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Periyar Lake their favorite haunt for frolicking in the water. Scores of them can be witnessed bathing and swimming here. The Indian female elephants do not posses tusks like their African relatives. They are also not as swarthy as their African counterparts.
Other inhabitants of Periyar include the leopard, wild dog,barking deer, mouse deer,Nilgiri languor (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.
However, an early morning visit, with luck on your side, could yield results. Amidst the rocky hinges along the lake, monitor lizards may be spotted. Trekkers have also sighted pythons, king cobras and flying lizards.
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Some 260 species of birds are found at Periyar. These include darters, cormorants, ibises, gray herons, mynas, flycatchers, orioles, wood pigeons, kingfishers, kites, ospreys, thrushes, and an appreciable number of blue-winged parakeets.
The months of March and April constitute the driest part of the year, because of which the animals spend a lot of time near the lake. Even the tiger may be spotted approaching the waters. Animals may be seen from motorboats on the lake or from watchtowers. A special permission is required to travel by boat to the source of the artificial lake, the River Periyar. This area is generally not open for tourists, but is the favorite haunt of the sloth bear. There is a good chance of spotting an occasional tiger in this relatively peaceful corner of the forest. One can also form a group and go on a walking tour with locally available guides.
KUMILY (4 km from Thekkady)
This plantation town, closely associated with Thekkady, is situated on the outskirts of the Periyar Sanctuary. It is an important shopping centre and spice trade centre. The main bus station and most of the medium range accommodation in the Periyar region is in Kumily.
MURIKKADY (5 km from Thekkady)
Washed in fresh spice scented air, Murikkady is a panorama of cardamom, coffee and pepper plantations.
THE PERIYAR WILDLIFE SANCTUARY (Entry : 0600 to 1800 hrs)
Lying close to the plantations in the rich jungles of Periyar in Thekkady is one of the world's most fascinating natural wildlife reserves - the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Spread across 777 sq. km, of which 360 sq. km is thick evergreen forest, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1978. Noted for its geo-morphological diversity of wildlife and scenic beauty, the Reserve attracts visitors from all over the world. The splendid artificial lake formed by the Mullaperiyar Dam across the Periyar River adds to the charm of the park. This is the only sanctuary in India where you can have the unique experience of viewing wildlife at close quarters from the safety of a boat on the lake. The greatest attraction of Periyar remains the large herds of wild elephants that come down to the lake's edge.
1. Boating through the placid lake provides the only opportunity to watch Elephants and other wild animals at close quarters.
2. Boating timings: 07.00, 09.30, 11.30, 14.00, 16.00
3. Charges: Rs. 75/- (Lower Deck) and Rs. 125/- (Upper Deck)
4. Trekking: 07.00 to 10.00
PANDIKUZHI (5 km from Kumily) : This picturesque place is cradled between Chellarkovil and the Tamil Nadu State border is a popular picnic spot. Pandikuzhi offers great opportunities for trekking and it is a photographer's delight.
MANGALA DEVI TEMPLE (15 km from Thekkady)
This ancient temple is hidden in the dense woods at the top of a peak 1337 M above sea level. The temple is built in the traditional Kerala style of architecture. Visitors are allowed here only on the Chithra Pournami festival day. The peak commands a panoramic view of the other side of the Ghats and the vast plains of Tamil Nadu. Permission to visit the area can be obtained from the Wildlife Warden at Thekkady.
CHELLAR KOVIL (15 km from Kumily)
This sleepy little village with its spectacular view of the plains (and cascading waterfalls during the monsoons) is a feast for your eyes. The village slopes down to the famous coconut groves of Kumbam in neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
VANDIPERIYAR (18 km from Thekkady)
The river Periyar flowing through the centre of this town nourishes its vast tea, coffee and pepper plantations. A major trade centre, Vandiperiyar is also home to a number of tea factories. The Government Agriculture Farm and Flower Gardens have a delightful array of rose plants, orchids and anthurium.
VANDANMEDU (25 km from Kumily)
This is one of the world's largest auction centres for Cardamom. A walk through the sprawling cardamom plantaions of Vandanmedu is a pleasent experience.
