Periyar National Park is one of the most captivating wildlife destinations of India located in the Western Ghats in the state of Kerala. The park is notable for being a renowned Tiger Reserve and Elephant Reserve. Periyar National Park is sprawled over an area of 925 Square Kilometres and is often referred as the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary or Thekaddy. The park is popular worldwide for its rich biodiversity and great scenic beauty. The picturesque Periyar Lake, man-made lake is located in the centre of the sanctuary adds to aesthetic appeal of the park. Periyar National Park is one of the most popular national parks of Southern India that is crowded by both domestic and International tourists.
The history of the place dates back to the 12th century during the rule of Pandayas. A dam was created across the river Periyar that resulted in the formation of the artificial lake called the Periyar Lake. This lake located in the heart of the sanctuary enhanced the features and landscapes of the valley drastically. The Periyar Reserve was used as a hunting ground in the 18th and 19th century by the Travancore kings. In the year 1899, the area was declared to be a forest reserve known as Periyar Lake Reserve to preserve the flora and fauna of the place. In 1950, additional area was added to the existing reserve that resulted in Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. The Central Government took an initiative in 1978 to include the sanctuary under the Project Tiger and then onwards came to be known as Periyar Tiger Reserve. Later in 1992, the Periayr Reserve was also associated with the Project Elephant to protect the wild Asian elephants.
Attractions at the Park
Wildlife enthusiasts can enjoy excursions at the zones of Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary also visit the beautiful Pandalom and Cradomom Hills. The spots are filled with Kerala’s natural beauty and the scenic surrounding of the place is awe-inspiring.
Periyar Lake is a wonderful artificial lake located within the sanctuary. The park derives its name from this lake only and is a prime attraction for tourists visiting the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. There is several boat cruises organised at the Periyar Lake. These cruises not only offer picturesque view of the lush green surroundings but visitors can also spot families of animals like Sambar, Wild Boar and elephants who come to drink water at the edge of the lake. Boat cruises are organised at regular intervals throughout the day.
Trekking is a popular activity at Periyar National Park. The trekking trail at the park takes you through the flowering plants and tropical trees. While on the tour, trekkers can also spot indigenous mammals and birds like Sambar deer, Nilgiri Langurs, Malabar Giant Squirrel, Indian Goat, elephants and many more. Adventure enthusiasts from all over the world come to the park in large numbers.
Bamboo Rafting is another superb outdoor activity that is very famous among tourists visiting the Periyar National Park. The rafting offers the most picturesque view of the forest-clad hills. While on the tour tourists can also spot animals like sambar, elephants and gaur that come to the lake frequently. Bamboo rafting excursion at Periyar National Park lasts for about three hours.
Border Hiking is a day tour that starts in the morning at 8am and ends in the evening. The route takes you to undulating terrains and offers a mesmerising view of the surroundings. Trekkers can also spot few wildlife animals and some species of birds. Border Hiking tour is undertaken in a group of maximum 10 people and the trekkers are accompanied by an armed forest guard and two guides.
Information about the Safari
Periyar National Park is known for the abundance of tigers and wild Asian elephants. The Forest Department at the Reserve organises several safari tours to offer visitors a chance to sight wild animals in their natural habitat. Some of the common wildlife creatures spotted during these safari tours are Sambar, Gaur, Mouse Deer, Wild Dog, Nilgiri Langur, Wild Pigs and rare Nilgiri Tahr to name a few.
Jeep Safari is the most convenient option to explore the wilderness. The open roof vehicle can accommodate a total of six people including a trained forest guide. The jeep safari at the park is divided into a full-day safari and night safari. The duration of these safaris is dependent on the frequency of wildlife sighting. Night jeep safari offers a captivating wildlife experience that is extremely chosen by wildlife enthusiasts.
The full day Safari starts from sunrise and the last time for entry is 3pm. The Night jeep safari timings are from 11pm to 3am.
The forest department at Periyar National Park also conducts Elephant safari every day. This safari is a major attraction of the park and offers best and safe viewing of the majestic predators.Duration:
The duration of elephant safari is 30 minutes.Timings:
The timing of elephant safari starts from 6am in the morning and continues till 5pm.Entry Pass and Permits:
Entry into the park can easily be obtained from the office of the Forest Department at Angamoozhy. As you reach the place ask your driver to get the pass from the forest officer present there. Make sure to reach the pass counter before 1pm as the offices closes then. The ext gate closes at 5pm so ensure that you are out of the park in time.Dos and Don’ts Within the Park:
- Keep your pass with you as guard at the exit gate re-checks it
- Do not make any unwanted noise in the park
- Watch wild animals from a distance without disturbing them
- The area is declared plastic free so do not throw any of your plastic garbage inside the park
- Follow the safety guidelines issued by the forest department
- Waterproof clothing as the area is a rainforest zone
- Eatables and water for drinking
- Sunglasses and cap or hat
- If you are visiting the park during the monsoons wear full sleeves t-shirt, full pants and boots.
- Foreign visitors need to carry their passport and other travel papers
- Cameras with extra films and batteries
Safety Measures to be Followed
As you enter the park remember it is the animal’s territory and avoid getting any unwanted attention. When you book your safari vehicle, ensure that the car is in good working condition and also carry spare tires and other essential equipment required in the event of breakdown. Getting off from your vehicle at any point of time is indeed dangerous and should be avoided.
Best Time to Visit the Park
The best time to visit the Periyar National Park is from the months of October to May. During the summer months from March to April, the waterhole of animals dries up and they can be easily sighted at the lake. Visitors can enjoy excellent elephant sighting during this time.
Kumily is located at just 4 kms from Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and is a popular tourist’s destination of Kerala. This small town is particularly known for spice trading and offers the best accommodation facilities to the visitors.
Cradomom Hills are an excellent destination to explore from Periyar National Park. A trip on a taxi or jeep takes you to the foothills to enjoy the natural scenic beauty.
Mangla Devi Temple is situated at a distance of 15kms from the Thekkady region. It is one of the ancient temples of the region that dates back to 2000 years. The Mangla Devi Temple is a brilliant illustration of the Pandian type of architecture. Prayers in this temple are conducted only once every year between the months of April and May, on the day of full moon. This temple is crowded by pilgrims all year round.
On boat rides, the best wildlife sighting occurs during the time of sunrise or later in the afternoon.