PERIYAR TIGER RESERVE

The Periyar Tiger Reserve, named after the Periyar river, is one of our prestigious possessions on the High Ranges of Western Ghats, zealously guarded and efficiently managed. Falling in the Idukki district of Kerala, the tract surrounds the Periyar lake, which was created in 1895, building a dam across the river. The forests around the lake were declares as Reserved Forests in 1899.









The enlightened Maharaja of Travancore, realising the significance of conservation, appointed Mr. S.C.H.Robinson as the first Game Warden. Based on his recommendations, the forests around the lake were turned into a sanctuary in 1934, the Nellikkampathy Sanctuary. The sanctuary which assumed a new identity in 1950 had been managed by a seperate Game department until it was merged with the Forest Department in 1966. It was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1978 under the famous scheme, Project Tiger.Noted for its geomorphology, wildlife and scenic beauty, the Periyar Tiger Reserve attracts travellers from all over the world. It also harbours an aquatic eco system within itself. Numerous small islets in the large 50 year old artificial lake remind us of the intricate, inherent interrelationship among the terrestrial aquatic and subterrane life forms. This is the only sanctuary in India where the elephant can be observed and photographed at close quarters from the safety of a boat.

Topography

          Dense evergreen, semi evergreen and moist deciduous forests adorn the hills. There are extensive stretches of Savannah grasslands on the upper slopes.

Flora

          The evergreen forests have lofty tree and the canopy is closed. Some of the common dominant trees are Vateria indica (Vellapine), Dipterocarpus indicus (Kalpine), Cullani excelsa (Karayani), Plaquium ellipticum (Palai) etc. Semi-evergreen forests hold a mix of evergreen and deciduous trees. Artocarpus hirsuta (Aini), Salmalia malabarica (Elavu), Hopea parviflora (Thampakam), Tetrameles nudiflora(Vellacheeni) etc., dominate in this type. Moist deciduous forests occur interspersed with grasslands around the lake and along the slopes on the north. Terminalia species (Maruthy) dominate. Teak, Rose wood, Pterocarpus (Venga) etc also exist. Grasslands occur around the lake and on the islets. There is scattered growth of firehardy species like Anogeissus latifolia (Mazhukanjiram), Careya arborea (Pezhe), Emblica officianalis (Nelli) etc.The main species of grass are elephant grass (Cympopogon species), Saceharum etc which are commonly grazed by elephant, gaur and sambar.

Fauna

          The varied habitat naturally supports a variety of species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fishes. Tiger, panther and wild dog, elephant, gaur, sambar, barking deer, wild boar, sloth bear, Nilgiri tahr langur, lion tailed macaque, otter, Malabar gaint squirrel, civets etc. are generally sighted.There are several kinds of poisonous and non-poisonous snakes including the king cobra. Tortoise may often be seen asking on rocks and tree-trunks by the lake. The Masheer, the most famous game fish of India exists in large numbers.The common aquatic birds are the Indian darter, little cormorant kingfisher, and the black-necked stork, the great Indian hornbill, peafowl, brahminy kite and black winged kite.Effective measures to eliminate grazing, prevent poaching and encourage tourism have been taken. Eco development is also a thrust area.

Administration

          The Tiger Reserve is under the direct control of the Field Director, Project Tiger. His office is at Kottayam. There is also an office at Thekkadi.

Wildlife Tourism

          The entry point to the Reserve is Thekkadi, which is accessibel by good roads from the airports of Madurai (145 kms), Thiruvananthapuram (272 kms) and Kochi (190 kms). The nearest rail - head is Kottayam (115 kms). The nearest twon is Kumily, 4 kms from Thekkadi.

Facilities Available

1. There is an information centre at Thekkadi.
2. A mini bus of the Forest Department operates between Kumily and Thekkadi.
3. A snake bar is at your service at the boat land-ing.
4. Motor boats are available for cruising in the lake.
5. Jeeps are available at the information centre for trekking in the Reserve.
6. Elephant and horse rides are possible at boat landing.

Accomodation

          The Kerala Tourism Development Corporation had three hotels; Aranya Nivas, Edappalayam Lake Palace and Periyar House. Visitors who want to stay within the forest area can make use of the Forest Houses for which advance reservation must be made. Lodging facilities are also available at Kumily.

Season

The ideal time to visit the Reserve is October - May.

Useful Information

Latitude     : 9° 18' and 9° 41' North
Longitude  : 76° 55' and 77° 25' East
Total Area : 777 sq. kms.
Core area   : 350 sq. kms.
Rainfall       : Average 2,500mm
The Periyar lake is 26sq.kms in extent.
The maximum depth near the dam when
the lake is full is 46m.
Terrain       : Altitude varies from 900 m to over 2,000m.

Contact Address

1. The Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife)
    Thiruvananthapuram,
    Kerala - 695014
    Phone : 322217.

2. The Wildlife Preservation Officer,
    Periyar Tiger Reserve, Thekkadi,
    Kerala - 685 536
    Phone : 2027 Kumily.