A Memorable Trip to Kerala’s Periyar Wildlife Reserve
I have shared with you my travel experience to Periyar. Let us see Periyar from a non Indian traveler’s eye…
This is a guest post by Lyndsey Biddle who writes for leather briefcase, a website that offers luxury briefcases direct from the manufacturer. Lyndsey currently resides in Kolkata, India, where she is learning Bengali and Indian cooking.
On an excursion following a summer study-abroad agriculture culture course in Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, I, along with three girlfriends, packed into a rickety old British Ambassador car, windows down, and started our long journey to Thekkady, Kerala. Thekkady is a small town near the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border. The town itself, though quaint, holds little appeal other than touristy gift shops, spices stores, and Ayurvedic massage parlors. Our real destination was Periyar – an acclaimed wildlife sanctuary.
The drive was long, and made even longer when we reached the Kerala border and our driver disappeared. He returned 30 minutes later and explained he could not drive across the boarder because he didn’t have a valid license. That didn’t stop him from driving us all the way across Tamil Nadu but, alas, we were stuck with no driver. The solution: after a bit of searching and a monetary offer later, our driver returned with a replacement driver. We all squished in together and continued on our way.
We finally reached our quaint guest house in Thekkady and settled in for the night. We set out early the next morning for Periyar Wildlife Reserve which is one of 27 tiger reserves in India. The sanctuary spans a large area and is well maintained. There is an enormous man-made lake, made back in the day by the British, that creates the perfect backdrop to any view in the reserve. Boat rides on the lake are available from the docks near the visitors’ center and offer great views of the animals coming to the shore for a drink.
Other than being a tiger reserve, Periyar is home to innumerous kinds of tree, flowers, insects, and animals. I had my heart set on sighting wild elephants so my friends and I took a guided trek through the reserve in search of them. A word to the wise, be sure to ask for leech socks before starting your trek. These canvas socks go up to your knees and will keep the leeches from latching onto you. It makes me cringe just to recall the number of leeches all over the ground. Plus, they are attracted to body heat so there is no escaping them. Thank God for leech socks.
The guided trek of the reserve was wonderful. It lasted about four hours and our guide led us straight through the jungle, up huge hills offering breathtaking views over the lake, and even across streams – all the while pointing out interesting trees and animals including monkeys, wild boars water buffaloes, and many others. The trek in Periyar was an incredible experience even though, sad as it is to say, we did not sight any elephants or tigers.
Meanwhile, in our free time in Thekkady we entertained our selves by getting Ayurvedic massages which felt amazing but, I have to warn you, are not for those who feel shy about stripping down in front of the masseuse. A Kathakali performance was also on our entertainment schedules in Thekkady. Kathakali is a traditional and dramatic form of dance native to Kerala. Small theaters offering this type of show can be found all over town and the entry fee is inexpensive. Visiting Periyar Wildlife Reserve and Thekkady will only require a two days. It is a short trip but one that is well worth it!