Periyar is South India’s most popular wildlife sanctuary. Nestled in the hills of the Western Ghats mountain range with close to 800km2 of free-ranging territory, it combines dense forests with craggy mountains encircled by a lake.
Most famous for its wild Indian elephants, the reserve also offers sightings of bison, sambar, wild boar, barking deer, Indian wild dogs, langur, and on the very rare occasion, tigers. The sanctuary is home to the critically endangered Nilgiri Tahr (wild goat), which is nearing extinction.
Birding is a rewarding activity at the park and some of the species include Indian darter, black-necked stork, the great Indian hornbill, the Brahman kite, the pied kingfisher and the golden oriole.
The monumental Mangala Devi is situated in the heart of the Thekkady forest and is best approached on foot to enjoy the sounds and sights of the forest. Part of the pleasure of visiting Periyar is the drive up to the park, with the pristine mountain scenery and peaceful countryside rolling by.
Trekking with a local guide who can point out the rare birds, trees and flowers | Photographing an Elephant up close
− There are over 1000 elephant in the reserve
− The 26km2 artificial lake was created by the British in 1895