Located in Kerela, amidst the lush green forests of the Western Ghats, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is the most famous wildlife sanctuary in South India. It is also commonly known as the “Elephant Reserve” and the “Tiger reserve” and is spread over 777 km out of which the 360 km is covered by dense, evergreen forests.
It was declared a Tiger Reserve in the year 1972. Four species of primates are found at Periyar – the rare lion-tailed macaque, the Nilgiri Langur, Gee’s Golden Langur, Common Langur And Bonnet Macaque.
Periyar wildlife sanctuary also has a 100 year old artificial lake which offers a one of a kind experience of observing and photographing wildlife from a very short distance. It is home to a 1000 elephants and 46 tigers as well as sambars, boars, deer, bison, lion-tailed macaques and so on.
As if all this wasn’t enough, this unique sanctuary has 49 species of mammals, 246 species of birds, 28 species of reptiles, 8 species of amphibians, 22 species of fish and 112 species of butterflies. The Nilgiri Tahr, which is rarely to be seen also inhabits this park.
In addition to all the fauna, the Periyar wildlife sanctuary is also known for its flora. Some of the deeper valley contains trees that have grown to a height of up to 130-140 feet and seem as though they’ve been there since the beginning of time. They form an extremely thick cover which even bright sunlight sometimes finds hard to penetrate.
The edges of the lake and other water bodies contain marshy grasslands. Throughout the park one will also find areas of semi-evergreen forest which are used by many of the animal species as cover.
You can also enjoy a trek to the ruins of the Mangala Devi Temple, a picturesque old stone temple situation in the heart of the Thekkady forest. However, most people come to Periyar to watch the elephants that come down to play at the lake.
From the lovely scenery on the road up to the lake cruise and a walk through the jungle makes one long to come back for more.
Ideal time to visit the park: From the months of October till June.
How to Reach Priyar wildlife sanctuary:
Air : Kochi (Cochin) at 200 km or Madurai in Tamil Nadu at 140 km are the nearest airports from Periyar.
Rail : Kottayam at 114 km is the nearest railhead from Periyar.
Road : Kumily, the nearest town from Periyar is well served by both state and private buses from Kottayam, Ernakulam and Madurai in Tamil Nadu.