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Periyar or Thekady is where the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is situated. It is South India most popular one, encompassing an area of 777 sq km, with 26 sq km artificial lake dammed/ built by the British in 1895. Periyar is also one of the 27 tiger reserves in India. Boat trip at the National Park is the best way to observe game in wild. There are many animals to see, including herds of elephants, bison's and packs of wild boars that roam through the woods and parade along the shores of the lake just before sunrise and sunset. Thekkady is also popular for its tea and spice plantations in the nearby hills.
From Cochin, Periyar is 6 hours enjoyable drive east that traverses mountain roads ascending 900m. The drive from Munnar (2-3hr) or Madurai (4hr) is also stunning, traversing many mountain passes and scenic countryside. You will pass tea plantations, spice growing embankments and drive through lovely sections of forest, quite different from the coastal regions.