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Periyar Tiger Reserve Travelogue

Discussion in 'Travelogues' started by Debapriya Deb, Feb 5, 2016.

  1. Debapriya Deb

    Debapriya Deb Active Member

    "Want to shoot? Use your cameras!"

    We came across this beautiful quote during our previous outing at Bandipur - a trip that had made all of us ardent wildlife lovers. It remained engraved in our memories all throughout and when we got the first chance to re-live the moments again, all of us gladly obliged.

    If you are looking for a few days' leaves, December-January is the ideal time! Ask any IT professional about the truth in this statement and none would disagree. So the four of us, Saurabh, Biplab, Rauben and myself, decided to meet up for another jungle extravaganza. Tapan was going to his home-town, so could not join us on this trip.

    Kabini, Nagarhole and Periyar emerged as the three favorite contenders to host us during this trip. But finding an accommodation was always going to be a tedious task - considering the peak tourist season. Just as we had anticipated, there was no suitable accommodation available over the weekend. We also checked the availability on weekdays, but both Nagarhole and Kabini had no vacany. However, we were fortunate to find a decent staying option at Periyar, albeit on the mid of the week and only for a single day.

    Without wasting any further time, we booked a traditional Kerala-style cottage at the Periyar Nest Resport. The charge of INR 2250 per night was reasonably affordable considering the fact that we were travelling in a group of four. With the accommodation problem sorted out, it was time to decide on the transportation mode.
    During the Bandipur trip last time around, we travelled in two different vehicles - which had made the journey a tad boring. Learning the lessons from the last drip, this time we all were in agreement that travelling together in a single vehicle is a lot more exciting.

    Saurabh, who is based out of Hyderabad, made the choice easier as he was keen on driving all the way from Hyderabad to Bangalore on his Renault Duster. Duster was a lot more comfortable option for us compared to my Maruti Alto or Rauben's Ford Figo.

    For reaching Periyar Tiger Reserve from Bangalore, the shortest and the fastest route is via NH7 till Dindigul and then taking the Dindigul-Theni-Kottarakkara Highway which passes through Kumily. It's a little over 500 kilometers and we expected to cover the distance in around 8.5 hours - including 2/3 mandatory breaks inbetween.

    We all met up at Rauben's house at around 9:30 PM on Tuesday night. After satisfying our appetite on the delicious Chicken Biriyani prepared by Rauben's better-half, we set out on the journey at sharp 11:00 PM and hoped to arrive at Periyar Nest around 7:30-8:00 AM the following morning.

    Saurabh had already driven a staggering distance of 570 KM from Hyderabad to Bangalore on the previous night and hence decided to rest his bum on the cozy rear seat, thus offering me an opportunity to continue my love affair with his curvy beauty - the Duster. I had previously driven the vehicle during our trip to Valparai and it was a case of love at first drive. I was truly bowled over by Duster's gorgeous design, impeccable balance and great drivability. So there was no reason for me to waste any time in grabbing the driver's seat!

    It's always a pleasure to drive along the smooth tarmac of NH7. Traffic was surprisingly sparse on that very night, so we were making steady progress. Rauben had brought along his guitar and our vehicle soon turned in to a moving jukebox. As the old saying goes - 'Time flies when you are having fun', we raced to Dharmapuri and proceeded towards Salem. A distance of 150 odd kilometers were covered in flat 2 hours! It was time for a well deserved break.

    We took a 10 minutes' breather to refresh ourselves before continuing to drive further towards Periyar. The initial burst of energy had subdued by then and two of my pals, on the rear seat, decided to meet up with their loved ones in dreamland. Only Biplab was considerate enough to give me company and we continued to chit-chat on a wide variety of topics.

    The reminder of the journey was largely uneventful. Just when we were approaching Dindigul, Rauben suddenly woke up from slumber and offered to take over the driving responsibility - which I politely declined and he happily dozed off almost immediately.

    From Dindigul, Periyar is another 150 KM away. The clock had struck 4:30 AM when we entered Dindigul town. In other words, we covered the 370 KM distance in around 5.5 hours. So we were firmly on target to make it to Periyar by 7 in the morning. It was time for another little break - but only for the two of us - Biplab and me. Both Saurabh and Rauben were fast asleep and showed no interest in coming out of the vehicle on a chilling night.

