Sightseeing cruise passing dead tree on lake at Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in early morning.

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Periyar Tiger Reserve

Top choice in Periyar Tiger Reserve

Bison, sambar, wild boar, langur, around 2000 elephants and 35 to 40 tigers wander the lushly green hills of South India’s most popular wildlife reserve, which takes in 777 sq km of glorious Western Ghats country, including a 26-sq-km artificial lake created by the British in 1895. Established as a sanctuary in 1934, Periyar was declared Kerala's first tiger reserve in 1978. All reserve access is through Kumily's Ecotourism Centre. The best months for wildlife-spotting are December to April.

While the much-loved lake cruise here doesn't scream 'wildlife experience', other activities, such as treks led by tribal villagers, give you a real feel of the reserve's raw natural beauty and make for a rewarding visit. Bring warm, waterproof clothing.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Periyar Tiger Reserve attractions

2. Nature Interpretation Centre

2.09 MILES

Next to the reserve bus-shuttle car park, on the southwest edge of town, this small interpretation museum runs through the wildlife and geography of South…

6. Highrange Spice Garden

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Around 4km west of Kumily, 4-hecare Highrange is awash with lush organic gardens where you can see spices, ayurvedic herbs and vegetables growing. It's…

7. Abraham’s Spice Garden

3.35 MILES

Insightful one-hour tours weave through perfumed spice gardens at this friendly, organic 12-hectare family farm, 3km west of Kumily, in operation since…

8. Connemara Tea Factory

4.11 MILES

About 14km southwest of Kumily, this four-decade-old working tea factory and plantation offers one-hour guided tours of the tea-making process and tea…