One of the very beautiful forest reserves in God’s own country of the Indian State of Kerala in the Periyar National Park that was declared as a National Park in 1982 and the National Park is home to various rare and endemic species of flora and fauna. Two important rivers of Kerala namely the Periyar and Parba are an important water source to the Periyar National Park and the National park is located in the districts of Idukki and Pathanamthitta in the state of Kerala in Southern India. Periyar National Park is also a Tiger Reserve and an Elephant Reserve as well and the protected area is having an area of 925 sq. km. and 305 sq. km. is the core area of the Periyar National Park. The forest record of this being declared as a private reserve was by the Maharaja of Travancore who wanted to stop the encroachment because of the tea plantations and it was followed as the Nellikkampatty Reserve and later into the Periyar National Park in the year 1982. Kerala being one of the most renowned tourist destinations in India, the Periyar National Park is one of the most renowned wildlife destinations in Southern India and the place is considered to be a perfect example of nature’s bounties with great scenic beauty and rich biodiversity at the same time.
The Periyar National Park is having a pristine and picturesque lake at the centre of the park and this is around 100 years old and this is none other than the Thekkady Lake. This lake if an artificial lake and is known as the perfect habitat of the wild elephants and is surrounded by the thick forest cover of the Western Ghats. The Periyar National Park is located in the midst of the Cardamom Hills and the highest peak inside the Periyar National Park is the Kottamala that is located at an elevation of 2019m. The Periyar National Park in Kerala has a topography that is mostly comprised to steep and rolling hills and these areas are also thickly wooded as well. The National Park also surrounds the Periyar Lake that is a water reservoir having an area of 26 sq. km. and it was formed when the Mullaperiyar dam was built in 1895. The water reservoir and the Periyar River meanders across the area of the Periyar National Park thereby providing a permanent water source to the wildlife of the park even during the dry season as well.
Kerala is one of the most popular tourist states in India and it is located at the southernmost tip of the country and it is surrounded by the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean that makes it an ideal destination for the beaches and the backwaters. The backwaters of Kerala are a very pristine water reserve and the luxury house boats that ply on these backwaters are a very attractive tourist place and visitors hire the services of these house boats to explore the backwaters and savour some of the finest sea cuisine of the place. These houseboats come with an in house kitchen and staff and guests get to savour the meals overlooking the crystal clear backwaters of Kerala and they enjoy their holiday in God’s own country. And after a tour of the backwaters on the houseboats of Kerala you must ensure to visit the Periyar National Park is you want the chance of a lifetime to spot the Bengal Tigers or the mighty Asiatic Elephants in the wild. To explore the reserves of the Periyar National Park, visitors have three safari options available and these are the 30miunte boat cruises, 30 minute elephant safari rides and also the full day and night jeep safari options that are conducted by the forest department and visitors can choose to explore the reserves of the Periyar National Park here.
In order to be able to explore the stunning wildlife abode of the Periyar National Park that is known to have some of the most diverse wildlife species in the country you need to have access to the place and Periyar National Park can be accessed easily by air, rail and roadway. In case you choose to fly there the best option is to reach is the Cochin International Airport that is located at the distance of 200km from Periyar National Park and you can hire the services of a taxi or also catch local transport to visit Periyar National Park. The nearest rail head is that of the Kottayam railway station and this railhead is located at a distance of 114km and from the rail head you can access the Periyar National Park via taxi and public transport. The nearest town that is connected by roadways is that of Kumily and this town is well connected to all major towns and cities of Kerala and so you can easily find transportation from this place to Periyar National Park. The best time to visit Periyar National Park is during the months of October to June and one of the best option to explore the wildlife of Periyar National Park is the boat safari and you might get lucky to spot the herd of wild elephants, wild boars or Sambars along the edge of the waters and the best place of viewing is the upper deck of the boat here at the park.
