Friday, 22 January 2016

Periyar & Thekaddy

DAY 9: PERIYAR & THEKADDY

Munnar was wonderful, the weather was perfect, and the tea gardens were mesmerizing. Though because of the strike we were unable to see most of the tourist points, but even with our limited viewing, the sheer beauty for which Munnar is so famous for, was hard to miss. Munnar had made a place in our heart and we all knew that in few years we are definitely coming back to enjoy the simplicity, nature’s beauty and the blissfulness.

Sunrise at Munnar
Sunrise at Munnar
To continue our trip, we left from Munnar early morning and drove towards Thekkady which is famous for Periyar tiger reserve and cardamom plantation. Just the way Munnar is sacrosanct with tea gardens, Thekkady is for cardamom.

The drive through the hills from Munnar to Thekkady was like meditation in itself. The road was lined on both sides with trees / plants all along from Munnar to Thekaaddy. The plants had blossomed with beautiful flowers and we were fortunate to see flowers of all hue and color on this drive. It was indeed peaceful and serene. After driving for half an hour there was cardamom plantation along the way.

Once in Thekkady we directly went for an elephant ride. Our elephants name was Rani and she took us for a smooth ride. All along the ride, our friend (elephant’s trainer) showed us the different types of plant namely, three different kinds of coffee, banana, cinnamon, cardamom.


Post the ride we all took pics with Rani and then went to our homestay – Kerala House.

Our rooms were on the first floor with a balcony facing the Periyar Tiger Reserve. The rooms were huge and comfortable. We all rested for a while and then headed out for lunch. Thekaaddy is relatively more commercialized than Munnar & Alleppy. And it was here after days of eating the native food that we had a chance to dig into pizza. Post lunch we still had some time on our hand. We strolled around the main road and did some shopping. We bought Periyar Tiger Reserve Tshirts and then drove for our evening boating trip on Periyar Lake.

When we reached the gate of the Tiger reserve, we were already in queue of cars. You don’t get the boat tickets at the gate. Here you get an entry ticket and parking ticket. You need to collect the boat ticket from the boat jetty counter which is around 2 kms inside from the gate.

Boating at Periyar Tiger Reserve
Boating at Periyar Tiger Reserve

Periyar Tiger Reserve
Periyar Tiger Reserve
You cannot take your car till the boating jetty. The parking lot is around 1 km away from the jetty. We had booked the boating tickets online and therefore we didnt have to stand in the queue. There is a separate counter for online booking where you have to show your online booking confirmation along with ID proof. We were given upper deck tickets which enhances the chances of spotting wildlife. To get good seats it is advisable to book online at-least a few weeks in advance.

The boat ride was pretty good and we did spot some wildlife boars, elephants, deers. Birds were in abundance. There were cranes, kingfisher, cormorants, snake bird and many more. The lake had been artificially created to give the tourists an opportunity to spot the animals when they come to the waterholes. Similarly stems / trees had been planted in the lake for the birds to sit on or at times even make their nest. This helped the tourists to spot birds up close.  The lake was beautiful, covered by dense forest from all sides and the landscape had its own appeal.

Elephants at Periyar Tiger Reserve
Elephants at Periyar Tiger Reserve




After having a highly unique & exciting time (first time in wildlife) I will say Periyar Tiger Reserve was a fantastic experience for us and we would like to come back to this place again. It is said one should book the first boat ride of the morning or last one of the evening, as this improves the chances of spotting birds / animals.

Post the boating ride, we had a show of Kalaripayattu, Indian Martial Arts, in the evening. We had booked this show online as well. We were again early and wandered around the theatre for a while. We were amongst the first one to enter the theatre and got the got the ring side seat of the theatre. The theatre was like an arena, rectangular in shape, wherein performance is in the middle and seats are on all the sides of the performance area (like a football ground). We sat in the area while the martial art experts performed in the rectangular pit below us, like gladiators.



Ring on fire
Ring on Fire
It was another new experience altogether. They use a multitude of weapons like spears, swords, daggers, bamboo sticks etc. We watched quite fascinated by what was going on in the performance area. With their oiled bodies, they stood in perfect symmentry, doing jumps, leaps and moves which were not humanly possible. They could move in any direction – with extreme agility and flexibility as if they have an elastic band in place of a spine. The show was thrilling as they pulled up insane moves and I was at the edge of my seat for the entire show.

It’s an art which requires dedication, practice and concentration. After the two hours performance of crazy acrobats, we went down to talk to them and get some pics clicked. We even tried out some weapons & poses. We all came out highly impressed with the performance.

Just outside the theatre is the main market of Thekkady. We decided to take a stroll in the market, do some shopping, have our dinner and then head back to our homestay for a peaceful sleep.

Thekkady is the best place to buy spices. There is a lot of coffee and cardamom plantation in this area.

Points to remember:
  • Online booking for Periyar Tiger Reserve boating can be done at www.periyartigerreserve.org.
  • You can book show of Kalaripayattu or Kathakali dance at www.kalaripayattu.co.in. The tickets are of Rs 200 per person.
  • Just outside the Kalaripayattu or Kathakali centre is a great spice shop – Responsible Tourism Spice super market. Do shop your spices from here.
  • Our homestay (walking distance to Periyar Tiger Reserve) was named “Kerala House”, you can contact Mr. Shibu 09495 46 9085 or on shibukeralahouse@gmail.com. The website of the homestay is www.keralahouseperiyar.com
  • Expense Details of the day:


Expense Particulars
Amount for 4 people
Amount per head
Breakfast enroute Periyar
                                    300
                               75
Lunch at Periyar
                                1,140
                             285
Elephant Ride
                                    700
                             175
Periyar Tiger Reserve entry
                                    200
                               50
Periyar Tiger Reserve boating
                                1,000
                             250
Periyar Tiger Reserve camera
                                      80
                               20
Martial Arts advance booking
                                    850
                             213
Dinner at Periyar
                                    530
                             133
Periyar - home stay
                                3,100
                             775
TOTAL
                                7,900
                         1,975