Thekkady - Welcome to the last home of the India Tiger
Located in the Idukki district of Kerala, Thekkady makes a wonderful stopover. No matter whether you are here for adventure, fun, wild life or nature, Thekkady will never leave you unimpressed! Thekkady tourism offers something exceptional for every visitor here. There is a bevy of interesting outdoor leisure activities like bird watching, wild life safari and boating in the Periyar lake, which will give you a wonderful chance to spot herds of elephants and other large animals like bisons and deer in their natural habitat.
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, which is one of the last homes of the Indian tigers, holds the repute of one of the best maintained wild life sanctuaries in the country. Spread over an area of 777 sq km, dotted with thick evergreen forest, the sanctuary was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1978. Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is also a treasure trove of some of the rare species of flora and fauna that are native of Kerala. The flora of the park includes over 1965 flowering plants, 171 grass species, 143 species of orchids and the only South Indian conifer. Apart from the tigers, the park has a diverse wild life including wild elephant, gaur, wild boar, lion tailed macaque, Nilgir Tahr and Malabar giant squirrel among others. The best time to visit animals is during summer (March- May). The Sanctuary Watch Tower situated in the forest interior gives you a panoramic view of the park.
Thekkady tour packages will make sure that you get to see everything this hill station is famous for. The serene waters, the mountain fresh air and the captivating natural beauty are the trump cards of this tourist spot in Kerala, which is rated as one of the most visited places in the State. If adventure is your catchphrase of your Thekkady holidays, check out the many options like rock climbing, bamboo rafting or hiking.
Another must visit spot in Thekkady sightseeing is the sprawling cardamom plantations of Kumily, a small hamlet located at a distance of 25 km from Thekkady. It is one of the world's largest auction centres of Cardamom. Make sure to pick up a few packets of farm fresh cardamom as gifts for someone special back home!
Thekkady tour packages also offer the fun of some of the exceptional activities in Thekkady including plantation tours, arranged by the District Tourism Information Office. These tours will give you a life time opportunity to explore the working farms of cardamom, pepper, coffee and tea plantations apart from visiting tea factories and visiting some tribal settlements, where the inhabitants live the way their ancestors did many decades back! Another interesting activity is the Elephant safari through the jungle, which allows you to take a peek at the diverse flora and fauna of these unexplored tropical forest stretches. Some of the popular trekking trails include Kurisumala, Pullumedu, Ottakathalamedu and Grampi. Time stands still in Thekkady, which offers a subtle blend of the past and the present, which you will cherish all your life.
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Thekkady: Draped in opulent greenery, this wildlife sanctuary sprawls over an area of 777 sq. km. The man-made Thekkady Lake shimmers in a green hue, reflecting the surrounding evergreen forests. This stunning artificial lake is created by the Mullapperiyar Dam constructed across the scenic Periyar River. The sanctuary, declared a tiger reserve in 1978, is an ideal spot to catch a glimpse of this magnificent animal. It is also home to the endangered lion-tailed macaques, Nilgiri langurs, elephants, Indian bisons, boars, bears, a wide variety of deer and exotic birds. Boating is the ideal way to explore the sanctuary and to catch a glimpse of the abundant wildlife in close quarters. The park is also famous as an adventure tourism destination. This sanctuary is a perfect example of how human intervention could positively enhance the ecology. Thekkady is located at a distance of 60 km from Idukky.
Kumily: The quaint town of Kumily lies at a distance of about 4 km from Thekkady nestled in the realms of the majestic Cardamom Hills. The plantation town is surrounded by tea and spice plantations making it an ideal place to study how Indian spices are grown and how they are used in local cuisines. The scenic beauty of the area is further accentuated by its crisp blue skies, lush greenery and mist drenched mountains. This hub of spice trade is located at the vicinity of the Periyar wildlife sanctuary and makes a perfect base to explore the region.
Murikkady: This vantage view point is located at a distance of 5km from Thekkady. Breathtaking views of the spice and tea plantations, the mist clad mountains and verdant valleys could be enjoyed at Murikkady. The area is famous for cardamom plantations, tea plantations and pepper cultivation. The salubrious climate here is seasoned with the tantalizing fragrance of exotic spices.
Pandikuzhi: This idyllic town lies at a distance of 10 km from Idukki near the Tamil Nadu state border. The place, flanked by frothy wild brooks and the emerald greenery, is an ideal spot for picnic. The place offers some of the real Kodak moments of nature’s beauty. Trekking could also be enjoyed in Pandikuzhi.
Mangala Devi Temple: This ancient temple built in the Pandian style sits amidst dense woods at a distance of about 15 km from Thekkady. The temple is perched on top of a cliff at an altitude of 1337 meters above the sea level. The place is open to visitors only on the festive day of Chithirapournami, when pilgrims from Tamil Nadu and Kerala flock to the temple. Panoramic views of the nearby areas could be enjoyed from the cliff. Prior permission from the wildlife authorities in Thekkady is required to visit the area.
Chellarkovil: The petite town of Chellarkovil is famous for the magnificent panoramic views of the lush green valleys, the gurgling mountain brooks and the sparkling waterfalls. The breathtaking views of the plains and the sloping valleys attract large number of tourists to this vantage point. To the eastern side of Chellarkovil is the town of Cumbum - a part of Tamil Nadu. The lush coconut groves of Cumbum could be enjoyed from here.
Vandiperiyar: Come fall and fall in love with the meadows, hills, plantations and woods of Vandiperiyar. This plantation town is an important hub of commerce in the high ranges. The town is bifurcated by the scenic river Periyar which flows right through the middle of the town. The town is also famous for its myriad spice plantations along with coffee and tea plantations. A number of tea factories are located in the area. The town is located at a distance of 18 km from Thekkady.
