Although I have visited Munnar & Alleppey various times, but the Thekkady Kerala plan somehow didn’t materialise for long. Thekkady Kerala was a place yet to be ticked off in 2005. Finally decided to do a road journey to Thekkady from Kochi. My daughter was about 5 years old & I thought she would enjoy watching animals in their natural habitat. The boating pics of one of the places to visit in Thekkady, Periyar, looked enticing too. Let me take you with me on a trip down the memory lane.
The road trip took around 6 hours with breaks & was a pleasant one. We stopped for lunch at a resort in Vandiperiyar, around 28 kms before Thekkady Kerala.
Check more details about the place further down in my post.
Periyar National Park is one of Kerala’s best-known wildlife spaces and is one of the places to visit in Thekkady South India. Thekkady Kerala is one of the best forest tourist places in Kerala, and home to wildlife like elephants, bisons, deers, Nilgiri langurs and tigers.
With its unspoiled tropical forests and incredible wealth of animal and plant life, for a nature lover, it is one of the best places to visit in Thekkady.
Though Thekkady Kerala is one of the oldest tiger reserves in the country and White Tigers live in the forests of Periyar; it is probably best to be clear on one thing from the outset- your chances of seeing a tiger here are extremely low.
Places to visit in Thekkady include some beautiful trails for treks and mountain walks as well.
The unending chain of hills with scented spice plantations along with tea, coffee, and cardamom make this spot rank high in the list of places to visit in Thekkady.
To explore the wilderness of Periyar Tiger Reserve, tourists have many options from boating and rafting to trekking.
Do purchase some spices and home made chocolates before you leave Thekkady Kerala. Especially some cardamom! Cardamom here is extraordinarily good & a must buy. Going to a spice shop should definitely be on your list of places to visit in Thekkady.
Most of the activities in this area revolve around Periyar in some form or the other. We enjoyed strolling around town, sampling chocolates, banana chips, and enjoying nature in general. Things to do in Thekkady are plenty.
The lush greenery of the forest and the calm water can have a soothing effect on you. Spending time in Thekkady Kerala is a great opportunity to get back in touch with nature, unwind, and enjoy Kerala’s beautiful scenery and wildlife. It is also a good place for catching up on an ayurvedic massage or watching the cultural forms – Kathakali & Kalari. While you’re checking off places to visit in Thekkady, make sure to dive into the cultural aspect of it too.
1. Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary – Meet The Animals of Thekkady Kerala
- Boating in Periyar Lake
The most popular way to enjoy Periyar is from the edge of your seat on a boat during Thekkady boating.
Thekkady weather is most conducive for visit during winters.However, during summers, you may get to spot more animals as they come out more often to drink water by the lake.
If lucky, you may also get a chance to see wildlife like Elephants coming to drink from the clear waters of the Periyar River.
The placid lake, located near the Periyar National Reserves, is one of the top in the places to visit in Thekkady and is a famous tourist spot.
Cruise along the length of the lake in a tourist boat while sighting animals, birds and reptiles. It is a great idea to keep a pair of binoculars handy to spot the unusual.There are places renting out binoculars by the hour near the boat entrance (My kid was fascinated by binoculars & wanted one for the whole day 🙁 ). If you are lucky, you might get a chance to see herds of elephants bathing on the lakeside.
Try taking the first boat or the last boat for better sighting of animals.We had seen a herd of elephants & some deers while cruising on the boat.
Keep a pair of binoculars ready to spot animals from the boat.
- Bamboo rafting in Periyar Thekkady
If you are a little more adventurous then you can take a bamboo raft and row while the wild watches you. The Bamboo Rafting at Periyar is available in two slots – Full day and Half day.
Rafts are accompanied by a guide as well as an armed forest ranger.
This is the best alternative to guided walks; be warned- the rafting package includes some walks too but is one of the best things to do in Thekkady.
The rafts leave at around 8am and capacity is limited so I’d recommend booking in advance at the Eco tourism center, Thekkady Kerala.
