Located in the Cardamom Hills, in Idukki District of Kerala, Kumily is a busy plantation town and a center for spice trading activities and shopping centre. Rich in scenic beauty, it is a popular tourist destination situated close to the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border. It attracts a large number of travelers, owing to its unspoiled beauty and bucolic appeal of its markets. It is also an ideal trekking location for adventure lovers. Periyar National Park and Abraham's Spice Garden are two prominent tourist attractions when one is in Kumily. Apart from being the main bus station in the Periyar region, the town also provides decent, affordable accommodation facilities to tourists
The nearest airport to Kumily is Madurai at a distance of 150 km approx. The nearest rail head is Kottayam at a distance of 107 km. Buses operate from Madurai, Kottayam and other places. The climate is tropical and Kumily experiences extremes with summer being hot and winter being pleasantly cool with average temperature varying from 11 deg. Celsius to 31deg. Celsius. October to February is considered to be the best season to visit Kumily.
The cool climate and its elevation of 600m -1200m MSL make Kumili ideal for spice cultivation. One of the major spices produced in the area is cardamom. Kumily has a number of tea and coffee plantations. The people also cultivate tapioca, rice, coconut, sugarcane, coffee, areca nut, ginger, lemon grass and vegetables.
The best buys in Kumily are, of course, the spices. The spices of Kumily are famed for their aromatic flavour and for their culinary value. Fruits, vegetables, many varieties of flowers, jute and bamboo products, fenugreek, handloom, antique handcrafts batiks etc find many takers at the Kumily market.
Abraham's Spice Garden
Abraham's Spice Garden is located off the main road on the way to Thekkady. It is an organic spice garden where cultivation of organic farming of spices is carried out for generations It is an ideal place for learning about organic farming, Ayurveda and cultivation of different kinds of spices like coffee, pepper, vanilla, cardamom, cocoa etc. Garden fresh spices can also be bought from here.
Murikkady is a breadth taking view point for the misty mountains, lush green valleys, cardamom, tea and pepper plantations. It is situated at a distance of about 5 km from Thekkady. Murikkady is a perfect picnic spot to have a great time with your loved ones.
This picturesque place is between Chellarkovil and the Tamil Nadu border. It is located about 5 km from Thekkady and 4 km from Kumily. The deep valleys, the exotic flora and fauna, the beautiful streams and the splashing waterfalls; all make this place a visitor's delight Pandykuzhi is a popular picnic spot and trekkers delight. It is also a photographer's haven and offers plenty of opportunities for photography
Chellarkovil, situated in the Kerala Tamil Nadu border, is a sleepy village with spectacular views of the plains and the cascading waterfalls. Located about 15km from Thekkady, Chellarkovil waterfalls is one of the popular tourist places in Thekkady. One can trek to the point of origin of the falls and have a splendid view of the valleys and plains. As it is a less explored destination and less crowded, one can enjoy the beauty in tranquility.
Mangala Devi temple
This ancient 2000 years old Mangala Devi, at a height of 1,337m above MS is located about 15km away from Thekkady. Designed in Pandian style of architecture and dedicated to Devi Kannaki or Mangala the temple is hidden in the dense woods at the top of a hill. Official permission from the wildlife authorities in Thekkady is required to visit this area. Many pilgrims visit he temple and special prayers are offered to the Goddess during the Chitra Purnimi day in the month of March. The peak is ideal for panoramic view of the other side of the Ghats and the vast plains of Tamil Nadu.
Periyar National Park
popular tourist destination in Kerala and one of the most visited wildlife reserves of India, Periyar National Park is the only tiger reserve in Kerala. Situated in the high ranges of the Western Ghats the park spreads over 777sq.km. It was originally declared as a reserved forest in 1899 and officially became a national park in 1978. Thekkady has been named the world's top emerging destination in the inaugural Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) CEO Challenge 2015 in Bangkok.
The terrain is undulating with a reservoir of 2600 hectares. Over 1960 species of flowering plants, 35 species of mammals, 265 species of birds and many species of reptiles, fish and amphibians are identified at this place. The vegetation comprises mainly of tropical evergreen forest and semi evergreen forests. Deciduous forests and grasslands dominate the center of the park. Periyar National Park is the Habitat for tiger, leopard, elephant, sambar, gaur, wild boar, lion tailed macaque, Nilgiri langur, sloth bear, etc. More than 180 species of bird life including Grey heron, darter, hornbills, ibis, and cormorant are recorded.
Though a tiger reserve, this is the best elephant sanctuary in India. Herds of elephants and other animals those will wander down to the lake. Although walking tours, elephant rides and night patrols are offered through the forest by the tourism department, the best way to see the reserve is to take a boat ride on the manmade lake. The best season to visit the reserve is from September to May. The annual temperature generally varies from 15 deg. C to 32 deg. C, April -May being the hottest months.
Accommodation to suit the taste of everyone could be arranged in the forest rest houses and KTDC hotels inside the park or at hotels in Tekkady or Kumily. The park is easily accessed by road. The nearest railway station is in Kottayam (115km). The nearest town is Kumily, a mere 4km from the park.
