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Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
 
Periyar - The Destination

Placed in the Cardamom hill region of the Western Ghats, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary (also called Thekaddy) is the most beautiful wildlife sanctuary in India. It is one of the few national parks where you will use boats to explore the land. These boats can either be hired by you or you may take a tour on the passenger ferries that move on the lake.

It is undoubtedly a thrilling experience for all tourists as you watch the great variety of animals, including elephant, sambar, wild Pig, mongoose and the Malabar Flying Squirrel, and almost 300 species of birds. If you are a wildlife lover, this is the ideal place to watch animals in their natural habitat.

The forest slopes into the man made lake at the bottom of the hill. This lake is the waterhole for the animals and you will find them here, either drinking or taking a dip. In fact this lake is the place where you
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
will come face to face with the greatest attraction, the herds of wild elephants that play in the lake.

The bird life includes Dartens, Commorants, Kingfishers, the great Malabar Hornbill and racket-tailed Drongoes. In fact, visitors who trek to Periyar National Park often see a python and sometimes even a King Cobra.

Set in the midst of mountains, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary’s environment is like a canvas of many shades. The fresh air of the moist deciduous forest will give you ample chance to experience peace and serenity.

Periyar - Facts at a Glance


Area : 777 sq kms
State : Kerala
Temperature : 29° C - 18° C (Summers)
21° C - 15° C (Winters)
Rainfall : 2500 mm
Best Season : October - June


History of Periyar


Col J Pennycuick designed the dam on this river in 1895, when submerging virgin forests was considered a small price to pay in order that fields in Tamil Nadu could be watered. The resulting lake was subsequently leased to the then Government of Madras for 999 years. So, ironically, while it is Kerala that lost its forests, the lien on the waters remains that of Tamil Nadu all the way through to 2885!

In 1899, the Maharaja of Travancore taking stock of the damage done to Periyar, decided that protection was necessary. He declared the Nellikkampatty area protected, and it was finally declared a sanctuary in 1934, at his insistence. It was renamed as Periyar and enlarged to its present size in 1950. Periyar was declared Kerala's first and only Tiger Reserve in 1978.

Several tribal communities lived and hunted in and around the sanctuary for centuries. But the reservoir changed the identity of both the forest and its human occupants. The Manans, a tribe, were relocated to Kumily in the 1950s, but it was badly handled and they were left deprived and destitute, with none of the land they had been promised. The Malampandaram tribals still reside in the valley near the Ranni division forests, and the Uralis and the Malaiarayans, parts of the Vallakadava range. Some of them still cultivate land and collect forest produce surreptitiously, ever since orders were passed outlawing such activity. They now survive on fish, honey and the sale of wild cardamom to exploitative traders.

Attractions in Periyar

Periyar

Elephants form the main attraction in Periyar. In fact, there is an estimated 800 elephants in the region and they live in family groups, led by the female. Sightings of herds with their young ones, feeding and washing themselves with water are a very normal and common sight. Periyar is probably one of the few places where you will observe the elephants in their natural surroundings, uninterrupted and approach within 20 meters of them.

While elephants  remain the center of attraction , there are numerous

other animals who will attract your attention. These include gaur, wild pigs, sambar, barking deer, mouse deer, dhole (Indian Wilddog), lion-tailed macaque, the Nilgiri langur, and if you are very lucky, a tiger. Today, the tiger population is estimated around 40.

You will also witness a vast range of the reptilian population basking in the sun on the rocks along the lakeshore, especially during the winter. Among the most commonly visible are Pythons, King Cobras, flying lizards, flying squirrels, flying snakes, and if that is not enough for you, then watch out for the flying frogs which inhabit this incredible sanctuary.

All around Periyar, you will find intriguing tribes, primarily the Manan and Oorali tribes. The Manans are first rate fishermen and some of them still indulge in the hazardous custom of collecting honey of large and lethal hill bees. The Oorali tribes, on the other hand, are involved in building tree dwellings, not as houses, but watch-towers to keep wild pigs and elephants from ruining their crops.                           
        
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