Vandanmedu: Acclaimed as one of the world’s largest auction centers for cardamom, the quaint plantation town of Vandanmedu is set amidst endless cardamom plantations. The mere sight of these beautiful plantations and the tantalizing aroma of cardamom in the air are sure to levitate ones soul to higher realms of peace and tranquility.
Pullumedu: Literally translated the word Pullumedu means “green meadows”. This charming little town lies along the banks of the scenic river Periyar hidden by a lush green canopy. This is a good picnic spot to enjoy bucolic life intertwined with the beauty of nature. The place retains its closeness with nature partly because of its inaccessibility and remoteness. The famous Shabarimala Ayyappa temple can be viewed from here.
Ramakalmedu: This sleepy hamlet is located at a distance of 16 km from Nedumkandom along the Thekkady – Munnar road. This hilltop vantage point offers breathtaking views of the picturesque towns lying at the foot of the mountain. It lies on the border of Tamil Nadu.
There are several avenues to quench your thirst for adventure and also for enjoying a peaceful day in nature’s tranquil folds.
Boating and Fishing: Boat cruise is the best way to enjoy the scenic beauty of Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and to catch a glimpse of animal’s drinking water from the lake. Fishing can also be enjoyed here if you want to spend a quite day on the river banks.
Bicycle rides: This is one of the best ways to enjoy the quaint towns and the countryside. You can explore the place at your own sweet pace and enjoy the charms of nature.
Ornithological indulgences: Indulge yourself in some serious ornithological delights. The area is home to an amazing variety of rare birds making it worthwhile to spend some time watching these exotic birds.
Trekking and Mountaineering: Trekking is the best way to explore the scenic beauty of the mountainous terrain. Trekking expeditions could be undertaken at the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary provided you take prior permission from the authorities. You have to take a guide approved by the authorities before you can go trekking inside the jungles.
Casual Ramble: A casual ramble through this scenic location can give way to some serendipitous delights. This is also the best way to understand the locals and to see nature up close. The area is relatively safe and the people generally congenial. The mist covered lush greenery makes it an ideal spot for an early morning jogging.
Elephant Safaris: The forest department at Thekkady wildlife sanctuary offers elephant safaris through the dense wilderness. This is one of the best ways to explore the remote corners of the jungles.
Periyar Tiger trail: A trekking expedition could be organized inside the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary with the permission of the authorities. There is a set limit to the maximum number of people per expedition and it’s also subjected to meeting certain medical standards. This is because of the strenuous nature of this expedition through the dense remote jungles. The guides for this trail were poachers earlier and are now actively involved in protecting the unique ecosystem and the wildlife of the region.
Jungle Patrol: Imagine looking for poachers and protecting the forests on a night patrol. Well, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary has this amazing opportunity for you to join the night patrol team in their routine night vigil. This can be arranged with the department of Forests in Thekkady. There is a set limit to the maximum number of people per patrol and one has to be medically fit to join the night patrol.
Bamboo Rafting: This exciting adventure sport is available at the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. You can get in touch with the forest authorities for permission to do bamboo rafting in the Periyar Lake. This is one of the best ways to experience the area and to catch glimpses of wildlife at close quarters.
Jungle Camps: Jungle camps can be organized inside the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary amidst the dense forests. Here also prior permission is necessary before you can go into the forests.
Bullock Cart rides: You can travel in a bullock cart, the “local way” to commute, to nearby villages and farmlands in Thekkady. This is one of the best ways to experience the slow pace of Indian rustic life. The rides could be arranged with the department of forests. The guides are people who were earlier involved in sandalwood smuggling and the profit from this program is used for their rehabilitation purposes.
Plantation tours: Do make it a point to visit some of the numerous tea and spice plantations in the area. This is the best way to understand how these exotic spices are grown and to learn how they are used in the local cuisines. Tea factories could also be visited to see how the tea leaves are processed and to meet some of the workers involved in it. There are vanilla, cardamom and spice plantations in the region which could be visited with permission.
To know a place completely one must also try to understand the culture and tradition of the region.
Tribal Festivals: There are several tribal hamlets in the area. Their festivals are rather secluded and not promoted commercially. Try if you can get a glimpse of some of the exotic festivals celebrated by the tribes in the region.
Onam: This national festival of Kerala is celebrated here with much pomp and gaiety. Floral bed (Pookkalam) competitions are held along with the traditional Kerala “sadya” or feast.
The best buys here are handicrafts and tribal artifacts. If you are traveling to any of the tea growing areas, you may pick up tea leaves or fresh tea powder. If you are going to any of the spice plantations, you can buy fresh exotic spices and herbs. Wooden artifacts could be bought from many of the shops here. From the Periyar Tiger Reserve you could pick up T Shirts with prints of tigers and elephants as souvenirs.
You can rent a bike from one of the rent-a-bike shops in Thekkady. Cabs are the best bet to travel to distant locations. Many of the remote locations could only be accessed through jeeps.
Thekkady being a tourist hub offers several good quality hotels. You can have traditional south Indian or continental food here. If you want to have a slice of the local lifestyle you can stay in one of the many homesteads in the region and savor the exotic local cuisines made with fresh spices and herbs.
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, is one of the rare places in India where the wildlife poachers and smugglers are rehabilitated as caretakers of the jungle.
The Cochin International Airport located at a distance of 190 km is the nearest airport.
Thekkady is well connected by road to Ernakulam and Kottayam.
The nearest rail road station is located at a distance of 120 km at Kottayam.