Periyar:  Situated within the confines of the Western Ghats in the southern Indian state of Kerala, the 780 sq km Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve is one of the most captivating wildlife parks in the world. The picturesque lake in the heart of the sanctuary was originally 26 sq km but now spans an area of 55 sq km. This perennial source of water, which initially led to the submersion of large tracts of forestland, slowly attracted wild animals. It eventually resulted in the adjoining forests being granted protection by the Maharaja of Travancore.   Peyar grp 3.jpg (23467 bytes) Peyar Anmal 1.jpg (12574 bytes)






Periyar (also Thekkady) is a park where one can witness playful pachyderms, whose population is currently around 800. The population of tigers is also increasing appreciably. Terrain ranges from hilly to flat grassland areas at the edges of the lakes. Vegetation is of moist deciduous type.

Periyar and elephants are synonymous and one cannot be thought of without the other. Herds of playful wild elephants have made Periyar Lake their favourite haunt for frolicking in the water. Scores of them can be witnessed bathing and swimming here.

Some 260 species of birds are found at Periyar. These include darters, cormorants, ibises, grey herons, mynas, flycatchers, orioles, wood pigeons, kingfishers, kites, ospreys, thrushes, and an appreciable number of blue-winged parakeets.

Other inhabitants of Periyar include the leopard, wild dog, barking deer, mouse deer, Nilgiri langur (a primate), bonnet macaque, sambhar, porcupines, squirrels, gaur (Indian bison), wild boar, and sloth bear. There are approximately 40 tigers in the area as per the latest reports. The tigers, along with the Nilgiri tahrs (a kind of a wild goat), are elusive creatures.

The flora here is composed mainly of marshy grasslands. The forests are a mixture of grasslands, fire-resistant low-growth vegetation, deciduous forests, semi-evergreens, and tropical evergreens. It is good to be cautious of the blood-sucking leeches that are found in plenty here.

Periyar offers plenty of opportunities for recreation and enjoyment. One can swim in the lake or get permits for angling that are easily available from the forest Officer in Thekkady. Boat rides on the lake are definitely a must, and motor launches are available throughout the day from 6 am to 4 pm. Exhilarating treks through the forest to the temple of Mangla Devi can also be organised. Lectures on wildlife preservation are organized regularly at the park and these can be of help in understanding the wild creatures and their environment. Late afternoon is just right for another walk down the lakeside. The evening walk along the lake is always tinged with forebodings of danger combined with exhilaration at being in such a beautiful place.

The months of March and April constitute the driest part of the year, and thus the best time to spot the elusive tigers.