The climate of Periyar National Park is what favours the growth of the diverse flora and fauna across the area and the temperature varies with the altitude of the region within the park and it generally ranges between 15 degrees to 31 degrees during the season from December to May. The annual precipitation received at the Periyar National Park is in between 2000-3000 mm and during the monsoon season the climate of the park remains hot. When it comes to the area of the Periyar National Park in the north the boundary of the park extends from Medaganam to Vellimalai while in the east, the boundary of the National Park extends from across Vellimalai to Kallimalai Peak whereas in the south, the boundary extends from Udumalai to Chokkampettymalai peak. What makes the Periyar National Park a very attractive tourist destination is the abundance of rare flora and fauna species to be found inside the forest reserves of the park.
When it comes to the vast floral wealth of Periyar National Park, it is mostly comprised of moist deciduous and tropical evergreen forests including grasslands and riverine ecosystems. Inside the forest reserves of Periyar National Park there are several species of flowering plants and also around 140 spe3cies of orchids and around 170 species of grass as well. The herbivores of Periyar National Park do not have the problem of food as the grass are found along the edges of the water bodies that also includes elephant grass as well. The various trees that are found in abundance inside the forests of Periyar National Park are teak, rosewood, sandalwood, jamun, mango, kino tree, bamboo, etc. Also around the area of the Periyar National Park, the place is surrounded by various agricultural regions that include the plantations of tea, coffee and cardamom as well. When it comes to the fauna species at the Periyar National Park, there are around 35 species of mammals recorded here and this includes many threatened species as well.
Periyar National Park as mentioned earlier is a very important Tiger and Elephant Reserve in Southern India and in the count of 2017, around 40 Royal Bengal Tigers were reported in the 925 sq. km. area of the Periyar National Park and also few of the white tigers as well. The various other mammals that call the forests of the Periyar National Park its home are the Gaurs, Sambar, Indian Giant Squirrel, Travancore Flying Squirrel, Dhole, Nilgiri Langur, Sloth Bear, Jungle Cat, Striped necked mongoose, etc. Reptile species recorded at Periyar National Park amount to around 45 species including 30 snake species, 13 lizards and 2 turtles. Popular snake species found in Periyar National Park are King Cobra, Malabari Pit Viper, Striped Coral snake, etc. Amphibians recorded are frogs, toads, etc. There are around 266 species of birds to be found inside Periyar National Park as well that makes the forests an ideal birdwatching destination as well. Endemic birds are Malabar Grey Hornbill, Nilgiri wood pigeon, Nilgiri flycatcher, white bellied flycatcher. Other birds recorded at Periyar National Park are great Indian Hornbill, Oriental darter, black necked stork, black baze, little spider hunter, etc.
Apart from the regular safari options that visits to Periyar National Park can undertake is the new way of exploring the bounties of the flora and fauna of Periyar National Park by means of ecotourism related activities that are now being conducted by the authorities of Periyar National Park. The planet earth harbours a population of around 7 Billion inhabitants and many damages to the environment are occurring every day to the vast flora diversity of earth and this is being noticed in the form of pandemic that is causing great havoc to the human race and in such time the mankind needs to realize the importance of trees and how staying close with nature is the best remedy to survive. But is we see the global picture then a harsh reality is that even the uninhabited corners of the planet are now being turned into urban centres that is where the oxygen providers viz. the trees are being chopped down to make way for high rise buildings. To allow the people in the cities to connect to the roots of mankind, the authorities at Periyar National Park have now introduced the concept of ecotourism where it provides an opportunity to visitors to mix the cultural experience from across the World here at Periyar National Park.
The concept of ecotourism is gaining immense popularity not only at Periyar National Park in Kerala but across the various other destinations across the World and this has helped people to appreciate the various bounties that Mother Nature has bestowed upon mankind. Ecotourism is a responsible way of exploring the place that is known as a tourist attraction and learning about the various facets of the ecology of the place without disturbing the natural habitat of the place and also appreciating the local culture and traditions of the people here as well. It can be said that Periyar National Park and its surroundings are Kerala’s first examples of ecotourism projects. The various activities that is present to be engaged here at Periyar National Park is a way of providing the guests a similar experience in a completely rare and unspoilt surrounding. Periyar National Park is a perfect place to witness how the locals hand in hand with the authorities have strived to provide a safer haven for the varied flora and fauna of the place and the entire community has strived to maintain the natural resources of the park so that the future generations to come can appreciate the nature and its vast bounties here at Periyar National Park.
