Also called the Thekkady Wildlife Sanctuary, Periyar is ideal for watching
the animals in their natural habitat, mainly wild Elephants. A boat ride on
the splendid artificial lake that is within the sanctuary is the best way
to view the wilds of the Nilgiri hills
The pride of Kerela and a testimony to nature's splendour and human innovation, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is situated on the banks of the Periyar lake, which is an artificial lake, at Thekkady. Here the high ranges of the Western Ghats are clothed in dense evergreen, moist deciduous forests and savannah grass lands. Below this thick green canopy roam herds of Elephants, Sambars, Tigers, Gaurs, Lion Tailed Macaques and Nilgiri Langurs. Because of its loacation Periyar wild sanctuary is considered the finest sanctuary for viewing and photographing Indian wild Elephants.
Periyar sanctuary is spread across 777 sq. kms, of which 360 sq. kms. is
thick evergreen forest. The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary was declared a Tiger
Reserve in 1978. Noted for its eomorphology,diversity of wildlife and scenic
beauty, the Reserve attracts visitors and wildlife enthusiasts from all across
the world and is one of the world's most fascinating natural wildlife reserves.
Kerala,promoted as God's. own country, hosts the finest site for viewing
the Asian Elephant. Its foremost attraction is the rambling Periyar Lake that,
despite submerging some prime forest, turned out to be a blessing in disguise
for its wildlife. The lake was formed when the Periyar River was dammed in
1895 in an irrigation project to provide water to the arid regions in the
cast. The project was later upgraded into a full-fledged hydroelectric plant.
It is claimed that this gigantic project caused minimal damage to the wilderness. A few years after its completion, a large tract was demarcated as a reserved forest. In the 1930s, the lake and the nearby forests were declared a sanctuary. Finally, in 1977, Periyar came under Project Tiger. The hills and valleys of Periyar are covered with mixed-deciduous forest, generously touched by evergreen trees and interspersed by grasslands. The lake is shored mostly by dense tall forest and covers about 50 sq km when the water level is at its highest. Ghostly stumps of trees can be glimpsed
Nowhere but in Periyar con the lordly Asian Elephant be observed with ease and regularity through the winter mists as they jut out of the dark waters, often capped by some large waterbirds. The ideal time to visit Periyar is from October to April. Herds of elephants can easily be seen while occasionally a solitary tusker emerges from the tall curtain of forest. Slow-moving boats are perfect for viewing these dawdling creatures. Sometimes Gaur is sighted at the water's edge together with Sambar, Spotted Deer, Wild Boar and otters. A pack of wild dogs can set off a flurry of activity. Very few visitors have had the good fortune to see a tiger emerging into the open for a drink.
Giant squirrels and the Nilgiri Langur are often seen in the forest canopy. There are nearly 280 species of birds, but from a boat the woodland birds would be more audible than visible. Cormorants, darters, storks, kingfishers and other waterbirds are easier to see on the lake. Excellent walking routes around Thekkady provide insights into the dense jungle and better views of the woodland birds.
Amongst the plethora of problems to be tackled by the park management at Periyar are the spreading spice plantations, livestock grazing and forest fires. The reserve is a very popular destination, averaging a quarter of a million visitors each year.
The Sabarimala Ayyappan Temple in the western part of the reserve is a major draw.
In addition to Elephant rides, cruises on the lake and treks to the ruined Mangala Devi temple - a beautiful old stone temple situated in the heart of the Thekkady forest. Periyar sanctuary offers the unique opportunity to watch and photograph wild Elephants at close quarters.
MAMMALS Asian Elephant, Tiger, Leopard, Wild Dog (Dhole), Gaur (Indian Bison), Nilgiri Langur, Lion-tailed Macaque (below), Sambar, Barking Deer, Small Indian Civet, Striped-necked Mongoose, Indian
Giant Squirrel, Large Brown Flying Squirrel, Slender Loris, Common Otter
BIRDS RAPTORS Osprey, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Crested Goshawk, Black Baza, Besra, Brown Fish Owl, Brown Hawk Owl
WOODLAND/Scrub Grey Junglefowl, Painted Bush Quail, Red Spurfowl, Greateared Nightjar, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Great Hornbill (above), Malabar Pied Hornbill, White-bellied Woodpecker, Malabar Parakeet, Dollarbird, Malabar Trogon, White bellied Treepie, Chestnut-headed Bee-cater, Wynaad Laughingthrush WATERSIDE Great Cormorant, Darter, Woolly-necked Stork, Pied Kingfisher
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