Thekkady Destination Guide

Thekkady is known for the Cardamom Hills of Kerala and the Periyar National Park which is one among the 26 tiger reserves in India. The cardamom hills of Kerala have an elevation ranging from 1300 to 1500 meters. The temperature ranges from 25 to 35 degrees considering both winter and summer. Cardamom, coffee, Pepper and other spice plantations are common here. Thekkady is known to be the highest production centers of cardamom in India, which was earlier identified as a wild plant in the forest of Periyar. The Western Ghats of South West India is home to some of the most exotic and indigenous flora and fauna, and Periyar National Park and its forest is home to most of them. The forest is spread over 305 square kilometers and has a dam reservoir of 26 square kilometers sprawling between the forest regions. The National Park forms a natural habitat for Wild Boar, Indian Guar, Sambar deer, Tigers, Dhole, Barking Deer, Otters and a wide range of birds including the Great Indian Hornbill and many aquatic birds.

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Some Quick Facts

  • Thekkady can also be identified as Kumily which is just 3 kilometers away. Thekkady is known for the National Park and Kimily is known to be a high range town center.

  • People here generally speak Malayalam & Tamil. English is widely understood.

  • Banks and ATMs are available only at Kumily. Currency exchange in available in most hotels, banks and financial agencies.

  • Public transport includes buses, auto rickshaws, cabs, and Jeeps.

  • Thekkady has good connectivity from other destinations like Madurai, Munnar, Cochin, Kottayam (Kumarakom) and Alleppey (Changanassery).

  • Average temperature ranges from 25 to 35 °C, however, certain areas record a very low temperature during winter.

  • There are no bars in Thekkady

  • There are a few elephant parks, that organize rides, and other elephant based activities.

  • Spice shops and plantation tours are quite common in Thekkady.

Location and how to reach Thekkady

Distance to Munnar town from Nearby destinations

Cochin (Ernakulam) - 160 (4 hours approx.)

Munnar - 110 Kilometers 

Madurai - 140 Kilometers 

Kottayam - 100 Kilometers

Nearest Airport

The nearest Airport to Thekkady the Madurai Airport, however since most travelers come to Thekkady either from Cochin or Munnar as the tourist circuit they have opted, in the case most travelers land at Cochin International Airport. Better flight connectivity for Cochin International Airport is also a factor that decides this. 

Nearest Railway Stations

Kottayam Railway station is the nearest one. Kottayam is the city of letters and is the district headquarters of the Kottayam district. The most connected city for Thekkady is Kottayam and the Kottayam - Kumily road is a historical trade route connecting Madurai. Madurai also has a railway station to connect to Thekkady / Kumily, probably anyone coming from the eastern side could use Madurai railway station to reach Thekkady.

 

Click for Indian railway schedules and trains between stationsClick to Reserve rain tickets in Indian Railways (you need to register on the website to book tickets)

Bus Station and Bus connectivity

Kumily has a bus station that has short and long route buses to most remote places in the high-range within the state of Kerala. There are buses connecting to Kattapana, Munnar, Adimaly, Kottayam (Kumarakom), Changanassery (Alleppey), Cochin and Aluva (nearest town to Cochin International Airport). However, if you need to go to Madurai you will have to go to the Kerala state border, which is very close by (walkable distance from Kumily bus station). All the buses to Madurai or other cities in Tamil Nadu,  both state-run and privately operated buses would be parked there.

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Public Transport

Buses are the most cost-effective mode of transportation and the route networks are elaborate and you can literally go to any town in the high-ranges connecting via buses.

 

Jeeps, cabs, and autorickshaws are the second most commonly used mode of transport. The Kumily has Jeep/ taxi/auto rickshaw parking spaces from where you can hire one. If you are staying somewhere the hotel could arrange for the same. 

 

More than cabs, Jeeps are commonly found in Kumily. Being a high range countryside plantation town center, Jeeps have the capacity to carry both people as well as some cargo. Cabs are mostly used for long distances or to Munnar/ Madurai / Kottayam or the Airport. Self-drive cars are not available in Kumily, the roads are winding ones and so keep yourself prepared if you have motion sickness.

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Places of Interest

The Cardamom Hills of Thekkady has a lot to offer for adventure lover in you. Most of the programs and experiential activities are based on spices and the Periyar National Park.

  1. Unlike Munnar, Thekkady is very much an activity-oriented place in the Western Ghats of Kerala. The Periyar National Park offers some of the most distinct forest-oriented activities like that of Green Walk, Nature Walk, Bamboo rafting, Tiger Trails. These are half day and full day activities organized by the National Park office and the forest department of Kerala. Most of these activities at the Periyar National Park could be booked online.