Some of the activities that are covered under the ecotourism project initiative of Periyar National Park at first – Bamboo rafting. The bamboo rafting is a memorable day long rafting cum trekking experience across the pristine waters around the forests of the Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve. There are two slots available for visitors to go on a bamboo rafting ride at Periyar National Park wherein one is a full day slot and the other is a half day slot. In this trekking cum rafting experience at Periyar National Park, visitors can have the opportunity to sigh the wildlife of Periyar National Park from close quarters and a max. of 5 persons can be accommodated in one single raft and a total of three bamboo rafts are available and all the three of these ply simultaneously providing a wonderful wildlife experience here at Periyar National Park. Visitors are provided with life vests and they are under the care of experienced rafts men who ensure all desired safety when in the water. Another very unique concept developed to promote the local heritage of the place is the tribal dance and culture experience that is organized at the Vasasree Auditorium at Anavachal in the evening time from 6PM to 7PM. Periyar National Park has become a model around the country where the tribal communities live in harmony and coexistence with the forests and the wildlife of the place.
To sum there are six indigenous tribal communities who inhabit the forest reserves around Periyar National Park and they are the Mannans, Palians, Uralis, Ulladans, Malayarayans and Mala Pandarams. The local people have inhabited the areas around Periyar National Park since quite long and they have been successfully rehabilitated outside the core area of the Periyar National Park and they now live in harmony with the nature around them. This tribal dance performance offers visitors a unique experience to witness the rich cultural heritage of the Paliyans and the Mannan tribe dances and also provides a brief introduction to the tribal communities and the vast information of the traditional musical instruments and attires that are adorned by the dancers in the performance and also you get to have a photo session with the tribal dance groups and this provides a perfect opportunity to witness the community based tourism activity here at Periyar National Park as well.
Another very favorite activity under the ecotourism initiative of Periyar National Park is the nature walk and with more and more people inclined towards fitness and exploring the vast natural reserves of the protected National Parks of a place on foot, the nature walk across Periyar National Park provides visitors with a very unique opportunity to explore the birdlife and the butterflies of Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve. This Nature walk takes visitors on a trail that traverses across the mosaic of the pristine natural habitat of the park. Visitors to Periyar National Park who embark on this pristine nature walk get the opportunity to explore the vast splendors of nature and Mother Earth where they explore the grand landscapes that comprise mostly of deciduous and evergreen trees and the trek trails trek visitors across a distance of 4-5 km and the trail lasts for almost 2 ½ hours. Another popular activity that visitors to Periyar National Park can engage in a regular guided night trekking program that is located at the periphery of the ecotourism zone of the Tiger Reserve. This night trek starts at around 7PM in the evening and extends up to 4AM in the morning and it allows visitors to explore the calm of the night when the animals are mostly active and they can explore the grandeur of the woods at night.
Another popular activity falling under the ecotourism perspective of Periyar National Park is the border hiking that is a daylong hiking program that can be undertaken here at Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve. This day long hike is also an adventure hike as well that takes you to heights up to 900 – 1300m and you can witness the glimpse of the lofty slopes bounding the region and visitors can sight the Gaurs, Sloth Bears or even the mighty elephants of the Periyar National Park during this trail. This is a very nice way to take an entire day to explore the vast natural bounties of Periyar National Park. The ecotourism program at Periyar National Park also allows visitors to camp inside the place and this can be taken as a package on either 2D/1N or 3D/2N basis and this jungle trail package allows visitors to trek and camp along the trek trail of the place and you can stay in tents to enjoy the solitude and nature all around. This tiger tail of Periyar National Park is a guided one and spreads across a distance of 20 to 35km and visitors are often rewarded with the sighting of tigers inside the forest reserves. Visitors are treated with nice vegetarian meals during the trek course and it is conducted twice a week with a max of 6 persons in a group.
Another package that is offered to guests at Periyar National Park is that of the stay at the bamboo grove that is that provides eco lodge accommodation to visitors inside bamboo thickets. There are 15 bamboo huts that are double occupancy and it provides hygienic and modern furnishings as well. In this package there is also an orientation program, a visit to tribal colony, birdwatching, trekking as well as complimentary boat ride on the Periyar lake. Apart from this the watch tower at the Periyar National Park offers brilliant views of the entire area of the place and stay at the jungle inn offers visitors to admire the vast floral diversity of the place as well. The forest cottage that is present at Kokkara is about an hour’s trek from the forest department and it is a great way for visitors to enjoy the glory of the vast and dense forests of Periyar National Park as well.
