Introduction To Periyar National Park, Kerela

Hills, lakes, flora and fauna are clubbed together in the amazing land of Periyar National Park. Situated in Kerala, this national park is one of the best places to experience the bewildering beauty of nature and explore wildlife in India. The park is mainly known for its population of tiger and elephants. It is actually built around the Periyarlake and is the extension for the same. You will be baffled by seeing the crowd of animals and lush green trees surrounding it.

Periyar National Park is not just about wildlife; it is about the calm and peaceful vibe that surrounds it. Other than exploring the vibrant array ofanimals and birds, there are various other things that you can do at Periyar. Due to the numerous options that the park provides, tourists come from different parts of the world to explore it.

Overview

Closest Access:

Kumily (05 KMS)

Location:

Kumily, Kerala, South India

Best time to visit:

October to June.

Total coverage area:

777-sq-kms

Major Wildlife of the park:

Tiger, Wild Elephants, Nilgiri Tahr, Nilgiri Langur

Location of Periyar National Park

The park is situated in Thekkady, Central Kerala. The whole forest is hilly and is located in the space midst Cardamom hills. The park was created from a dense forest which is why it seems so natural. The park is also extended form Periyar river, hence the name.

Wildlife at Periyar National Park:

Various kinds of mammals, birds, reptiles, aquatic animals and butterflies can be seen here.

Mammals

There are around thirty-five mammals which have been clearly seen till now. There may be few hidden mammals here and there as it is such a huge and dense forest.

1. Tiger- The population of tiger here is around forty. The major species of tiger found here are white tigers and Bengal tigers. This is the main reserve of tigers and conserves them to a great extent.

2. Elephants- The park holds a good number of elephants and it is absolutely breathtaking to see them walk in herds. The main species found here is Indian Elephant.

3. Gaur- People commonly know gaur as Indian bison and is one of the fastest depleting species. It is extinct and therefore needs to conserve. You can see gaurs here.

4. Deer- Mouse deer and Sambar are the species of deer that exists here. It is beautiful to see deer with their long horns, especially Sambar. They look elegant and also you can click a good photograph while they stare at you.

5. Wild pig- The population of wild pig is increasing day by day. The pig which was mostly found in Africa and Eurasia can now be seen in many parts of the world. It is a sight to see two wild pigs fight, absolutely stunning!

6. Squirrel- These small species can also be spotted here if you see keenly. Main species of squirrel include Indian giant squirrel and Travancore flying squirrel.

7. Jungle cat- Another species which is present in abundance is jungle cat. You can spot these cats lying around in swamps or roam in places with dense vegetation.

8. Sloth bear- Listed as Vulnerable species of IUCN, it is difficult to spot sloth bears. The conservation activity of the park reserves there bears. They look cute and fierce at the same time, a view to adore!

9. Nilgiritahr- They kind of look like a goat and have turned horns. In contradictory to their looks, they are said to evolve from sheep.

10. Lion-tailed macaque- They are one of the few old world monkeys that exist and it is easy to spot them. If you see a monkey with huge white mane, you know it is lion-tailed macaque.

11. Nilgirilangur- Another monkey species which can be spotted because of its fur colour. It has pitch black fur covering the body and golden brown fur on its head.

12. Salim Ali’s fruit bat- It is one of the rarest species of bat and can be found hanging upside down on the trees.

13. Striped neck mongoose- They are either brown or grey in colour and can be found in swamps. The distinct characteristics of this mongoose are black stripes on its neck.

14. Nilgiri marten- This species is covered with black fur on the body and yellow fur below its face. It has stunning eyes and can be easily spotted due to its bright colours.

Birds

The population that accommodates the park is crazy, 266 species of birds can be found here. You have to keep your binoculars handy to watch these beauties. The birds add so much grace and colour to the park. Also, keep your camera ready so that you can shoot the beautiful poses of various birds.

Rufous-bellied hawk eagle, Malabar grey hornbill, oriental darter, blue-winged parakeet, white-bellied blue flycatcher, Sunbird, great hornbill, black-necked stork, brahminy kite, black baza, Sri Lanka frogmouth, little spiderhunter, eagle owl, paddyfield warbler and Nilgiri wood pigeon are some of the migratory birds found here. There has been a new addition of species in the park that includes steppe gull, Grey-necked bunting and Eurasian woodcock.

Rufous-bellied hawk eagle, Malabar grey hornbill, oriental darter, blue-winged parakeet, white-bellied blue flycatcher, Sunbird, great hornbill, black-necked stork, brahminy kite, black baza, Sri Lanka frogmouth, little spiderhunter, eagle owl, paddyfield warbler and Nilgiri wood pigeon are some of the migratory birds found here. There has been a new addition of species in the park that includes steppe gull, Grey-necked bunting and Eurasian woodcock.

