Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is sited at Thekkady, about 4 km from Kumili in Idukki district of Kerala. Spread over an area of 777 sq km, the sanctuary is one of the 27 tiger reserves in India and one of the most significant wildlife sanctuaries of the country. The sanctuary, situated on the banks of the Periyar Lake, was consolidated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1950 and was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1978. The sanctuary is widely known for its scenic beauty, diversity of wildlife, and geomorphology. The protected area of the sanctuary lies in the middle of the mountainous region of the Cardamom Hills, encircled by the pictorial Periyar Lake, at an elevation ranging from 100 m at Pambavalley to 2019 m at Kottamalai.
Dense evergreen and semi evergreen rain forest, damp leaves forest, eucalyptus plantation, savannah grasslands, and aquatic system surround the ranges of stupendous Western Ghats. Apart from vegetation, Periyar is highly recognized for 350 species of medicinal plants, with 50% of the entire flowering plants of Kerala forming the floristic richness of the reserve. Talking about the faunal life, the sanctuary is reported to house 62 species of mammals, 320 of birds, 45 of reptiles, 27 of amphibians, and 38 of fish. Sightings of herds of elephants, sambars, tigers, bison, gaurs, mouse deer, barking deer, foxes, lion-tailed macaques, bonnet macaque, and Nilgiri langurs are very frequent.
2500 mm of average annual rainfall has been reported for the reserve with both southwest and northeast monsoon contributing to the showers. However, two third of the monsoons is received in the months June through September. Besides, the sanctuary also receives some pre-monsoon showers in April. The temperature varies from 15 0C in December to 31 0C in April and May. The mountain scenery, along with the lake cruise and a jungle walk, constitute en enjoyable visit and memorable trip, giving the visitors a Disneyland-in-the-Ghats experience. To infuse more excitement and thrill to your journey, the sanctuary offers many eco-tourism activities organized by the administrative department, such as nature walk, the Periyar tiger trail, border hiking, bamboo rafting, jungle patrol, tribal heritage, and the bullock cart ride.
You have the option of enjoying an elephant ride at the sanctuary or trek to the Mangaladevi Temple, situated in the center of the Thekkady forests. For a more mesmerizing voyage, give both a try. The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary provides great opportunity to enjoy wildlife and capture wild animals, in general, and elephants, in particular. The best season to visit Periyar is from September to May, though the reserve is open to visitors round the year. With March and April being the driest months of the year, it is a great time to sight most of the animals relaxing near the lake. Excellent accommodation facilities are made available inside the forest by Kerala Forest Department and Kerala Tourism Development Corporation. The nearest railhead is Kottayam (114 km) and the nearest airport is Cochin Internaitonal Airport (190 km).
The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is the most important wildlife preserve of Kerala, known particularly for elephants.