As part of an eight day trip to Kerala, God’s own country, we visited Thekkaddy in April 2014 to see the Periyar Wildlife Sanctury.
The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary at Thekkady is one of the world’s most fascinating natural wildlife reserves. 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. This sanctuary attracts visitors from all over the world.
The splendid artificial lake formed by the Mullaperiyar Dam across the Periyar 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 are the herds of wild elephants that come down to play in the lake, however, you have to be lucky to see them.
We reached thekkady at about 1.30 pm on 06 April 2014 after a lovely and pictersque journey from Munnar. During this journey, we took in a visit to a spice garden, where they showed us how they grew organic spices. It was so illuminating to see what nature gives us if only we knew how to use it properly. Anyway, bought lot of spices for self and friends and freaked out at the thought of the difference in what we buy in the market and these organic spices.
After checking into a hotel called Ranger Woods just outside the gates of Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, we freshened up and went into the sanctuary to catch the evening boat safari in the Periyar lake. We bought the tickets and were thrilled to find that we had seats right in front, on the upper deck.
I was entranced by the beauty of the surroundings. Prashant was going crazy clicking the various aspects and moods of the verdant surroundings, the people and even the monkeys which abound near the boat landing area.(the monkeys have become such scroungers here that they grab and pull food out of the hands of unwary tourists).
We set off down the Periyar Lake and it’s back waters. It was breath taking to watch the changing deciduous forests on both sides with cormorants, little egrets and kingfishers flitting around. Then we spotted a herd of Sambhars.
Before we could really appreciate the beauty of these fleet footed animals, we spotted a herd of Gaurs ( Indian Bison). They were grazing without a worry in the world. The whole boat erupted in a cacophony of oohs and aahs !! Prashant was moving around in the boat trying to take as many snap shots of these wild creatures as he could.
We then saw a herd of wild boars on the other bank. It was entrancing to see little piglet’s all around their mother.
I went into a reverie of what it would feel like to live amongst all this when I suddenly heard a “Did you see that?” from hubby dear who had spotted an Osprey feeding on it’s fresh catch. He managed to get a good snap of this bird of prey
After two hours of visual delight we were back at the landing area.
Next morning we took a guided nature walk and as we entered the jungle, we spotted the Nilgiri Langur.
There after we walked around for quite sometime but did not spot any thing except the pug-marks of a tiger and few water birds in the lake.
Next evening we went for another boat safari and once again spotted different type of birds and animals, the tiger and the elephants remained elusive. We enjoyed the rugged landscape which itself is a visual delight.
Apart from the wildlife, Thekkady has a lot of local flavor to offer. Late in the evening we went for a Kalari show. Kalari is the ancient martial art of Kerala just like Judo or Karate and is presented in a dance form to entertain the tourists.
We followed this up with a Kathakali show. Kathakali is one of the most ancient dance forms of south India. The eyes and expressions emote so much that they can tell an entire story with minimal movement. The dress and make up is very elaborate
Next morning we left for Kumarakom, the enchanting backwaters of Kerala. Read about it in our next blog.