• Also try the bamboo raft which gives you more sights along the Periyar Lake.
Woke up early to catch the first boat ride through the Periyar Wildlife Reserve. Didn't particularly get to see too many animals but the 90 minute boat ride was definitely a beautiful experience. We had breakfast after the ride, rested for a while and were back in the bus towards Varkala. A 6 hour bus journey to Kollam and a 15 minute train to Varkala from there. We reached just in time for dinner. Stayed in a beach facing cottage at Bamboo Village and had a lovely candlelight dinner at a shack to kick start Varkala.
PWS is dotted with deciduous trees of the eucalyptus kind that I could identify, grasslands and a huge manmade lake. We were told that these forests contain rosewoods, teak and sandalwoods; and surrounded by plantations of tea, cardamom, and coffee. The chill fresh air with scents of eucalyptus stirs up your spirits (pun unintended). We purchased tickets for the 1.00 p.m. boat ride. As these woods cleared, we sighted the Periyar Lake. It is rare to spot animals in the blazing afternoon heat. The morning ride is most sought after- but with two tiny tots, we had decided on this leisurely afternoon ride. The waiting area at PWS was best of its kind- clean and comfortable, audio video displays, professionally designed merchandise on sale, binoculars for hire (working). It was impressive to see a Govt. run body spic and span and in sync with the times!We climbed down a huge flight of stairs to reach the boat. The upper deck that we had preferred was crammed, making it uncomfortable for the children. Accommodated on the lower deck by boat attendants, we were happy to have some breathing space. The unfortunate 2009 Periyar Boat tragedy ensured that life jackets were donned by all aboard.As the boat sailed, so did our hopes- of sighting animals in its natural habitat. A bird here, a squirrel there, but we were looking for more. The trained eyes of our guide spotted a lone elephant calf. Now that’s what we were waiting for. Sooner, we caught glimpses of sambhars, nilgiri langurs and Indian giant squirrels that had come to the wetland to quench their afternoon thirst. The icing on the cake was reserved for later. A playful mother baby duo at the edge of this lake. Their trunks cuddled against each other, they were oblivious of the prying human eyes. What a sight! Aww! It is awesome when you watch wildlife in its original setting. Lucky and contented, we headed back to the resort by around 5 p.m. A day well spent! Inspired by the elephant encounters, our calves also sketched it on paper at the activity room, where we hung around for rest of the day.Tuesday was reserved for a relaxed day by the pool. We also peppered it with walks around Thekkady. Like Satyajit Ray said in ‘Kanchenjunga’, mountains do have a mystique way of calming you. You realise how inconsequent you are in the whole array of the universe. Our train back to Chennai was from Madurai this time. We took the Mullaiperiyar-> Theni-> Madurai route. We even caught some beautiful rainbows on the way. The Kottayam->Thekkady route was more scenic vs. the Thekkady->Madurai one. If Kerala were an accelerator to dreamy musings, Tamil Nadu- quite the antithesis and a speed breaker. Thud! Helped us land back to reality though!!Captivating Kumarakom and Thrilling Thekkady made one memorable trip for us.Endof the day, a glow of satisfaction shone on everyone’s face. Isn’t that what holidays are for? Experience Nirvana.Kerala Facts-Thekkady is 120 km from Kumarakom by road, by rail- nearest railway station is Kottayam 114 km, nearest airports are Madurai (Tamilnadu) 140 km; Kochi 190 kmtunictraveller’s tips-
Homestays in Kerala is worth experiencing. Make the right choice though. There are many houses that advertise as homestays. We preferred the stay at VLV vis-à-vis the Club Mahindra Thekkady resort. The reasons being ‘homely’ and ‘warm’. Also, you can custom food, which is an important factor if you are travelling with kids. Less oily, zero preservative, rather fresh food. Points that score with young kids in tow. We also relished some orchard fresh fruits- jack fruit, a star shaped fruit at the homestay.
Kumarkom->Thekkady is hilly terrain and a winding ride. Advisable for kids to travel on a light stomach. There are not many bends and the terrain rather flat if you do Madurai->Thekkady. If want to get to Thekkady without too many ‘round and around the hill’, you can choose the latter route.
Vembanad Lake Villas- www.vlvs.com -Mr Thomas/ Mr Simon +91 91425 42377 / 93886 08232
Club Mahindra Thekkady- www.clubmahindra.com/our-resorts/club-mahindra-thekkady/
This post was originally published on the blog The Tunic Traveller.
The drive from Munnar to Thekkady was around 5 hours including the halt at various viewpoints and the plantation. After reaching the hotel, we freshened up and started for Periyar Lake boat ride. We had already got our tickets booked for the last ride of the day when the chances of spotting wildlife was more. After settling down in our seats in the upper deck of the boat, we were given life jackets that were mandatory for every passenger and the boat started moving. For next 90 minutes the boat moved in the scenic lake with dense forest and mountains all around and in the mean time we could spot some wildlife such as an elephant, a herd of Deer, Snake Birds, Cormorants, a Kingfisher, some Bisons and a Nilgiri Langur.
Then we were again off to pandikuzhy trail which is among the Kerala-Tamil Nadu Border and its a very scenic place...upon reaching the place one can get a panoramic view of Tamil Nadu towns from there...loved the view...spent some time there...did some short trekking...came back and we were again off to Periyar where we did elephant safari...that was the highlight of the trip as it was nothing short of amazing...the ride was good and the elephant was really well tamed and posed for our pix and the mahout took some awesome pix for us...and the elephant blessed us too...made my day...:)I would definitely recommend an elephant safari for all those who wants to visit Periyar or Thekkady anytime soon as its worth it...And our ride back home was also memorable...sprawling tea plantations+very best of mtv unplugged+windows down+cool air all around+slight drizzling rain+one of the best tea i ever had in my life=what more can i want...Thats it guys...:)