Periyar National Park

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View of the Periyar Reservoir

Periyar is a wildlife sanctuary, national park and tiger reserve in the southern Indian state of Kerala in the mountains of the Western Ghats on the border with Tamil Nadu . It is located in the Idukki and Pathanamthitta districts . The protected area covers an area of ​​777 km², of which a 350 km² part of the core zone has been declared a national park. The name of the village Thekkady in the area is often used as a synonymous name. Thekkady is just 100 km east of Alappuzha as the crow flies , 110 km west of Madurai and just 120 km southeast of Kochi .

Within the national park is the 26 km² large Periyar reservoir and the river Periyar , which gives the national park and lake its name , rises in the Western Ghats and flows into the Arabian Sea after 244 km .


The Periyar Conservation Area is located in the middle of the Western Ghats mountain range. In the north and east it is bordered by mountain ranges over 1700 meters high, which run out to the west into an extensive plateau with an average height of 1200 meters. From this level the terrain drops steeply to the lowest point, the 100 meters high valley of the Pamba River . The highest point is the 2019 meter high Kottamalai .


Depending on the altitude, temperatures fluctuate between 15 degrees Celsius in December and January and 31 degrees Celsius in April and May. The annual rainfall is between 2000 and 3000 mm. Two thirds of the rain falls during the southwest monsoon from June to September. Weaker precipitation also falls during the northeast monsoon from October to December. Occasional pre-monsoon showers occur from mid-April to early June.


Around 75 percent of the entire protected area is covered by untouched evergreen or semi-evergreen tropical rainforest . There are typically tall tropical tree species such as Vateria indica , Cullenia exarillata , Hopea parviflora , Canarium strictum , Artocarpus hirsutus and Bischofia javanica . They reach heights of 40 to 50 meters. Medium-sized trees 15 to 30 meters high and smaller tree species up to 15 meters high, such as Thottea siliquosa, grow underneath . The trees are of epiphytes such as orchids , Philodendron , mosses and ferns bewuchert.

Almost 13 percent consist of deciduous forest , 7 percent eucalyptus and 1.5 percent grassland. The rest (around 3.5 percent) of the protected area is taken up by the Periyar reservoir and the Periyar and Pamba rivers.

In total, the reserve counts almost 2000 species of fallow samers , three species of naked samers and 170 different ferns. Among the flowering plants the most common are the sweet grass families with 168, legumes with 155 and orchids with 145 representatives.

About 350 of the plant species found can be used for medicinal purposes.


Asian wild dogs in Periyar National Park


A total of 62 different mammal species have been counted in Periyar, including a number of threatened species. The most famous is probably the Bengal tiger , but due to its large territories and its preference for less densely overgrown habitats, only 35 to 40 individuals live in the park. Around 900 to 1000 elephants , gaur , sambars (horse deer), Nilgiri tahrans , mongooses , otters and bearded monkeys live in Periyar . Occasionally, Indian leopards also roam Periyar.


So far in Periyar 320 different species have been recorded, including gripping , water , chicken , pigeon -, woodpecker , rhinoceros , parrots - and passerines and some others. The strikingly colored double hornbill, which is up to 1.50 meters long, is certainly the most spectacular.

Reptiles (reptiles)

The 45 reptile species in the nature reserve include 30 snakes , 13 lizards and two turtle species . The venomous snakes living in Periyar include a. the king cobra and the chain viper . Common lizards are monitor lizards , geckos and beautiful lizards .

Amphibians (amphibians)

Of all the vertebrates in Periyar, the least known is the amphibian species that occur. 27 different species were counted, ten of which are exclusively native to the Western Ghats.


38 different fish species live in the waters of the wildlife sanctuary, including four endemic to the Western Ghats . There are also two fish imported from other regions in the reservoir: the tilapia, which originally came from Africa , and the carp, which was imported from Europe during the colonial period .


Few studies have been carried out on the occurrence of invertebrates. The most common are arthropods (especially insects ), annelids and mollusks . What is remarkable is the variety of butterflies , of which there are around 160 different species in Periyar.


As early as 1895, the British colonial rulers dammed the Periyar River into a 26 km² reservoir in order to be able to irrigate areas in what is now the state of Tamil Nadu. The area around the reservoir was placed under nature protection in 1934 due to its untouched forest and the considerable biodiversity. In 1950 it was expanded to its present size of 777 km² and declared a wildlife sanctuary (Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary). Since 1978 it has also been one of India's 28 tiger reserves (status: 2004/05). A considerable part of its core zone was granted national park status in 1982.

The water from the reservoir is used by both Tamil Nadu and Kerala for irrigation purposes and to generate electricity. After a minor earthquake in 1979, water leaks raised doubts about the safety of the dam from 1895. This resulted in disputes between the two states over the water level and questions about reinforcing or rebuilding the dam up to the top Indian Court of Justice (Supreme Court) and have not yet been settled.

Tourism and pilgrimage

Excursion boats on the Periyar Reservoir

In the Periyar animal sanctuary, environmentally friendly tourism is practiced. A 430 km² core zone, including the 350 km² national park, is not freely accessible to visitors. Under the expert guidance of former poachers who are now working to preserve the park, there is the possibility of booking two- and three-day tours within the core zone. A maximum of five tourists per tour spend the night in tents within a camp that offers protection from "uninvited guests" through a deep ditch. A 55 km² tourist zone was established within the protection zone, which essentially comprises the banks and the edges of the lake. Boat trips are offered there, during which you can observe many animals, especially during the dry season, that come to water on the lake shore. During one such trip, an accident occurred on October 1, 2009, in which 45 people were killed - the boat overturned when all passengers went to the same side of the boat at the same time to watch a herd of elephants. In addition to boat trips, other activities such as guided jungle hikes, trekking tours or trips on bamboo rafts are in the tourist offer. There is also a museum on the site that provides information about the Adivasi tribes living in and around the park .

In the south of the protection zone is the very well-known Hindu Sabarimala temple, which is only open to pilgrims a few days a year. The approximately four million pilgrims annually lead to a considerable amount of garbage, which the administration of the protected area tries to cope with with the help of various measures to increase the environmental awareness of the pilgrims. Another Hindu temple in the north of the sanctuary is dedicated to Mangala Devi; access to this temple is only permitted by appointment and on the occasion of the Chitra Pournami Festival on a single day of the year.


  1. Mulla Periyar Dam issue. (No longer available online.) Government of India, Ministry of Water Resources, archived from the original on August 28, 2011 ; accessed on September 3, 2011 (English). Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. ^ Eco-Tourism Activities

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Commons : Periyar National Park  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 9 ° 32 ′ 0 ″  N , 77 ° 12 ′ 0 ″  E