Friday, February 25, 2011

Periyar

We've been up in the Western Ghats again this time outside Thekkady on the edge of the Periyar Tiger Reserve. It poured with rain as we were driving up so no views for us that day. The next morning Keith walked up to the ridge above the hotel that overlooks the reserve with a guide while I tried to catch up with some Renaissance reading. Frequent sightings of bison are made there but that morning the clouds parted and they looked down on Kumily instead. Keith got suckered by a leech, difficult to think they were used as medicinal purges not so long ago! But he was enthusiastic about the whole experience.



We went elephant riding in the afternoon. I had a beam on my face from the moment we clambered on from a high platform. It easy access really, I had visions of having to climb up its leg or worse hang on while it got up from a sitting position, but it was all very civilised. We ambled around a cardamon estate trying to get used to the strange gait and wondering how on earth Botham managed to cross the Alps on one!





In the evening we went to a performance of Kalaripayattu, the oldest of martial arts, at the Mudra Kalari Centre in Kumily. We were suitably impressed with the fast and furious acrobatics and weapon wielding displays of agility.

Day 2 saw us up at 5.00 am to be collected for a jeep safari in Periyar Tiger Reserve at 5.30. It was still dark when Bibindas picked us up and roared off into the night. I had not thought through what to wear properly so I froze in the open backed jeep until the sun came up! Actually it really was rather pleasant, I've been hot and sweaty for so long. We decided to avoid the Periyar Lake area which we had heard could be very busy so we opted to visit the northern end of the reserve with a smaller man made lake. Gavi is where the various treks and jeep jaunts start from, 23k in from the reserve perimeter. The whole reserve is roughly 700 sq ks and the authorities open only a small section for tourists, roughly 40 sq ks we think the guide said.



Our guide, Varghese, was a tiny, knowledgeable, energetic totally charming local man and he said elephants had been spotted nearby that morning so off we set. After one or two false starts there they were. Amazing. Just time to click, click, click before they ambled off and disappeared just like that. I cannot get my head round how something so large can just disappear as though it had put on Harry Potters invisible cloak. There are said to be about 1,000 wild elephants roaming around, due to the acreage we were quite lucky to spot them at all, at one point we could hear them crashing around and see the undergrowth moving about but absolutely no sign of them. There was no sign of the tigers either, the 40 or so that inhabit the reserve are further east deep in the jungle. We did see languers - monkeys with long tails, Giant Squirrels, hornbills, distant bison and samba deer in the utterley fabulous mountain scenery. Great day out, absolutely knackering though - the 5.30 start was a severe shock to the system!












Now we are back on the steaming hot coast at Aleppey, smack on the beach in a heritage hotel. Sunset, a G&T and supper is calling!

3 comments:

Philippa said...

Ooh lucky you!
Looks brilliant xx

axx said...

It is and yes we are lucky!

Its been a fab trip.

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