Thekkady is situated about 257 km from Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala. The Cochin airport is 145 km, and the nearest railway station is Kottayam, 114 km away. It is close to Kerala’s border with neighboring Tamil Nadu. There are a number of interesting top places to visit in Thekkady, so let us take a look at what they are:
- Periyar Tiger Reserve
- Green Park Ayurvedic And Spices Plantation
- Kadathanadan Kalari And Navarasa Kathakali
- Periyar Lake
- Bamboo Rafting
- Mudra Cultural Center
- Trekking And Nature Walks
- Chellarkovil Viewpoint
- Chellarkovil Waterfalls
- Nocturnal Jungle Patrol
- Mangala Devi Temple
- Tribal Village
- Bullock Cart Exploration
- Elephant Ride
- Periyar Tiger Trail
Periyar Tiger Reserve is one of the best destinations in Thekkady sightseeing that spread over 777 square kilometers, with about 360 sq. Km of dense evergreen forest. The rest of it consists of semi-evergreen forests, Savanna grasslands, and moist deciduous forests. Declared a tiger reserve of India in 1978, the sanctuary boasts several species of animals like sambar, deer, elephants, lion-tailed macaques, and bison. Most of the visitors are taken on boat safaris to experience the sanctuary. This is one of the best places to visit in Kerala during monsoon.
Green Park Ayurvedic & Spice Plantation is an ecological park lies amidst the beautiful landscape of Thekkady and is one of the best Thekkady tourist places. This park is nature’s kingdom and travelers would experience life’s freshness forever. A must visit for nature lovers; this plantation has dozens of herbs, spices, and medicinal plants. You can learn all about how they grow, their uses, and even purchase plants if you wish to. Inhaling the different aromas of plants as you walk in the crisp air is a very refreshing experience. As it’s a relatively unknown among tourist places in Thekkady, you will find that it is not crowded, and you can explore to your heart’s content.
To immerse yourself in Kerala’s culture and heritage, you must include this spot in the list of Thekkady tourist places to visit. You can buy a ticket to both the martial arts (Kalari) demonstration and the Kathakali performance, or either one. The Kalari demo lasts for one hour; you will be blown away by the gravity-defying leaps and precise sword fighting skills displayed by the exponents. As for Kathakali, the elaborate costume and makeup worn by the performers is reason enough for you to witness it! Typically, the performance is a narration of a story from the Mahabharata, which includes singing and dancing, with the performers usually representing heroes and villains, like Krishna or the Pandavas on one side, and some of the Kauravas, or demons on the other. Before the performance starts, the audience gets an explanation of the story and what the ‘mudras’ or hand gestures denote – so that you can understand it better.
The Periyar lake in Thekkady is part of the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala. The Periyar Lake was formed during the construction of the dam across the Mullaperiyar river in the year 1895. Periyar Lake offers one of its kind of animal watching, where the tourists can watch the animals very closely, sitting comfortably in the boat. Boating is the best way to adore the beauty of the lake and the national park. You can go boating in the lake – tickets can be bought at the counter on the site, or booked online in advance. You may not sight a lot of wildlife, but the one and a half hour boat ride will take you through some mesmerizing landscape, and is totally worth the time and money. Thekkady is famous for tigers, Asian elephants, gaurs, lion-tailed macaques, sambars, wild boars, Nilgiri langurs, spotted deer, Stripe-necked Mongoose, barking deer, wild dogs, Malabar giant squirrel, Nilgiri tahr, sloth bears, civet, etc. This is the best Thekkady sightseeing spot and only sanctuary in India where you can view wildlife much closer and safer from the lake.
For an uncommon experience, book a bamboo rafting program which also includes a trek. At 8 in the morning, your rafting activity will commence from the Kumily boat jetty, which lasts a couple of hours. The forest department guides then take you on a trek through the forest – sounds exciting doesn’t it? You are also accompanied by an armed guard for security. This Thekkady sightseeing destination is a bird watcher’s paradise: many rare and migratory birds can be found here, in addition to arboreal animals like the giant squirrel. Participants are provided with lunch and snacks. Your trek is completed by 3 p.m. And then you get back onto your raft. You reach the boat jetty at around 5 p.m., marking the end of the program. The charges are rupees 2000 per person for the full day program, and 1500 for the half-day program.
This is another center in Thekkady to experience traditional Kerala martial arts and Kathakali performance. Performances typically last about an hour each, and experienced exponents demonstrate their skills to entertain and educate the viewers. We would definitely recommend this as one of the places to visit in Thekkady with your family – especially children, to introduce them to the rich cultural heritage of our nation.
