Thursday, June 8, 2023

Periyar National Park

Periyar National Park UPSC

Periyar National Park, also known as Periyar Tiger Reserve, is a renowned national park and wildlife sanctuary located in the Western Ghats of Kerala, India. It is notable as an elephant reserve and a tiger reserve. The park is named after the Periyar River that flows through the park.

Established in 1982, Periyar National Park is recognized for its rich biodiversity and diverse ecosystems. It is famous for its significant population of Indian elephants, which are a major attraction for visitors. 

One of the unique features of Periyar National Park is the Periyar Lake, which was formed as a result of the Mullaperiyar Dam constructed across the Periyar River. 

Table of Contents

  • Periyar National Park Location
  • Periyar National Park History
  • Periyar National Park Area
  • Periyar National Park Hills
    • Cardamom Hills
    • Pandalam Hills
  • Periyar National Park River
    • Periyar River
    • Pamba River
  • Periyar National Park Lake
    • Periyar Lake
  • Periyar National Park Flora
    • Evergreen Forests
    • Moist Deciduous Forests
    • Grasslands
  • Periyar National Park Fauna
    • Mammals
    • Birds
    • Reptiles
    • Amphibians
    • Fish
  • Top Things to do in Periyar National Park
  • Periyar National Park UPSC Questions

Periyar National Park Location

Periyar National Park is located in the districts of Idukki and Pathanamthitta in Kerala, India. It is situated in the Cardamom Hills and Pandalam Hills of the Western Ghats, in the southern part of the state along the border with Tamil Nadu. 

The park is located near Thekkady, a popular tourist destination in Kerala. 

Periyar National Park Nearest Airport:

The nearest airports to Periyar National Park are Madurai Airport in Tamil Nadu at 140 km and Cochin International Airport at 157 km.

Periyar National Park Nearest Railway Station:

Kottayam Railway Station is the nearest railway station to reach Periyar National Park. It is located at a distance of around 114 km.

Periyar National Park History

The history of Periyar National Park is closely intertwined with the conservation efforts and the need to protect the wildlife and natural resources of the region.

Hunting Area: The reserve served as a hunting area for the Royalty during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Creation of Periyar Lake: In 1895, the Mullaperiyar Dam was constructed across the Periyar River to provide irrigation water to the neighboring regions. This led to the formation of the Periyar Lake, which eventually became an integral part of the sanctuary.

Periyar Lake Reserve: By 1899, the areas surrounding Periyar Lake had been designated as forest reserves and given the name Periyar Lake Reserve. This was done to put an end to animal hunting and tea plantation cutting.

Formation of Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary: In 1934, the Maharaja of Travancore granted protection to an area of approximately 777 square kilometers (300 square miles), which later became the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. This step was taken to safeguard the Periyar River and the surrounding forests. It was founded as Nellikkampatty Reserve and consolidated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1950 after the political integration of India.

Tiger Reserve Status: In 1978, the sanctuary was declared a tiger reserve under the Project Tiger initiative, which aimed to protect the endangered Bengal tiger. The Periyar Tiger Reserve was formed, and it became a crucial habitat for tigers in South India.

Upgrade to National Park: In 1982, the Government of India declared the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary as Periyar National Park. This upgrade aimed to strengthen the conservation efforts and protect the region's rich biodiversity.

Project Elephant: In1992, the ambitious Project Elephant was launched by the Central Ministry of Environment and Forests, with Periyar National Park serving as the launch pad.

Periyar National Park Area

Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area covers an approximate area of 925 square kilometers (357 square miles), of which 305 km2 (118 sq mi) of the core zone was declared as the Periyar National Park in 1982.

It is one of the largest and most significant protected areas in the state of Kerala, India. The park encompasses diverse ecosystems, including dense evergreen and semi-evergreen forests, moist deciduous forests, and grasslands. 

The expansive area of the Periyar National Park provides habitat for a wide range of flora and fauna, making it an important biodiversity hotspot in the Western Ghats region.

Periyar National Park Hills

Periyar National Park is situated in the Cardamom Hills and Pandalam Hills of the Western Ghats. The park is nestled within the hilly terrain, which adds to its scenic beauty and ecological significance. 

(1) Cardamom Hills:

The Cardamom Hills, also known as the or Yela Mala, are a mountain range located in the southern part of the Western Ghats in Idukki district, Kerala, India. These hills are named after the cardamom spice, which is extensively grown in the region. The Cardamom Hills extend across parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, forming a natural border between the two states.

The Cardamom Hills are known for their scenic beauty, lush greenery, and high levels of rainfall. The elevation of these hills ranges from approximately 300–2,700 metres (980–8,860 ft) above sea level. The hill range is characterized by dense evergreen and moist deciduous forests, interspersed with plantations of tea, coffee, and spices like cardamom, pepper, and cinnamon.

