THEKKADY – Lord Of The Jungles
Located near the Tamil Nadu border in Kerala’s Idukki district, Thekkady has much to offer to the adventurous traveller. It is the entrance to the Periyar Wildlife Reserve, a vast protected forest space named after the Periyar, or the Big River. The reserve falls in the southern segment of the Western Ghats in the Cardamom Hills at an altitude of 2,900-6,000 ft. Covering an area of 777sq km, it is one of the 18 hotspots in the world recognised for their biodiversity.
Within the three kinds of forests in the sanctuary – evergreen, grass¬lands and moist deciduous – dwell different species of animal and plants. The reserve is located in the most dramatic of settings possible, comprising of stunning mountain ranges, beautiful valleys, spectacular lakes and rivers.
The most comfortable way to see the sanctuary is on a boat ride on the man-made Periyar Lake.
Entry Indian Adults Rs.33, Children Rs.5; Foreigners Rs.450, Children Rs.150 Timings 6.30 am-5.00 pm Photography Rs.38 Videography Rs.300 Vehicles Rs.75
Thekkady is one of the favorite tourist destinations in Kerala that offers many exciting things to see and do. Other than exploring the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary or enjoy a boat ride in the Periyar Lake, you can find many other attractions in this hill station. Take a look at some of the not-so famous tourist spots in Thekkady. The country’s largest Tiger reserve, Thekkady is a dream destination for any tourist visiting India. Located at an altitude of 700m above the sea level along the banks of Periyar, it has all the ingredients in right measure: fun, adventure, nature and wildlife. ‘Mullaperiyar’ – the 120 years old ‘Surki’ Dam, the artificial lake, the wildlife sanctuary and a rich tribal culture are some of the chief attractions. Once you step into the forest, you are sure to spot Asian elephants, bison, sambar deer, boars, tigers, leopards, wild squirrels, lion tailed monkeys etc.
Thekkady is, in short, a pleasant heaven on earth with its bountiful treasures of tropical flora and fauna of the Western Ghats. The best time to visit Thekkady is between October to March, as the climate is comparatively cooler and ideal for sightseeing, especially for sightseeing in the forest. It is also around this time of the year the tourist festivals are also conducted.
Looking for a picturesque place for a day picnicking? You will be delighted to visit Pandikuzhi because of its scenic landscape. It is an awe-inspiring location that lies between Chellarkovil and Tamil Nadu. The place is full of gorgeous streams and exotic flora and fauna.
Panchalimedu is a charming hill station near Thekkady. It is close to Kuttikanam and people visit this spot because of its majestic landscape. You will be able to enjoy long views of five districts in Kerala. You need to travel around 7 kilometers through Amalagiri from NH220 to reach this spot. Panchalimedu derived its name from the story of Pandavas and Draupadi. It is believed that Pandavas and their beautiful wife Draupadi spend many years in the forests of this region during their exile. People visit this place to watch the interesting and intriguing stones. Most of them have unique shapes and believed that they were used by Pandavas.
It is worth visiting the sleepy village, Chellarkovil during your trip to Thekkady. It will be a refreshing experience for the travelers to visit this picnic spot because of its amazing natural beauty. Besides, you will love the peaceful and calm atmosphere of the destination. Just watch the gleaming sunlight reflected on the beautiful waterfalls which can be a mesmerizing experience. Remember to carry your camera to catch exquisite photographs.
Home to tea and coffee plantations, Vandiperiyar is a beautiful place to visit. It also has large spice plantations and the River Periyar that flows through this region makes the area fertile. Pay a visit to the Government Agricultural Farm and Flower Garden. You can watch an attractive collection of Orchids, Roses and Anthuriums in this place.
Another must-visit place during your Thekkady trip is Grampi. It is an enchanting hill station with rolling hills, green valleys and peaceful atmosphere. People love to visit this picnic spot because of its scenic valleys and panoramic landscape.
Mangala Devi Temple
Hidden deep inside the forests of Thekkady, visiting the Mangala Devi Temple can be a wonderful experience. The most interesting feature of this temple is that it opens only once in a year for a few days. It opens up in the month of March on Chitra Pournami. Devotees can offer their prayers during this time. A lot of people from Kerala and Tamil Nadu visit this Mangala Devi Temple to celebrate the annual festival on this day.
