It is one of the finest wildlife sanctuaries nature has gifted. It is one
of the 16 Project Tiger Reserves in India. About a century ago, a British
engineer, Col. J. Pennycuick, chalked out a plan to dam the Periyar River,
subsequently, a dam was constructed in 1895. This resulted in the adjoining
forests being granted protection, by the Maharaja of Travancore. The 55 sq
km reservoir and the surrounding forests, provide protection to the animals
within. Today, Periyar is undeniably, one of the most impressive wildlife
sanctuaries in the world. Thekkady Wildlife sanctuary (also called Periyar
Tiger Reserve) is a fine example of good management of forests.
The open grasslands are home to a magnificent variety of animals - the
elephant, the bison, Gaur, Sambar deer, Barking deer, Mouse deer, Nilgiri
languor, Bonnet macaque, Lion-tailed macaque, leopards, Jungle cats, Wild
dogs and most importantly the tiger. An estimated 40 tigers inhabit the
Reserve. Other animals are bears, Porcupine, Jackal, Indian Giant Squirrel,
Malabar flying squirrel, Wild boar, small Indian Civet, Mongoose and the
Pangolins. The tiger is the main predator in the Periyar Tiger Reserve.
Periyar Tiger Reserve is also rich in bird life. Birds such as Malabar
Hornbill, Grey heron, Jungle fowl and Jungle Myna are some among the 266
species of birds, which are residents of this forest range. Top of the line
private hotels and forest lodges are available for the wild life enthusiast.
It has a history dating back to 1934 when the erstwhile Travancore state
initiated the development of the Nelliyampathy Sanctuary. This set high
above the tea estate of Munnar. A thirty-minute drive from Munnar will take
you to the base of the Sanctuary. This place is also a spot of rare beauty.
The flora here is composed mainly of marshy grasslands. The forests are a
mixture of grasslands, fire-resistant low-growth vegetation, deciduous
forests, semi-evergreens, and tropical evergreens. It is good to be cautious
of the blood-sucking leeches that are found in plenty here.
Recreation and Enjoyment at the Reserve
The Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve offers plenty of opportunities
for recreation and enjoyment. One can swim in the lake or get permits for
angling that are easily available from the forest Officer in Thekkady. Boat
rides on the lake are definitely a must, and motor launches are available
throughout the day from 6 am to 4 pm. Exhilarating treks through the forest
to the temple of Mangla Devi can also be organised. Lectures on wildlife
preservation are organized regularly at the park and these can be of help in
understanding the wild creatures and their environment. Late afternoon is
just right for another walk down the lakeside. The evening walk along the
lake is always tinged with forebodings of danger combined with exhilaration
at being in such a beautiful place.