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The very sound of the word Thekkady (Periyar) conjures up images of elephants, unending chains of hills and spice scented plantations. In the Periyar forest of Thekkady is one of the finest wildlife reserves in India, and spread across the entire district are picturesque plantations and hill towns that hold great opportunities for treks and mountain walks.

Tourist Attractions in Thekkady

Idukki Arch Dam: This is the world's second and Asia's first arch dam, constructed across the Kuravan and Kurathi hills. 550 ft. high and 650 ft. wide, the dam lies close to the Cheruthoni barrage. To its west is the Kulamavu Dam. Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is located closeby.

The Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary: This sanctuary extends over the Thodupuzha and Udumpanchola taluks of Idukki district, spreading over 77 sq. km and is about 450 - 748 m above sea level. The Idukki Reservoir formed by three dams - Cheruthoni, Idukki and Kulamavu - extends to 33 sq km.

Animals: Elephant, bison, sambar deer, wild dog, jungle cat, tiger, wild boar etc.

Snakes: Cobra, viper, krait and a number of non poisonous snakes.

Birds: Jungle fowl, myna, laughing thrush, black bulbul, peafowl, woodpecker, kingfisher etc.

The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary (Entry: 0600 to 1800 hrs): Lying close to the plantations, in the rich jungles of Periyar in Thekkady is one of the world's most fascinating natural wildlife reserves - the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Spread across 777 sq. km, of which 360 sq. km is thick evergreen forest, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1978. Noted for its geomorphology, diversity of wildlife and scenic beauty, the Reserve attracts visitors from all over the world. The splendid artificial lake formed by the Mullaperiyar Dam across the Periyar River adds to the charm of the park. This is the only sanctuary in India where you can have the unique experience of viewing wildlife at close quarters from the safety of a boat on the lake. The greatest attraction of Periyar, however, is the herds of wild elephants that come down to play in the lake. Entry to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary: 0600 - 1800 hrs.

Kumily (4 km from Thekkady): This plantation town, closely associated with Thekkady, is situated on the outskirts of the Periyar Sanctuary. An important shopping centre and spice trade centre, the main bus station and most of the medium range accommodation in the Periyar region are in Kumily.

Murikkady (5 km from Thekkady): Washed in fresh spice scented air, Murikkady is a panorama of cardamom, coffee and pepper plantations.

Pandikuzhi (5 km from Kumily): This picturesque spectrum of exotic flora, fauna and gurgling streams is cradled between Chellarkovil and the Tamil Nadu border. A popular picnic spot, Pandikuzhi offers great opportunities for trekking and is a photographer's delight.

Chellarkovil (15 km from Kumily): This sleepy little village with its breathtaking view of the plains and cascading waterfalls is a feast for the eyes. The village slopes down to the famous coconut groves of Cumbum in neighbouring Tamil Nadu.

Vandiperiyar (18 km from Thekkady): The River Periyar flowing through the centre of this town nourishes its vast tea, coffee and pepper plantations. A major trade centre, Vandiperiyar is also home to a number of tea factories. The Government Agriculture Farm and Flower Garden have a delightful array of rose plants, orchids and anthuria.

Vandanmedu (25 km from Kumily): This is one of the world's largest auction centres for cardamom. A walk through the sprawling cardamom plantations of Vandanmedu is a heady experience.

Plantation Tour Plantation tours are arranged from the District Tourism Information Office at Thekkady Jn. in Kumily. Tours cover cardamom, pepper, coffee and tea plantations, tea factories, tribal settlements and the surrounding hill regions. Ph: 222620.

Elephant rides: The Forest Department, Thekkady offers facilities for elephant rides through the jungle

Trekking:

Main trekking areas in Thekkady: Kurisumala near Kumily Pullumedu Ottakathalamedu: 5 km from Kumily Grampi near Vandiperiyar.

How to Reach Thekkady

Air: Cochin International Airport - 225 Kms.

Rail: Kottayam Railway Station - 160 Kms.

Road: Well connected to major cities across India.