Gavi is certainly a must-visit tourist destination because of its panoramic nature. Include it in your itinerary if you are a nature lover and plan a trip to Thekkady. It is an eco-tourism spot with unmatched natural beauty and famous for its exotic wildlife. There are a few fine accommodation options in this tourist spot. Besides, the destination offers a beautiful garden, restaurant and a museum. Travelers can enjoy guided services to explore the place. You can also enjoy several activities like boating, jeep safaris, trekking and plantation visits. It must be amazing for you to watch the endemic animals and colorful bird life during your trip to Gavi.
Activities in Thekkady
The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is a well-known tiger and elephant reserve. It undertakes numerous conservation activities for the preservation of these species. With just over 20 tigers spread out over an area of nearly 800 acres, however, visitors are far more likely to spot other animals, like elephants, leopards, gaurs, chital (spotted) and sambar deer, gaurs and dhole. The sanctuary is also home to a number of smaller carnivores, such as small cats, mongoose, marten and ratel.
Periyar is a paradise for bird¬watchers. The forests inside the reserve and the lake attract many kinds of birds; some residents, others migrants. One way to spot members of the avian community is to sign up for one of the bird- spotting treks and ask specifically for a guide familiar with birds. For those who do not have time for a trek, a walk from the main gate to the boat jetty early in the morning will afford sightings of up to 50 species such as orange-headed ground thrushes, forest wagtails, kingfishers, woodpeckers, ospreys and white-necked storks.
The lake provides a safe vantage point for experiencing Periyar’s wildlife. Visitors can watch animals, birds, fish and butterflies of many different kinds from a bamboo raft on the lake. Even though it is man¬made, and perhaps constructed keeping in mind the needs of the visitors more than those of the forest, over the years, the reservoir has developed into an aquatic ecosystem with a number of creeks, promontories and small islets that serve as a habitat for wildlife.
The Spice Garden offers you more reasons to grow and go greener. Actually a hands-on museum, the exhibits featured here are genuinely different. They range from specimens of exotic flora found in the Western Ghats to a wide variety of tea, cardamom and coffee. The garden museum helps people learn and understand the use, quality and storage of spices. Several painfully sourced herbs are also available here. Browsing the comprehensive exhibition in the colonial atmosphere of Thekkady is sure to take you back in time and gift you with a lot of sweet memories to cherish.
The sight of herd of wild elephants in the forest while on a jungle safari is an unforgettable experience, indeed. But how about meeting and riding on one? Especially on one that is docile, domesticated, friendly and extremely handsome! Ever spared a thought? There are several places in Thekkady that offers elephant rides for the benefit of the tourists. Make sure you experience one in the cool and pleasant climate of Thekkady.
Experience breath-taking moments filled with excitement. Witness the Kathakali artists performing this ancient form of traditional dance. Get spellbound as they convey various emotions of the characters they portray through their eyes, facial expressions, highly artistic costumes and with their body movements. This age-old art form presents characters and scenes from mostly Hindu scriptures and folklore. Regular performances are conducted at various Kathakali centres in and around Thekkady for the discerning tourists.
Famed as the mother of all martial arts, Kalaripayattu is one of the oldest fighting styles in the world. It is the traditionally practiced martial art of Kerala. This ancient art-form showcases the mind’s control over the body, flexibility of the muscles and various other forms of exercises. Performed by highly skilled and trained artists, the performance showcases their fighting skills with bare hands and metallic weapons like swords, spears, shield and others.
Ayurveda believes in the correlation of body and mind with soul. Soul exists in a more subtle form before the existence of physical form called body. The energetic essence of soul has a huge influence on the well-being of the human body. Since in order to allow the mind and the body to integrate their functions to keep us healthy and happy, maintaining the clarity of senses is highly essential. The rightful administration of ayurvedic medications and massages, the climate of the location also plays a great role. There are several places in Thekkady that offers authentic health packages of Ayurveda for the tourists.
Jeep Safari – Gavi / Tamil Nadu Farm Visit
The jeep safari to Gavi is undoubtedly one of the must-do activities once you are in Thekkady. Gavi, a picturesque land, ideal for a wilderness retreat has it all for the adventure and nature lovers – trekking, bird watching, canoeing and wildlife sightings. A major off-the-track destination, the place offers attractions like biological garden, with hills and valleys, tropical forests, sprawling grass lands, sholas, cascading waterfalls and cardamom plantation in addition to being home to quite a few endangered species like lion tailed macaque and nilgiri tahrs etc. The jeep safaris may also be taken to organic farms across the state border, in the village of Tamil Nadu. The trip is as exciting as the destination to which it takes you.
