Periyar National Park is situated in the hills of the Western Ghats in the state of Kerala in SW India.
The centrepiece of the park is the 5,500-hectare Periyar lake formed by the construction of a dam on the Periyar river in 1895.
The dam submerged low-lying forest whose dead treetrunks still jut out of the waters. Along the fringes of the lake are marshy areas with tall grasslands.
This is one of the richest hanitats ofor large mammals, as it provides both excellent cover and nourishment in the form of succulent shoots and grasses.
Here it is possible to see large herds of Indian Elephant with relative ease as well as Nilgiri Langur near Aranya Niwas and the Liontail Macaque in higher areas.
The forests are tropical, a mixture of deciduous, semi-evergreen, and evergreen ‘sholas’, the last occurring in the moist valleys and characterised by tall trees and a closed canopy.
The forests alternate with extensive patches of grasslands.
Periyar’s rich birdlife includes the Giant Hornbill, Cormorant, Darter, Osprey and Racket-tailed Drongo.
The Indian Python and King Cobra are among the reptilian fauna.
Periyar has a few Nilgiri Tahr, good numbers of which may also be seen on a day excursion to nearby Eravikulam National Park near Munnar.
Open year-round, the best period being November-April.
Fly to Cochin and drive to Periyar (200 km). The nearest railway station is Kottayam (114 km).