Thekkady, is one of India's most fascinating natural wildlife sanctuaries, where you can watch wildlife at close range. The vegetation, the flora and fauna and the birds of Thekkady are uniquely rich, vast and varied that it does not bear semblance to any other wildlife sanctuaries in the world. Even a casual visitor to this place will not fail to observe the special ecological pattern of Thekkady.
Thekkady - The very sound of the name conjures up images of elephants, unending chains of hill and spice scented plantations. In the crisp, cool air of the Western Ghats you will experience the most enchanting holiday. With the animals of the wild and the simple mountain people. In the Periyar forest of Thekkady is one of the finest wildlife reserves in India, and spread across the entire district are picturesque plantations and hill towns that hold great opportunities for treks and mountain walks. Thekkady is on the border with state of Tamil Nadu , in fact just 5 km from the border town of Kumily which is very well connected by bus to both Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Notable among the denizens of Periyar are the tigers, the majestic Asiatic wild elephants and the distinctive Nilgiri langur. Other animals include the wild boar, wild dog, bison, bear and leopards. Amongst the avifauna, the most profuse are herons, egrets, darters, kingfishers and the great Malabar grey hornbill. A cruise through the waters of Periyar lake around which the wildlife sanctuary is situated, offers a soul - stirring pleasant experience.
Places to visit
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 geomorphology, diversity of wildlife and scenic beauty, the Reserve attracts visitors from all over the world. It is the best Sanctuary for watching and photographing wild elephants. A boat cruise on the Periyar lake in the early morning has plenty of chance to see animals at close quarters. One can trek deep into the jungle with the help of guides.
The splendid artificial lake formed by the Mullaperiyar Dam across the Periyar 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, however, are the herds of wild elephants that come down to play in the lake.
The sanctuary animals include Elephants, Tigers, Leopards, Liontail Macaques, barking deer, monitor lizards, Gaur, Wild dogs, Nilgiri Langurs, Nilgiri Tahr, reptiles such as the King Cobra and the python. Common birds include the Giant Hornbill, Darter, Cormorant, Racket-tailed Drongo, white-bellied tree pie, flycatchers and laughing thrushes.
Kurisumala : A place for adventure tourism and trekking. This will offer a panoramic view of Kumily town and Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary.
How to reach:
1. Nearest Airport – 145 km from Coimbatore. Kochi – 190 km.
2. Nearest Railway Station – Kottayam – 114 km.
This plantation town, closely associated with Thekkady, is situated on the outskirts of the Periyar Sanctuary. An important shopping centre and spice trade centre, the main bus station and most of the medium range accommodation in the Periyar region are in Kumily (4 km from Thekkady).
Murikkady (5 km from Thekkady) : Washed in fresh spice-scented air, Murikkady is a panorama of cardamom, coffee and pepper plantations.
Mangala Devi temple (15 km from Thekkady) :
This ancient temple is hidden in the dense woods at the top of a oeak 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 eastern slopes of the Ghats and some hill villages of Tamil nadu. Permission to visit the area can be obtained from the Wildlife Wadren, Thekkady (Ph.0486-322027).
Chellarkovil (15 km from Kumily) : This sleepy little village with its breathtaking view of the plains and cascading waterfalls is a feast for the eyes. The village slopes down to the famous coconut groves of Cumbum in neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
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 Garden have a delightful array of roses, orchids and anthuria.
Vandanmedu (25 km from Kumily) : This is one of the world's largest auction centres for candamom. A walk through the sprawling cardamom plantations of Vandanmedu is a heady experience.
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 only by jeep. The famous Sree Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala and the Makara Jyothi illumination 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 Ph:0486-322027 or the Range Officer, Vallakkadavu Ph:0486-352515.
Ramakalmedu (40 km from Thekkady and 75 km from Munnar) : Rolling green hills and the fresh mountain air make Ramakalmedu an enchanting retreat. The hills top also offers a Panoramic view of picturesque villages of Bodi and Cumbum on the Eastern slop of the western ghats.
Hotels In Thekkady
Taj Garden Retreat, Thekkady (Taj Group)
Muthoot Cardamom County
Thrisangu, Kuttikkanam near Thekkady
Lake Palace (KTDC Group of Hotel), Periyar
Aranya Niwas (KTDC Group of Hotel), Periyar
Periyar House (KTDC Group of Hotel), Periyar
Carmelia Haven-The Plantation Resort, Thekkady
The Elephant Court, Thekkady
Hotel Treetop, Thekkady
Hotel Ambadi, Thekkady
Hotel Mount Sinai, Thekkady
Hotel Michaels Inn, Thekkady
KTDC hotels, Aranya Nivas, Periyar House, Lake Palace. Private hotel and lodges at Kumily (4 km). Forest Rest House, Anavanchal, Kumily. Tamilnadu PWD rest house, Thekkady, Kerala PWD rest house, Thekkady.
