Thekkady / Periyar: One of the most scenic areas of Kerala, Thekkady offers diverse attractions like wildlife sanctuary, hill station & spice plantation. Periyar Wildlife sanctuary is one of the best in the country for watching and photographing wild life. Notable among the denizens of sanctuary are Tiger, Wild Elephant, Sambar Deer, Wild Bison, Wild Boar, Malabar Gaint Squirrel, Nilgiri Langur, Hornbill, Woodpecker, Kingfisher, Otter...etc.
Places to Visit
The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary: The Sanctuary is lying close to the plantations; in the rich jungles of Periyar in Thekkady is one of the world's most fascinating natural wildlife reserves - the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. This Wildlife Sanctuary is 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 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 sanctuary watch towers: There are three watch towers for observing wild life - at Edappalayam and Manakkavala and Thannikudi.
Kumily: Kumily is at a distance of 4kms. from Thekkady and is situated on the outskirts of the Periyar Sanctuary. It is an important shopping centre and spice trade centre, the main bus station and most of the medium range accommodation in the Periyar region is in Kumily.
Murikkady: Murikkady is 5 km from Thekkady and is washed in fresh spice scented air; Murikkady is a panorama of cardamom, coffee and pepper plantations.
Pandikuzhi: Pandikuzhi is 5 km from Kumily this picturesque place is cradled between Chellarkovil and the Tamil Nadu State border is a popular picnic spot. Pandikuzhi offers great opportunities for trekking and is a photographer's delight.
Mangala Devi Temple: Mangala Devi Temple is 15 km from Thekkady this ancient temple is hidden in the dense woods at the top of a peak 1337 M above sea level. The temple is built in the traditional Kerala style of architecture. Visitors are allowed here only on the Chithra Pournami festival day. The peak commands a panoramic view of the other side of the ghats and the vast plains of Tamil Nadu.
Chellarkovil: This sleepy little village with its spectacular view of the plains and cascading waterfalls during the monsoons is a feast for your eyes and is just 15 km from Kumily. The village slopes down to the famous coconut groves of Kambam in neighboring Tamil Nadu.
Vandiperiyar: The River Periyar flowing through the centre of this town nourishes its vast tea, coffee and pepper plantations. A major trade centre, Vandiperiyar is also home to a number of tea factories. The Government Agriculture Farm and Flower Gardens have a delightful array of rose plants, orchids and anthurium. Vandiperiyar is 18 km from Thekkady.
Vandanmedu: Vandanmedu is 25 km from Kumily and is one of the world's largest auction centers for Cardamom. A walk through the sprawling cardamom plantations of Vandanmedu is a pleasant experience.
Pullumedu: Pullumedu is 43 km from Thekkady and 26 km from Periyar the winding journey to this hill town, along the Periyar River, offers a stunning view of the rolling hills draped in lush greenery. Velvet lawns, rare flora and fauna add to the beauty of Pullumedu which can be accessed from a jeep. The famous Sree Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala and the Makara Joythi illuminations at the shrine are visible from here.
In And Around Peermede
Kuttikanam: A place for adventure tourism and trekking, or even languorous, tranquil break. This picturesque plantation town washed in the fragrance of cardamom is surrounded by lush-green, gentle hills.
Thrissanku Hills: This Hills are just 4 kms from Peermede, and just 1/2 km from Kuttikanam. The rolling hills the lovely landscape and the gentle breeze make this an ideal spot for long walks. The hills offer a breathtaking view of the sunrise and sunset.
Peeru Hills: Peeru Hills are 4 km from Peermede & just 1 km from Kuttikanam This idyllic hill station is a favourite haunt of trekkers and picnic teams. The hill is named after Peer Mohammed the Muslim Sufi saint, who spent his last days here. The mausoleum of the saint, the summer palace of the royal family and the residence of the Diwan situated nearby are all worth a visit.
Grampi: Grampi is also known as Parunthupara (eagle rock) because of the panoramic view from its high peaks. Rocky plains, lush hillsides, forests trekking trails and picturesque views lend charm to this destination. The road to Grampi is flanked by unending stretches of cardamom, tea and coffee plantations. The place is just 5 km from Peermede and 10 km from Vandiperiyar.
Pattumala: Pattumala (which literally means hill draped in silk) is home to the two most famous tea plantations in Kerala - Harrision Malayalam and A V Thomas & Co. Lofty peaks little streams and ever expanding tea plantations are the attractions of this place. The Velamkanni Matha Church, built entirely of granite, at the top of the hill is a famous pilgrim centre. The flower garden nearby is a facinating riot of colours of roses, orchids and anthurium. The place is just 17 km east of Peermede and 28 km west of Thekkady.