PULLUMEDU (43 km from Thekkady, 26 km from Periyar)
The winding journey to this hill town, along the Periyar river, offers a stunning view of the rolling hills draped in lush greenery. Velvet lawns, rare flora and fauna add to the beauty of Pullumedu which can be accessed from a jeep. The famous Sree Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala and the Makara Joythi illuminations at the shrine are visible from here. Since it is part of the restricted forest zone, special permission to visit Pullumedu has to be obtained from the Wildlife Preservation Officer, Thekkady.
AMMACHY KOTTARAM : This is an ancient summer palace built by the Maharaja of Travancore in the traditional Nalukettu style.
KUTTIKKANAM : A place for adventure tourism and trekking, or even langourous, tranquil break. This picturesque plantation town washed in the fragrance of cardamom is surrounded by lush-green, gentle hills.
THRISANGU HILLS (4 km from Peermedue, 1/2 km from Kuttikanam)
The rolling hills the lovely landscape and the gentle breeze make this an ideal spot for long walks. The hills offer a breathtaking view of the sunrise and sunset.
PEERU HILLS (4 km from Peermede; 1 km from Kuttikanam)
This idyllic hill station is a favourite haunt of trekkers and picnic teams. The hill is named after Peer Mohammed. the Muslim Sufi saint, who spent his last days here. The mausoleum of the saint, the summer palace of the royal family and the residence of the Diwan situated nearby are all worth a visit.
GRAMPI (5 km from Peermede; 10 km from Vandiperiyar)
Grampi is also known as Parunthupara (eagle rock) because of the panoramic view from its high peaks. Rocky plains, lush hillsides, forests, trekking trails and picturesque views lend charm to this destination. The road to Grampi is flanked by unending stretches of cardamom, tea and coffee plantations.
PATTUMALA (17 km east of Peermede; 28 km west of Thekkady)
Lofty peaks, little streams and ever expanding tea plantations are the attractions of this place. Pattumala (which literally means hill draped in silk) is home to the two most famous tea plantations in Kerala - Harrisons Malayalam and AV Thomas & Co. The Velamkanni Matha Church, built entirely of granite, at the top of the hill, is a famous pilgrim centre. The flower garden nearby is a fascinating riot of colours of roses, orchids and anthurium
NEDUMKANDA A longish town extending along the 2 km stretch of road somewhat midway between Kumily and Munnar. A town with a history of less than four decades. It is a testimony to the high rate of migration from the low lands of Kerala in this time span. Where elephants roamed until the early sixties there are now computer training centres and a spate of Government offices littered among the business centres. Pepper and cardamom are the mainstays of the economy. Pepper cultivation is predominantly a Malayalee activity. Holdings are small, generally ranging from 10 cents to 5 acres and a couple of cows for a family are a rule. In the dawn hours, riders with pails of milk can be seen descending to the town from their boards in the hills around Nedumkandam. The milk, collected by societies and carted off to Kochi, Kottayam etc has sustained many a family in the lean years after their pepper vines were decimated by the wilt disease.Cardamom farms are larger and about half of the owners are Tamilians whose parents ascended the ghats from Cumbam, Bodinaikanur areas of Tamil Nadu to cultivate the forest soils of the Cardamom Hill Reserve areas.

GAVI Spread across the beauty of the Periyar Tiger Reserve,Gavi is a quiet,beautiful and pristine forest haven. The Gavi division of the Kerala Forest Development Corporation takes you on a rare journey through the vast expanse of the tropical wet evergreen forests to observe at close quarters the spectacular flora & fauna of the Western Ghats lying adjacent to the Periya Tiger Reserve.

SAFARI TO GAVI Gavi is 30 kms from vandiperiyar, a town on the KK road,17 kms from Kumily near Thekkady. The transfer from Vandiperiyar to Gavi is possible only on sturdy vehicles like the jeep. Jeeps are available on hire at Vandiperiyar(see map). Appropriate entry passes at the two forest check posts en-route Vallakadavu and pachakanam are required for entry. Prior permission from the Kerala Forest Development Corporation is recommended for tourists seeking entry through these chech posts.