Thekkady in Kerala, offers a great opportunity to find animal sightings in the deciduous forests along with some interesting luxury resorts… Around 185 kms from the Kochi airport, a traveler itinerary to Kerala cannot be complete without visiting Thekkady – the popular destination for visiting the Periyar National Park. Only around a distance of 2 hours from Munnar, Thekkady has an array of luxurious resorts located in the small town. Carmelia Haven, is one of them. With its tea plantations, spice plantations, luxurious independent cottages overlooking the swimming pool in the centre of the resort as you go down from your cottage, the resort is an ideal destination to experience comfort, luxury and calm in the wild.
1. The Periyar Tiger Reserve
Lying close to the plantations, in the rich jungles of Periyar in Thekkady is one of the world’s most fascinating natural wildlife reserves – the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Covering 777 sq. kilometres, of which 360 sq. kilometres is thick evergreen forest; the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1978. Noted for its geomorphology, diversity of wildlife and scenic beauty, the Reserve attracts visitors from all over the world.
The splendid artificial lake formed by the Mullaperiyar Dam across the Periyar adds to the charm of the park. This is the only sanctuary in India where you can have the unique experience of viewing wildlife at close quarters from the safety of a boat on the lake. The greatest attraction of Periyar however are the herds of wild elephants that come down to play in the lake.
This sleepy little hamlet with its breathtaking view of the plains and cascading waterfalls is a veritable feast for the eyes. The village slopes down to the famous coconut groves of Cumbum in neighbouring Tamil Nadu. A must visit.
This plantation town, closely associated with Thekkady, is situated on the outskirts of the Periyar Tiger Reserve. It is an important shopping centre and spice trade centre and is worth a visit.
Undulating green hills and fresh mountain air make Ramakalmedu an enchanting retreat. The hilltop offers one a panoramic view of the picturesque villages of Bodi and Cumbum on the eastern slope of the western ghats.
The meandering journey to this hill town, along the Periyar River, offers a stunning view of the rolling hills draped in lush greenery. Velvet lawns and rare flora and fauna add to the beauty of Pullumedu, which can be accessed only by jeep. The famous Sree Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala and the Makara Jyothi illumination at the shrine are also visible from here. One needs to remember it is part of the restricted forest zone, so permission needs to be taken to visit here.
Washed in fresh spice-scented air, Murikkady is a panorama of cardamom, coffee and pepper plantations.
7. Mangala Devi Temple
This ancient temple is hidden in the dense woods at the top of a peak 1,337 metres above sea level. Built in the traditional Kerala style of architecture, this place is open to the public only once in a year during the Chitra Poornima festival. One should truly make the most of it. The peak commands a panoramic view of the eastern slopes of the Ghats and some gorgeous hill villages of Tamil Nadu.
This is the place to be if adventure tourism and trekking fascinates you. You can also treat yourself to a stunning view of Kumily town and the Periyar Tiger Reserve.
One of the world’s largest auction centers for cardamom, this place really grabs ones senses. A walk through the sprawling cardamom plantations of Vandanmedu is a heady experience.
The River Periyar flowing through the centre of this town nourishes its vast tea, coffee and pepper plantations. A major trade centre, Vandiperiyar is also home to a number of tea factories. One should make a trip to the Government Agriculture Farm and Flower Garden and delight in the array of roses, orchids and anthuria.
11. Spice Plantations Tour
Inhale and exhale the lovely scents on this tour, as you visit the tea, coffee, cardamom, pepper and orange plantations, along with the stunning Anayirangal Dam.
Thekkady is a lovely place to indulge in trekking. Kurisumala, Pullumedu and Ottakathalamedu near Kumily and Grampi near Vandiperiyar are ideal trekking places. One can also take the Forest Department daily treks from the boat landing station at Thekkady to the Nellikkampetty area and Manakkavala.
13. Idukki Dam
One of the highest arch dams in Asia and the only arch dam in India, the Idukki Dam, at 167.68 metres, is built on the Periyar River, in the ravine between the Kuravan and Kurathi Hills. It supports a 780 MW hydroelectric power station maintained by the Kerala State Electricity Board. One can take a trip to Idukki Town, a small hill town surrounded by beautiful, wooded valleys and meandering streams.
This small place is famous for the Wildlife Sanctuary located at Thodupuzha, about 450-748 metres above sea level and spread over 77 sq. kilometres. At this sanctuary one can meet a host of wild animals, which include elephants, bison, sambar deer, wild dogs, jungle cats, tigers, wild boars etc. and a number of birds like the Great Indian hornbill, paradise flycatcher, whistling thrush, bulbuls, laughing thrush, hill myna, jungle fowl, pigeons. A trip that is really worth it.
14. Elephant Ride
With a name like Tusker Trails, one can’t help but conjure up images of the beautiful beasts. One can take elephant rides through the jungle and really enjoy the beauty that is Thekkady.