Best places to visit in Thekkady including Periyar Tiger Reserve, Kurisumala, Pullumedu, Pandikuzhi, Vandiperiyar, Panchalimedu
Not for nothing is Kerala known as ‘God’s Own Country’, it has Thekkady! If discovering wildlife is your calling, there is no better place than this dense forested region nestled in the lap of Nature, near Kerala-Tamil Nadu border. It has an area of 777 square kilometers, of which 360 square kilometers is covered with thick forest that is a mix of evergreen, semi-evergreen and moist deciduous forests, interspersed with Savanna grasslands.
A heaven for wildlife enthusiasts, the forest teems with some of the world’s most interesting species of the animal kingdom, such as wild Asian elephants, sambar, tigers, gaur, lion-tailed macaques, Nilgiri langurs, bison, deer and other species. But forest is not the only thing that Thekkady boasts of; there are other must-visit places in this region.
Let us see what the must-visit places in Thekkady are:
1. Periyar Tiger Reserve
One of the most popular attractions of Thekkady, this sanctuary was professed a Tiger Reserve status in 1978, making it one of the 27 tiger reserves in India. Since then, it has played a significant role in conserving the depleting numbers of tigers in the country. If you are lucky enough you may manage to spot a Bengal tiger that number only 40 in this sanctuary. However, you can see other animals, especially herds of elephants bathing in the 100-year-old artificial lake and some other exotic animals, such as Nilgiri Tahr, Flying Squirrel, Stripe-Necked Mongoose, and the like.
Kurisumala or the Spring Valley Mountain is a hillock that provides a magnificent vantage point to get a 360 degree view of the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. You can also see the nearby town of Kumily. Kurisumala offers an excellent opportunity for trekkers. You can go trekking and discover some exotic herbs and flora in the dense vegetation of this hillock and be one with Nature. You can also visit a church at the hilltop, where pilgrims come to worship.
Pullumedu that in local dialect means ‘Green Meadows’ lies along the banks of Periyar River. Covered in greenery, this place lives up to its name of ‘Green Meadows’, what with it lush green canopy of shrubs and trees, velvet lawns, rolling hills and rare flora and fauna. This Nature’s cradle can only be reached by jeep. You get an excellent view of the Makara Jyothi illumination and can also see Sree Ayyappa Temple. Not all of Pullumedu is accessible, since some parts of the forest are restricted and require prior permission of the authorities for visiting.
Pandikuzhi, located midway between Chelarkovil and TamilNadu border, is an explorer’s delight, what with its plethora of flora and fauna, cool streams and an enchanting environment. The main attraction of this place is the cascading waterfall that roars and sprays, as its water rushes and gushes. You get a chance to indulge in your fantasy adventure with camera in hand to preserve these cherished moments for eternity. If you do choose to stay in this place that is just five kilometers from Kumily, you can enjoy Nature at its best and also participate in events organized by local villagers.
If you want to see the plantations of tea, coffee, black pepper and other spice products, Vandiperiyar is the place to head for. Located on the banks of Periyar River that flows through this town, it boasts of many tea factories. Those with the green thumb can visit the Government Agricultural Farm and Flower Garden to admire their magnificent collection of Roses, Orchids and Anthuriums.
Located on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border in the Anakkara Panchayath and 15 kilometers from Kumily, this sleepy village of Chellarkovil is a hot tourist destination that attracts tourists from all over the world. The natural beauty of this place – greenish mountains, cascading waterfalls and picturesque valleys – proves most alluring and makes one visit this place again and again. Chellarkovil is one amongst others where an eco-tourism project was launched in 2008 to provide amenities to the visiting tourists.
Panchalimedu, one of the most beautiful hill stations in the Idukki district, is an intrinsic part of the Indian epic the Mahabharata. According to it, the Pandavas had made their abode during their exile in the forests of Panchalimedu. Since then, the place has been named after them. A cave at this location is said to have the footprints of Bhima and a small pond, called ‘Panjali Kulam’ is where Panchali, wife of the Pandavas, used to bathe. What is more intriguing are the stones found here in the form of furniture, believed to be used by the Pandavas. As beliefs go, it is believed that Pandavas still reside here in spirit and have a benign influence on the place. Little wonder this enchanting place refreshes body, mind and soul.
7. Mangala Devi Temple
This highly revered temple is situated at an altitude of 1337 meters and lies about 15 kilometers from Thekkady, ensconced in greenery and hidden in deep forests of Thekkady. The temple remains closed throughout the year and opens only during the Chitra Pournami festival that falls in the month of March. To visit it at other times, permission from the forest ranger in the form of a special letter is a must. Once you are at the temple, you will enjoy the breathtaking view of the surrounding areas, including the eastern part of the Western Ghats and some villages across the border in the state of Tamil Nadu.
8. Abraham’s Spice Garden
En route from Kottayam to Thekkady, a must-see place is the Abraham’s Spice Garden. Make it a point to stop and visit the beautiful organic garden of spices. Take care not to miss this garden, since the road lacks signage and it can be easily missed, being hidden behind thick foliage. For an entrance fee of Rs.200, you can explore the world of spices and get enlightened about spice cultivation, organic farming and Ayurveda. The garden is open from 8:00 am to 6:30 pm.
Grampi, also called Parunthupara or the Eagle Rock is a sheer rock cliff that provides a majestic view of the areas around. Located five kilometers from Peerumedu, this rocky and lush mountain is a trekkers’ delight. The trekking trail leads you on to its steep slopes, as also the unending stretches of cardamom, tea and coffee plantations. If you want peace and tranquility, visit Grampi and take in the pristine valleys and picturesque landscape to soothe your senses. This hill station offers ideal weather – a little warmer in the daytime and cooler in the mornings and evenings – that is pleasant and perfect. The best time to visit this place is from September to March, as it is neither to hot or cold.
You just have to rely on your nose to reach Murikkady that lies about five kilometers from Thekkady! This is because the spicy aroma rents the air and indicates where this town lies. The unending chains of hills and spice and coffee plantations make Murikkady an ideal tourist destination. The haze covered valleys add to the allure of this place that is famed for the most enjoyable picnic spots.
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