In the Periyar Forest of Thekkady is one of the finest wildlife reserves of India and spread across the entire district are picturesque plantations and hill towns that hold immense opportunities for treks and mountain walks. The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary offers a fairly good chance of seeing the great Indian tiger in its natural habitat
Places of Interest in Thekkady :
The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary : Lying close to the plantations, in the rich jungles of Periyar in Thekkady is one of the world's most fascinating natural wildlife reserves - the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Spread across 777 sq. km, of which 360 sq. km is thick evergreen forest, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1978.
Noted for its geo-morphological diversity of wildlife and scenic beauty, the Reserve attracts visitors from all over the world. The splendid artificial lake formed by the Mullaperiyar Dam across the Periyar river adds to the charm of the park.
This is the only sanctuary in India where you can have the unique experience of viewing wildlife at close quarters from the safety of a boat on the lake. The greatest attraction of Periyar remains the large herds of wild elephants that come down to the lake's edge.
Sanctuary Watch Towers : There are three watch towers for observing wild life - at Edappalayam and Manakkavala and Thannikudi. Reservations can be made at the Forest Information Counter, Thekkady.
Kumily : (4 km from Thekkady) This plantation town, closely associated with Thekkady, is situated on the outskirts of the Periyar Sanctuary. It is an important shopping centre and spice trade centre, the main bus station and most of the medium range accommodation in the Periyar region is in Kumily.
Murikkady : (5 km from Thekkady) Washed in fresh spice scented air, Murikkady is a panorama of cardamom, coffee and pepper plantations.
Pandikuzhi : (5 km from Kumily) This picturesque place is cradled between Chellarkovil and the Tamil Nadu State border is a popular picnic spot. Pandikuzhi offers great opportunities for trekking and is a photographer's delight.
Pullumedu : (43 km from Thekkady, 26 km from Periyar) The winding journey to this hill town, along the Periyar river, offers a stunning view of the rolling hills draped in lush greenery. Velvet lawns, rare flora and fauna add to the beauty of Pullumedu, which can be accessed from a jeep.
The famous Sree Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala and the Makara Joythi illuminations at the shrine are visible from here. Since it is part of the restricted forest zone, special permission to visit Pullumedu has to be obtained from the Wildlife Preservation Officer, Thekkady or The Range Officer, Vallakkadavu.
Mangala Devi Temple (15 km from Thekkady) : This ancient temple is hidden in the dense woods at the top of a peak 1337 m above sea level. The temple is built in the traditional Kerala Style of Architecture. Visitors are allowed here only on the Chithra Pournami festival day.
The peak commands a panoramic view of the other side of the ghats and the vast plains of Tamil Nadu. Permission to visit the area can be obtained from the Wildlife Warden at Thekkady.
Vandiperiyar ( 18 km from Thekkady) : The river Periyar flowing through the centre of this town nourishes its vast tea, coffee and pepper plantations. A major trade centre, Vandiperiyar is also home to a number of tea factories.
The Government Agriculture Farm and Flower Gardens have a delightful array of rose plants, orchids and anthurium.
Chellarkovil (15 km from Kumily) : This sleepy little village with its spectacular view of the plains and cascading waterfalls during the monsoons is a feast to the eyes. The village slopes down to the famous coconut groves of Kumbam in neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
Vandanmedu (25 km from Kumily) : This is one of the world's largest auction centres for Cardamom. A walk through the sprawling cardamom plantaions of Vandanmedu is a pleasent experience.
Munnar : One of the most popular hill stations in India, Munnar is situated at the confluence of three mountain streams - Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala.
Located at 1600 m above sea level, this was once the summer resort of the erstwhile British Government in South India. Sprawling tea plantations, picture book towns, winding lanes, trekking and holiday facilities make Munnar a unique experience.
Among the exotic flora found in the forests and grasslands here is the Neelakurinji, a flower, which bathes the hills in blue colour once in every twelve years. The Neelakurinji, will bloom next in 2006 AD.
Munnar also has the highest peak in South India - Anamudi - which towers over 2695 m and is an ideal spot for campers who like to do some trekking.
Peerumedu : Peerumedu, the famous plantation town, takes its name from Peer Mohammed, a Sufi saint and close associate of the erstwhile royal family of Travancore.
Wide vistas of tea, cardamom, rubber and coffee plantations interspersed with silver cascades, sculptural rocks, meadows and mist-cloaked hilltops make Peermede an unforgettable experience.
The most delightful trekking trails complement the panoramic landscape. Monuments like the Summer Palace and Summer Residence of the royal family add to the splendour of the land.
The Summer Residence, now converted into a government guesthouse under the Department of Tourism, offers comfortable accomodation.
Air : The nearby airports are at Madurai and Kochi.
Rail : Teni, Kottayam, Madurai and Changanaserry are the convenient railheads from Thekkady.
Road : There are frequent buses from Kumily (4 km away) to various tourist centres.
Local transport : Tourist Cars, Taxi Jeeps, Mini Buses and Auto Rickshaws.