Periyar National Park was created in 1978, and the Periyar river was dammed to form a lake in the park. The park covers 777 sq km with a core area of 350 sq km. The park is often called by the name of Thekkady. Periyar is also one of the Project Tiger national parks.
The sanctuary surrounds picturesque 26 km² Periyar lake, formed by the building of Mullaperiyar Dam in 1895. This reservoir and the Periyar River meander around the contours of the wooded hills, providing a permanent source of water for the local wildlife
Altogether 62 different kinds of mammal have been recorded in Periyar, including many threatened ones. As of 2010 there were an estimated 53 tigers in the reserve. The elephant number around 900 to 1000. Other mammals found here include 4 types of deer – gaur, sambar, barking deer and mouse deer, dholes (Indian wild dogs), mongoose, foxes and leopards. One of the more common sights in Periyar are the black Nilgiri Langur monkeys. Often seen in trees in and around the town of Kumily, these magnificent black langurs are very vocal and a treat to watch swinging around the trees.
Unlike other national parks in India where you travel in a jeep, in Periyar, you get to trek through on foot with guides. A little scary when you come close to a herd of wild elephants.
The nearby town of Periyar (Kumily) is situated on the Kerala/Tamil Nadu border. This is where you’ll most likely stay if you visit Periyar National Park. A travelers hub, the town is full of all types of accommodation from simple lodges and guesthouses to 5 star resorts.
Located in the Cardamom Hills, Kumily town abounds with Spice shops, along with some cool galleries and a host of Kashmiri Handicraft stores. Shopping is good here.
But my favourite thing to do is visit a spice plantation. Abrahams Spice Garden is the original, started by the current owner’s grandfather in 1952. Take a tour around his 2 acres of terraced farmland and you will delight in seeing just about every spice you could imagine, along with abundant fruit trees and plants including coffee, vanilla and cocoa. Have you ever tasted a raw cocoa bean?