Thekkady is ideal for undergoing Ayurvedic massages, reason being most apt climatic conditions, and the availability of highly authentic forms treatment measures.
As entry into most forest areas are prohibited after 6 pm, cultural programmes like Kathakali and Kalaripayattu performances are best form of diversions. Therefore, it would be ideal to plan before hand and schedule the performances towards the night hours.
- Kumily, is a growing strip of resorts, hotels, shops and emporiums located at about 4 km from Periyaar Wildlife Sanctuary
- Thekkady is the centre where Periyaar Wildlife Sanctuary is located. The place is replete with hotels – KTDC and others, and the boat jetty.
People tend to use the names of Kumily, Thekkady and Periyar interchangeably while talking about the sanctuary. This could be confusing to a traveller unfamiliar with the area.
Community Based Eco Tourism Programmes
The Periyar tiger reserve is a very well maintained area managed by the forest department in Kerala. The area is clean and if you are looking for a peaceful walk through its dense forest of towering trees and artistic roots, it’s an ideal place. Jungle Camp is envisaged as a programme where visitors get an opportunity to camp outdoors in tents in the sylvan surroundings of the forest. The site is located at the river viewpoint along the banks of the Periyar river at Vallakkadavu in Periyar Tiger Reserve and nestled in picturesque surroundings.
This ecotourism package includes an orientation programme, a safari to Gavi, wildlife film shows, bird watching, trekking and a complimentary boat trip (optional) on the famous Periyar Lake. Dinner on the first day and breakfast and lunch on the second day are included in the package.
No. of huts : 15 nos. (double occupancy)
Max. Persons : 2 nos./hut
Check In : 03.30 pm
Checkout : 02.00 pm
(complementary boating can be availed after the checkout time).
Tribal Heritage – tribal art performance
The Periyar Tiger Reserve is home to many tribal communities including the Mannans and the Palians. A visit to the Reserve provides visitors with the unique opportunity to visit these tribal communities. The Tribal Heritage Programme organized as part of the ecotourism programme provides an insight into the lives of these communities.
Periyar Tiger Reserve is a model worldwide for the harmonious co-existence between indigenous tribal communities and forests. There are six tribal communities nestled in Periyar Tiger Reserve namely Mannans, Paliyans, Malayarayans, Mala Pandarams, Uralis and Ulladans. The Tribal Heritage tribal art performance provides an exclusive opportunity to witness the rich cultural heritage of Paliyans’ and Mannans’ tribal dances. This one-hour tribal dance performance also includes a brief introduction to the tribal communities, information on various musical instruments and costumes used for the dance performance as well as a memorable photo session with these tribal communities.
Time : 6pm – 7pm
Venue : Vanasree auditorium, Anavachal
Periyar Tiger Trail – adventure trekking & camping
A unique programme conducted by a team of ex-poachers-turned-protectors of the forests. They are having extensive knowledge of forest terrain and biodiversity. Here, visitors obtain an opportunity to encounter some of the interesting wildlife of Periyar Tiger Reserve, such as Nilgiri langur, giant squirrel, elephant, gaur, sambar and, who knows, even the tiger! The trek route covers hills and valleys with a variety of tropical plant life. Vegetarian cuisine and tents for stay will be provided during the memorable night that follows. Remember to listen to unusual and hair-raising adventure stories from your hospitable guides accompanying the team.
The programme is unique in being conducted by a team of poachers who turned protectors of the forests. The team members are hardy and dependable with an intimate knowledge of the forest terrain. The programmes are 1 night/2 days and 2 nights/3 days. The first day’s trek starts at 9 am and ends by noon in the second or third day. The team consists of a maximum of 5 visitors, 5 guides and 2 forest officials. Normally 20 to 35 kms. of trekking distance will be covered, depending on the route chosen.
Here, one may chance to encounter much indigenous wildlife like Nilgiri langur, giant squirrel, elephant and who knows, even the tiger! The trek route passes through hills and valleys with a variety of tropical plants and wide-open spaces. Enroute vegetarian meals will be prepared and served and country tents will be pitched for holing up in the night. Trekking groups are accompanied by armed forest guards with good communication equipments, and geared to face any emergency situation. Remember to listen to unusual and strange adventure stories of the former poachers, now your guides and protectors of the forests.
