Periyar is where nature is at its best in Kerala. Its rich soil, cool and flourishing climate, dense forests and diverse species of fauna and flora describe why Periyar is a wildlife hotspot for tourists. The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, one of the largest of its kind in India spans across an area of 777sq kms which comprises 360sq km of thick forest. Lush spice plantations spread throughout the land provide some great trekking options which inspire and educate you at the same time on how these world famous Indian spices are cultivated, processed and exported to various parts of the world. The fresh and seducing aroma of these spices are sure to please your senses and induce a feeling of being loved by our Mother Nature. Speaking about the wildlife here, the Periyar forest is home to mammals like the Asian elephant, Sambar deer, Indian wild dog, Tiger, Indian bison and migratory birds like the Malabar grey hornbill, White bellied Treepie, the Indian pied hornbill and many rare species of woodpeckers, flycatchers, babblers, and many more.
The Mullaperiyar Dam was constructed in 1895 which was in control of the Travancore King. The dam built across the River Periyar formed an artificial lake which served the surrounding areas of Periyar. In 1950 after independence, this area was declared a Wildlife Sanctuary and in 1978 following a common interest in protecting the tigers, it was named a tiger reserve.
Here the native residents are all tribals belonging to communities like the Mannans, the Paliyas, the Uralis, the Mala-arayas and the Malampandarams. They are now pretty much exposed to the outside world and its advancements. However they still follow their traditional customs and lifestyle. Rest of population includes migrants from the nearby low lying lands of the state like Kottayam, Pala and outskirts of Kochi who settled here long ago. Being in a less developed area with minor advancements in infrastructure and technologies, people here are curious about the outside world and visitors from various parts of the planet. Though they are curious, they have a really welcoming and loving nature. The majority of the population is Hindus but there are a fair number of Christians and Muslims too living within these thick woods of Periyar.
Fishing and agriculture are the traditional occupations which the residents rely on but with the high tourist inflow and development of the tourism industry almost half of the population earns their livelihood working in the tourism related jobs too.
The harvest festival Onam is the most celebrated occasion at Periyar. Christmas and Ramzan are also celebrated here. Apart from these, the Chitra Pournami Festival at the 1000 year old Mangala Devi Festival is attended by tens of thousands of people from all over Kerala. Situated deep inside the Periyar forest a trek to this ancient temple is an exhilarating experience.
Summer as in rest of the Kerala districts starts by March and lasts till the end of May. The temperature goes to a maximum of 32°c. This is pretty much a fair time to make a visit to Periyar. However the best time to enjoy Periyar is for sure during the Winter [October- February] the climate is cool and refreshing. The temperature during this period ranges around 18°c- 24°c. Nights are chilly at times. Monsoon [June- September] is not a recommended time to make a visit as the rain makes it very harsh for the visitors to get out of their hotel rooms.
By Road: Thekkady is well connected by road to many nearby cities like Madurai [138kms], Kochuu [158 kms] and Kottayam [107kms]. There are many Kerala government run buses available from aany major cities in Kerala.
By Air: The Madurai International Airport and Kochi International Airport are the nearest International airports which are 136 kms and 190 kms away respectively. After reaching the airport grab a taxi or use public transport to reach Periyar.
By Rail: The nearest railway station is Kottayam likely 110 kms away from Thekkady. From Kottayam regular bus services to Periyar [Kumily] are available.
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