Cuddled amidst the Cardamom hills region of the Western Ghats, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary holds the credit of being one of the largest and most frequented wildlife reserves in India. Spread over an area of 777 sqkm., it was declared a National Park in the year 1982. Labeled as one of the best spots for watching tigers and leopards, this sanctuary includes other wildlife varieties of elephant, wild pig, sambar deer, gaur, Malabar flying squirrel, stripe-necked mongoose and over 260 species of birds including blue-winged parakeet, Nilgiri wood pigeon, white-bellied tree pie, laughing thrushes and flycatchers. The forest here slopes into the manmade lake at the bottom of the hill. This lake serves as the waterhole for the animals and they come here to drink or take a dip. Elephants, Gaur, Sambhar deer and even tigers can be spotted here. There are boat services which takes the visitor around the lake.
Flora at Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary: So far, 1,963 species of flowering plants belonging to 823 genera and 159 families have been documented by Dr. N. Sasidharan, Kerala Forest Research Institute and Kerala Forest Department (1998). Some important species are Hopea parviflora, Dipterocarpus indicus, Palaquium ellipticum, Veteria indica and , Myristica dactyloides.
Fauna at Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary: In Periyar Tiger Reserve 49 species of mammals, 265 species of birds, 36 species of reptiles, 12 species of amphibians, 35 species of fishes and 160 species of butterflies have been identified so far. Some important mammals are Tiger, Leopard, Elephant, Gaur, Sambar, Wild Dog, Barking Deer, Lion Tailed Macaque, Nilgiri Langur and Nilgiri Tahr.
Boat Safari in Periyar: A Boat cruise in the Periyar lake is the best way to see the wildlife in the park. Herds of elephants and other animals come oftenly to the lake for water. Hnece the lake becomes a prime site for animal watching.
Other attractions: Nearby Cardamom hills, where the spices are grown, are also an option for detour. Kumily, the nearest district is also a tourist attraction and is worth a visit.
Climate: The temperature range from 21°C to 24°C during summer (March-June). During monsoon (July-August) the temperature remains between 19°C to 21°C. Winters are pleasant and cool.
Best Time to Visit: September to May
How to Reach Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary?
By Air: Kochi (Cochin) at a distance of about 200 Kms and Madurai in Tamil Nadu at a distance of 140-kms are the nearest airports from Periyar.
By Train: Kottayam at a distance of about 114 Kms is the nearest railhead from Periyar.
By Road: Kumily, the nearest town from Periyar wildlife sanctuary/ tiger reserve is well served by both state and private buses from Kottayam, Ernakulam and Madurai in Tamil Nadu.