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This 780 sq kilometre game sanctuary - the home of wildlife like
the bison, Nilgiri langur, sambar, spotted deer, flying squirrels,
owls, hornbills, makhnas, gaur, wild elephants - is a bit over
rated. Over rated in the sense that the place has lost much of
its sanctuary ambience because of the number of day trippers that avalanche
it on a regular basis; some 300,000 tourists visit it every year.
The din and trash spread by local tourists is disturbing. Some
find this sanctuary quite missable unless you plan to be there
when the tourist hordes are not there.
A lake sanctuary, the forests stretch away from the water's edge. The best way to view the wildlife is to board a park launch. It is also the only and worst way to view wildlife because you share the launch with the very same day-trippers you have been trying to avoid all day. A noisy launch full of humans is all you need to drive the animals back into the forest, their thirst forgotten. Your trip will be enjoyable if you plan around the tourist rush (avoid school vacation time, holidays and weekends)
Periyar is designated a part of the Project Tiger and during the dry season, when waterholes deeper in the forest dry up you may be very lucky to spot a tiger or a leopard coming to Lake Periyar for a drink. However the park is most famous for its elephants. Early morning and dusk trips into the forest are recommended.
Location: Part of the old Travancore State, the sanctuary and Periyar Lake are located close to the Tamil Nadu border. Kottayam is six hours away. However the nearest airport is at Madurai 140 km away and 4 hours away. Cochin the next nearest airport is 208 km and six hours away.
Climate: Maximum temperature 29 degrees Celsius. Minimum temperature 18 degrees Celsius. Annual rainfall 2,600 mm
When to Go: March through May. Avoid the weekends and holidays and school breaks
Proper attire: Woollens in winter. Carry water with you
for treks etc.
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