Thekkady is enchanting as the road winds through tranquill countryside, rich plantations & thick jungles. The sanctuary, 60 km from Idukki, 190 km from Cochin and 114 km away from Kottayam is open throughout the year, but the best season for a visit is from September to March. The sanctuary is centered around the large (24 sq km) artificial lake formed by a dam across the Periyar river. It is one of the famous holiday destinations in India.
Kumily is 4 km away from Thekkady. Madurai to Kumily is around 120 km (approx 4 hours in state transport bus which are available at Madurai ). One can stay at Kumily as it offers good hotels, shopping market & restaurants.
Thekkady, better known as Tiger Reserve has a rich diversity of vertebrates. The diverse forest types, vayals, marshes, and a large aquatic habitat together support 62 species of mammals, 320 species of birds, 45 species of reptiles, 27 species of amphibians, and 38 species of fishes.
The invertebrate fauna of Periyar is not well documented, though the predominant invertebrate orders are Protozoa, Annelida, Arthropoda and Mollusca. 160 butterfly species have been listed.
Among the 62 species of mammals, many are rare, endemic and endangered. Periyar is prime elephant country and large herds are often sighted at the lake fringes. There is an estimated population of 900-1000 animals which is likely to overlap with the population in the adjoining forest areas.
A much disproportionate sex ratio of the elephant is found in Periyar and adult tuskers are far too few. Gaur, among the largest of bovines, occurs in all types of habitats. Gaur have staged a remarkable comeback after their near demise due to a rinderpest outbreak in the 70s.
Sambar, the largest deer in India, are extensively distributed and constitute the principal prey base of tiger and wild dog. Wild pig has wide distribution throughout the park. Sometimes, these animals invade agricultural lands often leading to man-wildlife conflicts. Small relict populations of the highly endangered Nilgiri Tahr are found in the high altitude grasslands of Mangaladevi. Four of the five primate species found in the Western Ghats are well represented in Periyar. While the Nilgiri Langur enjoys a wide distribution in the moist forests, the highly endangered Lion Tailed Macaque are confined to the dense evergreen canopies. Malabar Giant Squirrel is common in the area. Though the presence of the endangered species, Small Travancore Flying Squirrel, is recorded from Periyar, the Large Flying Squirrel is more frequently seen.
Salim Ali’s fruit bat reported from Periyar adjoining the High Wavys. It is an endemic and endangered species, considered to be among the rarest of bats.
The Tiger is found in all types of habitats though their density is much less in the evergreen forests. Though sighting one is difficult because of the thick vegetation, evidences like pugmarks, clawings, and scats are located throughout the reserve. The population is estimated to be between 35–40.
The Striped-necked Mongoose is not uncommon, found in the semi-evergreen and evergreen forests.
Nilgiri Marten is an extremely rare and endemic mustellid, though recently sighted a number of times.
Mangala Devi Temple.
The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary.
Spring Valley Mountain, Kurisumala. From the top of this hillock, one can have a panoramic view of the lush green woods of Periyar Tiger Reserve, the beautiful Periyar Lake, surrounding Kumily township and of course adjoining Tamil Nadu borders.
Plantations, (Murukady (6 km), Odamade (8 km), Vellaramkunnu (10 km)). Tea, Coffee, Cardamom, Pepper, Vanilla growing areas. A walk through the spice plantations of these areas can be a memorable experience.
Chellarkovil, (15 km). This sleepy little village slops to the famous grapes, coconut, cotton and vegetable growing areas of Tamil Nadu. Abundant scenic beauty and a silver cascade add to the charm of the place.
Pandikuzhi, (5 km). From its mountain top, one can enjoy the sleepy little village with its view of the plains. It is a feast for the eyes.
Vandanmedu, (25 km). The fragrance of the cardamom permeates this town. It is one of the worlds largest auction centers of cardamom.
Panchalimedu. It is considered to be the place where Pancha Pandavas lived during the exile forest life (Vanavasa Kalam in Mahabaratha epics). It is believed that Pancha Pandavas still hide there though nobody can see them, but they can see everybody. The tourist can see there are stones like furniture which are believed to be used by the Pandavas.
Mount, (18 km). Velvet lawns and the cool pleasant non-polluted continuous breeze make the sojourn on the mount a memorable experience to the tourist. From its top one can enjoy the green beauty of the Periyar Tiger Reserve with the lake on the one side and vast tea plantations on the other side.
