Periyar National Park
Kerala, which is also known as God's Own Country is one of the most sought after tourist destinations of not only India but the world. It has got all the delights that can attract a tourist. There are spectacular beaches, beautiful hill stations, ancient temples, amazing monuments, rich culture, marvelous festivals and what not. Kerala is also rich in flora and fauna and adventure lovers from all around the world come and visit the various wildlife sanctuaries and National parks of Kerala. Among all the national parks and sanctuaries that this state has, Periyar National Park is the most popular one.
Periyar National Park is located in the district of Idukki and Pathanamthitta and in the mountainous area of Cardamom Hills. In 1985 Mullaperiyar Dam was built in the area along with which this natural reserve was formed. Around 925 Km² area of this region is the protected area and a natural reserve, and within this an area of 350Km² is the core zone called Periyar National park and Tiger Reserve. This place is also called Thekkady sanctuary and is located at a distance of 100 Km from Kottayam. In the year 1978 it was declared as Project Tiger Reserve. The dam has formed a beautiful lake viz. the Periyar Lake which covers around an area of 26 Km² which is best place for the Boat Cruise and bamboo rafting activity in the National Park in Periyar. This park was also made part of Project Elephant in the year 1991.
Periyar National Park is rich in flora and fauna. The major part of this park is covered with evergreen and semi green rain forest. There is damp leaves forest, you will find eucalyptus trees in huge number and remaining is grass land. Apart from this 2000 kinds of Angiosperms, three kinds of Gymnosperms, 170 species of Ferns, 169 species of Sweet Grass, 155 species of Fabaceae and 145 varieties of Orchids are also found here. In fauna, Periyar National Park is especially known for its elephants and tiger population. Apart from them there are around 62 varieties of mammals recorded here which include gaur, bison, Sambar, mongoose, wild dogs, Langur, etc. There are 320 avian species, 45 reptile species, seven amphibian species, 38 varieties of fishes and more than 160 species of insects that Periyar National Park boasts of.
Though the dense core zone is not for the tourists still there is a large buffer zone where you can go for safari, trekking and bird watching. You can also enjoy bamboo rafting and boat cruise in Periyar Lake. This place offers the most marvelous and panoramic view of nature. It is easily accessible through private and public buses. You can easily get buses for Periyar National Park from Kumily which is located at a distance of four Km from here. Kottayam is the nearest railhead which is located at a distance of 114 Km and the nearest airport is in Madurai, at a distance of 140 Km from Periyar National Park.