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
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
will come face to face with the greatest
attraction, the herds of wild elephants that play in the
The bird life includes Dartens, Commorants,
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
|| 777 sq kms
C - 18° C (Summers)
21° C - 15° C (Winters)
||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
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
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
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
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