Pullumadu. The rolling hills, velvet lawns and rare flora and fauna cascading the Holy Shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala and The Makara Jyothi illuminations are the main attractions of this place.
Grampi, (24 km). Grampi is also known as Parunthupara. Because of the panoramic view from its high peaks, rocky plains and hillside it has become a tourist centre.
Pattumala, (25 km). It can be called the home of tea plantations. The Velamkanni Church at the top of the fill is a pilgrim center.
Wagamon, (60 km). The cool mountain air, mist, grass-covered hills, velvet lawns etc amek Wagamon a perfect holiday resort. The chain of three hills Thangal Hills (Muslim name) Murugan Hills (Hindu name) and Kurisumala (Christian name) isa mark of religious harmony.
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. The programme is offered between 7AM and 10:30AM and between 2PM and 3PM 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.
The Periyar Tiger Trail. 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 12 noon 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 km 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.
Bamboo Rafting. This is a dawn to dusk range hiking and rafting programme through some of the richest forest tracts of Periyar Tiger Reserve. Starting at 8AM from the boat landing, a mosaic of habitats will be traversed before the party gets into rafts made of bamboos. The forests are rich in bird life and arboreal animals like giant squirrel and Nilgiri langur. The rafting is for about three hours and one gets a panoramic view of forest-clad hills reflected on the lake. Animals like elephant, gaur and sambar are sighted keeping close to the edges of the lake. The team hitchhikes back to the boat landing by about 5PM. An armed guard and 4 guides will accompany a maximum of 10 tourists. Tea, snacks and packed lunch will be served enroute.
Boating. Boat cruises on the Periyar Lake. Typical boat ride will be for 2 hour & cost INR 50 per person.
Elephant rides, Anavachal Road, Thekkady, ☎ 04869-322444, 9447019726, . Elephant ride for 30 min (Cost approx INR 350)
Plantation Tours, Various. Nr Thekkady & Kumily, lot spice plantations are present. Typically they will charge around INR 50 to 100 for showing you around plantation & explain you.
Eco Shop, (Near entrance gate, Periyar Tiger Reserve), ☎ 04869-222382. Souvenirs, message T-shirts, post cards, WWF products, wildlife books etc.
Eco Spices, (Near entrance gate, Periyar Tiger Reserve). Organic garden fresh spices like tea, coffee, vanilla, saffron, cardamom, pepper, cloves, nutmeg, nut maze, star anise, honey, cinnamon, ayurvedic oils and home made chocolates.
There are several categories of hotels in and around Thekkady. Apart from hotels, there are good cottages and home-stay rooms available. These are basically owned by residents who have decided to make some money by renovating a part of their house and renting it out to travellers. These rooms can be quite luxurious and will give you a homely feel.
Kumily is 4 km from Thekkady, where lot of hotel, restaurants & shopping markets are present. Good place to stay during visiting Thekkady.
Taj Garden Retreat Thekkady, . Close to civilization and yet totally removed from it, these charming thatched roof villas fit right in with their surroundings—the famous Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Rich in comfort and natural materials, this retreat offers a welcome respite of relaxation and seclusion. Total No of Rooms 32.
Hotel Periyar Meadows, ☎ +91 4869 224120, . Mid range hotel at budget rate
Hotel Ambadi, ☎ +91-4869-222 192, . Hotel is on the edge of Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary & offers comfortable stay at budget rate. Ambadi offers 46 rooms across 3 categories-Standard, Deluxe, & Suite. There is only a slight variation in the price tag of each.
Carmelia Haven, ☎ +91 4868 270 252, . Carmeliahaven offers you rooms, cottages & Tree house. The resort offers you particular packages like Sun n Rain, that includes an ayurvedic massage, elephant safari, Guided Spice plantation tour, Jeep Safari to Kailasam, Ramakalmedu View point trekk & much more..
Greenwoods, ☎ 04869 222752, . Offers 3 types of rooms
Kuttikanam (35 km) — a hill station, the place for the adventure tourism and trekking. The hotels of Kuttikanam keep you cool on sunny days. Generally the area is cool, often filled with mist
Munnar — one of the major hill stations in South India, there are a number of other places to vistit around
Peermade (32 km) — Peermade is named after Peer Muhammed, the sufi saint who spent his last days here. The Mausoleum of the saint, the summer palace of the erstwhile Travancore Royal Dynasty and the residence of the Diwan are situated near by and all are worth visiting.