"Kumily/Thekkady/Periyar" Top 5 Page for this destination Periyar Sanctuary by tayloretc
Periyar Sanctuary Travel Guide: 50 reviews and 119 photos
Kumily/Thekkady is a major tourist town and growing – one tour operator I met there said something like 2,000 people a day come through because of the Tiger Reserve, 5,000 on weekends – so, much of the main part of town is given over to places where tourists can spend money. Handicrafts and spices are available everywhere: the spices are native to the area, the handicrafts come from all over India.
There are also mini Kerala-cultural tours and events readily available. You can arrange to see a large tea factory or spice garden estate (with a guide to point out what things are), catch a Kathakali show (4 or 6:30pm daily; shabby theater, but you can watch them put on makeup, there’s some explanation of the dance, and the performance is short enough to hold interest), or watch Kalaripayattu martial arts demonstrated in a large pit-like arena (loud, and slightly gladiator-like, but sinewy and graceful). Elephant rides are offered in several places (1/2 hour, and you can feed the elephant afterwards). If all this were anywhere but India it would feel like Disney, but it doesn’t (or at least didn’t then).
The Periyar Tiger Reserve is a huge quiet place on the edge; and while it is the main reason the rest of the tourist things have developed, those things haven’t touched it. It looks like it’s being done right. The guides and other people who work in the reserve are often former poachers, and the tribes who live in the reserve are given a vested interest in conserving rather than exploiting. Movement of visitors is monitored and regulated, but visitors are also given unusual opportunities, if they’re up for it, to join night hikes or multi-day treks as part of conservation patrols. A lot of people may come, but it seems to do very little damage to the place.
The reserve has put together some good half- and full-day packages, including guided hikes, and one we went on, a full day with a small group hiking and rafting on part of the lake away from the hotels and wildlife-viewing (noisy, crowded) tour boats. The lake was created by damming something, and the forest that was drowned has become perfect perches for all kinds of fishing birds. The animals are shy, at least in January, but even so we saw langurs, wild boar, Malabar giant squirrels, sambar and barking deer, elephants (in the distance), and a dozen kinds of birds, including hornbills on the wing. Some pictures are in my Travelog.
This is a smallish shop away from the bulk of the handicrafts stores. The proprietor is a collector himself (coins) and... more travel advice
We stumbled into here late at night when our homestay turned out not to be booked, and it was fortuitous. The TTDC has... more travel advice
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