"Periyar/ Thekkady/ Kumily" Top 5 Page for this destination Periyar Sanctuary by suvanki
Periyar Sanctuary Travel Guide: 51 reviews and 119 photos
0600 hrs New Years Day, I don't usually see!! Normally I'm brewing a hangover after the nights festivities, This year saw me up and ready for an early morning boat trip around Periyars lake to hopefully spot animals feeding.
Periyar is in the Western Ghats, 4km from the nearest town of Kumily.
Within the 777 sq km of forest and grassland, inhabitants include monkeys, antelope, wild boar, bison, and various birds, reptiles and insects.
The Big Two, that people come in the hope of seeing, are elephants and tiger, but as there are estimated to be less than 40 tigers, sightings are very rare. We were warned that we might not see much wildlife on our 2 hour boatride around the lake.
The lake was created in 1895 to provide water for the area, by flooding 26 sq km of land.
One of the first sightings of wildlife was of black cormorants, perched on the tree trunks that jut out of the water (remains of the forest that was flooded by the forming of the lake) They were quite eerie, perching with wings outstretched, to dry their feathers as the early morning sun broke through the mist. Wild boar were seen drinking by the waters edge, as kingfishers and other brightly feathered birds flitted about. Higher up, birds of prey soared over the hill tops.
Although we hadn't seen any elephants, and to see a tiger is on my Top 10 of things to see, I had enjoyed the scenery and calm atmosphere of the lake.
My thoughts had turned to breakfast, as we headed back to the quay. I hadn't eaten since last night (Last year in fact!!)
Suddenly there was a shout from the boat captain, as he pointed towards nearby trees, he turned the boat into a clearing in time to see an elephant lumbering towards the water, followed by a smaller elephant, then 2 babies! These were later joined by The old Colonel!
We spent quite a while transfixed by the antics of the babies drinking and throwing mud onto their backs by using their trunks. A very happy memory of Periyar!
After breakfast, we set off to visit a tea plantation and factory.
Although Munnar is the largest producer of tea in the world!, there isn't the opportunity to visit the factories there. We were told this was due to the owners wanting to keep their production methods secret.
At the factory we saw how tea is processed, and graded from the premium tips to the dustings which go into tea bags.
Afterwards we spent a while watching the women skilfully picking the tea, using special tools like shears, with a small sack attached to catch the clippings. It looked like back breaking work!
Some were taking a break, and I was invited to join them for a cup of sweet black tea, just how I drink it normally!
We then drove to a spice plantation, where our guide identified the various spices, that we usually see in their dried state. Coffee beans were also growing there.
Next, we went to an organic spice garden, owned by the Abraham family, who showed us round. The owner had a vast knowledge, and gave us a fascinating insight into spice growing.
We had the chance to buy spices from a shop in Kumily, all good quality, and cheaper than back home, especially saffron, which is grown in N. India.
We then returned to Spice Village for lunch and swimming.
Although we'd passed through many villages and towns on our journey to Periyar, I was itching to get a closer look at the shops, and experience something of the local atmosphere. As we had the afternoon free, I seized my chance.
Kumily is a small town, a short walk from my accomodation at Spice Village. Auto rickshaws (Tuk Tuks) regularly pass by this route.
Walking into the town passing shops and shacks, selling spices, souvenirs, fresh fruit and veg, cool drinks and bowls of spicy dishes, I noticed a crowd were gathered either side of the street.
Sari clad girls were lined either side of a passage way, holding platters with petals.
I was told that they were expecting the chief officer of tourism.
A group of lunghi clad men were beating rythyms on drums, alternating with another band, who resembled an American marching band. They were then joined by 2 Kathakali performers.
After waiting an hour, nothing was happening, so I decided to explore the town. The street was lined with more small shops and shacks, with a market and another area with seating under a large canopy, presumably for the visiting dignitaries.
A convey of cars sped by containing the VIP's, so I hurriedly returned to view the proceedings.
The crowd surged forward, and TV cameras appeared, as the chief of tourism walked through the 2 lines of girls who scattered the petals on the path in front of him, into the tourism office.
Shortly he reappeared and a procession of VIP's, followed by the drummers, band and girls carrying their platters with a burning candle, headed back up the road.
I started to head back to Spice Village, stopping to watch a mahout (elephant keeper) and his elephant, then remembered I hadn't sent any post cards home.
I spotted some outside a shop and went in to chose a few. As is usual, the shopkeeper started to bring out other goods, I tried to resist, but when he brought out a beautiful pashmina, and an equally gorgeous silk scarf, I gave up the fight. After some long and hard haggling over tea and cakes (and me returning to my hotel for a while to decide what I wanted to buy) I bought both, for less than half the price he'd asked for 1 item. The real bargain being the fun haggling and the conversation I'd had.
A great day, and I'm really glad that I ventured upto Kumily, to see a bit of local colour.
- Pros:Beautiful Scenery, wildlife. Local life in Kumily
- Cons:May not get to see any wildlife, can get busy, might have a long wait for a boat.
- In a nutshell:Wow!
Although I didn't experience any problems, one of our party was made to feel uneasy taking photos in Kumily. Earlier... more travel advice
On the outskirts of Kumily are to be found Spice plantations and gardens. We first visited a plantation, where we saw... more travel advice
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