Preconditions for joining the tiger trail
Visitors who are medically fit and aged between 15 – 65 are advised to take the tiger trail. Visitors should be serious nature lovers willing to sacrifice some of the luxuries and comforts of a hotel.
Nature Walk – the guided day trek
Different nature trails traversing diverse habitats form the trekking routes, generally 4 to 5 km. in length. This is an interpretive programme offering excellent opportunity to watch birds, butterflies and other wildlife. The trails often pass through evergreen and moist deciduous forests interspersed with marshy grasslands.
An interpretative programme offering an excellent opportunity to watch birds, butterflies and other wildlife The trail often passes through evergreen and moist deciduous forests interspersed with marshy grasslands. One can feel nature, hear her whispers and smell her flowers through this programme. A maximum of 6 persons can go in a slot There are two slots offered along two routes every day.
The programme is offered between 7.00 am. and 10.30 am. and between 2.00 pm. and 3.00 pm. and lasts for about 3 hours. A maximum of 5 persons can go for trekking at a time along each nature trail, accompanied by a trained tribal guide. The Nature walk is the right programme to feel nature, hear her whispers and smell her flowers.
Jungle Scout – shepherding the jungle
This programme envisages a three-hour trek during the night hours, providing a rare opportunity to observe some of the interesting night-life of Periyar Tiger Reserve, such as civets, mouse deer, flying squirrel and various nocturnal bird species, at their silent best.
Visitors will also be contributing directly to protecting the buffer zone and fringe areas of the Reserve, as they travel in the company of forest watchers and trained guides. Visitors intending to participate in this programme are expected to have good level of physical and mental fitness, required for travelling through the wilderness at night.
Three slots are offered along 2 routes.
Slots : 7 pm -10 pm, 10 pm -1 am, 1am – 4 am
Reporting venue : Entrance Gate & Bamboo grove
Jungle Inn – a niche in the jungle
Jungle Inn, located in a quiet and serene location within the forests of Periyar Tiger Reserve, is custom-made for couples who want to get away from the madding crowd. Here one can experience natural calmness, tranquility and peace of mind while unearthing the mysteries of the jungle night and listening to the rhythms of the forest. Included in the package are activities such as trekking, bird watching and complimentary boating on the Periyar Lake.
The forest cottage at Kokkara, about an hour walk from the Forest check post is an ideal place to board two persons hoping to share the quietness of the jungle night. Here one could relax, read a book, listen to the cicada or simply watch the forests outside.
The high point of the programme is walking through different forest types at prime time when animals tend to be more active. One can watch troops of langurs, giant squirrels, etc., besides many birds along this stretch. Who knows, if the goddess of fortune blesses you, a tiger could come out of the bushes chasing a herd of sambar deer!
The check in time and check out time are 3 pm. and 9 am. the following day respectively. Tea, snacks and dinner are provided.
Green Walk – the guided day trek
Whispering winds in the canopy of green leaves; birds calling all around in a mixed flock; butterflies floating away through the enchanting greenery. You may come across anything on the trail even a lone animal moving silently. Nature amazes you through many off its mysterious expression.
This informative trekking programme through a variety of landscapes such as grasslands, evergreen forests and moist deciduous forests is an ideal opportunity for nature enthusiasts. Listen to the myriad sounds of nature and be astounded by the sheer variety of life forms that the forests have to offer. A maximum of 6 persons are allotted to each time slot, with three slots each along two routes through the Reserve.
Different nature trails traversing diverse habitats form the trekking routes, generally 4 to 5 km. in length. This is an interpretive programme offering excellent opportunity to watch birds, butterflies and other wildlife. The trails often pass through evergreen and moist deciduous forests interspersed with marshy grasslands. The Green Walk is the right programme to feel nature, hear her whispers and smell the fragrance of wild flowers.
