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Elephant herd at PNP
Elephant herd at PNP

Periyar National Park, Kerala: Things to See and Do

Picture of Charishma Thankappan
Updated: 29 December 2017

Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (PNP) is a protected area shared among Idukki, Kottayam, and Pathanamthitta districts of Kerala, India. The park is home to a wealth of rare, endemic, and endangered flora and fauna. It is also the ultimate reservoir of many rich tribal settlements. The best season to visit PNP is between September and May.

Boat safari on Thekkady lake

The most popular and sought after activity in PNP is the two-hour boat safari offered by the tourist centre in Thekkady. Herds of gaur, sambhar, wild boar, and elephants are common sights during the safari. Smooth Indian otters are a wondrous sight you can catch if you are lucky during the summer months. Darters, egrets, and kingfishers are frequently seen perched on the dead trees in the lake.

Best Season – January to April for animal sighting

Book your tickets online at Periyar Tourism Promotions, Thekkady, Kerala, India, +91 94479 02359

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Boating in Periyar lake | © Kerala Tourism/Wikimedia Commons

Thekkady to Gavi jungle jeep safari

An off road jeep ride through the picturesque landscape is a must-do here. The ride takes you through hills and valleys, botanical gardens, cardamom plantations, sprawling grasslands, and waterfalls. The drive is a photographer’s dream.

Book your tickets online at Periyar Tourism Promotions, Thekkady, Kerala, India, +91 94479 02359

Trekking in the wild

PNP organises guided day-treks, night-treks, and day-long treks through trails traversing diverse habitats including deciduous forests, grasslands, and tribal community areas. The treks are interactive programmes offering outstanding opportunities to watch birds, butterflies, mammals in night-mode, and other wildlife. The short treks are usually 4 to 5km long, lasting for close to 3 hours while the day-long treks last from dawn to dusk. All treks are conducted by a tribal guide and accompanied by armed forest guards.

Book you tickets online at Periyar Tiger Conservation Foundation, Thekkady, Kerala, +91 85476 03066

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Trekking in the wild | © Kir360/Wikimedia Commons

Bamboo rafting

PNP conducts bamboo rafting accompanied by range hiking through some of the intact portions of the Reserve, traversing a varied mosaic of habitats. The 3 to 4 hour long rafting offers you panoramic views of mist-clad hills topped by animal sightings. Elephants, gaurs, and sambhars are usually easily spotted. The hike covers about 10km and is accompanied by armed forest guards.

Book you tickets online at Periyar Tiger Conservation Foundation, Thekkady, Kerala, +91 85476 03066

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Guar herd, a common sight from across Periyar lake | © Anand2202/Wikimedia Commons

Jungle camping and tree-top stays

PNP offers camping programmes and jungle lodging facility in eco-lodges built exclusively out of bamboo and grass and tree houses. The camps are tented stays at Vallakadavu on the banks of Periyar. Eco-lodge stay is a concept devised to entice man into nature’s lap and learn harmonious co-existence. Programmes also include lectures, discussions, field visits, and more for discerning aspirants.

Book you tickets online at Periyar Tiger Conservation Foundation, Thekkady, Kerala, +91 85476 03066

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Night sky inside PNP | © Jpaudit/Wikimedia Commons

Experience Kerala’s traditional art forms

A visit to Kerala is incomplete without experiencing her unique martial art form – Kalaripayattu and authentic classical dance drama – Kathakali. Interactive sessions are organised during evenings when you can lose yourself in the spectacle and discover a whole new realm of traditional art. Kadathanadan Kalari & Navarasa Kathakali (KKNK) and Mudra Cultural Centre are the two prominent centres where regular performances are conducted.

Book your tickets online at KKNK, Kumily, Kerala, +91 99617 40868

Periyar Tiger Trail

Tiger trail is an adventurous trekking and camping programme conducted by a team of rehabilitated poachers and tree fellers of the park. These hardy individuals with their intimate knowledge of the forest terrain take you deep into the wilderness enhancing the chances of encountering tigers. The treks are usually 20 to 35 kms depending upon the package and route chosen.

Book you tickets online at Periyar Tiger Trail, Kumily, Kerala, +91 95269 23124

Elephant rides

Keralites have a strong relationship with elephants and these gentle, majestic creatures have been captured and tamed for more than 4,000 years. With the aim of providing better living conditions for these magnificent beings, the tourism authority conducts elephant safaris. Seated on top of an elephant, you are taken on a ride around the spice plantation offering good views. You also get the opportunity of learning how these beautiful beings are taken care of by their mahouts.

Book your tickets online at Periyar Tourism Promotions, Thekkady, Kerala, India, +91 94479 02359

Spice Plantation Visits

Kumily is replete with spice plantations. What strikes you most while walking through the streets of Kumily is the lingering aroma of one or more spices like cloves, nutmeg, pepper, cinnamon, or cardamom. The geographical and climatic arrangement of Kumily makes the place a hot spot for spice cultivation. You can get deep insight into the various stages of processing undergone by each of these spices in their respective gardens.

Book your tickets online at Periyar Tourism Promotions, Thekkady, Kerala, India, +91 94479 02359

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Elephant crossings are a common sight in PNP | © sangramparida02/Wikimedia Commons

Other things to See and Do in PNP

Visit Tribal Heritage Museum inside the Mannam settlement, Connemara Tea Factory to learn tea-making process, the ancient Mangala Devi temple complex, view the valley from picturesque view-points like Ottakathalamedu, ParunthumpparaMullaperiyar dam and Chellarkovil waterfalls, drive through Vandiperiyar town filled with the aroma of spices, or take the off-road drive to Sathram.