Periyar Sanctuary is one of the prominent and well-known tiger reserves in India.
Periyar Sanctuary became part of Project Tiger in 1978 and in 1982, the core area was notified as national park. Periyar Tiger Reserve is blessed with nature's abundance. In 1991, it was brought under Project Elephant.
Incredibly rich in biodiversity, Periyar Tiger Reserve is watershed of two majestic rivers, the Periyar and Pamba. The placid Periyar Lake constitutes around 3.5 percent of this tiger reserve. This Lake was formed as a result of the building of a dam and is a major perennial water source for the wildlife to thrive.
Predominantly, the vegetation is evergreen and semi-evergreen, covering around 75 percent of the reserve. The terrain is also interspersed with moist deciduous forests, grasslands, and eucalyptus.
Its believed that Periyar Tiger Reserve supports more than 50 percent of the entire flowering plants of Kerala . There are 1966 species found in the reserve, including 149 species of threatened flowering plants.
The place is also a treasure trove for orchids. Its said that orchids found here constitute more than 65 percent of the entire state of Kerala. Almost 145 species of orchids have been recorded.
The verdant terrain and the aquatic habitat plays host to a number of rare, endemic, and endangered species of fauna. The reserve shelters around 62 species of mammals, 45 species of reptiles, 27 species of amphibians, and 38 fish species.
Around 320 species of birds dwell here, including raptors, water birds, galliform birds, pigeons, wood peckers and passerines. Also, 160 species of butterflies have been recorded.
Elephants: Though a tiger reserve, Periyar is primarily an elephant country. One can spot large herds of elephants roaming around the Periyar Lake. According to estimates, there are around 900-1000 elephants in the reserve. The wild elephant can be observed and photographed from close quarters.
Tigers: Observing this wild beast in its natural surrounding is a thrilling experience. There are around 46 tigers in Periyar Tiger Reserve.
Flora: Vateria indica, cullenia exarillata, hopea parviflora, canarium strictum, artocarpus hirsutus and bischofia javanica, eucalyptus plantation and grassland, gymnosperms, ferns, orchids, and more.
Fauna: Elephants, lion-tailed macaques, tigers, great Indian hornbill, nilgiri laughing trush, ceylon frog moth.
Reptiles: Snake, turtle, monitor lizard, python, king cobra.
Fish: The tilapia which is originally from Africa and the European carps.
Avian-Fauna: Darters, cormorants, kingfishers, the great malabar hornbill, racket-tailed drongos, and more.
Exact Location: Periyar Tiger Reserve is situated in the Idukki and Pathanamthitta districts of Kerala.
Area: 305 sq. km
Route: Periyar is well-connected by road from all the major cities of Kerala. The nearest airport is in Coimbatore, and the nearest railway station is in Palakkad. Reaching Palakkad and Coimbatore, you can board a bus to reach Periyar. There are direct buses available from/to Thiruvananthapuram, Cochin, Kottayam, Munnar and Madurai.
Best Time to Visit: September to March.
Things to keep in mind
- You can spot the wildlife from the watchtowers established in the reserve.
- Motorboat rides are available to see the animals and spot the colourful birds.
- Special permission required to travel by boat to the source of the artificial lake, the Periyar river.
- You can form a large group and go walking to explore the wildlife. A guide is available for the walking tour.
- Do not forget to carry your binoculars.