Apart from the ecotourism initiatives that are now been initiated to explore more of the forest reserves of Periyar National Park for the guests there are the regular safari options that are operated everyday where visitors go to visit Periyar National Park and the most popular remains to be that of the jeep safari ride that takes you around the forest reserves of Periyar National Park and this is again an adventurous activity you can indulge in your visit to Periyar National Park. This jeep ride takes you all around the reserves of Periyar National Park and you can get the option to view the various animals of the park on the open body jeep. The jeep safari ride is ideally suited for family and group as 6 persons can be accommodated is one jeep and you can get to explore the various flora and fauna of Periyar National Park on this ride. Another option of exploring the vast area of the place is the Periyar lake cruise and the boat cruise on the lake helps you to explore the varied flora and fauna that are along the fringes of the Periyar National Park and the Periyar Lake bring a water hole for the various animals of the place and so there are high chances that the animals will come to the lake to drink water and the predators will follow behind them.
The Periyar lake cruise near Periyar National Park is the perfect opportunity for you to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the place and at the same time enjoy the greenery all across and also get to sight various aquatic species in the waters here. The thrilling ride of the elephant safari is another mode of exploring the Periyar National Park and this is a very thrilling mode of exploring the place and you can get to enjoying the fascinating natural habitat of Periyar National Park and the main plus point cum advantage of the elephant back ride is that you get an aerial view of the forest reserve here and also you can get to sight the animals species from up close as well. Another activity that you must not miss out on your visit to Periyar National Park is the opportunity to go for spice plantations tour and it will surely be in the back of your mind to take this up because when you explore the area across Periyar National Park you will get to smell a very pleasant aroma that is nothing else but of the spice plantations that are all around the forests of Periyar National Park. Kerala is known as the big exporter of various species and these include the varieties of pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, etc. When you take you this spice plantation tour here one great thing is that you can also make a purchase of these World renowned spices of Kerala.
Another place not to miss out on your visit here is the Connemara tea factory that provides visitors a unique hour long guided tour across this 40 year old tea factory and the visitors get to see how the tea leaves are processed and later travel into the very fine tea of Kerala that is evaporated all across the world. Kerala is known for its tea plantations after Assam that is also for the famed UNESCO World heritage site of Kaziranga National Park (land of the One Horned Rhinoceros) and this visit to this factory is a perfect way to explore the tea plantations of Kerala and Periyar National Park as well as the factory is located up a hill and you will be taken on a bus ride to the factory and you will admire the lush tea gardens all across the place. Another site to visit that is also a sacred site is the Mangla Devi temple that is a very renowned temple of the state of Kerala and it is located across the periphery of the Periyar National Park and devotees from all across the place come to visit this holy temple shrine. The Mangla Devi temple has a very remarkable architecture and is also has a very unique history attached to the place as well and visitors from other countries also visit this temple shrine for its history.
The Abraham spice garden located near the periphery of Periyar National Park is another top attraction to be visited on your visit here and the vast garden area of the place has various plantations of pepper, cinnamon, cardamom and various other spices and the aroma across the place is simple a treat to the nostrils of any visitor. At the Abraham spice garden as well visitors can make a purchase of various spices that you will see on your tour here and to mentioned these are some of the best quality spices not just in the country but across the world as well and ensure that you carry these spices fresh from the source itself. Another place to explore near Periyar National Park is that of Pullumedu and this is close to the park and waters can take a jeep ride to go to this place and the lush greenery of the place is sure to leave you enthralled. The town is surrounded by hills on all its sides and the view is absolutely breathtaking and elegant.
