PERIYAR NATIONAL PARK
Periyar National Park and Wildlife sanctuary which is also known as Periyar Tiger Reserve has situated within the confines Western Ghats (Thekkady) in Kerala. They are one of the most captivating wildlife parks in the world.
The elephants are one of the major attractions as there are approximately 800 of the present.
HISTORY AND INSIGHTS
The British planned and undertook water resource management plans in 1895 for the area. They began work on a dam and an artificial lake under the auspices of Col. J. Pennycuick. The long-lasting source of water which initially led to submersion of large tracts of forestland slowly attracted wild animals. The vivid lake in the heart of the sanctuary was originally 26 sq km but now spans an area of 55 sq km. This geographical beauty eventually led to the adjoining forests being granted protection by the Maharaja of Travancore. Post – 1975 Periyar found itself a status of being a national park as well as a protected tiger reserve.
EN-ROUTES TO PERIYAR
The closest airports are at Madurai in Tamil Nadu (130 kilometers or 80 miles away). The nearest railway station is at Kottayam, 114 kilometers (70 miles) away. One can experience a beautiful scenic view of Periyar which includes tea estates and spice gardens.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The most suitable time to visit the park is during the cooler and drier months from October to February. But if anyone wishes to have sights of wild Elephants hotter months are to be considered, specifically March and April, when they spend most of the time in the water. If someone wishes to visit Periyar during monsoons for a trek, leech proof socks should be taken into count which are available at the park.
Entry tickets cost 500/- for adult foreigners and 180/- for children. The price for Indians is 45/- for adults and 15/- for children. Parking and camera fees are not included in these tickets.
Mangala Devi Temple: This is an ancient temple located inside the national park. People are allowed to enter this temple only once a year during a Hindu festival.
Periyar Lake: This is a large lake, which is known for river rafting. It is one of the major attractions of the park as it is enjoyed by all age groups. The bamboo rafting starts at 8 am. The tour stretches for three hours and tourists have to hitchhike at certain areas to spot animals. It is pretty safe as there are numerous guides and guards who accompany tourists during rafting. Boat cruise and boat rides are common in this lake. Birdwatching is common in this area.
Cardamom Hills: This is one of the most exotic spots in the park. As the name indicates, it is a hill filled with cardamom plantation. Tourists can enjoy the view of the hills via jeep with guides providing all the details necessary.
Pullumedu: It is an important and well-known spot for pilgrims. This grassland overlooks the auspicious Lord Iyyappan temple of Sabari Mala. It is said that during January, many people visit Pullumedu to spot a glittering light in the sky, which is considered as the deity in spiritual form.
The Kerala Tourism Development (KTDC) runs three popular hotels within the boundaries of the park. These are the Lake Palace which costs from 13,000 rupees per night for a double including all meals and boat trip. Aranya Nivas starting from 3,450 rupees per night for a double and the cheaper Periyar House, which starts from about 1,900 rupees per night for a double.
All other hotels and resorts are located within a short distance outside the park, mainly in and around Kumily. There are plenty of options available ranging for all budgets.
Guided nature walks (popularly known as the Green Walk) go for about three hours and depart at 7:00 am, 7:30 am, 11 am, 11:30 am, 2 pm and 2:30 pm. All-day border hikes and bamboo rafting trips leave at 8 am. Three-hour night time jungle patrols leave at 7 pm, 10 pm and 1 am.
Those who are into trekking and camping can join the program operated Periyar Tiger Trail in conjunction with rehabilitated poachers and tree cutters. The cost is 7,500/- for one night and 10,000/- for 2 nights.