Periyar is a protected area, and a nature reserve in the South Indian State of Kerala, set high in the mountains of the Western Ghats along the border with Tamil Nadu. It lies in the districts of Idukki and Pathanamthitta. The protected area covers an area of 925 km², out of which a 350 km² part of the core zone was made into the Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve, sometimes dubbed the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. The park is often called by the name thekkady also. Thekkady is located four km from Kumily, approximately 100 km east of Kottayam, 110 km west of Madurai and 120 km southeast from Kochi.
Tourists and Pilgrims
A boat cruise on Periyar Lake. Note the tree stumps protruding from the water, which are used for navigation to ascertain the waters depth.
The Periyar tiger reserve is considered as one of the best managed reserve in India. The core zone of the park is not accessible to the tourists. Within the buffer zone of 430 km², a zone of 55 km² is kept apart for tourism. Game wardens and staff have been recently spotted illegally fishing and gathering specimens within the sanctuary area. The facilities within the sanctuary are in need of much maintenance and are presently in very poor standards. This has also contributed a steady decline in returning tourists to the sanctuary.
Bamboo Rafting during guided tour through Periyar Wild Life Sanctury
In the buffer zone there is also the temple of Sabarimala, which is visited by about 4 million pilgrims annually.
Its important to recognize, however, that for the very purpose of protecting its wildlife and shielding them from human interference, Periyar National Park allows extremely limited access to the territory under its jurisdiction, restricting tourist entry only to the northern corner adjacent to man-made lake Periyar.