Road: There are frequent buses from family from kumily (4km) to various tourist centres.
Distance of a few major towns from Thekkady
Kumily: 4km(15 min.), Sabarimala via Pullumedu: 50 km ( 2hrs), Idukki: 65km (2 1/2 hrs), Munnar: 106 km (4 hrs), Kumarakom: 128 km (4 hrs), Sabarimala via Erumeli: 134km (4 hrs), Kodaikanal: 149 km (5 hrs), Alapuzha: 164 km ( 5 hrs), Kollam: 220 km ( 6hrs), Ooty: 390 km (11hrs)
Bus timings from Kumily: Thekkady: 0930, 1045, 1200, 1230, 1530 hrs, Kumarakam: 0700 hrs, Munnar: 0600, 0945, 1330 hrs, Ernakulam: 0700, 1330, 1515, 1630, 1715, 1930hrs, Thiruvananthapuram (from Kumily): 0840, 1530, 1615 hrs; (from Thekkady): 0820, 1515 hrs, Kottayam: Frequent buses, Alappuzha: 115 hrs, Cherthala: 1415 hrs, Idukki: Frequent busesm Chennai: 1630, 1900 hrs, Pondicherry:1630 hrs, Madurai: 0115, 0515, 0525, 0645, 0716, 0720, 0730, 0755, 0835, 0940, 1030, 1045, 1120, 115, 1300, 1315, 1320, 1420, 1515, 1540, 1550, 1650, 1705, 1800, 1840, 1905, 2045 hrs.. Dindingal: Frequent buses, Kodaikanal: There is no direct bus from Kumily to Kodaikanal. The Dindigal bus takes you to Vathalakundu from where there are frequent buses to Kodaikanal (149). Trichy: 0855, 1045, 1925 hrs, Palani: 0930, 1135, 1830, 1850hrs.
In and around Thekkady
The Periyar wildlife Sanctuary: (Open 0600 to 1800 hrs) snuggled in the Western Ghats, one of the world's richest bio-diversity spots, is the facinations, natural wildlife sanctuary of Thekkady, the protected Periyar Tiger Reserve. Spread across 777sq. km, of which 360 sq. km is thick evegreen forest, the Periyar wildlife sanctuary was declared a tiger reserve in 1978. Noted for its geomorphology, 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 have the unique experience of viewing wildlife at close quarters from the safety of a boat. The greatest attractions of Periyar, however, are the herds of wild elephants that come down to play in the lake. Vasantha Sena - an initiative of the eco-development committee at the Periyar tiger reserve comprises a voluntary group of tribal women who patrol the reserve to ensure that it remains pristine and poachers are kept at bay.
Flora Over 1965 flowering plants including 171 grass species, 143 species of orchids the only South India conifer Podocarpus Wallicbianus.
Mammals:35 species including the wild elephant, gaur, sambar and wild boar that can be sighted from the boats, the Nilgiri Tahr in the higher rocky areas, the endangered lionptailed macaque confined to the evergreen interiors, the bonnet macaque, Malabar giant squirrel, flying squirrel, tiger, jungle cat, sloth bear etc.
Birds 265 species including migrants, The hornbill, stork, woodpecker, kingfisher, raptor, cormornat, grackle, darter etc.
Reptiles: Cobra, viper, krait, a number of non-poisonous snake and the monitor lizard.
Amphibians:Frogs, toads and limbless caecilians including the colourful Mahabar fliding frog, common India toad, fungold frog and bicoloured frog.
Pisces (fish): Periyar's lake and streams have several species of fish including the masbeer, the famous and endangered game fish of INdia. The otterm the only mammal of the lake, can be frequently spotted from the boat.
Palantations: Tea, caradamom, pepper and coffee plantaions surround the Periyar wildlife sancturary.
The sannctuary watch towers: There are two watch towers in the interiors of the Periyar forest. Reservations can be made at the divisional forest office, Thekkady, Ph: 04869 222027
Permitting authority: The wildlife preservation officer, Periyar tiger reserves, Thekkady.
Ecotourism programmes: nature walk- Guide day trek, Rs, 400- Periyar tiger trail- Protection-oriented trekking and camping activity, Rs.3000. Border hiking conservation-oriented, hard trek along the boundry of the tiger reserve, Rs.1300, Bamboo rafting- A dawn to dusk trekking and rafting triip, Rs.1300, Jungle patrol-Night patrolling programme Rs.800. Tribal heritage-Visit to the tribal heritage museum inside the Mannan settlement, RS.100. Coracle river rafting & bullock cartm Disveries - Visit to the farmlands pf a tiny hamlet with an optional coracle ride, Rs.1000. The jungle inn-Overnight stay at the inn, Rs.2000 pet cottage. Bamboo grove-Ecolodge & experiential learning centre, Rs.2000 per cottage. For bookings: Kumily Ph: 222620, Thekkady, Ph: 224571
Kumily:(4km from Thekkady) This plantation town, closely associated with Thekkady, is situated on the outskirts of the Periyar sanctuary. An omportant shopping centre and psice trade centre, the main bus stations and most of the medium range accommodation in the Peiyar region are in Kumily.
