Thekkady – Travel from Madurai to the scenic, serene and explore this dense mountain forest near Kerala

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Thekkady is located near to Kerala-Tamil Nadu state border and approximately 141 km from Madurai City and Madurai Airport. The Sanctuary is well known for its thick evergreen, clammy deciduous woodlands and savanna fields. It is home to groups of elephants, sambar, tigers, gaur, lion-tailed macaques and Nilgiri langurs.

How To Get There

Current weather

Taxi / Drive – 142.3 km, 2 h 19 min
Night Train / Bus – 4 h 20 min

Activities can include adventurous nature walk, Elephants rides, Bamboo Rafting, Biking, Boating, Hiking, Plantation tours.

Language: Malayalam, Tamil, English
Altitude: 700 – 1,900 metres (2,297 – 6,234 feet) above sea level
Time zone: IST (UTC+5.5 hours)
Theme: Mountains, Wildlife

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Thekkady
Thursday, 18 May
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The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is spread across over 777 km2, of which 360 km2 is thick evergreen forest. The untamed life haven was announced a tiger reserve in 1978. The magnificent simulated lake framed by the Mullai-periyar Dam over the Periyar River adds to the appeal of the great recreation center. Thekkady is considered as a heaven for natural spices such as black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, nutmace, ginger, and clove.

When to visit Thekkady (Ideal duration - One day)

Given its pleasant climate most of the year, Thekkady makes for an all year round destination. Here is a month wise break-up of the weather of Thekkady to help you plan your holiday better:

October to February: Winters are by far the best time to visit Thekkady as the weather is cool and pleasant, making it ideal for sightseeing. The maximum temperature goes up to 15 degrees Celsius and this is a great time to go for wildlife safaris and admire the natural beauty of Thekkady. You can also enjoy the many festivals which take place during this time in Thekkady.

March to May: March marks the beginning of summer in Thekaddy and temperatures begin to rise. The maximum temperature during this time of the year goes up to 36 degrees Celsius. Since not many tourists visit Thekaddy during this time, you can secure great deals on hotels and enjoy th natural beauty of the place minus the crowds. Though do make sure you carry light cotton clothes and sunscreen along.

June to September: The monsoons are another great time to visit Thekkady. The temperature drops slightly and the surroundings are draped in a cloak of rich greenery. The rains are also a great time to enjoy the rain washed beauty of Thekkady. Do make sure you carry an umbrella or raincoat alogn as rain showers are frequent and heavy.

Places to visit in and around Thekkady

The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary

Located close to the spice plantations and surrounded by the Cardamom Hills, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the most popular attractions in Thekkady. Declared a Tiger Reserve in 1978, this wildlife sanctuary is one of India's most prominent tiger reserves and has played a major role in the conservation of tigers. The sanctuary, noted for its diversity of wildlife, evergreen forests, and scenic beauty, receives a large number of tourists from all over the world.

Although a tiger reserve, the star of the show in Periyar is the herd of elephants that descend down to the lake. Other intriguing and rare species of animals dwelling in the sanctuary include the Sambar Deer, Nilgiri Tahr, Wild Pigs, Nilgiri Langur, the highly endangered Lion-Tailed Macaque, Small Travancore Flying Squirrel, Stripe-Necked Mongoose, Nilgiri Marten and many more.

Spring Valley Mountain

Better known as Kurisumala among the locals, the Spring Valley Mountain is a hillock overlooking the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. The hillock provides excellent opportunity for trekking. The peak of the hillock presents a dazzling view of the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. The very sound of the word Thekkady conjures up images of elephants, unending chains of hills and spice-scented plantations. In the Periyar forest of Thekkady is one of the finest wildlife reserves in India and spread across the entire district are picturesque plantations and hill towns that hold great opportunities for treks and mountain walks.

Pandikuzhi  - “A nice photo spot”

This cradle of picturesque landscape, exotic flora and fauna and winding streams is sandwiched between Chellarkovil and Tamil Nadu. Pandikuzhi is a delightful spot for spending a day picnicking amongst thickets of greenery and gushing streams. The Pandikuzhi Waterfalls is on the way to Chellarkovil Viewpoint about 5 kilometers from Kumily. The flora and fauna, the streams, the grass lands, the mist and the cool breeze have made this a great picnic spot. Several small streams join together and the water cascade to the valley of Tamilnadu. The view of the valley from here is breathtaking.

Vandiperiyar Lake - “A beautiful lake with exotic wildlife”

Vandiperiyar is home to plantations of tea, coffee and pepper. The Periyar River flows through this town enriching the plantations. The lake is nice but the only way to really get close to the lake is to take the boat ride organised by KTDC. It is visited by a lot of animals such as Elephants who come there to drink water from the lake. It is best to visit the lake early in the morning. You can pay a visit to the Government Agricultural Farm and Flower Garden which has on display an illustrious collection of Roses, Orchids and Anthuriums.

Panchali medu

Deeply revered in Thekkady, it is believed that the Pancha Pandavas spent their years of exile in the forests of Panchalimedu. According to the myths, Pandavas along with their spouse Panchali had a sojourn there at time of one-year exile.[14] Hence the place got its name Panchalimedu which derived from the words "Panchali" (Draupadi) and "medu" (hill).

