Wildlife has captivated the human imagination for generations. Yet, our interactions with it often remain confined to television screens, books, and enclosed spaces like zoos. However, in the heart of India’s southern paradise, lies a remarkable exception – Thekkady. This extraordinary destination offers the unique opportunity to witness wild animals up close, all from the safety of a boat.
Imagine the scene: a vast herd of elephants frolics by the lakeside, tigers prowl majestically, while a symphony of diverse animals and birds perform their vibrant acts – all amidst a landscape blanketed in the aroma of spices. Thekkady, fondly known as the ‘City of Spices,’ is a land that effortlessly blends serene countryside, undulating hills, and fragrant plantations.
Situated in the highlands of Kerala’s Idukki district, this picturesque gem enchants visitors with its tapestry of natural wonders. The scent of spices embraces the air, creating an inviting atmosphere that beckons exploration. Thekkady is truly a treasure trove of surprises, where glistening waterfalls and scenic spots are scattered amid lush greenery.
A particular marvel that captivates all who venture here is the stunning man-made lake. Embark on a boat ride that reveals the lake’s every nook and cranny, an experience that’s both immersive and awe-inspiring. The Cardamom Hills, which produce the world-renowned cardamom spice, stand as a testament to Thekkady’s allure, adding a unique touch to the already mesmerizing landscape.
But it’s not just the landscape that keeps visitors coming back. The tranquility and natural beauty of Thekkady forge a connection that lingers in the heart. Additionally, for those craving adventure, this paradise also offers the thrill of adventure tourism and invigorating trekking experiences.
Places to Visit in Thekkady
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary: Spanning a sprawling 777 square kilometers, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is a prime attraction in Thekkady. With 360 square kilometers of thick evergreen forest, this sanctuary is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. The sanctuary’s diverse wildlife and scenic splendor magnetize tourists from around the world.
Here, you can observe wildlife up close from the safety of a boat, a unique opportunity not offered anywhere else in India. Elephants playfully wade in the lake, tigers quench their thirst, and myriad animals and birds inhabit this sanctuary. Home to the wild Asiatic elephant, the sanctuary also shelters rare species like the lion-tailed macaque, the elusive leopard, and various deer species.
The sanctuary’s enchanting landscapes are also teeming with local and migratory birds, reptiles, and an array of plant species.
Mangala Devi Temple
Crowned atop a hillock, the ancient Mangala Devi Temple offers panoramic views that leave visitors in awe. Located 15 kilometers away from Thekkady, this temple boasts of Kerala architecture in the Pandian style. Its tranquil ambiance and breathtaking surroundings make it a must-visit destination, with annual prayers drawing devotees in large numbers.
The Sanctuary Watch Towers
These watchtowers are vital for wildlife observation within the sanctuary. Positioned at Edapalayam, Manakavalai, and Thanni Kudi, these watchtowers provide spectacular views of the surrounding areas. They overlook water holes in the buffer zone, offering ideal spots for observing wildlife. Remember to dress appropriately for the outing to avoid any inconveniences.
A mere 5-kilometer journey from Thekkady brings you to Murikkady, a must-see locale renowned for its vast cardamom, coffee, and pepper plantations. The panoramic views of these lush plantations are a sight to behold, captivating the senses and leaving an indelible impression.
Situated between Chellarkovil and the Tamil Nadu border, Pandikuzhi is a natural masterpiece that captivates with its diverse flora, fauna, and crystalline streams. This picturesque haven is ideal for picnics, treks, and photography, drawing numerous visitors annually. It’s not only a favorite among tourists but also a cherished weekend getaway for the locals.
Tribal Heritage Museum
Immerse yourself in the rich culture of the five tribal communities residing in the Periyar area. The Tribal Heritage Museum showcases their traditional fishing gear, hunting tools, and indigenous medicinal plants, providing a captivating insight into their way of life. This excursion promises both intrigue and enlightenment.
Exploring Beyond Thekkady
While Thekkady alone offers an abundance of attractions, its surroundings also boast places of interest that should not be missed. Peermade, Kuttikkanam, the Summer Palace of Travancore Maharajahs, Ayurvedic Factories, Sahyadri Organic Tea Factories, and Plantations are just a few examples of the wealth of experiences waiting to be uncovered.
Shopping Extravaganza in Thekkady
As the heartland of spices, Thekkady ensures you indulge in a shopping extravaganza like no other. Fenugreek, white and green pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, star anise, coriander, and cloves – this paradise offers the best of nature’s bounty. The vibrant markets in Thekkady, especially at Kumily, showcase these aromatic treasures in elegant, transparent packets, inviting you to take a piece of this paradise home.
Where to Unwind in Thekkady
From basic comforts to luxury indulgences, Thekkady offers a range of accommodation options to cater to all preferences. Experience the unparalleled serenity of the forest by staying at Aranya Nivas, Lake Palace, or Periyar House. For those seeking a blend of nature and luxury, Taj Garden Retreat, Spice Village, Muthoot Cardamom County, Shalimar Spice Garden Resort, and Jungle Village await with open arms.
Venturing just beyond the forest, Hotel Tree Top, Green Woods, Hotel Kumily Gate, Hotel Lake Queen, Michael’s Inn, Ambadi, The Wildernest, Hotel SN International, Leela Pankaj Resort, Wildside Villa, Peppervine Thekkady, Oxygen Resorts Thekkady, Woodnote Thekkady, Bamboo Grove Lodge, Mickey Cottage, and Periyar View Hotel extend a warm invitation to experience their comforts.
In a land where wildlife and serenity dance harmoniously, Thekkady is a destination that promises memories to cherish for a lifetime. From captivating wildlife encounters to serene boat rides, spice-scented plantations, and ancient temples, Thekkady beckons you to embark on a journey of wonder and discovery.
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs
What makes Thekkady unique among wildlife destinations?
What kind of wildlife can I expect to see in Thekkady’s Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary?
Apart from wildlife, what are some other attractions in Thekkady?
What shopping experiences can I enjoy in Thekkady?
What are some recommended staying options in Thekkady?
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