Starting time: 7.00 am & 7.30 am/ 11.00 am & 11.30am/ 2.00 pm & 2.30 pm
Reporting venue : Near Tiger Bungalow, Anavachal
Border Hiking – traversing along the mountain ridges
Protection oriented range hiking
Conservation oriented hard trek, starts at 8 o’ clock in the morning and ends in the evening. The route passes through undulating terrains. Altitudinal ranges of 900 meters to 1300 meters will be covered and the trekkers could glimpse the lofty escarpments bordering the park watershed and the vast plains down below. Gaur, sloth bear, elephant, etc. are often sighted apart from birds and butterflies. Maximum of 12 tourists can take the programme in two different groups. The trekkers will go with two guides and an armed forest guard.
A dawn to dusk hiking programme which covers the richest part of the Periyar Tiger Reserve from morning 8am to evening 5pm that starts from two points, the Tiger Bungalow and Entrance Gate in which the guest is accompanied by an armed forest guard and two guides. This programme is provided with Food and One litre water.
Gaur, sloth bear, elephant, sambar etc. are often sighted, apart from innumerable birds and butterflies. Two different routes are offered for this programme, with a maximum of 6 visitors along each route. Each group will be accompanied by one guide and a forest guard.
Reporting time: 7.45 am
Starting point : Bamboo Grove / Entrance Gate
Bamboo Rafting – a unique voyage across the periyar lake
Dawn to dusk range hiking and Rafting – A day-long rafting-cum-trekking programme through some of the riches forest tracts of Periyar Tiger Reserve.
A dawn to dusk range hiking and rafting programme through some of the richest forest tracts of Periyar Tiger Reserve., a mosaic of habitats will be traversed before the party gets into rafts made of bamboos. The rafting is for about three hours and one gets a panoramic view of forest-clad hills. Animals like elephant, gaur and sambar are sighted keeping close to the edges of the lake. The team hitchhikes back by about 5 pm.
A dawn to dusk hiking and rafting programme which we can spot the Famous Periyar Lake and covers the richest part of the forest in Periyar Tiger Reserve that starts from the Boat Landing by 8am and ends by 5pm at Boat landing in which the guest is accompanied by an Armed Forest Guard and 6 Guides. This programme is provided with Food and One litre of water. The programme is about 10km of walking and 3-4 hour rafting in the Periyar Lake in which the guest can enjoy a rich part of the forest. The timing of this trek is from 8am to 5pm in which maximum 15 persons and minimum 2 persons to run this programme.
Reporting time – 7.45 am
Reporting venue – Boat landing
Bamboo Groves – Eco-lodge & Centre. For Experimental Learning
An eco-lodge for experiential learning run exclusively by Forest Department initiative to support local communities. The fifteen bamboo huts with hygienic and modern furnishings are placed between bamboo thickets. The ambience of Bamboo Grove provides an opportunity to listen to the whistling of bamboo culms, chirping of birds and the flow of small rivulets emerging out from the swamps of the surrounding Periyar meadows. The Bamboo Grove programme also offers an eco-friendly environment to conduct seminars, symposiums, workshops and training programs in the centrally located ‘Kalari\ a conference hall with audio¬visual facilities.
The Bamboo Grove package consists of an orientation programme, a visit to a tribal colony, wildlife film shows, bird watching, trekking and a complimentary boat ride on the famous Periyar Lake. Lunch and dinner on the first day and breakfast on the second day are included in the package.
No. of huts : 15 nos. (double occupancy).
Max. persons : 2 nos./hut.
12.30 pm : Check in.
11.00 am : Checkout
For more information and advance booking please Contact:
The Ecotourism Centre Ambadi Junction, Thekkady, Idukki.
Tel: +91 4869 224571, +91 8547603011
When to go Visit from September- March to experience brilliant greenery without the rains. This is also the best time to spot migrant birds. Summer, though hot, is good for wildlife-spotting.
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, Nedumbassery (190 km / 4 hrs). Prepaid taxis (Tel: 0484-2610115 extn: 2107) will cost about Rs. 5,000 – 6,000
Nearest rail head: Kottayam (110 km / 3.5 hrs). Taxis to Thekkady will cost around Rs. 3,500
Thekkady is 5 km from Kumily on NH220, which links Kollam to Theni in Tamil Nadu via Kottayam (107km), Peermade (25km) and Vandiperiyar (14km). Thekkady lies on SH19, which runs through the length of eastern Idukki District from Munnar to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary Bus The KSRTC Bus Stand at Kumily (Tel: 04869-224242) is connected to Kottayam, Alleppey, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Munnar, among other places in Kerala