The stones found hereb are quite intriguing and interesting as they are carved in the shape of furniture, which were believed to be used by the Pandavas. Popular belief is that the Pandavas still live in these forests and that they can see other people, but can’t be seen by others.

Chellarkovil Viewpoint - “Calm, serene and beautiful falls”

This sleepy little village has started figuring prominently on the ‘places to visit while in Thekkady’ list. The stunning natural beauty of this place combined with the solitude and peace attract a good number of tourists. Breathtaking views. Such beautiful scenery. A long drive up through winding roads but well worth it. Just a shame there is so much rubbish left behind. Preferred for family / Couples who wants to take some beautiful snapshots. Apart from the view, nothing much. Entry is free. No food stops nearby.

The shimmering light of the sun reflected on the cascading waterfalls is a sight to behold. A picnic and photography are strongly recommended here.

Grampi

Grampi is a beautiful hill station of rolling hills, green pastures and a tranquil environment. Owing to its pristine valleys and picturesque landscape, Grampi has become a preferred tourist destination.

Periyar Tiger Reserve Overview “Periyar tiger reserve-an unexplored gem”

One amongst the 27 tiger reserves in India and mainly known for being a tiger and elephant sanctuary, you must visit Periyar Tiger Reserve if you love being a part of nature’s bounty. You will be mesmerized by the scenic beauty, wild flowers, 100-year-old artificial lake and the rich bio-diversity the place will offer you. If you are lucky, you might spot the Bengal tiger, only 40 in number and spread across the sprawling area. Try doing an ecotourism programme there since you will be contributing to the conservation of these animals through it. Periyar tiger reservelocated at Thekkady, is the oldest & largest protected area in Kerala.There are a number of community based eco tourism programmes. Bamboo lodge situated in this reserve is an ideal place to listen to nature. There are a number of activities conducted bythe government and forest division. Some of the programmes are, bamboo rafting, jungle camp, jungle scouting(night patrolling to experience night life in jungle programme with armed guards),nature walk, tribal dance etc. There is also a museum where one can feel the jungle and listen to the sounds of animals and birds.

Gavi “Stay in the Forest”

If you’re a nature lover visiting Kerala, make sure you save some time for Gavi in your schedule. Natural, untarnished beauty abounds in this eco-tourism spot which is celebrated for its wildlife. Gavi is a small beautiful village between Vendiperiyar and Pamba, en route to Sabarimala. This is not a public road, hence prior permission required from Forest department to travel almost 20 kilometers through the dense forest to reach Gavi. Gavi dam was build for catering the needs of Sabarimal temple and the whole water is used for them. Beautiful drive and Eco Friendly stay will leave you with memorable experience. Boating, animal safari, trekking are offered within the package including food. Best time to visit is from August - February.

A range of accommodations are available here, along with a restaurant, museum, garden and guide services. Activities provided include trekking, jeep safaris, boating and plantation visits. On your own time, observe the vibrant bird life and endemic animals that roam around in the vicinity.

Spice Garden - “Different information from the natural herbs”

If you are driving from Kottayam towards Thekkady, you will come across Abraham’s Spice Garden – a beautiful organic garden of spices. It’s a difficult task to spot the garden from the road unless you are actually looking for it and have a fair idea of its location. It's a really great way to learn about the process, effort and experience of spice growing in India. The hosts are hugely knowledgeable and really friendly. Set in a beautiful garden with the best coffee

Hidden behind a thick foliage of green, you will need to walk down a narrow dirt path to reach the main office of the garden. Abraham’s Spice Garden lets you explore the world of spices and learn a lot about spice cultivation, organic farming and Ayurveda.

Mangala Devi Temple - “Chithira Pournami Festival at Mangala Devi temple”

 

The Mangala Devi Temple is a highly revered and sacred temple hidden deep in the forests of Thekkady. The temple opens only once every year for devotees to pay their respects to the deity of the temple. The temple only opens on Chitra Pournami, which falls in the month of March. Accessible through Jeep from Kumily or trekking from Kumily and Palliyamkudi (Tamilnadu). Plastics are not allowed, water is arranged every 2 to 3 kms on the way from Kumily side. Food, Water and Medical aids are available free of coast at temple side. The trek to temple is good and it gives a view of forests & mountains.
“Temple Run in real” - This temple is located within the reserve and is quite beautiful as I have heard. The temple opens only for one day in each year and as usual the rush is large. People flock from all over Kerala to visit it. The trek to the temple is awesome and should be made on foot to experience the wildlife and flora.

Watch Kalaripayattu (Martial Art of Kerala), Kadathanadan Kalari Centre, Kumily. Oldest of the martial arts and Kathakali show (Kathakali show), Behind Periyar Medows, Kumily. - “Brilliant hour of entertainment, building to a crescendo”


The skill and strength of these young men is incredible and whilst serious they still provide an entertaining hour’s show. Kathakali the famous south dance was just wonderful and martial art was also good.It was really good to visit this place and good performers.

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