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Periyar wildlife sanctuary is located in Kumily, in Idukki district of Kerala. Set amidst the mountains of the Western Ghats at the border of Tamil Nadu, the Periyar wildlife sanctuary covers an area of 777 sq km out of which 360 sq km forms the core area. The park is one of the most renowned and famous sanctuaries in entire south India and can also be termed as the pride of Kerala. The history of the park states that as early as in 1895, a dam by the name of the Mullaperiyar was constructed across the Periyar River giving birth to the Periyar Lake.
In 1934, the Maharaja of Travancore appointed S.C.H. Robinson as the first game warden and it was his recommendation that converted the area around the lake into a sanctuary by the name of Nellikkampetty sanctuary. In the year 1966, the sanctuary was consolidated with the forest department and the Periyarwildlife sanctuary was created. The sanctuary was finally declared a Tiger Reserve in the year 1978, a few years after Project Tiger was actually initiated. Also, in 1991, the park was brought under the Project Elephant.
This lake today covers an area of 26 sq km and is a major source of water for the resident animals and birds. Moreover, the beauty of the lake is also soothing for visitors. The park was earlier also known by the name of Thekkady wildlife sanctuary. The best time to visit the Periyar wildlife sanctuary is between the months of September to June. During the period from February and May sighting of animals becomes easier as the waterholes inside the forest areas dry up forcing the animals to come upto the lake to quench their thirst and wet their bodies. Thus animal sighting is enhanced between these months.
Evergreen rain forest
Around three fourth of the wildlife sanctuary area is covered with evergreen and semi evergreen rain forests while a part of the remaining area is covered by damp leaves forest Eukalyptus plantation and grassland. The rest of the area is covered by Periyar River and Pamba River. The floral attractions of the park are approximately 2000 species of flowering plants, 171 grass species and 143 species of orchids. The tall trees of the forest rise upto a height of 130 to 140 feet.
Approximately 62 species of animals await to welcome visitors on their trip to the Periyar wildlife Periyar wildlife sanctuary - around 1000. The most ferocious of these, undoubtedly is the Tiger. Many tourists visit Periyar just in order to get a glimpse of the Tiger, that according to estimates, number between 35-40. However, there is still a larger number of tourists who come here because of the Indian Elephants. The huge mammal is found in pretty large numbers in Periyar Sanctuary - around 1000. Other animals that manage to make their presence felt quite decently amidst these two are Leopards, Otters, Nilgiri Langurs, Common Langurs, Bonnet Macaques, Lion Tailed Macaques, Malabar Squirrels, Wild Boars, Sambar, Barking Deer, Mouse Deer, Nilgiri Tahr, Dhole, porcupines, Gaur and Sloth Bears.
The reptile population of the park at Periyar wildlife sanctuary is also commendable with around 45 species found. Out of these, a majority (30) of them are snakes. The rest of them comprise of 2 turtle species and 13 lizard species. Frequent sighting of King Cobras and Python, two extremely poisonous snakes is also an attraction for the visitors to the park.
As for the birds in the park, they include around 180 species. Prominent among these are Darters, Cormorants, Kingfishers, the great Malabar Hornbill and racket-tailed Drongoes. Tourists interested in spotting a large number of birds need to carry along their binoculars.
Periyar wildlife sanctuary also offers enjoyable opportunities to view its exotic fauna through boating, trekking&camping,bamboo rafting, elephant safaris, walking trips and other facilities arranged by the Forest Department.
For more details on the most popular sanctuary in south India, log on to thekkady.com
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