Postcard From Kerala: Thekkady
Hello my dear friends, I hope you are in the best of health and spirits. This time I am writing to you from Thekkady, a small town in Kerala close to Periyar National Park. Leaving behind the beautiful backwaters of Kochi, I am now in the land of forest & hills; that of wildlife dotted with a variety of flora & fauna; in the centre of adventure and spices too.
Actually I am in the Idukki district of Kerala to be precise. On reaching Thekkady, we headed straight for this National Park, also known as Periyar Tiger Reserve located on the hills of the Western Ghats at the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. This place is well connected by road, rail and air. Kumily is the nearest town. You can first reach Kottayam which is at a distance of around 114 kilometres from the National Park. There are a number of private and state buses plying to Kottayam daily. On reaching Kottayam, you can hire a taxi to reach this place. In case you wish to avoid the bus, you can book a cab or come in a self driven car. The nearest airport is Madurai Airport which is around 140 kilometres from here. The Cochin International airport placed at a distance of about 200 kilometres could be another option while the nearest railway station is the Kottayam railway station. Online bookings are available.
Periyar National Park
The protected area is spread over 925 square kilometres of which 305 square kilometres has been declared as the Periyar National Park in 1982. It is made up of tropical grasslands and moist deciduous forests and is home to elephants, tigers, wild boars, deer and also other animals. This place is cooler than the shores of Kerala since it is up in the hills. It is pleasant in summers and cool in winters. It is better to avoid the monsoon season since it experiences heavy rainfall as well as landslides. If you are a nature lover who seeks adventure at times, then this is exactly where you should be.
There is an artificial lake over here right in the middle of this sanctuary. It came into existence when the Mullaperiyar Dam was erected in 1895. The wild animals of the forest come here to quench their thirst.
Also rivers like Periyar and Pamba flow through this park thereby supporting the flora and fauna of this region. You can trek or enjoy boating here. The boating starts at 7.30 am when you have the best opportunity to spot wild animals while the last ride is at 3.30 pm.
We too explored this place while enjoying our boat ride. Our boatman was a young lad who was very helpful and always smiling. We saw some elephants on the banks. Also, wild boar, gaur, sambar and deer can be spotted at regular intervals.
We saw some cormorants perching on the branches of this dead tree. In fact a number of birds can be seen here, perched on the dead branches of the trees popping out of the lake. There are well over 200 species of birds in the Periyar reserve. Many of these are migrant birds. Some of the birds commonly seen here are Blue winged parakeet, Nilgiri flycatcher, Great pied hornbill, kingfisher and many more.
Here we are standing in front of the Periyar lake after enjoying our boat ride. The serene beauty of nature and the calming effect it has thereafter are such unique experiences; can be appreciated both by wildlife as well as ecotourist enthusiasts. The best time to visit the Park is from October to June.
We loved trekking through the forest. We saw elephants, birds and even butterflies from close quarters. You are not allowed to venture into the forest on your own. Each group is assigned a guide. There is also a guided night trekking programme of three hours known as Jungle Scout.
We saw some monkeys taking their afternoon nap deep inside the forest. There are other programmes for the tourists like the elephant package where you can spend a considerable amount of time with an elephant – feeding, bathing and clicking pics. You can also go on an elephant ride.
Besides, you can participate in eco tourism activities like tree house, tiger trail, jungle camp, border hiking, bamboo rafting and jeep safari. Online bookings for all such programmes including accommodation both inside and outside the National Park are available.
This is where I would like to come over and over again to lose my mind and soul – in the midst of mountains; deep inside a forest; surrounded by wildlife, rich flora & fauna; trekking & rafting with greenery all around while rivers flow by and not to forget the boat rides at the Periyar Lake.
Magical moments @ Club Mahindra
Our stay at Club Mahindra, Thekkady was almost as adventurous as the Periyar Park, if not more.
Placed at an altitude of 2,700 feet above the sea level, this resort has cosy rooms with thatched roofs and plenty of greenery everywhere. I once again felt I was in the midst of a forest.
Ripe jackfruits hanging from the tree
Greenery is the best scenery
Some precious moments at the resort
Home is where the pool is
Enjoying the game
Fun filled activities
This place is in the vicinity of spice gardens & coffee plantation; in the midst of hills, valleys and forests. In a world of technology, competition & comparison, nature is still beautiful, graceful, simple and full of solace.
So until we meet again, keep smiling and take care. See you in the spice gardens of Kerala this Friday while relishing the traditional cuisine and watching the different dance forms of God’s Own Country. Bye.