Periyar Lake was formed by the building of a dam on the Periyar River at the end of the 19th century, and the area of forest around it in the Cardamom Hills of Kerala’s Western Ghats is now south India’s most popular wildlife sanctuary. Regrettably, the high number of visitors to the main lakeside settlement and dense vegetation means that the chances of spotting animals are not always terribly good.
However, Periyar is still a picturesque spot to spend a night and break potentially long journeys by staying at one of its comfortable hotels. During your stay here you could take an early morning walk as the forest comes to life with the calls of birds and monkeys (don’t forget your leech socks), before gliding on a simple bamboo raft for panoramic view of forest-clad hills reflected on the lake. Elephant, gaur and sambar are sometimes sighted close to the edges of the lake. You could also take a stroll through one of the area’s spice plantations where farmers grow a mix of cardamom, pepper, vanilla, cloves and ginger beneath the trees. For visitors who have more time Periyar is also a good base from which to begin walks into the surrounding hills of grasslands, evergreen, deciduous and riverine forests.