Periyar Tiger Reserve, the largest Wild Life Sanctuary in Kerala is situated in the Idukki and pathanamthitta District of Kerala. Periyar Tiger Reserve is one of the best preserved forest regions, covering an area of 925 Sq. Km is home to rare, endemic and endangered flora and fauna and forms the major watershed of two important rivers of Kerala, the Periyar and the Pamba.
The total Periyar Wild Life Sanctuary extends up to an area of 925 sq.km out of which the core zone with an area of 350.54 sq.Km is declared as Periyar National Park. It is also notified as Periyar Tiger Reserve and Periyar Elephant Reserve.
The Periyar Tiger Reserve with rich wildlife, picturesque plantations and hill towns hold great opportunities for treks and mountain walks
Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) is situated in the Cardamom Hills and Pandalam Hills of the Southern Western Ghats of peninsular India. The major portion of the Reserve forms the catchment of the river Periyar and the rest that of river Pamba. Administratively, PTR falls in Idukki, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts of Kerala state. The reserve is divided into two functional divisions, each managed by a Deputy Director. Periyar East is the larger division with an area of 707 sq. km and headquartered at Thekkady, where most of the tourism activities are centered. This Division is divided into three Ranges – Thekkady, Periyar and Vallakkadavu.
Periyar West division (218 sq. km) has its headquarters at Peerumedu and is divided into two Ranges, Azhutha and Pamba. Each Range under a Range Officer is further divided into Sections and Beats, looked after by Foresters and Forest Guards respectively.
At a Glance
Area: 925 Sq. Km
Latitude: 9017’ 56.04”-9037’10.2N.
Longitude: 76056’ 12.12” – 770 25’ 5.52”E.
North: Peerumedu Taluk
South: Pathanamthitta district
East: Theni, Thirunelveli & Ramnad District of Tamil Nadu
West: Kottayam district
Some of the eco-tourism based activities that visitors can get involved are Nature Walk – The guided day trek; The Periyar Tiger Trail – Adventure trekking and camping; Border Hiking – Protection oriented range hiking; Bamboo Rafting; Jungle Patrol, Shepherding the jungle; Tribal Heritage – A peep into the past; Jungle Inn – Jungle in the night; The Bamboo Grove – Eco lodge and Centre for experiential learning and Bullock cart discoveries.
For visitors coming to the Periyar Tiger Reserve, the placid water of Lake Periyar is an inviting proposition. In the morning with stubs of tress rising here and there in the lake, the lingering morning mist caresses the water and slowly the Sun breaks through spreading its warmth. And then you can see perched on top of the worn out tree trunks, spreading out their wings to dry out. Boating in the lake while watching the birds and mist is quite fascinating.Another delightful experience of boating here is when you sight animals as they roam on the banks of the lake; like herds of elephants, gaur, spotted dear, wild pigs etc.
Wealth of Periyar Forests
The tiger reserve has a rich diversity of animals. The diverse forest types found here support around several mammalian species, huge variety of birds and the region has an appreciable presence of reptilian and fish life. The tiger reserve is also home to around a large number of butterfly species.
Even though dedicated for the conservation tigers, the Periyar Tiger Reserve is noted for its good elephant population. In 1991 the Periyar tiger reserve was Brought under Project Elephant and made an Elephant Sanctuary. These gentle giants can be seen roaming around in herds, especially at the lake fringes.
The reserve has more than 50% of the entire flowering plants of Kerala. Nearly 65% of Kerala’s orchid varieties are found in this tiger reserve. Over 1965 flowering plants including 171 grass species 143 species of orchids. The only south Indian conifer, scientifically known as Podocarpus wallichianus, grows in the forests of Periyar Tiger Reserve.
And the region is a treasure trove of medicinal plants. More than 350 species have been recognized as medicinally important with good percentage of them in the form of trees and the rest herbs and shrubs.
