Periyar National Park is the oldest national park in the state of Kerala, created in 1934 by the Travancore government. This vast reserve of some 780 sq km varies in altitude from 900m to 1800m, and likewise the terrain varies considerably from open grasslands to dense tropical forest.
An artificial lake, formed by damming the Periyar river, covers 26 sq km and is in many respects the focal point of anyone visiting the National Park with limited time available. Boat trips on the lake provide the best opportunity of viewing the wildlife as you navigate around the sunken remains of trees. It’s a landscape within which you’d be forgiven for thinking you were witnessing a scene out of Jurassic Park !
The sanctuary is well known for its large herds of elephants, but bison, wild boar and spotted/sambar deer are also common. Tigers and Leopards are unfortunately only rarely sighted, although a total of 24 Bengal tigers were counted across the park in 2008. Smaller animals include black langurs, lion-tailed monkeys and flying squirrels.
There are plenty of darters, cormorants, egrets, herons and white-necked storks, which perch on the dead trees in the lake. In total about 266 species of birds can be seen in the park.
My time in the park was all too short, and only consisted of the boat trip on the lake. Considering any tight schedules it’s probably your best way of getting a feel for the park and to see a wide variety of wildlife in a short space of time.
The best season for visiting is December to May.
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