Thekkady in Kerala State, having india's one of the largest wildlife sanctuary is a dream destination for any tourist visiting India. The 120 years old 'Surki' dam built across Peryiar, Poorna in Vedic parlance, is a major tourist attraction. This sanctuary is spread over an area of 777 Sq.Kms, surrounded by an artificial lake over an area of 25 Sq.Kms.
Thekkady, with its bountiful treasures of tropical flora and fauna is the ultimate reservoir of many an endangered species and a rich tribal culture. Thekkady is a pleasant heaven on earth for those who love nature in its wild manifestations.
Thekkady is placed at an altitude of 700m above the sea level. Located in the Idukki district of Kerala, Thekkady is a perfect retreat for anyone who loves adventure, fun, wildlife and nature. Nestled between the ever-green and semi-evergreen forests of Western Ghats, Thekkady has so many things to offer for the tourists who visit this place. In the biggest wildlife sanctuary, you can sight Asian elephants, bison, sambar deer, boars, tigers, leopards, wild squirrels, lion tailed monkeys etc.
Ferry boats are arranged by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation and you can enjoy the wildlife and the surrounding nature while having a ride through the river. The sight of herd of elephants is an unforgettable experience. It will take around two hours to complete one boat ride. At the end of the ride you will be able to sight the walls of Mullaperiyar Dam.
Thekkady offers a very peaceful and calm atmosphere. The chill climate of Thekkady will refresh your mind and body. The forest areas around Thekkady is strictly uninhabited by the Forest Department to preserve the Mother Nature. The nearest town to Thekkady is Kumily, which is 4 kilometer apart. You can plan a calm walk though this town. This town is also a place for shopping. You can shop here handicrafts, spices and cloths.
What To Do
1. Liesure cruise on the Periyar
Boat rides are offered by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) and the Kerala Forest Department for sightseeing and spotting wildlife around the river. You can opt for a small or a big boat and pay accordingly.
2. Become the jungle guard for a night
Go for a night patrol with the forest authorities accompanied and forest guards.
3. Pariyar Tiger Trail
If you love adventure, camping, and trekking, Periyar Tiger Trail Program is meant for you. Every tiger trail consists of five guides along with one armed forest guard. Maximum six tourists are allowed in every trail. The total trekking distance is anything from 20 km to 35 km. You can have the adventure of encountering various indigenous wild animals such as elephant, giant squirrel, Nilgiri Langur, and tiger (if you are lucky enough).
Packages available are:
Two Days and One Night - Costing Rs. 5,500 per person.
Three Days and Two Nights - Costing Rs. 7,500 per person.
While trekking, a tourist has to mount hills, walk through valleys, and rest in the wide open spaces. The adventure does not end here. The guides will prepare and serve you with indigenous vegetarian food. In the night, you have to live at country tents. Don't forget to get thrilled by listening to the hair-raising experiences of the guides, who were poachers some time back. Explore your adventurous self by exploring the wild with Periyar Tiger Trail.
4. Enjoy the bullock cart ride
Stop your car engine, ride up on a bullock cart and traverse through the village lanes: take a break from the mechanical bondage and experience life in its simplest form
5. Go range hiking from dawn to dusk
Have a day full of enjoyment from sunrise to sunset with the hiking and rafting programs of Periyar Tiger Reserve. The curriculum includes 10 visitors who would be guided by armed and guides.
6. Visit the town of tea factories
Periyar River nurtures the plantations of tea, farmed around Vandiperiyar town. Today the place has become a major trade center with a number of tea processing factories.
7. Learn about Kerala spice plantation
The fertile land of Kerala has an abundance of tea, coffee and spice plantation of various sizes. Thekkady is especially known for its the cardamom, pepper, vanilla etc. Also learn how to make natural rubber from latex oozing out of rubber trees.