Mammals: More than 60 species are found here which includes the Asian elephant, Tiger, Indian bison, sambar deer, Indian wild dog, Leopard, Barking deer, Smooth-coated otter which can be sighted during a boat cruise in the Periyar Lake. The Nilgiri Tahr is confined to the higher rocky areas whereas the endangered lion tailed macaque can be found in the interior evergreen forests. Both the bonnet macaques and Nilgiri langur can be seen foraging from the trees near the boat landing. Malabar giant squirrel is omnipresent.
Birds: 265 species including migrants. The Malabar grey hornbill, The Indian pied hornbill, Whitebellied Treepie, many species of drongos, woodpeckers, flycatchers, babblers, the spectacular Malabar trogon, etc can be seen near the boat landing.
Reptiles: Cobra, viper, krait, a number of non-poisonous snakes, and the Indian monitor lizard.
Amphibians: Frogs like the colorful Malabar gliding frog, fungoid frog, bicolored frog, many species of toads, and limbless caecilians.
Pisces (fish): The Periyar lake and streams have several species of fish including the masheer, the famous and endangered game fish of India. The Smooth-coated otter can be frequently spotted from the boat.
Plantations: Tea, cardamom, pepper and coffee plantations abound in the areas adjoining the Tiger Reserve.
Watch Towers: There are a few watch towers inside Periyar Tiger Reserve which are excellent for viewing wildlife.
Brief History of Periyar Tiger Reserve:
1895 – Construction of Mullaperiyar Dam was constructed and Periyar Lake was formed
1899 – Forests around the Lake with an extent of 600.88 km2 were declared as Periyar Lake Reserve Forests – No. 39
1933 – S.C.H. Robinson made the first game warden realizing the importance of game preservation
1934 – On his recommendation Nellikkampatty Game Sanctuary was formed with the headquarters at Peermedu
1950 – Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary was formed by extending Nellikampatti Game Sanctuary by adding adjoining forests of Rattendon Valley and Mount Plateau to the Periyar Lake Reserve.
1978 – Declaration as Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) as the 10th Tiger Reserve in India.
1982 – Declared the core area as PERIYAR NATIONAL PARK an area of 350.54 km2
1991 – Brought under Project Elephant and declared Project Elephant Reserve
1996 – India Eco-development Project launched.
2001 – Reorganized as two Divisions, Periyar East and Periyar West
2004 – Formation of Periyar Foundation
2007 – Adding of 148km2 from Goodrical Range of Ranni Division.
Terrain & Geomorphology
Terrain is undulating with lofty peaks of over 1700 meters bordering the north and east. Towards the west it merges into an extensive tableland Mount Plateau of average elevation 1200 meters. Towards the edge of this plateau the land falls steeply to the thickly forested tracts of Sabarimala hills in the Pamba River basin. The overall elevation ranges from 100 meters at Pambavalley to 2019 meters at Kottamalai.
Climate & Rainfall
The temperature ranges from 15º C in December and January and up to 31º C in April & May. The Annual rainfall ranges from 2000 mm to 3000 mm. Two-thirds of the rainfall occurs during the southwest monsoon from June to September. The northeast monsoon impacts from October to December. There are some pre-monsoon showers from mid April.
Periyar Tiger Reserve covers a total area of 925 Sq. km. , which is divided into the following zones:
The core area of 881 km2 includes an area of 733 km2 included from the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary proper, and 148 km2 of Reserved Forest area recently added from the Goodrical Range of Ranni forest division. The core zone is critical tiger habitat and forms the primary watershed of the river Periyar. This area is free of all disturbances, intended for total preservation and no human activities are permitted within its boundaries.
The buffer zone covers an area of 44 km2, lying outside the core. This area comprises the tourism zone; part of the Periyar lake; areas of Sabarimala pilgrimage including traditional trek routes and forest routes used for pilgrimage, all leased areas and establishments of the Kerala Forest Department; and areas of human settlements including tribal settlements.
