Situated on an area of 777 square kilometers in the Cardamom hills region of the Western Ghats in God’s Own Country, Kerala is the Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve has a picturesque lake at the heart of the sanctuary. Every year, approximately millions of travelers make their trip into the Cardamom Hills, where the crisp, cool air is malodorous with the scents of spices, and high Mountains give way to tea plantations and opaque jungle. It is created with the building of a dam in 1895, was built across Periyar River to provide irrigation facilities in Tamil Nadu.
Most people head straight to Thekaddy to explore the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, the stomping grounds for large herds of wild elephants. But it is visited by the wildlife enthusiasts with a view to spotting tigers and leopards. However, this place is perfect for watching other animals in their natural habitat. Other animals include elephant, wild boar, sambar, gaur, stripe-necked mongoose Malabar flying squirrel, and over 260 species of birds including blue-winged parakeet, Nilgiri wood pigeon, white-bellied tree pie, laughing thrushes and flycatchers. The centre of attraction here is the artificial lake, Periyar Lake, on which it stands situated. The lake stretches out for good 5,500 hectares. The sanctuary is spread over 777 sq kms, out of which 360 sq kms are covered by the forests. The lake outer reaches are formed of marshes and grasslands, provide for the cover of the wild animals in the sanctuary. Boat cruises on the lake are the best way to explore the park.
Mannans, a tribal group inhabiting Periyar Tiger Reserve, are the oldest group of the reserve. Till 1940’s these people lived in remotest areas. Inside the Mannan settlement, a tribal heritage museum was built. Artifacts related to Mannan marriage ceremonies, agricultural practices, dress code, cultural events, rituals and death ceremonies.
The best time to visit the Park is from December to April, when the dry weather entices animals from the forest out to the lakeside. However, avoid the period immediately after the monsoons; they are more likely to remain in the forest.