Almost everyone in India is well accustomed to the name of Periyar, famous for its backwater. But do you have any idea that Periyar has other things to be seen while you are in the ‘God’s own country’? Well, I suppose you did not. Just like Periyar backwater, Periyar National Park is one of the famous National Parks in India. It is a notable reserve forest for tigers and elephants. From endangered flora and fauna to mesmerizing scenic beauty, Periyar is the queen of healing your mind. Want to know more about Periyar National Park? Keep reading then.
Periyar National Park
A long time ago, Periyar National Park did not exist at all. The existence started with the foundation of the Mullaperiyar Dam in 1895. This dam created an artificial lake which has become the center of the National Park now. During the 19th century, this forest area became the hunting forest for the Travancore Kings. However, to stop the illegal cutting of trees, they declared this area as reserved forest area.
After independence, it was first regarded as the Wildlife Sanctuary, and by the end of 1978, it was declared as the Periyar National Park and Periyar Tiger Reserve Forest.
Periyar National Park History
Periyar national park is an important name among other national parks in India for being an elephant and tiger reserve forest. In 1978, Periyar took the project of Tiger reserve, and by the end of 1992, the project of Elephant was being taken after it was approved by the Central Government. Periyar National Park is known to be the habitat of many rare species of Elephants, mainly the wild Asian elephants.
Periyar National Park Location
Periyar National Park is situated in the middle of Pathanamthitta and Idukki districts of Kerala. As it is centred around a lake born out of a dam, the entire forest is located on the hills of Cardamom and Pandalam of Western Ghats. Due to its hilly position, the National Park does not show much geographical variation. The whole area is surrounded by high hills. In the north and east, it is surrounded by mountain ridges which are almost 1800 m high, and in the west, it is surrounded by the 1200 m high plateau. Kottamalai is the highest peak in this region. The lake and the Periyar River are the main sources of water here. Also, the temperature does not fluctuate much in the region; it stays between 30°C to 15°C.
Periyar National Park Flora and Fauna
Being surrounded by high mountain ridges of Western Ghats, this place is a mostly moist deciduous forest. However, in the west i.e. towards the plateau area, the forest becomes less dense, and it can be categorized as dry deciduous forest. Teak, Rosewood, Sandalwood, Mangoes, Jamun, Bamboos, and Tamarind are the common vegetation here.
This 640 square kilometers area is a natural habitat of many wild animals, and among them 35 species are mammals. Among mammals, Tiger and Elephant are the ones for which this National Park is famous for. A total of 25 Bengal tigers and a few white tigers live in this forest. Also, it is an important reserve forest for Asiatic Wild elephants as well. Apart from tigers and elephants, there are other mammals too such as squirrel, Jungle cat, Wild Boar, Sloth bear, mongoose, Nilgiri, etc.
Periyar National Park is home to more than 266 species of birds. During the season, the migrant birds increase the number. Black Baza, Nilgiri Thrush, Kite, Hornbill, etc. are regular birds. However, there are some endangered species of birds as well– Malabar Grey Hornbill, Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Nilgiri Flycatcher, Crimson Sunbird, Blue-eyed Flycatcher, etc.
Periyar also has 30 species of reptiles which include snakes, lizards and turtles. Also, it is the natural habitat of 160 rare species of butterflies.
How To Reach Periyar National Park
Airways : The nearest airport is Madurai Airport which is 140 km away from Periyar. The city Madurai is well connected to Periyar via roads.
Railways : Kottayam Railway station is the nearest railway station which is 116 km away from the Periyar National Park.
Roadways : Periyar is well connected to other cities of India via road network and the transportation facility is also good in here.
Periyar National Park Timings And Tickets
Due to its favorable climate condition, Periyar National Park remains open throughout the whole year. However, the best time to visit Periyar is from October to July.
Entry time– 6:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Entry ticket– For Indians Rs33/ person and foreigners Rs450/person. For video and still camera, extra fees will be needed.
From the backwater to the National Park, Periyar is a surprise place for all. Along with high mountain ridge, the National Park will help you have the glimpse of a big giant elephant or the sneaky clever tiger. So, if you have not visited this place yet, you must soon! Happy travelling!