Tourist Places - Thekkady - Kerala
Thekkady is a small town in Idukki district, and is a part of the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. It covers 777sq km area of thick jungle. It is home to Indian bison, Sambar, Nilgiri Tahr, Elephant, and 46 Tigers. The most appealing sight in Periyar is the artificial lake which was made by a British engineer, Colonel J Pennycuick. He diverted the water of the River Periyar towards Tamil Nadu and thus the lake was formed flowing through the forests of Western Ghats. The sanctuary was later declared as a Tiger Reserve in 1978. The Forest is unpolluted as there are no vehicles allowed into the forest. The lake is the only means of transport inside the sanctuary. Therefore trekking is not on adventurous here but also healthy and refreshing. Those who are Fond of wildlife and are hardcore nature fans will never leave Thekkady unsatisfied. Tribal communities such as “mannans”, “uralis” and many other live in the Periyar forests. Many of them are trained guides and guards of the wildlife sanctuary as they know the woods well are alert to every movement inside the forest. Thekkady is also known for its spices. The spice plantations in Thekkady are worth a visit, as the aroma of famous Indian spices that is spread in and around the plantation seduce you, touching your highest senses. The visitors can learn how these spices are cultivated, harvested and processed.
Bamboo Rafting The most exciting and refreshing way to get deep into the wild secrets of the Periyar, floating on the river Periyar and exploring the thick jungle by the side, spotting the wild animals like Giant squirrel, Sambar deer, Elephants, bison and so on in their natural habitat, Bamboo Rafting is the most desired activity by the visitors. Depending upon the time you wish to spend at the forests, you can choose from various rafting packages.
- 7.30 am to 12.30 pm [Including breakfast]
- 9.30 am to 2.30 pm [Including Lunch]
- 8 am to 5 pm [Including Breakfast and Lunch]
The 8am- 5pm whole day trek is recommended for those who do not want to miss any part of Periyar wildlife. This activity is conducted by the Forest Department and therefore it is really safe. You will be seated on a raft made of bamboos, and 4 guides and an armed forest guard will accompany you through the forests. The guides are mostly tribal who knows the nook and corner of their home Periyar. They know every species of various animals living in the forests and therefore can give you an intricate detail about the wildlife. Food will be served to you on the way and you can eat at the middle of the forest.
Boating at Periyar Lake The artificial Periyar Lake is a brilliant example of engineering masterpiece. It is the only way of transport inside the sanctuary, and thereby is the most easy and economical way to get an overall feel of the sanctuary. You can spot elephants, deer, bison and many other animals during this 2 hour boat ride around the lake as it is the major source of water for those living in the wilderness of Periyar.
Nature Walk and Green Walk at Periyar Tiger Reserve This is a 3 hours trek through the moist deciduous forests of Periyar. You can spot rare birds and wild animals like Elephants, Deer, Bison and so on in the midst of lush and thick woods. The Program is conducted from 7 am to 3 pm. You will be accompanied by a trained tribal guide. A team of 5 guests can participate at a time.
Gavi Jungle Jeep Safari A Jeep safari amidst the wild lands of Gavi is a thrilling and exciting experience. It is 36 kms from Periyar and is one of the leading Eco- tourism centers in India. Gavi is so popular among the wildlife lovers and adventure enthusiasts. This program includes Jeep safari through the jungle reaching Gavi, trekking, and pedal boating to the nearby Gavi waterfalls. It is categorized into 2 packages, out of which the guests can choose their desired pick-
- Safari and Camping at Gavi: This program includes a 36km jeep ride through the jungle, a 3 km trek and finally pedal boating to the waterfalls. At night, guests can choose their stay at a hotel, a treehouse or even tents at the middle of the forest which is an exhilarating experience. All meals are provided en route.
- Day trip to Gavi: For those who do not want to stay overnight can go for this package, and enjoy everything starting from the jungle jeep safari, a 3 km trek and pedal boating to the waterfalls. Breakfast and lunch is included and will be served en route.
Spice Plantations Visit Periyar is literally, the spice basket of Kerala. More than 70 % of the cardamom produced in the nation is growing at Periyar. What makes this plantation visit worthwhile is that the aroma of cardamom spread throughout the plantation will try to seduce you holding you there for a long time. While you move along these plantations, you will be immersed in the flawless beauty of these green shrubs growing on both sides well organized and layered. Other than Cardamom, Periyar is also famous for its Pepper plantations. Clove, Cinnamon, and Vanilla also adds to the list.