Murikkady: (5 km from Thekkady) washed in fredh, spice scented air, Murikkady is a panorama of cardamom, coffee and pepper plantations.
Pandikuzhi: (5km from Kumily) This picturesque spectrum of exotic flora, fauna and gurgling streams is cradled between chellarkovil and the Tamil Nadu border. A popular picnic spot, Pandikuzhi offers great opportunities for trekking and is a photographers's delight.
Mangala Devi temple:> (15 km from Thhekkady) This ancient temple is hidden in the dense woods at the top of a peak 1337 m above level, The temple, believed to be more then 2000 years ols, is built in the traditional Kerala style of architecture. Visitors are alloed here on the Chithra Pournami festival day. The peak commands a panoramic view of the eastern slopes of the ghats and some hill vilages of Tamil Nadu. Permission to visit the area can be obtained from the wildlife warden, Thekkady, Ph: 222027.
Chellarkovil: (15 km from Kumily) This sleepy litle village with its breathtaking view of the plains and cascading waterfalls is a feat for the eyes. The village slopes down to the damous coconut groves of Cumbum in neigbouring Tamil Nadu.
Vandiperiyar: (18 km from Thekkady) The river Periyar flowong throght 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 garden have a delightful array of rose plants, orchids and anthuria.
Vandanmedu:(25 km from Kumily) This is one of the world's largest auction centres of cardamom. A walk through the sprawling cardamom plantations of vadanmedu is a heady experience.
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 hills draped in lush greenery. Velvet lawns, rare floara and fauna add to the beauty Pullumedu which can be accessed only by jeep. The famous sree Ayyappa temple at Sbarimal ans the makara jyothi (celestial ight that appears on Makaravilakku festival) at the shrine are visible from here. Since it is part of the restricted forest zone, special permission to visit Ph: 222027 or the range officer, Vallakkadavu. Ph: 252515
Things to do in Thekkady
Plantation tours: The tour covers visit to spice. cofee and tea plantaions, tea factories, tribal settlement etc, and be arranged through the district tourism information office at Thekkady jn. in Kumily.
Elephant rides: The forest department, Thekkady offers facilities for lephant rides through the jungle.
Trekking: Main trekking area near Thekkady: Kurisumala, near Kumily, Pullumedu, 43 km from Thekkady & 26 km from Periyar. Ottakathalamedu, 5km from Kumily. Grampi, near vandiperiyar.
The forest department conducts daily treks from the boat landing station at Thekkady to the Nellikkampetty area and Manakkavala. Departure: 0700 hrs. Fare.250 + 10 entrance fee. Bokkings can be made with the wildlife preservation officer, Thekkady. Ph: 222027, 222028.
Boat cruises on the Periyar lake: Timings: 0700, 0930, 1400, 1600 hrs. Fare: Lower deck: Rs.25 + 10 entrance fee, upper deck: RS: 50+10 entrance fee. The forest department Ph: 222028 and the Kerala tourism development corporation Ltd. Ph: 222023 conduct boating trips Thekkady; Fare: Lower deck: Rs.50, upper deck: Rs.100.
Travel agents/tour operations
Local trasport: Tourist cars, taxi jeeps, mini buses and autorickswas are available in Kumily.
Communication: Post and telegraph office, central Jn., Kumily Ph: 222031. Post and telegraph office, entrance check post Ph: 222021, Dc book, Kumily Ph: 222548
Courier service: Professional couriers, Kumily Ph: 223121
Banks/currency exchange: State bank of travancore, near bus stand, Kumily Ph: 222041. Central bank of India Jn., Kumily Ph: 22053, book shops: DC books, Kumily Ph: 22548. Nature shop, Ranger wood nature shop, Thekkady Ph: 222564.
Indian classical dance theatre: Natyagriham, Karthika tourist home, Thekkady: Lectures and demonstrations on Bharatanatyam, Kalaripayattu etc. Daily bharatanatyam performances 1900 to 2030 hrs. Ticket: R.150 per person. Mudra kathakali centre: Daily kathakali performance Ph: 94471 57636
Spices: Peerumedu marketing cooperative society Lts., Thekkady Jn. Ph: 222256
Handicrafts: Grama silpa, Kumily Ph: 222247
Hospitals: Central Hospital, Thekkady Jn., Kumily Ph: 222045, St.Sugustine hospital, spring valley, Kumily Ph: 222842