Elephant land….that’s our destination today! Am sure you all enjoy watching these graceful giants walking along majestically with a little baby trying to snuggle in between…..well that’s what we were looking for when we headed to Thekkady.
We were at Kochi for some work and decided to head to Thekkady for a break. So we drove down from Kochi and as we reached Thekkady, saw some awesome scenery including some waterfalls. Some pictures from the drive..
Scenery as we reached Thekkady
Thekkady , is a small town in Idukki district close to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary ; which is a famous jumbo habitat. “Thekku” in Malayalam is “teak” and Thekkady got its name from the teak trees you find in abundance here. Wonder why no one decided to associate the elephants to its name?….something like “Anathottam” or “Anakkadu”. ( Ana in malayalam is elephant).
It is 145 km from Kochi or Madurai which are the two nearest airports.
115 km from Kottayam, the nearest rail head.
Thekkady is also known for a variety of spices like pepper, cardamom, cloves ,cinnamon and nutmeg which are grown abundantly in the estates here.
Cardamom flowers and pods at the base of the plant
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is famous for its dense evergreen forests, moist deciduous forests and grasslands. Spread over an area of over 700 sq kms, it is home to herds of elephants, sambar, tigers, gaur, lion tailed macaques, and langurs. It is a designated Tiger Reserve too. A beautiful lake called the Periyar lake lies here…a result of the Mullaperiyar dam built across the Periyar river. The lake acts like a watering hole to the herds of elephants and deer that live here and the lakeside is a great animal viewing point. Boat rides on the Periyar lake are the best way to catch a glimpse of the animals. The Sanctuary can be accessed by boat, trekking or by a jeep safari.
The Essence of Thekkady
Accommodation is available at Kumily town which is 4 kms away and is just a short drive. Outside the reserve area also private hotels and homestays are available . Apart from that, there are some good accommodation options available within the reserve area itself run by the Kerala government.
A budget jungle lodge located in the sanctuary ; about 500 metres from the lake. Since it is located in the sanctuary, it is not safe to venture out after dark .
There are lot of monkeys and one has to be careful with the room windows and any food items being carried.
The staff at the hotel said that elephants even visit the garden around the hotel. Initially we were not very convinced about this. We were just taking a walk just outside the reception area one evening and we did hear elephants trampling the bamboo bushes around. The sounds were both thrilling and scary. Since it was dark , we could not sight the jumbos.
This is a luxury hotel situated close to the lake. The interiors look like the old English bungalows and since the lake is close by, animal viewing is also easy.
The former summer palace of the Maharaja of Travancore, this is a luxury hotel on an island in the Periyar lake. This can only be accessed by a 20 minute boat ride from ashore. Offering amazing views of the lake, it offers opportunities to view the animals as they walk on the lake shores. No wonder the Viceroys and Governor Generals used this for their holidays.
The Lake Palace Thekkady
Some animal sightings from the resort…
We did not go looking for him…..he came looking for us!!!
And this Malabar giant squirrel was disturbed by our presence!
And this guy quickly scampered into the bushes as we drove by….
Also commonly known as the Thekkady lake, it was formed when the Mullaperiyar dam was built across the Periyar river in 1895. The lake is located inside the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and acts like a watering hole for the animals. Needless to say, most activities in Thekkady are centred around this lake.
What is striking here is the tree stumps sticking out of the water. These are the trees which got submerged when the lake was formed. These tree stumps provide resting places for the waterbirds that frequent this lake.
Don’t forget to take a pair of binoculars during the boat ride. Bird watching and animal spotting will be facilitated.
But I have a sad story to share. I have visited this lake many times and noticed that the water levels are sometimes abysmally low . We can only hope that it does not totally disappear one day!
The picturesque Periyar lake with the anchored boats
The steps leading to the lake and boating jetty
The tree stumps that are so peculiar to this lake
Boating on the Periyar Lake
Now, imagine you are boating on the Periyar Lake. Look carefully at the picture below. Do you see some animals in the picture ?
Well….these are rocks that can be very deceptive . I am putting up this picture particularly to show how deceptive these can look to the eyes eagerly searching for animals!!!!
Now for some actual sightings…
Some animal sightings during the boat ride on a bright and sunny day
One lucky day!…note the baby jumbo
Sightings on a less favourable day….
A herd of Bison ( the cloudy weather hampered visibility)
And some birds
After spending a couple of days among these amazing creatures , we returned back with beautiful memories to cherish. Wonder if the jumbos will remember us????
As I say goodbye today, I leave you with this message that I saw at the reserve…
A message to humanity….
Till I meet you next week at a new destination, do not forget to subscribe, comment and give me your feedback…