The Spice plantation visit is not just a sightseeing place rather it is also educating people about growing, harvesting and processing of these spices. You will be accompanied by the naturalists of the area, who will explain to you everything about the same. You will also learn about what makes Kerala cuisines different, considering its popularity being spicy.
Tribal Dance There are many tribal communities living at Periyar Tiger Reserve like the Mannans, the Uralis and many others. Their heritage tribal dance form is a unique art form to witness and learn. Inorder to provide an opportunity for the guests to enjoy this traditional art form and also a livelihood for these tribal communities, there are tribal dance shows conducted everyday evening at 6pm- 7pm. This one hour program also includes a brief introduction about the tribal communities residing at Periyar and also about the costumes and musical instruments they use while performing this traditional art form.
Bullock Cart Ride A Bullock cart ride through the countryside is for sure a must experience activity at Periyar. While you move along slowly in a bullock cart, you will witness the vineyards, sunflower fields, mangoes, jasmine etc. You can see for yourself how the village people spend their daily life for bread and butter and how everything moves during a typical day at Periyar. There are 2 options for this ride, one starts by 6am in the morning, and the other is 2.30pm noon.
Tiger Trail This is the most adventurous activity at Periyar tiger reserve and is meant for equally adventurous tourists and hardcore nature fans. Tiger trail is conducted as one night or 2 night program as per the convenience of the guests. You will cover 25 to 35 kms of forest area trekking starting from early morning. People who have atleast minimum level of fitness are allowed for this program as the trek includes a lot of uphill and downhill which might use up all your energy.
The program is conducted by former poachers of the forests who are now working as guides. Normally, a team of 5 visitors, 5 guides and 2 forest officials start trekking at 9 am morning and return back the next day or 2 days after by noon. At night you will be camping in the middle of the thick jungle and fresh vegetarian food is cooked right in front of your eyes by trained guides accompanying you. Visitors cannot expect a 5 star facility in the middle of the forest, so those participating in this program should be well prepared and aware of it before opting for the same.
Jungle Scout or Night Trekking Jungle scout is a 3 hours night trekking program conducted at 3 time periods (7pm-10pm, 10pm-1am, 1am- 4am). 12 persons are allowed to participate in 2 different groups.
Border Hiking This is yet another hard trek through the dense Periyar forests. 12 persons can take part in this program at a time, divided into 2 separate groups starting from 2 different starting points. The team will be accompanied by 3 guides and 1 armed forest guard each. The opportunity to spot the wild animals on the way like Elephants, Gaur, Bear is high.
Pugmark Trial Pugmark Trail is the latest addition to the Ecotourism Initiative at Periyar. It is a self guided tour starting at the entrance gate of the Periyar Tiger Reserve. Minimum of 20 persons are only allowed at a time. The timing starts from 7.30 am in the morning and concludes by 5pm in the evening.
Thekkady is situated at an altitude of 2800 meters above sea level. The air is salubrious and rejuvenating with so many trees growing around. The climate is pleasant throughout the year.
Summer - By March the summer season starts at Thekkady and ends in May. The maximum temperature is 34°c. It is a good time to visit Thekkady. With clear skies, and bright sunlight lighting up the greenery, the visitors get a pleasant feel of Periyar.
Monsoon - By the time Monsoon starts at Thekkady, the tourist inflow decreases as the rain continuously showers upon Periyar, which makes it difficult to enjoy walking around. So those who want a pleasant experience at Thekkady should avoid Monsoon.
Winter - This is the favorite period of the visitors, as the climate is cool and the monsoon leaves Periyar clean and green. The season starts by December and lasts till February.
By Road - Madurai [138kms], Kochi [158kms], Kottayam [107kms] are the cities near to Thekkady and can be easily connected by driving through the National Highway. Kerala State Government bus service is available from cities within Kerala towards Kumily. Tamil Nadu State bus service is available from Madurai to reach Kumily.
By Air - The nearest International airport is Madurai International Airport and Kochi International Airport which are 136 kms and 190 kms away respectively. Fly down any of these airports and grab a taxi to Thekkady.
By Rail - Kottayam is the nearest railway station 110 kms away from Kumily. There are frequent trains available from all major cities in India to Kottayam.