Location : Idukki and Pathanmthitta distrcts, Kerala
Nearest Access : Thekkady
Major wildlife found : Tiger, elephant and leopard
Coverage Area : 925 sq km
Periyar wildlife sanctuary is situated in the districts of Pathanmthitta and Idukki in the state of Kerala. It is jewel of Kerala and is notable as tiger reserve and an elephant reserve. The sanctuary is spread over more than 925 sq km area. Out of total area, 350 sq km area is core area and was declared as national park in the year 1982. The park is set in the Pandalam hills and Cardamon hills ranges on the Western Ghats along the border of Tamil Nadu state. The sanctuary is situated on the bank of artificial Lake, Periyar.
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
Periyar wildlife sanctuary is best example of nature’s bounty, with excellent scenic charm and rich bio-diversity. Efficiently managed and zealously guarded reserve is home of rare, endangered and endemic flora as well as fauna. The sanctuary is pride of Kerala and human innovation as well as a testimony to nature’s splendor. The sanctuary is clothed with moist deciduous forests, dense forests and savannah grasslands. The park has constant water supply from lake and other water bodies. Hence it contains marshy grasslands throughout the year. Tourists can see many semi evergreen forests in park which are commonly used by many mammals as cover. The park is one of the best examples of ecosystem in the entire India.
The park has healthy population of flora. It is home to rarest medicinal and herbal plants. Some deep valleys contain trees with the height of 130 to 140 feet. They form thick cover which not allows bright sunlight to penetrate in forest. Near about 75 % of park is covered by semi evergreen forest. You can see species of tall trees like Hopea parviflora, Vateria indica, Canarium strictum, Bischofia javanica, Cullenia exarillata and Artocarpus hirsutus here. This park has more than 2000 kinds of flowering plants. Tourists can see here 170 different species of orchids and 169 families of sweet grasses. More than 350 different species of medicinal plants found here.
Wildlife found in Periyar wildlife sanctuary
The sanctuary is well known for rich population of elephants. More than 1000 elephants are resided here. The park has also good population of tigers and more 53 tigers counted here as per recent census. The other major mammals often seen here are guar, barking deer, Dholes, mouse deer, sambar, foxes, leopards and mongoose. It is also home for rare species of Niligiri taur, lion tailed macaque, Niligiri langur and bonnet macaque.
So for more than 329 various types of brids have been counted here. The species of birds include kingfishers, Malabar pied hornbill, racket tailed drongos, cormorants and darters. Tourists can see near about 45 species of reptiles here. Major species of reptile include monitor lizards, king cobra, python and many more. The park is also home to some species of caecilians and frogs. This place also home for more than 38 types of fish. Tourists can spot here more than 160 kinds of beautiful butterflies.
Major attraction in Periyar wildlife sanctuary
Lake palace – is located on small island and accessible by boat ride. It was summer capital of the Maharaja of Travancore. This palace is well known for its antique interior. The palace is now converted in resort and tourists can stay here to get familiar with wildlife.
Mangala temple is situated in the heart of forest. This temple is famous for its picturesque old stone structure.
Periyar Lake is artificial lake and spread over 26 sq km. elephants often comes here for drinking water. Lake offers cruise ride and tourists can see beauty of deep forest while ride. Boating on the Lake enables tourists to have a very close look of the wildlife that inhabits around the surrounding forests.
Nature walks of three hours offer opportunity to see the nature into its own turf. The route of walk passes through grasslands and forests providing unique experience to see small wildlife and rare birds.
Tourists can also take elephant ride to see wildlife in their natural inhabitants. They can also enjoy bamboo rafting in Lake organized by local people.
Best time to visit
The sanctuary experience heavy rainfall around 3000 mm in monsoon. It has typical Indian climate and summers are quite hot and humid here. Generally temperature lies above 35 centigrade in summers here. Winters are cool and calm as compare to other seasons here with average 20 centigrade temperature. Best time to visit this beautiful place is from November to April, because ofsuitable climatic conditions.
How to reach
By road – the park is well connected by daily bus services with cities like Cochin, Thiruvanandthapuram, Munnar and Madurai.
By rail – the nearest railway station is Ernakullam at a distance of 100 kilometers to reach the park by railway.
By air- Cochin international airport is the nearest airport to reach the park by flight, at a distance of 190 kilometers. It is well connected by regular flights with domestic as well as international cities.