Situated in Kerala, Tamil Nadu border town - Kumily, it is located about 257 km (160 mi) from Trivandrum, 114 km from Madurai City and Madurai International Airport, 185 km from Cochin International Airport and 114 km from Kottayam railway station. The sanctuary is famous for its dense evergreen, semi-evergreen, moist deciduous forests and savanna grass lands. It is home to herds of elephants, sambar, tigers, gaur, lion-tailed Macaques and Nilgiri Langurs.
Thekkady is considered a heaven for natural spices such as black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon and clove.
There are frequent buses from Kottayam and other cities to Thekkady. Jeep services are available from Kumily to Thekkady (4 km).
The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is spread across 777 km2 is thick evergreen forest. The splendid artificial lake formed by the Mullaperiyar Dam across the Periyar River adds to the charm of the park. The greatest attraction of Periyar are the herds of wild elephants that come down to play in the lake. Sanctuary can be accessed through a nature walk, boating or jeep safari.
The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary: Also known as the Thekkady Wildlife sanctuary, the Periyar wildlife sanctuary is located in the hills of the Western Ghats spreading over an area of 675 sqkm. With its geomorphology, wildlife, beautiful landscape and the picturesque Periyar lake within, the sanctuary is a major tourism center in Kerala and attracts a very large number of tourists each year. With Over 1800 flowering plants including 171 grass species and 143 species of orchids, 35 species of mammals and 265 varieties of bird species, the Periyar sanctuary is a repository of endemic, rare and endangered flora and fauna.
Major attractions of Periyar wildlife sanctuary are boat cruises on the lake, elephant ride, trekking, wildlife photography and bird watching. There are a few watch towers inside Periyar Tiger Reserve which are excellent for viewing wildlife.
Kumily: 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: Washed in fresh, spice-scented air, Murikkady is a panorama of cardamom, coffee and pepper plantations.
Pandikuzhi: 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.
Mangala Devi Temple: This ancient temple is hidden in the dense woods at the top of a peak 1337 m above sea level. The temple, believed to be more than 2000 years old, is built in the traditional Kerala style of architecture. Visitors are allowed here only on the Chithra Pournami festival day. The peak commands a panoramic view of the eastern slopes of the ghats and some hill villages ofTamil Nadu. Permission to visit the area can be obtained from the Wildlife Warden, Thekkady.
Chellarkovil: 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: 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 Gar- den have a delightful array of rose plants, orchids and anthuria.
Pullumedu: The winding journey to this hill town, along the Periyar River, offers a stunning view of the hills draped in lush greenery. Velvet lawns, rare flora and fauna add to the beauty of Pullumedu which can be accessed only by jeep. The famous Sree Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala and the Makara Jyothi (ce- lestiallight that appears on Makaravilakku Festival) at the shrine are visible from here.
Vandanmedu: This is one of the world's largest auction centres for cardamom. A walk through the sprawling cardamom plantations ofVandanmedu is a heady experience.