Thekkady: a perfect holiday destination for Nature Lovers
With wildlife, spice plantations, Ayurveda and a rich dose of culture and heritage at its forefront, it is little wonder that Thekkady in Kerala is one of the most popular holiday destinations in South India. Located about 250 km from the capital city of the state, Thiruvananthapuram and about 150 km from Cochin, Thekkady is often referred to as the gateway to Kerala’s wildlife and rich biodiversity. With plenty to see and do, a visit to Thekkady promises multiple experiences that are as diverse as distinct.
Thekkady is most famous for being the home of the Periyar National Park. Also called the Periyar Tiger Reserve it is spread over an area of 925 sq km. Surrounded by the mighty Western Ghats, the reserve is set in utterly beautiful surroundings that is picture perfect and scenic. With the Pamba and Periyar rivers passing through the sanctuary, it is a haven for wildlife lovers considering the abundance of rare flora and fauna found here. The reserve is home to hundreds of species of grass, birds as well as mammals including elephants, tigers, and deer.
One of the most popular and best ways to explore the sanctuary is via a boat safari across the Periyar river. Elephants and bison are popularly spotted in the grassy meadows and if you are lucky you can also spot the elusive tigers! Avifauna like kingfishers, cormorants, storks, and egrets are also found in abundance. Apart from this, the tourism department organizes plenty of nature walks, treks and wildlife trails within the sanctuary. Gavi which is a part of the Periyar tiger reserve is yet another ecotourism spot that is fast gaining popularity. There are several tours and packages you can choose from in order to explore this part of the reserve that is relatively offbeat.
On a spice trail
The climate of Thekkady is conducive to the production of several aromatic spices like cardamom, nutmeg, mace, vanilla, and cloves. Some farms have cocoa trees too. There are several plantations in as well as on the way to Thekkady that offer detailed and guided tours into the world of nature’s flavoring and healing agents. Many spices have significant medicinal properties and some farms retail spices, herbal oils and ayurvedic balms that you can pick up at the end of your tour. The tours are truly educative as well as informative and offer interesting perspectives into the beauty of nature.
On a culture trip
Thekkady is an ideal place to witness performances of Kathakali and Kalaripayattu which have been long-standing symbols of Kerala’s culture and tradition. A form of classical dance, Kathakali is native to the state of Kerala and is characterized by the animated facial expressions and hand movements of the performer. The entire gamut of the artists’ costumes, makeup and headgear make it quite a fascinating sight and a novel experience.
Yet another attraction of Thekkady is a Kalaripayattu show. An ancient form of martial art that originated in the northern part of Kerala, Kalaripayattu is a display of sheer skill, talent, and power. A technique of self-defense, the craft needs a high level of discipline and dedication. The performance that is replete with awe-inspiring stunts involving fire, swords, and dangerous moves is indeed an exciting experience. You can also interact with the artists at the end of the show, pose with them and click a couple of customary pictures that you can take back as memorable souvenirs.
Unwind and relax
Derived from the words ‘Ayur’, which means ‘life’ and ‘Veda’, which means ‘Knowledge’, Kerala is the place to go if you want to indulge in authentic Ayurveda. Thekkady in the state is famous for Ayurvedic treatments whether it is preventive or curative. Use your holiday to rejuvenate. Their massage and therapies are a perfect way to unwind from the urban stress for they are effective detox techniques. Treatments like abhyangam, shirodhara and herbal steam baths are the perfect panacea for stressful minds and bodies.