Reptiles

Thirty snakes can be found slithering on the ground and hunting for food. The major species of snakes include Malabar pit viper, striped coral snake and king cobra.

Other reptiles found here are lizards and turtles. The population of turtles is not very high in the park, only two species are found. Also, thirteen kinds of lizards can be seen if you notice carefully.

Aquatic animals

Asian toad, Malabar gliding frog, bicoloured frog and fungoid frog are the primary species of amphibians found in Periyar national park.

With 40 species of fishes, you can mostly spot Travancore loach, Periyar barb, channa barb and Periyar trout.

Butterflies

You can find theseinteresting species flying around everywhere in the park because 160 species of them are present in Periyar.

The most threatened species of butterfly- Travancore evening brown can be found flying here. Other species of butterflies include Southern birdwing, lime butterfly and Malabar tree nymph. There are many different species which can or cannot be identified. If you are lucky enough you’ll be able to see a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, the process is absolutely magical.

Various kinds of moths also take shelter in the park. The most common moth that can be spotted here is Atlas moth.

There are varied kinds of insects present in the national park, but butterflies dominate the whole insect population.

Vegetation in Periyar National Park

The park not only sustains wildlife but is also home to wide varieties of plants. There is enough vegetation around to support the whole wildlife. Along with vegetation for animals, the land of Periyar also grows crops for agricultural purpose. The diversity of the national park is just incredible.

The vegetation is different in different parts of the forest- evergreen, moist deciduous and eucalyptus are three central flora that can be found in Periyar. There are several trees, flowers and crops growing in and around the park.

With 171 species of grass, the habitat is never at the loss of food. There are some special grasses like elephant grass and fire resistant grass that grow here.

There are numerous varieties of flowering plants that grow in Periyar, making the landscape more colourful and joyous. Orchids- the most beautiful flowers are also in abundance here; around 140 species can be found.

The trees that cover Periyar are teak, sandalwood, bamboo, rosewood, tamarind, Terminalia, jacaranda, plumeria, peepal, banyan, Gulmohar, jamun and mango. There are other varieties of the tree as well, but these are in a larger population.

The land of Periyar is very fertile,and crops can be easily grown here. Some of the agricultural crops found here are tea, cardamom and coffee.
Another speciality of Periyar National Park is the growth of medicinal herbs. There are many crops in the park that are used in Ayurveda and known to humans for hundreds of years. You can get to know more about these plants if you hire a local guide.

Things to do in Periyar National Park

Other than staring at the beautiful wildlife, Periyar also has other activities. To get a full-on experience and knowledge about nature and animals, make sure you do each and every activity. Most of the activities in Periyar happens through guides or tour agencies. Only some activities like boat safari and visit at Periyar lake is in-house. Therefore, before starting this awesome journey, make sure you book a good tour guide. There are many locals available in Thekkady itself. You can also book a professional tour for a better experience.

1. Boat Safari- Safari is the most basic thing to do in any national park. But the special thing about the safari here is that there are no jeep safaris. You can roam the National Park on the boat. Boat safari rides are used to show the national park to tourists. Even though in water, you can see the animals and birds roaming around. Some even come close to the river to drink water, at that moment you can see them closely. This concept of Periyar National Park is what makes it magnificent.

2. Elephant rides- Another way of making your way through the forest is the elephant ride. However, you can only book these through tour companies or hotels. This provides another feeling of excitement and nervousness. You can also see feeding and bathing of elephants.

3. Jeep safari- Even though jeep safaris are not allowed in Thekkady jungle, one can book a trip to Gavi jungle. The jeep safaris are allowed there and you can enjoy travelling through rough roads of the jungle. The trip doesn’t let you see much of wildlife, but you can explore other things such as valleys, hills, agricultural crops, botanical gardens and waterfall. It is a trip for the soul!

4. Trekking- Some tour companies organise trekking in wildlife. The trekking is totally safe as there will be armed forest guides accompanying you. You can choose the time and period of your trek. They conduct morning treks, night treks and longer treks that usually lasts a whole day. There will be a local guide taking you the forest and is a good opportunity to know more about nature and wildlife.

5. Rafting- Periyar lake rafting is a fun activity to do. You can get a picture of the beautiful landscape and can also spot certain animals. The rafts are usually made up of bamboo. Being in water that is so clear and surrounded by plants and animals is just amazing. If you are lucky enough you might also end up seeing some aquatic animals.

6. Camping- This is by far the most exciting part of any activity. You can camp in forests and sleep in tree houses, how awesome is that! You can enjoy a feeling of living as countrymen. The houses are made up of different grasses and bamboos. The camping trip will also have certain lectures on wildlife and vegetation, field trips and discussions about the park.

