Between Trivandrum and Munnar is Thekkady, the home of one of India's oldest and best-known wildlife sanctuaries. The former princely state of Travancore began to develop the area as a sanctuary in 1934, using the artificial lake that had been formed by flooding in 1895 as its center. By 1950 the sanctuary had reached its present size of 780 square kilometers and was named the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary.
The sanctuary is in fact closer to madurai in Tamil Nadu, 140 kilometers to the east via an extremely attractive road, and Cochin, 200 kilometers to the west. The vast calmness of the lake and the stark, skeletal remains of the trees that protrude from its waters give the area a primeval look. This impression is heightened by the mists that swirl ethereally over the water in the early morning.
The wildlife remains largely undisturbed by visitors who must observe it from special boats which glide across the surface of the lake. although the stars of the sanctuary are the families of wild elephants that often gather near the water's edge, other inhabitants include bears, sambhar, bison and spotted deer, as well as many screeching monkeys. The sanctuary was one of the first to come under the centeral goverment's successful Project Tiger. The birdlife is rich and varied and Periyar attracts dedicated bird- watching enthusiasts.