Thekkady is one of four prominent tourism destinations of Kerala, India. It is located on Kerala and Tamilnadu border and sits at an altitude of 1300 meters above the sea level. Thekkady is blessed with pleasant weather, mesmerizing geographical terrains, diverse and rich flora and fauna. It attracts thousands of domestic and international tourists every day. Thekkady is situated atop of Cardamom Hills which is wrapped in small cardomom and rare wildlife. Thekkady lies four kilometers away from Kumily town. One can reach Kumily, which the transportation hub for Thekkady.

History of Thekkady

The word “Thekkady” means land of thick teak trees. It is believed that there had abundant resources of teak trees in the past. Still tourists can see submerged remains of teak and other trees in Periyar lake during boating.The first motor powered boat used in Periyar lake was in 1930 by Viceroy of India Lord Irwin. Heavy motor boat was brought to Thekkady by a group of bullock carts when there was not enough transportation system in Thekkady. It is believed that a huge crowd of people got together on both sides of K.K Road ( Kottayam to Kumily Road ) to witness the arrival of motor boat.

Thekkady offers diverse tourist attractions and one can experience stunning viewpoints, exotic wildlife, adventurous trekking, boating, bamboo rafting and tribal lifestyle. Previously known as Nellikkampetty forest reserve, was a hunting location for royal families. Nellikkampetty forest reserve was founded in 1934 by Travencore king Sree Chithra tribunal Balarama Varma. In 1934 the actual reserve area was under 350 square kilometers. Later in 1950 after the national independence, more areas like Periyar, Thannikudy and Sabarimala were added to Nellikkampetty reserve and renamed as wild life sanctuary then again in 1978 it was become a tiger reserve.

Periyar Tiger Reserve

Periyar Tiger Reserve or simply called as PTR is the main attraction in Thekkady. Periyar Tiger Reserve is one of the two Tiger Reserves of Kerala, the other being Parambikulam Tiger Reserve in Palakkad district. Periyar Tiger Reserve encompasses 925 km² area which spans across Idukki and Pathanamthitta districts. It houses more than 40 tigers, hundreds of elephants and rare lion tailed macaque which belongs to critically endangered primates. Malabar Grey hornbill and Great Malabar hornbill both of which are endemic to Western Ghat are found in Periyar Tiger Reserve. The name “Periyar” was derived from river Periyar, the longest river in Kerala, which originates from deep inside of Periyar Tiger Reserve. PTR is pioneer in offering many kinds of eco-tourism programmes in partnership with native tribal communities and former poacher turned conservationists.

Thekkady Boating

The main attraction of the Thekkady is the boat ride through Periyar lake, an artificial lake which was flooded while constructing Mullaperiyar Dam in 1895 by British Government. During the boating, there are chances to spot wild animals including elephants, deers and Indian bisons. If you are lucky enough, there might be chances to see tigers on the shores of Periyar lake. Other than boating, many adventurous programmes are being conducted by Periyar Tiger Reserve. Nature walk, Green walk, Bamboo rafting and Tiger trail programmes are on the list. Charming boat ride through Periyar lake take visitors into serenity and tranquility. The 90 minutes boating through waters filled by tree stumps  provides glimpses of rare flora and fauna. The lake is artificial and was created when forest area was submerged for constructing 100 years old Mullaperiyar dam which is the major cause of conflict between Kerala and Tamilnadu.Thekkady was a major tourist destination in the early twentieth century. Boating in the Periyar lake is a must see activity in Thekkady. In early days paddle boats and bamboo rafts of the tribal communities were used for boating in the lake. Elephants movement in group and their showering are a privileged sight of boating.

Tigers and Elephants

According to the latest tiger survey, there are more than 40 tigers inside the reserve. Periyar Tiger Reserve and Parambikulam Tiger Reserve has comparatively equal number of Tiger count. Wayanad wildlife sanctuary has most number of tigers in Kerala, but it has not been recognized as a Tiger Reserve. Wayanad Sanctuary is comparatively small in area and is high density Tiger Reserve in India. PTR is vast and there is a high potential for the growth of tiger population. Tigers unlike other animals, is solitary and territorial animals which requires more territory to prey and live. A tiger which requires approximately 60 km² area to prey and mate and any encroachment to this area by another tiger ends in severe fight which lead to death or severe injury. Clashes among tigers to defend its territory and mating rights is a common phenomenon in the forest. Usually two to three tigress along with cubs live in these territories. Comparatively tigress requires approximately 20 km² of area. PTR has a sound number of elephants ranging from 750 to 1000 which is approximately 25 percentage of the total number elephants in Kerala.

VIP visit to Thekkady

Many Indian and international personalities have visited Thekkady and neighboring places. The list includes former Prime ministers of India Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi. First prime minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru inaugurated Aranya Nivas hotel in Thekkady. Thekkady got its name and fame and became a famous tourist centre in South India. Former prime ministers of India Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi are among other important personalities who visited Thekkady.

It was reported that former Soviet Union president and Communist leader Nikita Khrushchev visited Thekkady in 1950.

Approximately 500000 tourists visit Thekkady lake annually. The number is still growing. After the boating tragedy in 30 September 2009, high levels of safety and security parameters have been adopted for the boating. Frequent inspections of boating are being held.

More than 38 varieties of fish resources have been found in Periyar lake including indigenous Periyar Latiya fish which is only found in here Thekkady.

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