learn about its history and construction.
Vagamon is a scenic hill station located about 50 km from the sanctuary. It is known for its rolling hills, meadows, and waterfalls. Visitors can take a trek to the nearby hills or enjoy a picnic by the waterfall.
These attractions offer a variety of experiences, from exploring the cultural heritage of the region to experiencing its scenic beauty. Visitors can easily plan a day trip to any of these nearby attractions from the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary offers several options for safaris and wildlife experiences. Here are some of the popular safari details:
- Boat Safari: The most popular safari in the sanctuary is the boat safari on the Periyar Lake. The boats are available for hire at the ticket counter near the entrance gate of the sanctuary. The boat ride usually lasts for about 90 minutes, during which visitors can spot a variety of wildlife, including elephants, deer, and birds.
- Jeep Safari: Jeep safaris are also available for visitors who want to explore the deeper parts of the sanctuary. These safaris are conducted by trained guides and drivers, who take visitors on a thrilling ride through the forest to spot animals such as tigers, leopards, and wild boars. Jeep safaris are available in the early morning and late afternoon.
- Nature Walk: Visitors can also opt for a guided nature walk through the sanctuary. These walks are led by trained guides who provide insights into the flora and fauna of the region. Nature walks are a great way to observe the smaller animals and bird species that are often missed during the boat and jeep safaris.
- Bamboo Rafting: Another unique safari experience is the bamboo rafting. Visitors can take a ride on a bamboo raft along the Periyar Lake, which offers a different perspective on the sanctuary’s beauty. The rafting lasts for about 3-4 hours, during which visitors can spot animals such as elephants, deer, and birds.
It’s important to note that visitors must obtain permits and pay the required fees for any of the safaris. Also, the sanctuary has strict rules and regulations for visitors, such as not feeding or disturbing the animals, not carrying any plastics inside the sanctuary, and following the instructions of the guides and park authorities.
Things to do
There are several things to do in and around the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary that cater to different interests and preferences. Here are some of the popular things to do:
- Wildlife Safari: The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is known for its diverse flora and fauna, and visitors can take a boat, jeep, or bamboo rafting safari to observe and photograph wildlife in their natural habitat.
- Nature Walks: Guided nature walks through the sanctuary provide an opportunity to explore the diverse flora and fauna of the region. Visitors can also take part in night treks to spot nocturnal animals.
- Spice Plantations Tour: Kumily, a town located near the sanctuary, is known for its spice plantations. Visitors can take a tour of the plantations, learn about the history and cultivation of spices, and even buy some authentic spices to take back home.
- Ayurvedic Massage: Kerala is known for its Ayurvedic treatments and massages, and visitors can indulge in a rejuvenating Ayurvedic massage to relax and unwind.
- Cultural Programs: The sanctuary hosts several cultural programs, including Kathakali and Kalaripayattu performances. Visitors can experience the unique art and cultural heritage of Kerala through these performances.
- Trekking: The Western Ghats offer several trekking trails that are ideal for adventure enthusiasts. Visitors can take a trek to the nearby hills or explore the surrounding forests on foot.
- Boating: Visitors can take a boat ride on the Periyar Lake, which offers a chance to spot some of the wildlife and enjoy the scenic beauty of the surrounding hills.
- Visit Nearby Attractions: Visitors can also explore nearby attractions such as Thekkady, Mangala Devi Temple, and Mullaperiyar Dam, which offer unique experiences and insights into the culture and heritage of the region.
These are just a few of the things to do in and around the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Visitors can tailor their itinerary based on their interests and preferences to make the most of their visit to this beautiful region.