Vagamon: Vagamon is 25 km from Peermede. The hill station is covered by Grass covered hills; velvet lawns and the cool mountain air make Vagamon a perfect holiday retreat. A curious blend of religious mysticism and European legacies, this hillside village is haven of tranquility. The chain of three hills - Thangal Hill, Murugan Hill and Kurisumala is a mark of religious harmony. The dairy farm managed by the Kurisumala monks is worth a visit.
Sahyadri Ayurvedic Centre: Ayurvedic Hospital Sahyadri is well maintained and managed by the Peermede Development Society in Pallikunnu, is well known for its curative and rejuvenating treatment packages. The centre has well appointed treatment and accommodation facilities, a unit for manufacturing Ayurvedic medicines and a well maintained raw drugs museum where more than 200 varieties of rare and endangered herbs are preserved. More than 400 herbs used for medicines are grown in the hospital's own herbal-garden spread over 35 acres.
Things to Do in Thekkady
There are several avenues to quench your thirst for adventure and also for enjoying a peaceful day in nature's tranquil folds.
Boating and Fishing: Fishing can be enjoyed here if you want to spend a quite day on the river banks. Boat cruise is the best way to enjoy the scenic beauty of Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and to catch a glimpse of animal's drinking water from the lake.
Bicycle rides: You can explore the place at your own sweet pace and enjoy the charms of nature. This is one of the best ways to enjoy the quaint towns and the countryside.
Ornithological indulgences: The area is home to an amazing variety of rare birds making it worthwhile to spend some time watching these exotic birds. Indulge yourself in some serious ornithological delights.
Trekking and Mountaineering: Trekking is the best way to explore the scenic beauty of the mountainous terrain. Trekking expeditions could be undertaken at the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary provided you take prior permission from the authorities.
Casual Ramble: The area is relatively safe and the people generally congenial. A casual ramble through this scenic location can give way to some serendipitous delights. This is also the best way to understand the locals and to see nature up close. The mist covered lush greenery makes it an ideal spot for an early morning jogging.
Elephant Safaris: This is one of the best ways to explore the remote corners of the jungles. The forest department at Thekkady wildlife sanctuary offers elephant safaris through the dense wilderness.
Periyar Tiger trail: The trekking expedition could be organized inside the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary with the permission of the authorities. There is a set limit to the maximum number of people per expedition and it is also subjected to meeting certain medical standards. This is because of the strenuous nature of this expedition through the dense remote jungles.
Jungle Patrol: Imagine looking for poachers and protecting the forests on a night patrol. Well, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary has this amazing opportunity for you to join the night patrol team in their routine night vigil. This can be arranged with the department of Forests in Thekkady. There is a set limit to the maximum number of people per patrol and one has to be medically fit to join the night patrol.
Bamboo Rafting: This is one of the best ways to experience the area and to catch glimpses of wildlife at close quarters.You can get in touch with the forest authorities for permission to do bamboo rafting in the Periyar Lake. This exciting adventure sport is available at the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary.
Jungle Camps: Jungle camps can be organized inside the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary amidst the dense forests.
Bullock Cart rides: This is one of the best ways to experience the slow pace of Indian rustic life. The rides could be arranged with the department of forests. You can travel in a bullock cart, the "local way" to commute, to nearby villages and farmlands in Thekkady. The guides are people who were earlier involved in sandalwood smuggling and the profit from this program is used for their rehabilitation purposes.
Plantation tours: This is the best way to understand how these exotic spices are grown and to learn how they are used in the local cuisines. Do make it a point to visit some of the numerous tea and spice plantations in the area. Tea factories could also be visited to see how the tea leaves are processed and to meet some of the workers involved in it. There are vanilla, cardamom and spice plantations in the region which could be visited with permission.
Location: Thekkady is located on the Western Ghats mountain range in Idukki district, central Kerala. Idukki is a landlocked district sharing borders with the districts of Ernakulam, Kottayam and Thrissur and the Western Ghats mountain range in the east.
Climate: Thekkady enjoys a pleasant climate throughout the year.
Best Time to Visit: November to March is considered an ideal time to visit. Monsoon season is the ideal time for ayurvedic treatment.
How to Reach Thekkady?
By Air: The nearest Airport is Madurai, which is 140 km and Kochi (185 km), and Thiruvananthapuram (265 km).
By Rail: The nearest railway station is Kumarakom, 114 km and Madurai station is about 136 km.
By Road: An excellent road network from Kumily (4 km) links the town to all major towns and cities in Kerala and India.