The very sound of the word Thekkady conjures up images of elephants, unending chains of hills and spice scented plantations. The Periyar forests of Thekkady is one of the finest wildlife reserves in India. Spread across the entire district are picturesque plantations and hill towns that hold great opportunities for treks and mountain walks.
Wealth of Periyar Forests
Flora:Over 1965 flowering plants including 171 grass species 143 species of orchids. The only south Indian conifer, scientifically known as Podocarpus wallichianus, grows in the forests of Periyar Tiger Reserve.
Mammals: More than 60 species are found here which includes the Asian elephant, Tiger, Indian bison, sambar deer, Indian wild dog, Leopard, Barking deer, Smooth-coated otter which can be sighted during a boat cruise in the Periyar Lake. The Nilgiri tahr is confined to the higher rocky areas whereas the endangered lion tailed macaque can be found in the interior evergreen forests. Both the bonnet macaques and Nilgiri langur can be seen foraging from the trees near the boat landing. Malabar giant squirrel is omnipresent.
Birds: 265 species including migrants. The Malabar grey hornbill, The Indian pied hornbill, Whitebellied Treepie, many species of drongos, woodpeckers, flycatchers, babblers, the spectacular Malabar trogon, etc can be seen near the boat landing.
Reptiles: Cobra, viper, krait, a number of non-poisonous snakes, and the Indian monitor lizard.
Amphibians: Frogs like the colorful Malabar gliding frog, fungoid frog, bicolored frog, many species of toads, and limbless caecilians.
Pisces (fish): The Periyar lake and streams have several species of fish including the masheer, the famous and endangered game fish of India. The Smooth-coated otter can be frequently spotted from the boat.
Plantations: Tea, cardamom, pepper and coffee plantations abound in the areas adjoining the Tiger Reserve.
Watch Towers: There are a few watch towers inside Periyar Tiger Reserve which are excellent for viewing wildlife.