When it comes to staying around Periyar National Park during your visit here there are many options to choose from that range from budget accommodations to high end luxury hotels and resorts that provide you a complete holiday experience during your visit to Periyar National Park and nearby places of attraction as well. One of the deluxe accommodation options around Periyar National Park is that of the Paradise plantation retreat that is located at the Thekkady area and this is a very nice retreat to spend your holiday here at Periyar and the hotel appears like a home away from home and the place offers deluxe and comfortable accommodation that also includes internet access, complimentary breakfast, swimming pool, deluxe restaurant service, free parking and host of other amenities as well. The place also offers some grand views of the nature across the place and it is a very rewarding experience to make a stay at the Paradise plantations retreat on your visit to Periyar National Park. Another very cozy and nature filled place to halt on your visit to Periyar National Park is the Shalimar spice garden that is an immensely beautiful place that is located amidst a natural surrounding area. The Shalimar spice garden is a 4 start hotel and the entire area of the place is located in a green area.
The rooms at the Shalimar Spice garden at Periyar National Park are luxurious and huge and the place offers various luxurious amenities that include Wi-Fi, free breakfast, free parking, conference halls, 24 hour power backup , swimming pool, etc. The refreshing jungle safari ride at Periyar National Park will be the gift you have to explore around the place will offer you ample time and facilities to relax and unwind after your wonderful experience here at Periyar National Park. Another noteworthy place of exploration near Periyar National Park where you will dwell amidst a nature retreat is the Spice village near Periyar. This place is another of the luxury stay option here at Periyar National Park and it offers accommodation in a nature environment that allows guests to enjoy their comfortable stay amidst a nature retreat without having to compromise on modern amenities. The place offers a great panel of able staff that will leave no stone unturned to make your stay here at Periyar National Park one of the most memorable jungle stay option. Another top notch stay option that is present at Periyar National Park is the Greenwoods Resort that is a premium place to stay and the place offers all modern amenities that include a fitness centre and business centre as well.
Another stay option that redefines luxury is the Nirammaya Retreat Cardamom club that is located at the Thekkady area that is a four star luxury property that offers a very elegant pond area where visitors can relax and rejuvenate after their day of wildlife safari inside the forest reserves pf Periyar National Park. Another very luxurious stay near Periyar National Park is the Lake Palace at Thekkady that is a combination of tradition as well as the modern architecture. The lake palace as the name suggests is a place that offers guests a lavish stay with great service and hospitality that reflects the true culture of Kerala – God’s own country. At the lake palace various Ayurveda therapies are also offered to its guests. This allows them to spend their time in rejuvenation following the ancient practices of Ayurveda. It is a smaller place that can accommodate around 12 guests in 1 premier suite and 5 premier rooms that are spotlessly clean and spacious with all modern amenities. The palace offers a reasonable price for accommodation when compared to the facilities that are on offer here. The in house restaurant serves some of the finest local cuisines of Kerala that are a treat to all foodies.
Another luxury resort near the premises of the forest reserves of Periyar National Park is that of Elephant Court at Thekkady that is a premier luxury resort here at Periyar National Park and the resort is spread across a sprawling area of 4 acres. The Elephant court at Periyar National Park is nestled across a landscaped hill and the property is a 5 star rated hotel that is offering pleasant and deluxe stay experience to its guests all nestled amidst a natural landscape of dense forests and exotic spice plantations of Kerala. The Elephant Court in Thekkady near Periyar National Park offers 65 luxury rooms categorized under patio rooms, garden suites, family rooms and honeymoon suites. All the rooms have the features of air-conditioning, safe, telephone, high speed Wi-Fi, private luxury bathroom, room service, refrigerator, colour TV and the Elephant court also offers the other luxury services like Bar/Lounge, Business center with high speed internet access, fitness center, restaurant, spa, swimming pool, free parking, free breakfast, high speed Wi-Fi and host of other features that guests coming to a 5 start property would expect to have.
There is an ayurvedic massage centre as well present here that allow guests to unwind after enjoying their safari experience here at Periyar National Park. The restaurant at the Elephant Court at Thekkady serves some of the finest meals you can savour at the area and it offers various cuisines like Indian, Continental, Chinese and local cuisine of Kerala as well. The Elephant court at Periyar National Park also offers a rooftop space for partying and visitors can enjoy the view of the forest and the moonlit nights from here as well. The elephant court is located at a close proximity to the forests of Periyar National Park and the backwaters of the Mullaperiyar Dam of Kerala as well.