    After Dindigul, the road became narrower with both-way traffic, which slowed us down a bit. The road was in decent condition for most parts, except for a few pathholes here and there. Thankfully those were few and far between. We reached Cumbum at around 7:15 AM and checked in to the Periyar Nest Resort at Kumily in another 15-20 minutes.

    There are various modes to explore the diversified terrains and wildlife at Periyar. You have the options to choose between short nature walks, guided trekking tours, jeep safari and boat safari rides. We had already booked the 9:30 AM boat safari ride online through the official website. It's a guided tour conducted by the Kerala Tourism Department which takes the visitors around the wildlife sanctuary through the huge Periyar Lake.

    After freshening up at the resort, we had a light breakfast and then drove towards the main entrance of Periyar Tiger Reserve. The entry fee to the reserve for an Indian citizen is INR 25 per person, while INR 200 is charged for the vehicle. After the entry formalities, we proceeded towards the boat house - which is located at a distance of 3 KM from the main entrance.

    Being a weekday, we didn't expect to see to many tourists over there, but to our surprise we noticed a huge queue in front of the ticket counter. Fortunately, we had pre-booked the tickets online, otherwise it would have taken at-least a couple of hours to reach the mouth of the serpentine queue.

    The boat safari was scheduled to depart at 9:30, but after a prolonged spell of wait, when we finally made the foray into the calm waters, it was well past 10:15. Ours was a single deck motor-boat carrying around 20 tourists.

    The safari lasted for about 3 hours and we were lucky enough to spot a variety of avian species. We happily went on to click the darters, egrets, kingfishers and other birds that were resting on dead tree trunks over the lake. But the highlight of the safari trip was a family of four elephants - two adults and two calves. They were not at all camera shy and allowed us a good amount of time to capture their playful antics on our lenses. We also spotted a large family of spotted deers, langurs, lion-tailed macaques and bisons during the boat trip.

    Here are a few images to quench your thirst -

    Before going back to the resort after the boat safari, we enquired about the timings of Jeep Safari rides and discovered an amazing adventure prospect. Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary has something called 'Night Patrol' to take the interested tourists inside the forest at mid-night. It was no doubt a tempting prospect - something that shouldn't be missed at any cost. We immediately booked the slots for INR 1000 per head.

    It was indeed a thrilling experience, although we could not spot too many wild animals. One armed forest guard and an experienced guide accompanied the four of us during the jungle safari. The excursion lasted for two and another half hours and we could spot bisons, rabbits, sambars, porcupine and elephants during this trip. Unfortunately, we were not well equipped for night photography. Also we were not supposed to use flash at night, so the shots didn't come good at all. Although we could not spot the elusive Bengal Tigers, it was nonetheless a fully rewarding trip for us.

    We returned to our cottage at around 1 AM and had a sound sleep. The resort has a strict policy of 24 hours check-out timing, so we set the alarm to buzz at 6:30 AM. By 7:30 AM, we vacated the room, had our breakfast and set out on the return journey to Bangalore at a leisurely pace.

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  2. Vinaya

    Vinaya Member

    This is a great travel story.I loved your pictures. You have a great photography skills.many years ago, when I was in Chitwan National Park in Nepal, I saw sign board. On the sign board it was written: Want to shoot? Use your cameras.
    Chitwan is a home to one-horned rhino and sadly it is also a place for poachers to kill rhino.

  3. xTinx

    xTinx Member

    The pictures you took are rather impressive! They capture the essence and beauty of wildlife - something which many people fail to appreciate because they're busy destroying it. I just hope more and more people would endeavor to preserve what's left of mother nature before it starts falling apart due to human negligence.
  4. tabby

    tabby Member

    Admittedly, I'm not much of an animal lover. I don't hate animals either. But the way you described your adventure just made me wish I am one. I love how you wrote in full details your road trip. I could just imagine how much fun you had with Duster! The descriptions were so alive to me. Really good one!
    The pictures of the animals are quite lovely. I could sympathize with you regarding the poor quality pictures for the night safari. I went to a Night Safari once in Singapore and I got so frustrated since none of our pictures turned out great. Nevertheless, I could still remember how excited I was when I saw the beautiful giraffes! That is something for someone who doesn't like animals, haha! Anyway, I'm sure you had tremendous fun with this night safari despite the lack of great pictures to remember them by!