All tourism activities like boating, guided trekking, adventure trekking and camping in watchtowers are confined to the 10 km2 tourism zone, lying within the buffer zone. Parts of the tourism zone have been leased out to the Kerala Tourism Developemnt Corporation (KTDC), Kerala Labour Welfare Board, Tamil Nadu Public Works Department and Electricity Board, Kerala Water Authority and the Labbakandam tribal settlement.
How To Reach Periyar Tiger Reserve
Periyar Tiger Reserve, Thekkady is about 4 km from Kumili in Idukki district, central Kerala and is well connected by road from all the major towns of Kerala.
Cochin International Airport : 190 Kms.
Thiruvananthapuram International Airport : 267 Kms.
Madurai: 140 Kms.
Kottayam : 114 Kms.
Changanassery: 120 Kms.
Ernakulam : 190 Kms.
Madurai : 135 Kms.
Periyar Tiger Reserve, Thekkady is about 4 km from Kumili in Idukki district, and is well connected by road from all major towns of Kerala.
Direct bus links to / from Thiruvananthapuram, Cochin, Kottayam, Munnar & Madurai.
Ideal time to visit
BEST TIME TO VISIT THE RESERVE IS SEPTEMBER TO MAY.
The best season to visit the tiger reserve is September to May. The months of March and April constitute the driest part of the year, because of which the animals spend a lot of time near the lake in the Periyar Tiger Reserve. Even the tiger may be spotted approaching the waters in the Periyar Tiger Reserve.
Animals may be seen from motorboats on the lake or from watchtowers set up in the Periyar Tiger Reserve. June, July and August is the monsoon season. The park is at its best greenery during this period and you can enjoy the showers of monsoon.
Reservations can be made at the Forest Information Centre, Thekkady. Ph: 322028
What to Bring
Periyar Tiger Reserve provides unparalleled opportunities to observe and photograph wildlife at very close quarters. A camera and binoculars are must-haves on a visit to Thekkady. Binoculars can also be purchased or rented on a daily basis from Thekkady. A water-bottle, adequate warm clothing during the colder months of November to January, raincoats and umbrellas during the monsoon season and basic medication for minor illnesses will ensure that you enjoy your close encounter with nature and wildlife to the utmost. Visitors who intend to hit the outdoors on one of the Community Based Eco -Tourism (CBET) programs can consider packing their own hiking and camping gear including leech-socks, although these will also be provided as part of the camping package.
Above all, come with open eyes and ears, and more importantly, an open heart!!
Do’s & Dont’s
There are some expectations from the responsible visitors coming to Periyar Tiger Reserve. These are otherwise can be called as Reserve Rules.
Our Expectations From You
- Follow the gate timing strictly i.e.; 6am -6 pm
- Animal sightings are matter of chance. Be patient.
- Total silence and discipline enhances chances of animal sightings
- Consuming alcohol or visiting sanctuary under the influence of alcohol is strictly prohibited.
- Small groups are preferred. Early mornings and late afternoons are ideal to visit Forests
- Traveling alone is prohibited especially in the Elephant Reserves
- Do not wear colorful clothes or perfumes. Khakis, browns and greens are best suited for forests
- Always carry drinking water
- Do not disturb or tease animals
- Give way to animals first.
- Trekkers are advised to use jungle boots to ensure safety.
- Carry a first aid kit with medicines for common ailments.
- Avoid smoking and do not carry any inflammable materials to avoid forest fire.
- Radios and tape recorders are best left at homes to enjoy music of Nature here.
- Please do not litter the surroundings.
- Respect animals and their habits.
- Carry a note pad, flash light, road maps, bus, train and airline time tables.
- Always follow the instructions of the staff and the Naturalists accompanying you.
- Be careful during boat rides. Don’t do anything that will rock the boat or endanger lives.
- Remember- Do not leave anything but footprints, Do not take anything but memories from Nature’s own Abode- Periyar Tiger Reserve
Note: Under the Wildlife Protection Act, one can be penalized up to amount of Rs. 25,000/- and an imprisonment up to seven years for the wildlife offence. Please you don’t add your name in the list.