The Periyar Tiger Reserve is home to many tribal communities including the Mannans and the Palians. A visit to the Reserve provides visitors with the unique opportunity to visit these tribal communities. The Tribal Heritage Programme organized as part of the ecotourism programme provides an insight into the lives of these communities.
As part of the two-hour programme, a trip is organized to the tribal hamlets and the Tribal Heritage Museum.
The programme involves a walk through a nature trail to enter a tribal settlement inside the dense forest. The walk through the thick forest with its criss-crossing brooks and the chirping of the birds in the background is a fantastic experience. The tribal folk live in grey-thatched houses like the ones they have lived in for centuries. Though their lives are full of challenges, they are a peaceful people who live in harmony with Nature. The programme provides the unique opportunity of a close interaction with a tribal community.
Involvement of tribal communities in the programme
The Mannan community is the oldest community of aborigines in the Periyar Tiger Reserve area. Until the first half of the 20th century, they were involved in only two main occupations - fishing and cultivating a few basic crops in the remotest areas of the forest. With the spread of tourism, many have now become guides who lead tourists through the dense forests and to tribal settlements.
Tribal Heritage Museum
The Tribal Heritage Museum, set up by the government tourism authorities inside the Mannan settlement, is well worth a visit. The museum provides a glimpse into the history of the tribal community here that includes artifacts from earlier times. It provides a peep into the community’s original culture and lifestyle.
Traditional fishing gear and hunting equipment which were used by the tribal community for generations, specimens of indigenous plants as well as various artefacts related to traditional agricultural practices, marriage and death ceremonies, cultural events and rituals are also on display. Apart from these, there are costumes, household articles, vessels, bamboo furniture and musical instruments.
The tour organized as part of the Tribal Heritage Programme can be taken everyday in the morning and evening - from 8 am to 12 noon and 2 pm to 4 pm. The visitors are taken on the nature trail in groups by a tribal guide. The trekkers are advised to wear light clothes of cotton and to carry drinking water.
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