7. Take a look at Kerala’s culture- The famous martial art- Kalaripayattu and classical dance Kathakali can be witnessed. The Kerala culture is the most attractive and famous worldwide. The evening shows are conducted to entertain the tourists.

8. Tiger trail- The trails are mainly conducted so that you can spot tigers. The guides take you deep into the forest which is usually thirty kilometres deep. It is a trek that is adventurous and dangerous. The team and the organisation will take care of the safety.

9. Periyar lake- You can pay a visit to the Periyar lake to do certain activities or just sit in peace. The view from the lake is absolutely breathtaking and photographers should not miss this chance. You can also see certain animals at Periyar lake. It is one of the most peaceful spots of the park.

10. Spice plantation- You can pay a visit to the agricultural land of the park. It will reconnect you with the life of farms and crops. It is the perfect spot to roam if you are on a family vacation. The guides will also explain you about all the spices and where they are used. You can even buy spices from certain shops. It is just a two-hour walk, but it is interesting and informative.

11. Tea factory- Chai lovers should definitely take a stop here. You will be updated on how tea is grown and made. You can even see different tea plantations. It is little away from the national park, but totally worth your time. You can also buy fresh tea from the outlets and enjoy a cup of natural chai.

12. Mangala Devi temple- Devotees can seek their blessings in the temple that is inside the park. It is very old and has been a spot to explore for many tourists. If you are accommodated with a good and local guide, he will also tell you the history of the temple.

13. Visiting Cardamom hills- As the name specifies, this place is famous for its cardamom crops. It has one of the most elegant landscape and is very huge.

Attractions around Periyar National Park-

The beauty of Periyar is not just limited to its national park. So if you have an extended trip, then make sure you visit all these places. It will be a good time to experience the culture, adventure, devotion, family time and village life all at once.

1. Mudra Cultural Centre- To show cast Indian culture to foreign tourists, they arrange for theatrical shows. It is amazing to see culture is such a fun way. They even have information on Ayurvedic history of India. The most important is given to their cultural dance and martial arts training. It is hypnotising to watch the culture that is depicted in such a dramatic way.

2. KadathanadanKalari Centre- This is basically the training centre of martial artists. They perform Kalaripayattu- the oldest form of martial art. They conduct programmes about the history of the form and how it was invented. You can also see fighters fighting their way to victory. They even demonstrate certain self-defence moves. All in all, KandathandanKalari centre is best for people who love action.

3. Anakkara- It is one of the tiniest villages you’ll ever see. It attracts tourists because of its waterfall and spice vegetation. The agricultural land grows varied types of spices and you can also buy fresh spices there. The village is full of nature and is fun to explore.

4. Chellarkovil viewpoint- It is a small space on the hilly terrains mainly use to soak in the beautiful nature. The waterfall can also be seen from this point. And the major attraction here is that they have a telescope installed in here. Through this telescope, you can see various birds flying around.

5. Vandiperiyar- This village is full of plantations. They include tea and coffee vegetation, spices, herbs and numerous flowers. Nature lovers and photographers will absolutely love this spot. It is a very small village but is very beautiful. You can even spot a few elephants feeding on the grass. The land of the village is very fertile and therefore many crops are grown here. It is not very far from Periyar and you should visit it.

6. Pandikuzhi- If you are on a vacation with your family, then this village is a perfect spot for spending some time together. You can spread a sheet of cloth on the grass, take out some food and have a fun picnic over here. The surroundings are perfect for having a peaceful picnic, it might even bind you with your partner.

The village is adventurous and romantic. It has a good nature, waterfall and is situated on a terrain. And also has a really good landscape to get yourself clicked, some really good Instagram pictures!

Costs and opening hours of the park

The national park opens in the morning at six and closes at five in the evening. The first boat safari is at 7:30 and is the most suitable time to see animals. Animals are most active during this time,and the climate is also very pleasant. The duration of the safari is ninety minutes,and the last boat leaves at 3:30 in the afternoon.

All the other activities in the park start after eight. So if you come for the first boat safari, you will have enough time to explore other things and your day will not get wasted. If planned properly, you can visit all the places in a day or two.

The prices are different for Indians and foreigners, for adults it is Rs. 33 and Rs.450 and for children the ticket price is Rs.5 and Rs. 155 respectively. If you are travelling from a car, then additional fees will be included to get your car parked. There is an extra charge for the camera as well, but do carry a camera as you don’t want to miss capturing the beauty that Periyar beholds. If you have a phone with a good camera, then it will be more convenient.

After entering, you have to pay for boat safari. The price is Rs. 225 for an adult and Rs. 75 for a child. The fees for safari is a little high, but it is totally worth the money.

