Periyar National Park, land of diverse wildlife is located in the cardamom hills in Iduki district in South-East Kerala in proximity to Kalakad-Mundanthurai tiger reserve in Tamilnadu. Periyar meaning Big river is one of the oldest protected areas of Southern Ghats of India. It was declared as national part in 1982 and came under the ambit of project tiger in 1978. Its a prime tiger land. The total area under the park is 777 Sq kms consisting of valleys, plains & wetlands. Its other name is Thekkady .The major attraction of the park is 26 Sq Km long lake formed due to the constriction of Mulla periyar Irrigation dam inundating forest land. This lake now is the primary water hole of the park & a boat ride in this lake is highly rewarding.
We arrived at Kumily after long journey but the tiredness of journey petered out by mere feeling to be in periyar tiger reserve.The starting point of park is about 6 kms from Kumily which can be approached by vehicle.We stayed in KTDC run periyar house near the entry point. A very significant thing came to my notice that since 2004, park is controlled by periyar foundation where park administration & local people work together for wildlife conservation.Such experiments are non-existent in India but in Africa such experiments are working successfully.Such experiments if extended to other parks, local people-wildlife conflicts would cease with the passage of time.
We decided to visit periyar river on boat. 26 sq km vast periyar river consists of small islets & creeks suitable as wildlife habitats.The boating in river is unique as it provides an opportunity to see vast variety of wildlife.The river is visited by herds of elephants, Cheetal,gaur & predators like wild dogs, tigers & leopards. The remains of trees provide a distinct look to the periyar river. Our journey was rewarded by varieties of birds, a herd of elephants, sambhar.
Next day we decided to go on nature walk allowed in periyar Tiger reserve.Though scary in tiger land but nature walk is very adventurous.We spotted numerous birds & butterflies. Periyar is home to more than 320 bird species & 160 species of butterflies. Trigger happy people (photographers) like me are rewarded beyond our imagination.
Periyar park is unique for various reasons/facilities namely:-walk in the wild, boating in periyar river, bamboo rafting, tribal heritage, tow bullock cart discoveries which are not available in other national parks.
Its unique location, available wildlife and unique facilities made it worth visiting part. Best time to visit the park is SeptemberMarch.
How to reach:-
By Air:-Nearest Airport is Kochi about 290 Kms from Thekkady.
By Rail:- Nearest rail head is Kottayam about 119 Kms from Thekkady.
By Road:- Reach kottayam by rail then kanjirappally-Vandiperiyar-Kumily-Thekkady.