  2. Boating at Lake Periyar which the most common and attended activities at the National park could also be booked and paid online - Boating tickets at Periyar National Park. Different timings for boating are 0730, 0930, 1115, 1345 and 1530 hours. If you are booking online, a copy of the ticket or on your phone has to be shown to the park office, and an extra ticket for the bus shuttle service has to be taken there. There are bus shuttles to the boat landing point are available during periodical intervals from the parking area. Having said the above, be cautious to book the tickets very much in advance as per your travel plans. During season most tickets sold out very much in advance. Making it to the last minute can tend to be more expensive.

  3. The Connemara tea factory, located 15 kilometers towards Kottayam offers tea factory visits. Not far from the factory towards the Vallakadavu direction is a honeybee farm where you can learn an experience natural honey making process.

  4. Jeep drivers in Kumily organize off-road Jeep tours to beautiful forest tracks towards Vallakadavu and Satram. These are private, and there is every chance of sighting wildlife during the course of the ride. They are full-day programs that start from morning and end by evening.

  5. Chellarkovil is small hamlet located 13 kilometers towards Munnar direction. From here one could have a beautiful view of the Valley of lower camp, Cumbam, and Theni of Tamil Nadu. The eco-tourism center at Chellarkovil has a watchtower.

  6. Spice Plantation tours are organized at different centers in and around Thekkady. It is not just cardamom and pepper, these tours are oriented to show you around many more interesting spices like cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, chili, and a lot more. There are small spice shopping centers within these centers.

  7. Elephant camps are little places where domesticated elephants are stationed for Elephant rides, and other activities related to Elephants like bathing, feeding, timber logging etc.

  8. Cardamom from farm to market is an exclusive program organized by Green Earth Trails, where you would be taken to a cardamom plantation, explain about the plant and the fruit, its seasons and harvesting and later move to a cardamom store which is dried using a 24 hour method and later take you to a cardamom auction center, where the crop is auctioned and transported to different commercial centers.

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Food and Restaurants

Thekkady does not have many stand-alone restaurants. The very few stand-alone restaurants might change from season to season. Kumily has a few local restaurants that serve mostly local cuisines both vegetarian, non-vegetarian and some North Indian cuisines.

 

Most of the restaurants in Thekkady / Kumily are part of hotels. Just that they have an extra door for the public. Some of the known restaurant there are the Ambady Hotel, Thekkady Cafe and Kuttanadu Restaurant. If you are looking for some North Indian food, try out Sree Krishna Marwadi Gujarati Restaurant. Bar-B-Que is one interesting place where they organize cooking demonstrations with lunch or dinner.

 

Apart from these, there is a Pizza Max that serves pizzas. The best idea is to rely on the TripAdvisor page for the restaurant list, be cautious as most of the restaurants close and reopen in different names over the due course of time.
 

Bamboo ratting at periyar - Green earth

Travel Tips

  1. Thekkady is known to for its wildlife, so if you are planning to stay around with the activities of the National Park, we suggest to book your accommodation either in Kumily or Thekkady.

  2. For Offbeat experiences, we suggest staying at places away from the town center, within cardamom plantations or forest locations.

  3. Thekkady and Kumily are just 3 kilometers away.

  4. Private vehicles are not permitted inside the Periyar National Park, all the vehicles have to be parked at the Parking slots at Thekkady. Bus shuttles are organized by the forest department at periodical intervals.

  5. You can find frequent buses to Kottayam from Kumily.

  6. Good restaurants are limited in Kumily and Thekkady.

  7. There are no Bars in Thekkady, however, there are state-run liquor outlets in Kumily.

  8. Ayurveda Massage centers operate in Thekkady. Try to avoid intermediaries while booking massage slots.

  9. Not every hotel might have air conditioning in-room in Thekkady.

  10. There are local theatres that organize Kalaripayattu show and Kathakali dance performances in Thekkady. Like the one called Mudra on route from Kumily to Thekkady.

  11. While returning from boating try to get back to the buses a bit early otherwise you might have to stand while returning to the parking area.

  12. Auto rickshaws are the most common mode of transport. Jeeps and cabs are available in the town and nearby town centers.

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Shopping

The first thing that comes to anyone's mind about shopping in Thekkady would be that of spices, especially cardamom and Pepper. One could find many spice shops that sell farm fresh cardamom, mostly the bigger 8 mm ones.

 

Being a tourist destination, one could find a lot of souvenirs shops as well in Thekkady.​​