For the adventure lovers, this is a great activity. Typically, the treks or walks take about three hours and you cover about 4 to 5 km. Not only can you breathe in the pristine air and revel in the beautiful landscape surrounding you, but you can also catch glimpses of several species of elusive birds, butterflies, and if you are really fortunate, some wildlife as well! Groups of four are escorted by a guide and the charge per person in rupees 300. If you are an experienced trekker, you can opt for the 12 km trek to an ancient temple in the middle of the sanctuary. There is also something called the border trekking program – for expert trekkers. It takes nearly the whole day, starting at 8 a.m., and ending in the evening. 10 trekkers are taken on this program, split into groups of five, and are accompanied by an armed guard and two guides. Check out this travel guide for women traveling to Kerala.
You can reach this magnificent viewpoint either by trekking or by jeep. Lush green and unpolluted, this hilltop offers one of the most spellbinding vistas of the natural beauty of Thekkady and surrounding areas. You can see forests, plantations and fields of paddy – there is a watch tower with a telescope if you want a closer look. A half day trip by jeep will cost you around rs. 2500. Experience the simple joys of rural living in one of the hidden Thekkady attractions that are Chellarkovil.
If you have come all the way to the viewpoint, you must not return without visiting these marvelous waterfalls, nestled in the hills. Just a kilometer away from the viewpoint, you can enjoy the unique experience of standing at the point of origin of these gushing waterfalls. You can enjoy a tranquil and relaxing picnic in the lap of nature, with very few people – so nobody to bother you.
Are you a green warrior? If the ecology is your passion, then you will simply love this initiative by the forest department in Thekkady. By participating in this patrol, you will be doing your bit towards eco-conservation. The trek is conducted between 7 pm and 4 am, in slots of three hours, with a maximum of 8 trekkers in a group. You will be accompanied by two protection watchers and an armed guard from the forest department. Mind you, you need to be in excellent physical and mental health to be approved to participate in this exciting nocturnal patrol. Be prepared for an amazing experience that will help you realize the full potential of all your senses. You have better chances of spotting animals during this patrol, as many animals are nocturnal. To be considered for this program, you need to apply well in advance.
Trekking 7 km from the base near the Periyar sanctuary, sitting proud yet lonely atop a hill, is the Mangaladevi temple – one of the places to visit in Thekkady if you are passionate about ruins and ancient monuments. It is opened only on the day of Chitra Pournami, from morning to evening. It is an ancient temple made entirely out of granite blocks. You can go up to the temple on other days if you have prior permission but will be only able to see the temple from the outside. It is dedicated to Kannaki, a woman who burnt down the entire town of Madurai to avenge her husband, who was wrongly sentenced to death by the king.
Have you ever wondered what life in an actual tribal village is like in these modern times? Well, wonder no more. In Thekkady, you can visit an actual tribal village; the government has also built a tribal heritage museum inside the Mannan tribal settlement. Here you can see various artifacts related to their way of life – utensils, clothes, ornaments, weapons, and furniture. A guide will explain their various practices, like marriage and death ceremonies, agricultural methods, medicines and herbs they use, including which plants, how they are cultivated and how they are processed and so on. Though some of them have integrated with modern society, many still continue to live in the old ways of their ancestors, and it’s fascinating to watch.
We kid you not – it’s honest to goodness ride on bullock carts! And furthermore, they are conducted by a group of erstwhile smugglers who realized the error of their ways and surrendered to the forest department. They take you on a fascinating tour of the plantations, fields, and orchards, and lasts for 3 hours. You can choose the morning slot which begins at 6 am or the afternoon slot which starts at 2.30 pm. Mangoes, tamarind, jasmine, sunflowers, jackfruit, onions and different types of gourds are cultivated by the people, and you can purchase something if you want.
How can you come to Kerala, that too to a place famed for its tiger reserve an animal sanctuary, and leave without meeting the state animal? You can go for a ride through wooded paths, or participate in bathing them. You can take photographs with them, and watch them being fed as well. Your trip to visit one of the best tourist attractions in Kerala won't be something small.
Not for the faint-hearted, this is perhaps the most exciting of the places to visit in Thekkady. Accompanied by forest guards and guides, you can go trekking along this trail surrounded by tall grass and thick vegetation, in an attempt to spot the elusive big cat. This activity is not without risks, to participate in it only if you feel you’re mentally and physically up for it.