Periyar Tiger Reserve, Thekkady, is an example of nature’s bounty, with great scenic charm, rich bio diversity and providing veritable visitor satisfaction. Sprawled over an area of 925 Sq .km., Periyar is one of the 27 tiger reserves in India.
Zealously guarded and efficiently managed reserve is a repository of rare, endemic and endangered flora and fauna and forms the major watershed of two important rivers of Kerala, the Periyar and Pamba. Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (PNP) is a protected area. It is notable as an elephant reserve and a tiger reserve.
The splendid artificial lake formed by the Mullaperiyar Dam across the Periyar River adds to the charm of the park. The greatest attractions of Periyar are the herds of wild elephants, deers, bisons that come down to drink in the lake.
Sanctuary can be accessed through a trekking, boating or jeep safari. Thekkady is considered as a heaven for natural spices such as black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, nutmace, ginger, and clove. Periyar wild Life Sanctuary makes Thekkady a must see destination in Kerala.
Around three fourth of the sanctuary area is covered with evergreen and semi evergreen rain forests while a part of the remaining area is covered by damp leaves forest Eukalyptus plantation and grassland. The rest of the area is covered by Periyar River and Pamba River. The floral attractions of the park are approximately 2000 species of flowering plants, 171 grass species and 143 species of orchids. The tall trees of the forest rise upto a height of 130 to 140 feet!
Approximately 62 species of animals await to welcome visitors on their trip to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. The most ferocious of these, undoubtedly is the Tiger. Many tourists visit Periyar just in order to get a glimpse of the Tiger, that according to estimates number between 35-40. However, there is still a larger number of tourists who come here because of the Indian Elephants. The huge mammal is found in pretty large number in Periyar Sanctuary - around 1000. Other animals that manage to make their presence felt quiet decently amidst these two are Leopards, Otters, Nilgiri Langurs, Common Langurs, Bonnet Macaques, Lion Tailed Macaque, Malabar Squirrel, Wild Boar, Sambar, Barking Deer, Mouse Deer, Nilgiri Tahr, Dhole, porcupines, Gaur and Sloth Bears
The reptile population of the park is also commendable with around 45 species found. Out of these, a majority (30) of them are snakes. The rest of them comprise of 2 turtle species and 13 lizard species. Frequent sighting of King Cobras and Python, two extremely poisonous snakes is also an attraction for the visitors to the park.
The birds of the park include around 180 species. Prominent among these are Darters, Cormorants, Kingfishers, the great Malabar Hornbill and racket-tailed Drongoes. Tourists interested in spotting a large number of birds need to carry along their binoculars.