- Trekking Trails in Thekkady
Nature Walks into Periyar – This is generally a favourite way to explore a small part of Periyar. Go with a local guide for an early morning walk into Periyar National Park. Yes, you can walk into the tiger reserve. Periyar Thekkady is unique in India as it’s one of the only parks that the public are allowed to walk into (escorted by a guide) making it a sure-shot on your places to visit in Thekkady itinerary. Only a small area of the park is available to explore on foot, and the walks are very well managed.
The nature walks are one of Periyar’s community tourism initiatives. Guides are usually from these tribal villages, and the walks provide employment to them.
Treks vary from one to multi-day, with the longer ones covering higher elevations and being more difficult. Treks are always accompanied by guides and armed forest rangers.
Treks & walks can be organised through your hotel or through KTDC- I recommend consulting them about the places to visit in Thekkady.
- Elephant ride
There are elephant rides within the park itself, near the boating area. They take you through a raw, wooded path & drop you back near the boating area. When we had taken the ride, the elephant got enraged with one of the mahouts in the midst of the ride & trumpeted so loud that we were afraid to death! It refused to move forward & the mahouts cajoled it to proceed…it took quite some time; meanwhile we were counting each moment with trepidation. 🙁
Heaved a sigh of relief when we got down safe & sound. What an experience!
2. Vandiperiyar – Visit the town of tea factories
The Vandiperiyar town near the Periyar River of Thekkady nurtures the famous tea plantations and is one of the most popular places to visit in Thekkady. This place is known for its spice and herb cultivation too.
There are a number of tea processing factories here, giving tourists the chance to learn more about the tea making process – from tea leaves plucking to the final production. Tasting the various flavours of tea is one of the interesting things to do in Thekkady.
You can experience the tea estates & tea factories similar to Munnar here.
The landscape is breathtaking and this place will be paradise for lovers of nature. While visiting this place, do explore the famous Flower Garden!
Cardamoms from here are extraordinarily good. I had bought some on my trip & within a few days my kitchen had the exotic smell of cardamoms whenever the cabinet was opened.
If you are coming from Kochi, it is on the way; about 28 kms before Thekkady Kerala. So you can look around while coming or going & not come here especially. Saves you time.
3. Murikkady – Gape At Vast Meadows of Thekkady Kerala
Kerala, other than its beauty is also known for its spice plantations, but this place has got something else in it’s pocket. Murikkady is famous for not only spices but it’s also renowned for coffee and cardamom gardening. This place cultivates more than twelve varieties of spices including clove, ginger, turmeric and vanilla.
Yum! This makes it a must-do as your places to visit in Thekkady.
4. Elephant Junction Thekkady- Spend Time With Elephants
Elephant Junction in Thekkady Kerala is a famous tourist attraction not just in Thekkady but in the whole state of Kerala. People here can spend time with the elephants and feed them. So now you already know that this is one of the places to visit in Thekkady that you will remember for a long time.
You can go for an elephant ride, give an elephant a bath or even get an elephant shower which is quite thrilling! The place is a great hangout spot for families on a Kerala tour. If one is traveling with kids, then this place should be on your list of places to visit in Thekkady.
5. Spices Plantation- One of the unique places to visit in Thekkady
A visit to the spice gardens here is a must, if you haven’t done it in Munnar already.it’s a pleasant surprise to see our daily spices growing on the trees & plants around. Most plants have their names written around them.
Some of the places to visit in Thekkady in terms of spice plantations would be Periyar Spice and Ayurvedic Garden, Shalimar Spice Garden,Green Land Spice Garden & Abraham’s Spice Gardens in Thekkady Kerala.
There’s usually a small fee like Rs. 100 (pls confirm before you enter) for entry & a guide/gardener shows you around. You can also buy spices fresh off the farm- this is another mandatory things to do in Thekkady.
6. Cultural Forms- Kathakali & Kalari
Watch a show of Kathakali, the story play form of art that has its origins in Kerala. The skills of Kathakali includes a complex language of gesture, through which the artist can convey whole sentences and stories.