8. Shop for spices
There are number of shops selling organic garden fresh spices in this region at reasonable rates. Take back as much as you can; also choose small packets that can be used as souvenirs
9. Be one with nature
Among the many programs arranged at the Periyar Tiger Reserve, the Nature Walk is a trail that takes one through dense deciduous forests and swampy grasslands. A local tribal guide will accompany a group of 5 persons and venture into a perfect exploration.
10. Ride the majestic elephant
Elephant rides are very common and popular in Thekkady. They are available not only in the Periyar Tiger Reserve but also in the various spice plantation compounds.
What To See
Periyar national Park
Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is a renowned tiger and elephant reserve, located in the districts of Pathanamthitta and Idukki in Kerala. This protected place is spread over an area of 357 square miles.
The core zone, spread over 140 square miles, is known as the Periyar National Park. It is also called Thekkady, an important tourist location of Kerala. This park and sanctuary is surrounded by the Cardamom Hills, enhancing beauty of the place. Temperature remains more or less comfortable across the year, making it one of the most coveted tourist spots of south India. You will find all kinds of mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and fishes here. If you want to watch elephants, tigers, leopards, foxes, Indian wild dogs, Nilgiri Tahr, barking deer, and many other animals in a single place, Periyar National Park is a must visit for you. Vist the Periyar National Park particularly between September to May for best experience.
This is an artificial lake that surrounds the entire Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. In India, it is the only sanctuary that enables tourists to watch wildlife while boating in the lake. Periyar Lake, spread across contour of the hills, was formed when Mullaperiyar Dam was built in the year 1895. This has become the permanent water source for wildlife here. While visiting this place, you would surely spot herds of elephants playing in this picturesque lake.
Kadathanadan Kalari Centre
At Kadathanadan Kalari Centre you can experience marvel of the oldest martial arts, Kadathanadan. The well designed gallery helps you to get a clear view of the action packed performances. Get thrilled by watching the performers perform this 3000 year old art form. People believe that popular martial art form, Kung-fu, originated from Kadathanadan. If you want to get marvelled by the performers' body-mind control and coordination, you can visit Kadathanadan Kalari Centre and watch the daily show from 6pm to 7pm.
Located around 20 km from Thekkady, Vandanmedu is small village and a perfect weekend gateway. It is also the largest auction centers of cardamom in the world and these cardamom plantations are worth exploring. Its relaxing rural environment, pleasant weather, and few old buildings are the key highlights of the place. While visiting this place, don't forget to watch one of the most notable old buildings - the post office (or 'anchal' office, as known locally). You can still find trenches all around the place to keep elephants away from entering the fields of plantation and adjoining areas.
Vandiperiyar is situated at a distance of about 14.7 km from Thekkady and can be reached by the National Highway 220. This is one of those places that are popular for plantations of coffee, black pepper, tea, and other spices. Located in the Idukki district of Kerala, it is one of those destinations that you should include in your itinerary. Don't forget to have a look at orchids, rose pants, and anthuria in the Government Agriculture Farm and Flower Garden. Periyar River flows through this place, enhancing its natural charm. Plantations of pepper, coffee, and tea are the main source of income for many people living at this beautiful place.
How To Reach
Thekkady by Air
The Madurai airport is the nearest airport to Thekkady and it is well connected with different parts of India. It is around 136 km from the center of Thekkady. The other international airport nearby Thekkady is Nedumbassery airport in Kochi. It is approximately 190 km away from the heart of Thekkady.There are various flights to reach Madurai.
Thekkady by railways
The nearest railway station is Kottayam at the distance of about 114 km. All the trains which get to Trivandrum will go via Kottayam as well. There are various types of trains such as local, express and super fast which connect the city with different parts of the country. You can hire taxis as well as private cabs from the station to reach Thekkady.
Thekkady by road
Thekkady also has good connectivity with various cities via road. The highway connects Thekkady with cities like Kochi (165 km), Kottayam (108 km), Kothamangalam (110 km), Munnar (90 km) and Trivandrum (206 km). You will find comfy deluxe buses as well as private cabs to reach Thekkady. The state owned buses are the heartbeat of Kerela and run to all corners of the state and you can take state buses or private taxi services to reach here.
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