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Wildlife of the Western Ghats

Kumily Travel Blog

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Marching for Shiva

Inland, up the hills of the Western Ghats, to Kumily, to visit the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. As the road climbed, we passed more grand houses/ mansions including the "Baron's Grove High End Luxury Villas". It was a holy day for Shiva, so we were stopped for a couple of processions. They were led by drummers and boys with gold tabards, dancing and balancing pots on their heads, and followed by men with huge contraptions decorated with paper flowers on their heads, twisting and turning. Then followed the men with wires through their cheeks. The women just walked.

Kumily is a pleasant hill town in a famous spice growing area. Good money is made from cardomom, pepper, nutmeg and coffee.

Periyar views
Mr Sebastian showed us round his natural spice garden with great enthusuasm and Sindhu around her village garden of ayurvedic plants. There are grand village houses, apparently built from the increasing price of cardomom. They wouldn't be out of place in a footballers' retreat - Alderley Edge, maybe.

The highlight of Kumily, though, was the visits to Periyar. Day 1, up at 5.00am, for a dawn start by jeep to a part of the park 40km away. Sambhar deer, malabar giant squirrels (huge), nilgiri langur monkeys, bison and all sorts of birds. At 9.00am, breakfast in the government resthouse, and then on foot - just 4 of us with a guide through beautiful countryside. The hills stretched as far as the eye could see. Eventually, back to the resthouse and the jeep ride home and back by 6.30pm.

Day 2, a 7.00am guided walk from the nearby Park gate. It seemed unpromising at first, with several groups of 7 or 8 people setting off at once. But the groups separated, and in a flatter landscape we saw more giant squirrels, monkeys, lots of birds, then a huge warthog, and finally a wild elephant, maybe 300 yards from us. We watched for a few minutes before the guide hurried us on as the elephant started in our direction. Just a great experience.

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Marching for Shiva
Marching for Shiva
Periyar views
Periyar views
Bison in Periyar
Bison in Periyar
Our first wild elephant
Our first wild elephant
The chai wallah on the way to Peri…
The chai wallah on the way to Per…
Mr Sebastian
Mr Sebastian
Sindhu and family
Sindhu and family
Down the western Ghats to Tamil Na…
Down the western Ghats to Tamil N…
Kumily
photo by: m_omshanti