Apart from their natural beauty, the Cardamom Hills are also significant for their ecological importance. They serve as an important wildlife corridor, providing a habitat for numerous plant and animal species, including elephants, tigers, leopards, gaur (Indian bison), and various bird species.

(2) Pandalam Hills:

Pandalam Hills, also known as the Pandalam-Mallapuzhassery Hills, are a range of hills located in the southern part of the Western Ghats in Kerala, India. These hills are situated in the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala and are known for their natural beauty and ecological significance.

The Pandalam Hills are characterized by undulating terrain, with elevations ranging from approximately 500 to 1,100 meters (1,600 to 3,600 feet) above sea level. The hills are covered with dense forests, consisting of evergreen and semi-evergreen vegetation, along with patches of grasslands and plantations.

Periyar National Park River

The Periyar National Park is bisected by two major rivers, the Periyar and the Pamba, which aid in the survival of the region's flora and fauna.

(1) Periyar River:

Periyar National Park is named after the Periyar River, which flows through the park and plays a crucial role in shaping its ecosystem. The Periyar River is a major water source for the region and is a lifeline for both wildlife and local communities.

The river originates in the Sivagiri Hills of the Western Ghats and flows through the scenic landscape of Periyar National Park. It traverses a distance of approximately 244 kilometers (152 miles) before finally joining the Arabian Sea in Kerala. The river has been named the "Lifeline of Kerala".

The Periyar River serves as a watering hole for wildlife in the park, attracting various animals to its banks. Animals, including elephants, deer, and wild boars, can often be seen quenching their thirst or bathing in the river.

In addition to its importance for wildlife, the Periyar River also plays a vital role in the socio-economic aspect of the region. It provides water for irrigation, hydroelectric power generation, and drinking purposes to nearby communities. The construction of the Mullaperiyar Dam across the Periyar River has resulted in the formation of the Periyar Lake, which is a prominent feature within the national park and a popular tourist attraction.

Its tributaries are:

  • Muthirapuzha River
  • Mullayar River
  • Cheruthoni River
  • Perinjankutti River
  • Edamala River
  • Muthayar River
  • Perunthuraiar River
  • Chinnar River
  • Cheruthony River
  • Kattappanayar River

(2) Pamba River:

The Pamba River (also called Pampa River) is the longest river in the Kerala after Periyar and Bharathappuzha. It is a significant river in the region, both culturally and ecologically. The Pamba River originates at Pulachimalai hill in the Peerumedu plateau in the Western Ghats at an altitude of 1,650 metres (5,410 ft). Starting from the Idukki district of Kerala.

The Pamba River is of great religious and cultural importance as it is associated with the Sabarimala pilgrimage, one of the largest annual pilgrimages in India. Every year, millions of devotees visit the Sabarimala temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, located on the banks of the Pamba River. Pilgrims take a dip in the river before proceeding to the temple for worship.

The Pamba River is also known as 'Dakshina Bhageerathi'. During ancient times it was called 'River Baris' and jordan of malankara.

The Pamba River serves as a source of water for irrigation, supporting agricultural activities in the region. It also plays a vital role in the hydroelectric power generation and water supply for nearby towns and villages.

Tributaries of Pamba River:

  • Azhuthayar
  • Kakkiyar
  • Kakkattar
  • Kallar
  • Aadhi Pamba
  • Varattar
  • Kuttemperoor
  • Utharappalliyar
  • Kolarayar
  • Njunungar
  • Madatharuvi
  • Kozhithodu
  • Thanungattilthodu

Periyar National Park Lake

Periyar Lake:

Periyar National Park is home to the Periyar Lake, which is a prominent feature within the park. The lake is an artificial reservoir created by the construction of the Mullaperiyar Dam across the Periyar River. It spans over an area of around 26 square kilometers (10 square miles) and serves as a vital water source for the surrounding wildlife and local communities.

The Periyar Lake is known for its scenic beauty, with the surrounding hills and forests providing a picturesque backdrop. The tranquil waters of the lake attract a variety of wildlife, including elephants, deer, wild boars, and numerous bird species, making it a popular spot for wildlife viewing.

Boat safaris are a popular activity on the Periyar Lake, allowing visitors to explore the park's rich biodiversity and enjoy the serene surroundings. During these boat safaris, visitors have the opportunity to spot wildlife along the banks of the lake and immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Periyar National Park.

Periyar National Park Flora

Periyar National Park is renowned for its rich and diverse flora, with a wide range of plant species thriving within its boundaries. The park's vegetation can be broadly classified into three main types: evergreen forests, moist deciduous forests, and grasslands.

