Thekkady is famous for its wildlife sanctuary. It is around 90 km from Munnar. We started from Munnar early in the day. Drive was enjoyable with forest on both sides for most of the journey. One good thing in Kerala is that every place has a different feeling than other. Like when Munnar is covered with tea plantations, Thekkady is full of spice plantations. We stopped at one place to have Spice plantation tour. After the tour, we checked-in into our hotel.
Spice plantation: Thekkady has many Spice plantations and most of them have a tour of it. We went with the one our driver suggested. They had very large plantation area where they had rows after rows of spices plants. There was a garden where they had grown all type of spices and ayurvedic plants for tourist. There were many interesting facts we got to know there. We were captivated as we saw that cardamom is actually grown at the bottom of the plant near the root and it takes around 3 years to produce the capsules containing seeds. It was a fascinating experience.
Elephant ride: It is advisable to experience elephant ride at Thekkady instead of doing it in Munnar. Our driver took us to the place where we could ride and feed elephant. It was not at all crowded so we got the ride for much lesser price and faster than in Munnar. We rode the elephant together with the mahout walking with him. He took us inside the forest area for a quick round. He also took some good photos rounding up an amazing experience.
After awesome elephant ride, we fed the animal with pumpkin. We were amused by the way he eats food. You can also bathe the elephant there.
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary: Main attraction of Thekkady is the famous tiger reserve. It has a big lake surrounded by huge forest. Forest department provides 2 hrs boat tour in the lake. Boat tour timings are:
07:30 am to 09:30 am
11:30 am to 12:30 am
01:30 pm to 02:30 pm
03:30 pm to 05:30 pm
It’s always better if you take morning 7:30 or evening 3:30 tour as most animals can be seen at those times. We wanted to do 3:30 PM tour but it was booked fully. So we had to shift our plan for next morning to accommodate boat tour in morning.
We started early in morning (around 5:30-5:45) to get the tickets as boat tours are generally crowded. As we reached main gate of sanctuary, we had to wait for entry and parking ticket. After getting entry ticket, we headed inside the sanctuary. There was a queue for boat tour there. We managed to get the tickets and got into boat. The boat had two levels. They have life jackets so no need to worry about safety.
As the boat started, we were spellbound with the beauty of surroundings. We saw some animals and birds in the forest area around the lake. Tiger spotting is really difficult there and you have to be very very lucky to see one. But we saw a fox crossing the river. It was a unique sight and we managed to make its video. We also saw elephant, deer, different kind of birds etc. Overall it was a good experience but do not expect much in terms of spotting wildlife.
Cultural Activities: Kerala is also famous for showcasing its culture. It is the land of the traditional dance style, called Kathakali and exclusive way of doing martial art called Kalaripayattu. The Mudra Cultural Center at Thekkady, has multiple shows where these unique arts are performed. Timings for these shows are:
- 6 pm to 7 pm.
- 05:00 pm to 06:00 pm
- 07:00 pm to 08:00 pm
Kathakali: If you are visiting Kerala and not seeing Kathakali, then I don’t think your trip is complete. Kathakali has its unique characters who perform mainly by their expressions. We were very eager to see it. We selected the 7 pm show. But before the dance, they also show how those unique characters are created. So we reached there by 5:30 pm (because we had 6 to 7 Kalaripayattu show) to see them doing makeup costumes etc. They actually do it on stage itself and it takes 2 hrs. for a character to get ready. So if you have time, you can watch the entire procedure. The dance started on time. We were watching it with enthusiasm but later on we felt disconnected as we were not able to follow the story in full, because it was in Malyalam.
Kalaripayattu: This is an old martial art trained in an enclosure, called ‘Kalari’. The show began sharp at 6 pm. The learned warriors performed with their weapons. For the finale, they performed with fire and we were speechless. The show was exciting and packed with moment where even we were scared.
Other essential info:
Spice plantation entry fee: INR 100
- Entry fee: INR 25 per person
- Parking fee: INR 50 per vehicle
- Boating fee: INR 150 per adult and INR 50 per child
- Digital / Still Camera: INR 25
- Camcorder: INR 200
For the Boat Ride, the ticket counter allows purchasing tickets only 90 min. before the time of the ride. So for 03:30 pm ride, the tickets are sold from 2 pm onward.
Kathakali show: INR 200
Kalaripayattu show: INR 200
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