Always book your tickets online. Because of Periyar’s popularity, the queues are very long and can go on for hours. Advance booking is recommended due to the crowd present at the spot. And if you are going with a tour company, then the tickets won’t be a big problem.

Also for all the other activities, the guides are going to charge you some amount of money. If you are with a tour agency, then everything will be included in the fees. But most of the activities are paid. So make sure you confirm all the prices and details before you reach the national park.

Last minute arrangements of money could be difficult as the forest is very inside and to come back to the city, it will take you time. To prevent waste of time, be prepared.

Best time to visit Periyar National Park

Periyar National Park is one of the few parks that are open in all seasons. The park provides boat safari even during monsoon.

During summer, you can see loads of animals,but the climate is very uncomfortable and unpleasant. You will be cribbing all the way in safari as why the climate is so hot. Even if you are planning to visit in summer, make sure you book morning safaris. This way you will not feel very hot. The animals during this time can mostly be seen near the river, drinking water.

During monsoon, it is dangerous to go on a boat safari. There is safety, but no safety can stop the consequences of natural disaster. Also, there are many leeches roaming around in the winter, so be sure you wear socks which are worn for leech prevention. It is not very touristy at this time of the year and is advised not to visit the national park during monsoons. Heavy rainfall during your trip can ruin everything,and in a jungle, it is impossible to find a shelter, especially if you are on a boat.

Visit Periyar National Park in winters to have a calming experience. The climate is pleasant and soothing, you can spot animals easily,and the surrounding is very peaceful. The recommended months to visit Periyar for the best experience is from October to February. You can do all the activities during this time of the year and won’t regret missing out on anything.

How to reach Periyar National Park

There are various ways and sources to reach here. The road is the most convenient way to travel.

By air: It takes longer to reach from the airport as the two main airports located near Periyar are Kochi and Madurai, both of which are more than 130 km away from Thekkady. And even if you choose to fly then make sure your landing destination is Madurai, it is more close to the park. Kochi is 190 km away from Thekkady.

By train: The closest station to Thekkady is 114 km away which is Kottayam. From there you need to hire a cab or book a bus. Trains are convenient if you want to travel comfortably. You can directly book a ticket from your destination to Kottayam and proceed with the road for after journey.

By road: Road is the most convenient means of transport that takes you to Periyar. Many cities are directly connected with Thekkady and arrange bus services throughout the week. There are buses from Bangalore, Chennai, Krishnagiri and other major cities. Therefore, it easier to catch a bus and travel. Another way of travelling is cabs; you can hire a cab from any airport or station. They will drop you at the desired destination. Thekkady is only four kilometres away from Periyar and therefore travelling there won’t be a problem.

Travel tips

The activities held at the Periyar national park is paid and also a little expensive. So make sure you carry enough money as it is difficult to withdraw money there.

Make sure you go to Periyar in association with some guides or tour agencies. It will be easier to roam and travel with their help.

Do not litter the park as it causes a disturbance in nature. Make sure to leave the place as it was.

Do not feed anything to the animals or birds, unless specified.

Always make sure you listen to what your guide says. There is no need to be a rebel in the middle of the forest.

Do not visit a national park in the monsoon.

Wear protective clothing during your visit. Insects are all over the place,and some might be dangerous. Make sure you are fully covered, just to be on a safer side.

Take care of your belongings. The authorities are not going to be responsible for any lost thing; you will have to find it yourself. And finding things in the jungle seems like an impossible task.

Always confirm the prices of activities. Local guides may charge you more as you do not know the place.

Things to carry

Water bottle: The safaris and activities can be pretty tiring, so make sure you keep yourself hydrated. Stroke attacks in the middle of the jungle can be difficult to handle.

Binoculars: To watch birds and butterflies closely, you need to keep a pair of binoculars around your neck. This will help you to see everything clearly.

Camera: The national park is famous for its picturesque landscape and is a paradise for all photography lovers. Even though cameras are charged, make sure you carry one.

Sunscreen or any protective lotion:
This is to keep you safe from the rough climate of the jungle. The sun and wind could be torturous for your skin. So make sure you carry a sunscreen.

Shoes: Do not travel in chappals. If you want to come till national park in slippers, then carry an extra pair of shoes in your bag. It is very important to have shoes with good grip.

Map: It is always quirky to carry a map. You will have the guide to show you the way, but having amp will make you acquainted with directions.

Hat: To make your attire look complete, carry a hat. It is good for protecting your hair from the wind and the dust.

Conclusion

Periyar is a mix of all the activities that can possibly be done in a national park. From camping to trekking, rafting to riding an elephant, praying to sleeping in tree houses- Periyar is a package filled with adventure and experience of a lifetime. Make sure to add this place to your travel bucket list.

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