(1) Evergreen Forests:

These forests are characterized by dense foliage and a continuous green cover throughout the year. They are dominated by tall, evergreen trees that provide a dense canopy. Some of the prominent tree species found in the evergreen forests of Periyar National Park include teak, rosewood, ebony, jackfruit, and many species of fig trees. The undergrowth is rich with ferns, orchids, mosses, and other epiphytic plants that thrive in the moist and shaded conditions.

(2) Moist Deciduous Forests:

These forests experience a distinct dry season when trees shed their leaves. The moist deciduous forests of Periyar National Park consist of a mix of broadleaf trees, which shed their leaves during the dry season and regain foliage during the wet season. Common tree species in these forests include teak, sal, sandalwood, and silver oak. The understory is adorned with shrubs, grasses, and climbers.

(3) Grasslands:

Periyar National Park also has patches of grasslands, which are interspersed within the forested areas. These grasslands provide an important grazing habitat for various herbivores. They are home to grass species such as elephant grass and bamboo grass.

Periyar National Park Fauna (Periyar National Park Animals)

Which animal is protected in Periyar National Park?/Which animals are found in Periyar National Park?

Periyar National Park is renowned for its diverse and abundant wildlife, with a wide range of animal species thriving within its protected boundaries. The park's diverse ecosystems, including its forests, grasslands, and water bodies, support a rich variety of fauna. 

Here are some notable animal species found in Periyar National Park:


  • Bengal Tigers 
  • Asian Elephant
  • Gaur
  • Sambar
  • Wild Pig
  • Indian Giant Squirrel
  • Travancore Flying Squirrel
  • Jungle Cat
  • Dhole
  • Sloth Bear
  • Nilgiri Tahr
  • Lion-tailed Macaque
  • Nilgiri Langur
  • Salim Ali's Fruit Bat
  • Stripe-necked Mongoose
  • Nilgiri Marten


  • Malabar Grey Hornbill
  • Nilgiri Wood Pigeon
  • blue-winged parakeet
  • Nilgiri Flycatcher
  • Crimson-backed Sunbird
  • White-bellied Redstart
  • Black-necked Stork
  • Eurasian Woodcock
  • Steppe Gull 
  • Grey-necked Bunting 
  • Paddyfield Warbler


  • King Cobra
  • Malabar Pit Viper
  • Striped Coral Snake


  • Malabar Gliding Frog
  • Asian Toad
  • Fungoid Frog
  • Bicolored Frog


  • Periyar Trout
  • Periyar Latia
  • Periyar Barb
  • Channa Barb
  • Travancore Loach

Top Things to do in Periyar National Park (Periyar National Park Activities/What to do in Periyar National Park)

Periyar National Park offers a range of activities and experiences that allow visitors to immerse themselves in its natural beauty and encounter its diverse wildlife. Here are some of the top things to do in Periyar National Park:

  • Wildlife Safari
  • Bamboo Rafting
  • Nature Walks and Trekking
  • Visit Tribal Villages
  • Spice Plantation Tours
  • Attend Kathakali Performance
  • Boating and Birdwatching
  • Visit the Interpretation Center

Periyar National Park UPSC Questions

Q. Why is Periyar National Park famous for?/What is Periyar National Park famous for?

A. Periyar National Park is famous for several reasons, making it a popular destination for nature lovers, wildlife enthusiasts, and eco-tourists. Here are some of the reasons why Periyar National Park is renowned:

  • Wildlife Diversity
  • Periyar Lake
  • Conservation Efforts
  • Scenic Landscapes
  • Cultural Heritage
  • Sustainable Tourism Practices

Q. In which Biosphere Reserve is Periyar National Park?

A. Periyar National Park is located within the Western Ghats, which is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The specific Biosphere Reserve that encompasses Periyar National Park is called the "Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve." The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is spread across the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka in southern India, and it includes several protected areas, including Periyar National Park.

Q. Who established Periyar National Park?

A. Periyar National Park, originally known as Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, was established by the Government of Kerala in 1950. 

Q. Periyar National Park is famous for which animal?

A. Periyar National Park is famous for its population of Asian elephants. The park is known for its successful conservation efforts in protecting and conserving these magnificent creatures. 

Q. Where is the Periyar National Park located?/ Periyar National Park is located in which state/Periyar National Park in which district?

A. Periyar National Park is located in the districts of Idukki and Pathanamthitta in Kerala, India. 

Q. How many tigers in Periyar National Park?

A. Around 40 tigers are there in Periyar National Park.

Q. Periyar National Park loacted which mountain range?

A. Periyar National Park is situated in the Cardamom Hills and Pandalam Hills of the Western Ghats.

Periyar National Park

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