Location: Located in the southern Western Ghats, high in the Pandalam Hills
Area: 925 kilometers square
Nearest Airport: Kochi international airport
Nearest Town: Kottaayam
Safari: Boat ride, motor launches or a 30-minute elephant ride
Entry Fee: 300 INR for International visitors and for Indian visitors is 25 INR
Best time to visit: Between the months of October and June
Number of Fauna Species: 40 species of mammals, 160 kinds of butterflies and 54 varieties of reptiles
Number of Avifauna species: 320 avifauna species
Also referred to as Thekkady, Pariyar National Park has around 40 species of mammals, 160 kinds of butterflies, 54 varieties of reptiles and 320 avifauna species, which makes it one of the richest wildlife reserves in terms of its wildlife population. A protected area Idukki and Pathanamthitta – two districts of Kerala, it is a remarkable tiger reserve as well as an elephant reserve. Spread in an area of 925 kilometers square, the area was established as a national park in the year 1982.
Located in the southern Western Ghats, high in Pandalam Hills and Cardamom Hills, it lies along the border of the state of Tamil Nadu. To explore the wildlife of the region, you can opt for boat riding, motor launches or a 30-minute elephant ride in the forest.
The temperature in Periyar depends on the altitude, varying between 15 degree Celsius in the months of December and January to 31 degree Celsius in the months of April and May. The annual precipitation falls between 2000 and 3000 mm.
Periyar National Park is home to as many as 62 types of mammals and the number includes some threatened ones too. Along with elephants (around 1000) and tigers (53) in good numbers, the park houses other varieties also including Nilgiri Tahr, barking deer, leopard, wild boars 4 species of langurs, Dholes, foxes, sambar (horse deer), mongoose, and so on.
This national park is one of the favorites of people who love bird watching as the park houses as many as 320 species of birds. The list of some of the commonly seen birds here includes blue winged parakeets, darters, the great Malabar Pied Hornbill, kingfishers, racket-tailed Drongos, cormorants amongst many others.
The national park is quite popular for a major variety of butterflies. There are as many as 160 different varieties of butterflies in the park; however, some of these are poisonous enough to make one very ill if they bite.
In the water resources of the protected area of the park there are 38 different types of fishes, out of which 4 are common to the Western Ghats including Salmon and Trout.
One can find 45 different kinds of reptile in the protected area of the national park including 13 lizard species, two turtles and 30 snakes. Deep inside the park, you can also spot King Cobra and Python.
Flora in Periyar National Park
Around 75 percent of the protected area of the national park is covered with evergreen and semi-evergreen rain forest with tall tropical tree species like Hopea parviflora, Vateria indica Bischofia javanica etc, around 50 meters high. 13 percent of the national park comprises of damp leaves forest, 1.5 percent of grassland and 7 percent of the plantation of Eucalyptus while the remaining 3.5 percent is covered by the Lake Periyar, an artificial lake along with rivers like Periyar and Pamba.
Over 2000 types of flowering plants (Angiosperms), 3 types of seed plants (gymnosperms) and 170 fern species can be found in Periyar. Orchids (145 varieties) are founded most frequently, with 169 kinds of sweet grasses as well as 155 kinds of Fabaceae. The national park also boasts of around 350 families of occurring plant types that have medicinal properties.
Wildlife Safaris inside Periyar
For exploring the wildlife of the park, there are three options- boat riding, motor launches or a 30-minute elephant ride in the forest. However, boat ride in the Periyar Lake is one of the most popular ways to spot the wildlife in their natural surroundings inside Periyar. During boat rides, along with viewing wildlife, you can also treat your eyes to the lush green precincts of the park.
Timings of the boat ride- 7 AM, 9 AM 11 AM (in the morning) and 2 PM and 4 PM (in the evening).
The entry fee for the foreign nationals is 300 INR while for Indian visitors is 25 INR. One needs to pay extra charges for boat safari and vehicle entry.
Best time to visit Periyar
The best time to visit the Periyar national parks is between the months of October and June
Periyar during the Monsoon
Not many are aware but the Periyar National Park is open during the monsoon season. Unlike many other wildlife reserves, it is actually considered as one of the best destinations for exploring wildlife during for monsoon holidays in India. Even the boat ride safari option is also available.
How to Reach Periyar National Park
By Air: Around 140 kms away, Kochi is the nearest international airport to Periyar. The airport of Kochi is well-connected with important cities of India and prime destinations abroad, via regular flights.
By Rail: Around 11 kms away, Kottaayam is the nearest railway station to Periyar. A good network of train links this railway station to the key railway stations of the country.
By Road: Periyar is well-connected to major cities of Kerala like Kumarakom, Cochin and Alleppey and other parts of South India through a good network of roads. Regular buses are available to Periyar from the cities of Cochin (200 km), Thiruvananthapuram (271 km), Madurai (140 km) and Kottayam (117 km).
• It is advisable to book your safari in advance.
• Avoid littering in the park.
• Carry raincoats/umbrella as it often rains in the park.
• Do not forget to pack a torch, mosquito repellents and necessary medicines.
• Carry your own water bottles.
• Only wear clothes with neutral colors that will gel well with the natural surroundings. Avoid loud colors and bold prints.