Kerala 2009: Thekkady, Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary

Date: August 31st, 2009

This is in continuation of a travel series that began in Kumarakom. To recap, we had gone to Kottayam for a friend’s wedding and after another friend, Ramesh, joined us in the afternoon, we took a bus from Kottayam’s main bus depot to reach the town of Kumily.

The nearly 3 hour long journey was quite an experience by itself. Once we passed the low lying towns, we sensed we were going uphill, but it’s not like we could see anything. It was pitch dark outside, and we could only assume the bus was taking hair-pin bends when the three of us slid from side to side on our seats. We had a blast, quite a roller coaster ride it was!

We reached Kumily town past 7pm, if I remember correctly. We didn’t have a reservation anywhere but we got a room easily for less than Rs. 1000 a night. I don’t remember the name of the hotel, sorry, it’s been nearly 3 years ago and I don’t remember where I wrote down all the details.

We had our drinks from a bar near by and then ate hot dosas and fried eggs from the street stalls that appear in the market centre at night.

The next day, we woke up early and took an autorickshaw to the Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. We wanted to get there as soon as it opened at 6am as we were keen on taking the very first boat ride on Periyar Lake, for a couple of reasons. One, a lot of guides said it was the best time to see animals and the other being, the morning calm in the air. Plus, if we got the very first boat ride itself, we could have left for Ernakulum today itself.

We bouight our tickets (Rs. 150 for the upper deck) and got on our boat.

Thekkady Periyar lake National Park Kerala IndiaThekkady Periyar lake morning kerala India

Periyar lake tree branches in water Thekkady
The reason you see tree branches sticking out of the water is because Periyar Lake is an artificially created lake, flooded when they built the Mullaperiyar Dam in 1895
Thekkady Periyar lake reflection in water Kerala India
The morning calm surely made for awesome reflections in the water

Thekkady Periyar lake trees water Kerala India

Periyar lake trees branches reflection in water Thekkady Kerala
The boat ride is extremely smooth... and very relaxing

Periyar national park Thekkady hills Kerala

Thekkady Periyar lake park cloud sky Kerala
The skies looked good too

Thekkady lake Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary Kerala India

Periyar lake ripples water Thekkady Kerala India
We may have woken up real early for this, but the morning ride was well worth it
Periyar lake morning calm Thekkady Kerala
You could make up for lost sleep here if you wanted to. It's a perfectly quiet environment.
Private island resort Thekkady Periyar National park
This island looked like it belong to a private hotel or resort

Birds on tree trunk Thekkady lake Periyar sanctuary KeralaPeriyar lake wildlife sanctuary Thekkady Idukki district Periyar lake tree reflection wildlife park Kerala India

Periyar wildlife sanctuary trees lake Kerala India
Drifting peacefully on this lake, I did wonder what this forest must have looked like before it was flooded
Cow buffalo grazing grass periyar wildlife sanctuary
This being a wildlife sanctuary, there are supposed to be animals, even tigers. But all we saw were water buffaloes.
Water buffaloes Thekkady Periyar sanctuary Kerala India
Oh well, something better than nothing

Boat ripples in water Periyar lake KeralaLake shore Periyar wildlife sanctuary Kerala IndiaPeriyar lake wildlife sanctuary Thekkady Kumli Kerala

Thekkady boat ride Periyar lake Kerala India
Our boat was full of tourists from all over India and abroad

Morning sky Thekkady Periyar lake Kerala cloudsPeriyar lake wildlife sanctuary clouds Thekkady Kerala

Water birds flying Periyar lake Thekkady Kerala
Saw a lot of these birds
Bird swimming in water Thekkady Periyar lake Kerala
Ducks?
Large bird on tree Periyar lake wildlife sanctuary Kerala
We saw a large variety of birds. Too bad I didn't have a super-zoom lens back then.

Dead trees Periyar lake Thekkady Kumli Kerala

Elephants on hills Periyar Nature park Kerala
An hour into our journey , we spot a few elephants grazing high up on the hills
Small birds on trees Periyar lake Kerala
But the rest of the time it was bird watching

Birds on tree Thekkady Periyar wildlife sanctuary India

Here’s a video I took:

Thekkady lake Periyar National park Kumli Kerala India
After a pleasant journey, we returned back to the banks from where we began our ride

What was a pleasant journey for us ended up being a nightmare for other tourists a few weeks later. On September 30th, one of the tour boats operated by KTDC capsized and over 40 tourists died. It was a grim day for Thekkady’s tourism and one that woke up officials to address passenger safety. It wasn’t even until this incident that the boat operators insisted on life jackets for all passengers. Appalling, when you think about how they wait until some lives were lost to understand the value of certain basics.

Periyar wildlife sanctuary auto ride Kerala
We took an auto rickshaw back to our hotel
Corner road Periyar wildlife sanctuary Thekkady Kumli Kerala
The wildlife sanctuary is pretty big and you even have a tiger reserve nearby
Periyar wildlife sanctuary elephant park Thekkady Kerala
You have elephants rides here too
Elephant scrubbing against tree Thekkady Kerala India
This being Kerala, you're bound to see a lot of them

We checked out of our hotel, had lunch and got a KSRTC bus going to Ernakulam, Cochin from the town bus station.

KSRTC bus ride to Ernakulam from Kumli Kerala India
This would be a good opportunity to see the sights we missed last night
Idukki hills Kumli Kerala India
Man, did we miss some sights alright!

Idukki farming Kumli KeralaIdukki plantations Kerala India

Idukki hills through bus door Kerala
I took all these photos from inside the bus while it drove back down the narrow hill road

Clouds tower Idukki hills Kerala

Idukki hills farming Kerala India
Needless to say, the journey was beautiful

Idukki hill plantations Kerala western ghats IndiaIdukki green hills Kerala India

Idukki hill Western ghats cloudy sky Kerala India
The Western Ghats of India are really beautiful
Idukki hills waterfalls Kerala
There were quite a few small waterfalls I spotted
Idukki waterfalls Kerala
The bus even rode past a few
Idukki Kerala misty hills Western ghats India
It's no wonder Idukki district is such a popular tourist destination

Idukki hills western ghats Kerala India

Rubber plantations Idukki Kerala
We passed a lot of rubber plantations on the way

We reached Ernakulam (Cochin’s main city) just past sunset. After a tea break, we took an autorickshaw to Fort Kochi, where we would be staying the next two days. (Photos from Fort Kochi in the next post)

Previous post in this series:

Kerala 2009: Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom

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