Travelogue: Thekkady/Periyar

Those of you who know me well enough, or who follow my blog/Instagram/Facebook since some time now; must be aware about my incessant love for travel.
I traveled quite a bit last year, and even though I planned to document all my travelogues here, I could get the time and enthusiasm to only post about the awesome food places I discovered in Goa; my laziness having the best of me when I wanted to write about my experiences in Hampi or Kanyakumari! #facepalm

So, when I ended the year with a Christmas weekend getaway to the beautiful hill station in Thekkady, Kerala; I made a silent resolution to write about it on the blog. And here I am, trying to fulfill at least one resolution of 2018! ;)

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Thekkady is a pretty, laidback and not very well-known hill-station in God's Own Country, Kerala, and is actually popular for its national park which is better known as Periyar. The Periyar wildlife sanctuary also has a beautiful lake which is the main attraction of the hill station, after the forest. It's a great place to spend a weekend - specially an extended one - as 2-3 days is enough to enjoy whatever the destination has to offer.

Unfortunately, since we visited on the long weekend during Christmas, every place was super-crowded and we actually didn't feel the urge to stand in hour-long queues for the bus that takes tourists into the forest and lake area.
So, we majorly chilled at our homestay, took an early-morning jeer safari to the various viewpoints around the periphery of the forest and indulged in enjoying some of the cultural activities that have their roots in Kerala.

I thought of making it an easy and quick read for you guys by listing a few Dos and Don'ts that you can refer to, while planning a trip to Thekkady/Periyar.
It's not an exhaustive list and the opinions expressed are entirely my own, I don't claim professional expertise in these statements.But, I'm speaking from the experience of a traveler, and I'm sure other travelers out there might find it useful to have some real advice in hand before taking the trip! :)

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The meandering Periyar river

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Day 1 outfit - Tunic: Global Desi | Denim: Lifestyle | Backpack: c/o Limeroad | Shades: H&M | Slip-ons: Max

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Pepper plant in our hotel garden

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Day 1 - from where I stand

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A local handmade bamboo raft on the Periyar river

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Out walking on Day 1 

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Flower-spotting around Thekkady


  • Do check the weather before heading to Thekkady. Even though it's a hill station, it's not necessarily as cold as you would expect. We went during peak winter season (Christmas time), the average temperature during the day was 20-21°C which was pretty on the warmer side. Temperatures did drop a bit during the night and early in the morning, so light sweaters or jackets sufficed.
  • Do book your tickets for the bus to the lake or the forest safari or nature walk only from the Govt. offices around the town centre. The prices are fixed and the service is pretty efficient. If you book from private travel agents, then they might charge higher fees and you might not even be aware of it.
  • Do check out the various local shops selling spices and handmade chocolates. The spices are all cultivated in that area, and black pepper, cardamoms, cinnamon and some essential oils are popular picks you can take home. The handmade chocolates are super-yummy and come in a wide variety - from fruit & nut to white chocolates to mint-flavored ones.
  • Do indulge in a lazy afternoon of boating on the lake, if you have the time & inclination. The lake is quite picturesque and you can have a gorgeous view of the surrounding forests and hills from while you enjoy some time on the boat.
  • The nature walk conducted inside the forest is said to be pretty interesting (though we didn't go for it because of too much crowd that weekend), but the chance of spotting animals will depend solely on your luck. Elephants, bisons and deer are still said to be spotted most of the time.
  • Please do take out an evening or two to witness some cultural performances that are famous  in the region. There are cultural academies that house shows of dance form Kathakali and martial arts form Kalaripayattu - tickets are for around 200-250/- bucks per head and are available with most travel agents or even at your hotel/resort/homestay. Sometimes, if you are booking a nature walk or jeep safari trip with an agent, they might offer you tickets for these cultural programs for as low as 150/-.
  • If you are opting for the jeep safari that takes you around the periphery of the jungle and makes pit-stops at strategic viewpoints, make sure you set off early morning - no later than 7-7.30 am. That time, there are not too many people or vehicles around, so chances are that you might spot an animal or two somewhere along the route. Also, the early morning chill and nip in the air adds to the atmosphere created by the picturesque views from the hilltops. 
  • Do visit hotel Thekkady Cafe if you are looking for an authentic Kerala meal. This place is not very fancy, but the ambience is typical, local style and the food is quite tasty at reasonable prices. You'll be assured when you see the rush and crowd at the place during lunch or dinner. 

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Picturesque view from one of the viewpoints

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The hills making a perfect backdrop

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Reflection on the Periyar river

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Day 2 morning outfit - Sweater: Allen Solly | Scarf: Kolkata | Beanie: Forever 21 

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Just need a place to pose!

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Day 2 afternoon outfit - Trench coat: Forever 21 | Floral printed tee: United Colors of Benetton

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Exploring the various photo ops all over Hotel Ambadi
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50 shades of green

  • After my experience, I would advise you to avoid planning this trip during any big holiday time. That is because the crowd makes the whole experience less enjoyable. Also, you might want to avoid the super-long queues at ticket counters or vehicle boarding points.
  • Don't rely only on your hotel to arrange for jeep safaris or other sightseeing activities. Take a short walk around and pop in at the various travel agents' offices dotting the town to compare prices. Then go for the one who's giving the best rates - it will any day be lesser than what your hotel will charge.
  • Don't carry too many warm clothes, even if you are visiting in winter. Check the weather beforehand (Google to the rescue) and carry some light sweaters or jackets only for the night-time or early morning outings.
  • Don't miss out on taking lazy strolls and long walks through the hilly roads....stop at souvenir shops or quaint hillside cafes, smell the wild flowers, breathe in the mountain air. That's when you get the real essence of a place.
  • Even if you are a lover of silver jewellery or Tibetan artefacts, try to steer clear of the many Tibetan shops you'll come across in the town. I have no prejudice against them, but as per my knowledge, the products they sell are not native or local, they are taken from the North-Eastern part of the country to be sold in the Southern state, so of course, the prices are higher than they should be. There is also no guarantee of the authenticity of the products, so there's a high chance that you'll not get your money's worth. So, don't be tempted by the appealing window displays of alluring silver jewellery; and go for the spice shops or chocolate stores instead.

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Ring of fire through which the Kalaripayattu performers jumped with effortless ease

Kalaripayattu performance - mesmerizing

Kalaripayattu - one of the oldest martial arts forms in the world

That, more or less, sums up my experience at this Kerala hill town. I am sad about the fact that we couldn't attempt a journey into the forest, thanks to the Christmas crowd, but that just might give me another excuse to visit Thekkady again!

You'll get numerous hotel/resort/homestay options in Tripadvisor or MakeMyTrip, but I would personally like to recommend Hotel Ambadi, which is a beautiful property with quaint villas, greenery and a restaurant that serves tasty food. This is not a sponsored post, so please take this as my genuine recommendation, based on experience. Hotel Ambadi boasts both a picturesque courtyard as well as art-y interiors that are done up in wood and give off rustic & earthy vibes.

You can shoot me any questions or queries in the comments if you plan a trip to Thekkady ever and I'll try to answer them to the best of my abilities. 
So, put this place on that 2018 bucket list and make sure you tick it off some time this year! Let me know how you liked it!!