Its distinguishing feature is the colourful deck up by the performers. The artists (all male) put on makeup and costumes much before the actual performance; which you are invited to see, making it a go-to in your places to visit in Thekkady trip.
Kalaripayattu is one of the oldest forms of martial arts with its roots in Kerala. The gravity-defying stunts that this martial art form involves requires incredible agility. With the use of spears, swords, shields, bows, fire and more elements, the one-hour show is sure to keep you astounded! Stay until the end to click pictures with the artists and their swords.
Some of the places to visit in Thekkady for this are the Kadathanadan Kalari & Navarasa Kathakali centre at Thekkady Kerala.
My Boat Trip experience on Periyar Lake
There are many places to visit in Thekkady and lots of things to do too. One of them are the boat cruises of Periyar lake that leave throughout the day & are the most popular activity in Periyar. But it would be my least recommended activity in Thekkady Kerala.
Firstly, there’s a queue to get in the boat: one for lower level & one for the upper level. As soon as the boat arrives, all hell breaks loose & everyone jumps towards the boat. There was pushing, shoving, shouting and clashing of selfie-sticks to get on board the boats. So if you are with small children or with senior citizens, beware and reconsider this as one of the places to visit in Thekkady.
Again, the boat trip is more of a cruise than an opportunity to see wildlife. It’s a scenic ride, especially in the morning or the last ride in the evening. Although we were lucky to see a herd of elephants on the lake edges & a herd of deer, it’s not what we expected the trip to be. We did not enjoy the boat trip overall & it would be my least preferred way of exploring the reserve.
When I went a few years back, the option of rafting was not there…or at least not known to me. It sounds like a better way to explore the area as it consists of rafting plus walking on the tour.
For the fitter people, a trek here is not to be missed.
Best time to visit Thekkady Kerala
Places to visit in Thekkady should be planned from September to April because of the favourable weather conditions.
March and April are the driest months, where a lot of animals gather near the water bodies, and hence it is the best time to spot animals.
Monsoons bring freshness and greenery along with it and makes the area even more beautiful from June to September.
Where to stay in Thekkady Kerala
Most of the hotels in Thekkady Kerala are in the Town area and only a few require travelling.
Among the luxurious hotels, Elephant Court, Forest Canopy and Sarovar Portico can be considered. Hotel Treetop, Carmelia Haven, Sterling Thekkady & Tigers Roar are some other good hotels too. There are also some home stays providing a local experience.
KTDC Lake Palace, KTDC Aranya Nivas and a budget hotel- KTDC Periyar House are the three hotels inside the Reserve. They are closest to the lake & boating facilities, booking for the boat is easy when staying here. But the number of people moving around & the noise is also very high. However, it is peaceful in the evenings.
We stayed in KTDC Aranya Nivas.
If your stay is in any of these hotels, make sure you reach the hotel before 5PM as the entrance to the reserve will be closed after this. And hence I wouldn’t recommend staying in a hotel that’s inside the Reserve.
How To Reach Thekkady Kerala
The nearest domestic airport to Thekkady Kerala is Madurai airport, which is about 136 km away. In Kerala, the nearest airport is Kochi, 190 kms away. From the airport, travellers can take cabs to reach Thekkady kerala.
The nearest train station is in Kottayam which is roughly 110 kms away. Connected to other big junctions in the area, you can reach Kottayam from major Indian cities.
By road is the easiest approach that takes you directly to Thekkady Kerala. You can take either a bus or a car to reach Thekkady Kerala. There are Kerala State Department buses to Thekkady Kerala from Kochi, Kottayam, Munnar etc. There are also AC buses that are usually fairly comfortable and easy to travel in. From Kochi, it’s a 5 hour scenic drive.
Places to visit near Thekkady Kerala
While I have stayed in Kochi for some years & visited many Kerala cities time & over again, Thekkady Kerala did not make it to my repeat list . I preferred visiting my favourites like Munnar or Alleppey; or exploring a new place.
Was your experience different from mine? Do share your happy encounters here. And feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below. 🙂