Located in the district of Idukki, Kerala and running parallel to the Western Ghats, Thekkady Wildlife Sanctuary is India’s biggest wildlife reserve. Spread across 777 sq. km, and surrounded by an artificial lake, formed by the Mullaperiyar Dam constructed across the Periyar river, this reserve is home for animals like Asian Elephants, Bisons, Sambar Deers, Boars, Tigers, Leopards, Wild Squirrels, Lion tailed Monkeys and a wide variety of birds and insects. Noted for it’s diversity of wildlife and scenic beauty, the Reserve attracts visitors from all over the world. It is also know as the Periyar Tiger Reserve.
The main attractions in Thekkady , are the lush green forests, the mystic lake, the cool weather and the unique experience of spotting wildlife at a very close range. The boat rides and short forest treks provide us with great opportunities to get face to face with wild animals. Other important tourist destinations near Thekkady are Munnar, Chinnar, Thenni, Vandenmedu, Pullumedu and Ramakkalmedu.
Getting there and around
Thekkady is accessible by road from Cochin and Kottayam. The nearest airport is at Cochin while the nearest railhead is at Kottayam.
Thekkady Distance Chart
Trivandrum-206kms | Cochin-157kms | Coimbatore-239kms | Thrissur-74kms | Kottayam-106kms | Munnar- 80kms |
Things to do
The main activities you can indulge in are sight seeing, Wildlife boat cruises on the Periyar Lake, Wildlife Photography, Trekking, Nature walk, Bamboo rafting, Elephant rides and Jungle Patrol.
Things to carry
- Sports shoe, thick long socks & Jeans (for trekking)
- Salt (to fight the leeches)
- Cap/Sunscreen lotion
Thekkady Wildlife Sanctuary - My Experience
Fuming at office all week, I thought of taking a break on Friday and driving to Thekkady with my family to spend the weekend out there. I booked the accommodation at Aranya Nivas, three days prior to the journey. It is a hotel run by KTDC and is located right inside the wildlife sanctuary. They provide on-line booking and it costed me INR 3800 for a double bedroom . I chose this property to get the best experience of the place while not spening too much on accomodation. The best option (in case your are struggling with how to spend your riches) is Lakepalace, a former summer palace of the King of Travancore, situated on an island in the middle of the Periyar Lake . It costs a wooping INR15000 and due to the cost it was no more an option for me .
We started off from Trivandrum by 8:00AM and choose to take the MC road. In a few hours we were speeding via Pathanamthitta towards Kumily on our small yet compact Zen. We reached Kumily by 1:00PM and from there took a right towards Thekkady Wildlife Sanctuary. Driving another 4-5 kilometres we reached the entrance of Thekkady Wildlife Sanctuary. We payed the entrance fees and drove ahead towards our hotel. The road ahead was through the middle of the jungle with signboards warning us to watch out for animals crossing the road, though we dint see any. The drive through the middle of the lush green jungle was a refreshing experience.
In a few minutes we reached the Hotel. We were given a warm welcome and the room boy lead us to our room. The room was on the first floor, with one side facing the forest. The room was clean tidy and well maintained. I was quite surprised by the standard of the room despite it being a government run hotel. I would say that Aranya Nivas is a good quality hotel and KTDC has really put in effort to keep up the quality of rooms and the service. The staff too were cordial and helpful.
We freshened up, had lunch at the restaurant downstairs and took a short nap. I checked with the reception on the various activities they provide. I wanted to take up the Jungle Patrol, which is a 3-hour night-time trekking programme inside the wildlife sanctuary, but we were late in registering for it. After booking out tickets for the boat ride for the next day we went around exploring the property and the place. During our casual walk through the property we spotted the wild squirrel and the lion tailed macaque.
Slowly the sound of crickets started to take over followed by the sounds of birds and the wilderness of the forest. As it started turning dark, we headed back to the hotel. The weather was cold and awfully romantic by then. We had our dinner from the restaurant by 7:00pm , the food was good. We went back to our room and dozed off in the wilderness of the forest that surrounded the hotel. It was an awesome experience.
The next day, we woke up early in the morning and went for the boating at 7:00AM. It costs INR50 for a person. It was drizzling and we dint see any animals out there. The boat ride was a bit disappointing . The rain had stopped by the time the trip got over. We then headed back to the hotel for a quick breakfast.
We needed to take the tickets for the the nature walk from the forest information office (located near to the main checkpost). The nature walk is a 3-hour daytime trek in the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary . You have the option of hiring a guide for INR500 or taking the trek as a group, for a payement of INR100/person. We choose the former and started off the trek from near the boat jetty with our guide. We were provided thick socks to save ourselves from leech bites.
The trek was through the less dense forests and grasslands. We spotted couple of Sambar Deers, monkeys and a green snake. By the end of 3 hours we were on the opposite bank of the lake and had to use the bamboo rafts to cross the lake. We would have almost covered 5-6 kilometres. It was an adventurous trek and I enjoyed every minute of it.
It was almost 12:30PM when we got back to the hotel. We were quite astonished to see the state of our room, which looked as if a police raid has just been over. Everything was out of place. We were clueless until we saw the last of culprits jump out of the window. Monkeys !!!. We had left the window open and they seemed to have taken up the good time to fish out all the food that was in our room, even from our travel bags.
Since the booking was only for a day and extending it wasn’t possible, we decided to return back home. Out of curiosity to see the vineyards, we drove towards Thenni. After dropping by a vineyard, we started off our return journey to Trivandrum. We reached Trivandrum by 11.30PM.
Thekkady is definitely a must see place in Kerala. The serenity and the wilderness of the place is a real treat to the mind and soul. The best time to visit Thekady is from the month of September to March. I would recommend Aranya Nivas to anyone, planning to visit Thekkady. Spend a whole weekend there to get the best out of the place. Also make sure that you check the activity list , plan and book the tickets/slots in advance so that you don’t end up without tickets like us . Thekkady Wildlife Sanctuary opens by 6:30AM and closes by 5:00PM. They would not allow you to enter the sactuary past 5:00PM. So make sure you schedule your trip accordingly to avoid inconvenience. I definitely plan to come back to this place soon for the Jungle patrol which I missed out.