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Periyar Tiger Reserve

Listed under Rainforests and Jungles in Jalpaiguri, India.

  • Photo of Periyar Tiger Reserve
  • Photo of Periyar Tiger Reserve
  • Photo of Periyar Tiger Reserve
  • Photo of Periyar Tiger Reserve
  • Photo of Periyar Tiger Reserve
  • Photo of Periyar Tiger Reserve
Photo of Periyar Tiger Reserve
Photo by Jenny Fowler
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Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is high up in the Western Ghats of Kerala. 777 sq km of semi-evergreen rain forest shelters tigers, elephants, sambur, bison, langurs and a host of smaller wildlife. At its heart is a lake, created in 1895 as a reservoir. The Kerala Forestry Department runs boat trips on the lake, allowing you to see the reserve from the water. When I visited it was a public holiday. Local families as well as visitors from abroad packed on to the four boats which had been working all day.

I went on the 4pm trip. This was a good choice as bison and sambur were coming down to the lake for an evening drink. The boats motored along the lake and passengers scanned the majestic semi-evergreen rain forest for wildlife, sharing binoculars and cameras. A few sculptural dead trees stood out from the water. They must have been there for over a hundred years, ever since the valley was flooded: tropical hardwoods resisting decay. Cormorants dried their wings or built nests in these safe havens.

The trip would have been worth while just for the lake, forest and mountain scenery, but, as the boat rounded a curve, a wave of excitement ran round the passengers and everyone was looking towards the same bank. Large, grey and shining with wet mud, a family of wild elephants was playing in the shallows, scooping up water and squirting it over themselves or throwing tufts of muddy grass around. Mother and father elephant stood close together and as they moved a small elephant appeared between their protective bodies. A larger youngster rolled in the mud next to another adult.

The boat crew stopped the engine and its low vibration was replaced with the sound of camera shutters, and excited chatter as children enjoyed what was maybe their first sight of elephants living naturally rather than working or taking part in a temple procession.

After allowing a good time to enjoy watching the elephant family, the boat crew turned back along the lake. The sun was setting as the boats docked. Disembarking, some people waded in the clean lake water to cool off after the journey.

Back at my hotel, the Spice Village in Thekkady, I noticed that old photographs and documents dating back to colonial times were on the wall in the bar. Here I found a portrait of Colonel John Pennycuick, the British Army engineer who planned the reservoir at the request of the local ruler at the time, the Maharaja of Travancore. He was aiming to improve the water supply to the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu. This water is still vital to the local economy, as well as providing the heart of a fantastic area of natural rainforest which is protected from disturbance and development.

Written by  Jenny Fowler.

Other expert and press reviews

“Periyar Tiger Reserve”

India’s mountain-studded far south is home to picturesque tea and pepper plantations, and remnant forests rich with big game. Although the choices of forest reserves in this area, known as the Western Ghats, are diverse, perhaps Periyar is the most frie… Read more...

Written by  Bruce Beehler.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

Pelling is a quiet and sleepy village in the Western Sikkim where people are so friendly that even when someone is being chided, you won't hear a raised voice..I miss the smiling faces of the people of this town..Definitely the weather has a hand in making the people so pleasant! In the month of October,at dawn, you'll find soft sun rays flitting through the tall snow-clad mountain peak of Kanchanjunga!The Pemayangtse Monastery located at the top of the city of Pelling is a great place for solace and contemplation! A must visit to this part of India :-)

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