Boat Cruise on Thekkady Lake
Liesure cruise on the Periyar Boat rides are offered by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) and the Kerala Forest Department (KFD) for sightseeing and spotting wildlife around the river. They both generally use 40 seat two tier boats for the cruise. The entrance fee to Thekkady and cruising charge per person are Rs.33 and Rs.150 Respectively. After the entrance gate one has to walk more than a kilometer to reach the ticket counter. Buying ticket at the counter is not a very pleasant experience. The counter is usually crowed and each person in the queue can obtain tickets for two persons only. You can opt for a small or a big boat and pay accordingly. Advance booking can also be made online or through the hotels or home-stays where you stay.
Five cruises are conducted by the department everyday at Thekkady The cruising is for 90 minutes. the timings are 0730-0900, 0930-1100, 1115-1245, 1345-1515 and 1530-1700hrs.
It is mandatory for everyone to wear life-jackets during the cruise. During the early morning trip one can enjoy the clean fresh air the foggy atmosphere with a ray of sun penetrating through. The cruise gives a superb opportunity to explore and enjoy nature, but seeing wild animals during the cruise depends totally on one's luck. One may come across many birds like the egret, wooly necked stork, kingfisher, black cormorant and Indian darter. One could find herds of bison , elephants and Sambar grazing on the banks of Periyar. Sighting a tiger is extremely rare and entirely depends on one's luck. Animals like Nilgiri langur, common langur, wild boars, otters, mongoose, turtles etc., will also come across your view.
The boat ride is where one can watch the animals in their natural habitat, in close proximity. The hour and a half cruise through the huge and calm lake will be a pleasant and memorable experience.
Community based eco-tourism.
There are separate jungle treks and stuff for people who want to go inside the Reserve and experience wild-life at first hand. For that there are eco friendly programs available from the Forest Department.
Recently, the forest authorities transformed Periyar National Park into a destination of people oriented and park centered community based eco-tourism. These programs are conducted involving local population responsible for the surveillance of the reserve. By accompanying the tourists, they educate the visitors about the conservation of the forest and wildlife. Some of the eco-tourism based activities that visitors can get involved are given below.
Nature walk - The guided day trek
The Nature Walk is a trail that takes one through dense evergreen and moist deciduous forests and swampy grasslands generally for a distance of 4-5 km. A local trained tribal guide will accompany a group of 5 persons and venture into a perfect exploration. The program is offered in six time slots of7am, 7.30am,10am,10.30am, 2pm and 2.30pm.; and lasts for two-and-a-half hours each. This interpretive program offers excellent opportunity to watch birds, butterflies and other wildlife.
The program is a long guided trek for 3 to 4 hours from Gandhi Park at Kolathupalam, through the Kurisumala view point to the Tribal Heritage Museum at Mannakudy Tribal settlement and terminated at Anavachal. From the vantage point, one can have a look at grasslands, evergreen, deciduous and riverine forests and the strech of land across the Kerala Tamil Nadu border.
This is a conservation oriented full day hard trek. Starting at 0800hrs, covering 15km and passing through undulating terrains of 900 - 1300m, the trek finishes at 1700hrs. The trekkers will obtain a peek to the lofty escarpment bordering the park watershed and the vast plains down below. Gaur, sloth bear, elephant etc. are often sighted along this route apart from birds and butterflies. A maximum of 12 tourists can take the program in two different groups. The trekkers will go with two guides and an armed forest guard. Vegetarian refreshments will be provided.
This is a dawn-to-dusk range hiking and rafting program through some of the forest tracts of Periyar Tiger Reserve. Starting at 8 am from the boat landing, a variety of habitats will be crossed before the party gets into rafts made of bamboos. Rafting lasts for about three hours and one gets a panoramic view of the forest and may sight animals like Elephant, Gaur and Sambar. The team gets a ride back to the boat landing by 1700hrs. An armed guard and 4 guides will accompany a maximum of 10 tourists. Tea, snacks and packed lunch will be served en route.
Jungle Inn - Jungle in the night
This is an opportunity to stay inside one of the watch towers inside the forests for two, in the ambience of jungle with minimal creature comfort. The program, starting at 1500hrs and ending at 0900hrs the following day; is to trek and camp inside the forest. Food and double-bedded accommodation are provided. The vantage of the program is walking through the forest at prime time when animals tend to be more active. One can observe troops of langur, giant squirrels, etc., besides many birds along this stretch.
Jungle Scout (Night Patrolling)
This unique ecotourism program intends to entertain those who are desirous of experiencing the wilderness during night and contribute towards forest protection by joining the regular forest protection party as a paid volunteer. The program is offered in Two groups of six people each in three time slots of three hours each, starting at 1900hrs and ending at 0400hrs.
Periyar Tiger Trail
Tiger trail is an adventurous trekking and camping program, offered in two packages;1 night/2 days and 2 night/3 days. The program is unique and conducted by the forest department with a team of rehabilitated poachers who are tough and dependable individuals with meticulous knowledge of the forest terrain. The trek starts at 0900hrs and ends by noon in the second or third day. A maximum number of six tourists are accompanied by five guides and one armed forest guard. A trekking distance 20-25km will be covered, depending on the route chosen.
For more details about community based eco-tourism programs and tarrif visit: Periyar Tiger Reserve
To view the photo gallery of Thekkady, please follow the link Thekkady Photos