The Club Mahindra Tusker Trail at Thekkady is another of the grand properties where visitors to Periyar National Park can choose to halt and the place is an ideal accommodation option for wildlife lovers. This place operated under Club Mahindra Holidays is a uniquely built Machan style retreat that is a contemporary setting that combines nature’s glory as well. The Club Mahindra Tusker trail near Periyar National Park offers 49 rooms for the luxury stay of guests that display a rustic charm and the rooms have a modern décor and natural fabrics that add to the elegance of the place. The rooms at the Club Mahindra Tusker Trail near Periyar National Park are categorized into single bedroom apartment and studio rooms and each of the rooms here have the facility of attached bath, 24 hours hot/cold water, TV, tea/coffee maker, fridge, bath tub, private balcony, room service and the place in general offers the facility of travel desk, restaurant, room service, spa, swimming pool, laundry service, private barbecue, fitness centre, business centre, etc.
Another luxury accommodation option around Periyar National Park is that of the Beaumont Plantation retreat that is located close to the forest reserves of Periyar National Park and all you get to hear during your stay here is the soulful chirping of birds, nestling of leaves and the occasional roar of the tiger or the bear. The Beaumont plantation retreat offers 8 spacious rooms to its guest for an amazing stay experience and the rooms are categorized as traditional cottages, garden rooms and valley view rooms as well. Apart from your stay and jungle safari rides, the place also arranges for trekking, forest walks, rock climbing, boating on the Periyar lake, grape yard and spice plantation visit and also cultural program for guests as well.
Another of the luxury stay experience here at Periyar National Park is that of the Springdale Heritage Resort where visitors get to experience nature from up very close and enjoy the cool breeze that blows across the place. The Springdale heritage resort at Periyar National Park is an excellent choice for retreat and hospitality during your visit to the place and the place offers complete privacy to its guests. The rooms at the Springdale heritage resort are in the categories like heritage rooms, cottages and suites as well and there are around 30 chalets in total that are having a Victorian style decoration and the place has great classy amenities that allow guests to have a complete luxury stay and at the same time enjoy their privacy on their holiday as well. Apart from the jungle safari rides that visitors to the place can enjoy, the place also arranges for various outdoor activities so that your visit is a complete holiday experience. The various facilities that are offered to guests at the Springdale heritage resort at Periyar National Park are bar, lounge, business centre, fitness centre, complimentary breakfast, free Wi-Fi, restaurant , room service, spa, swimming pool, wheel chair access, etc. The in house restaurant is delightful place to visit to enjoy some of the very fine Indian, Continental and local cuisine of Kerela.
Coming to standard accommodation options around Periyar National Park, then one place that comes to mind is the Periyar Nest Resort that is a traditional Kerala style architecture and the place is again located at Thekkady. The Periyar Nest Resort is spread across a sprawling campus of 1 acres and it offers its guests a close stay with nature and the surrounding spice garden plantations where you will get the aroma of the cinnamon, pepper, vanilla, etc. The rooms at the Periyar Nest Resort are classified into standard, deluxe and honeymoon cottages and the rooms are spacious, clean and hygienic with modern amenities and fittings.
The luxury business class hotel of the Sandra Palace is another of the noteworthy places to stay around Periyar National Park and this place is located at a distance of around 4km from the Periyar National Park and the place is renowned its comfort and it is an ideal accommodation for guest coming to visit Periyar National Park. The hotel Sandra Palace at Periyar National Park offers 30 rooms to guests that are classified under deluxe, suspension and luxury rooms that are done with elegant interiors that define a sense of class. The place also offers a conference halls and business facilities and the corporate travellers to Periyar National Park can come to the Hotel Sandra Palace to have getaways and at the same time do not miss out on their work as well. There are two restaurants at the Sandra palace in Periyar National Park and guests can savour an array of dishes ranging from various cuisines like Arabic, French, Chinese and local Kerala cuisine as well. The other facilities that are present at the Hotel Sandra palace are coffee shops, room service, business centre, doctor on call, local travel desk, restaurant, etc. Guests can also take time to relax at the coffee shop here and dine on some mouth-watering snacks.