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Tourism India Treehouse Hotel

A Walk on the Wild Side
Marianne de Nazareth
at Vythiri

We needed a break and the brochures of Vythiri resort in Wyanad district of North Kerala beckoned inexorably. Set on 30 acres of land the jungle retreat is an escape in to the lush forests of Kerala. So catching a comfortable Volvo bus from the city, the trip is a comfortable overnight ride. "Get off at the Vythiri police station," Roy Chacko the marketing manager of Vythiri resorts had instructed us,. "then our jeep will collect you and bring you to the resort."

It was still dawns half light when we arrived at the police station and a jeep aptly named "Thrill" collected us as promised. Bouncing around on the stony winding track leading to the resort, the headlights picked out rows of coffee bushes and pepper vines. These were the western ghats we were climbing into and Vythiri at 2500 feet remains unspoilt and unchanged. Being the gateway to the Wyanad district Vythiri is second only to Cherapunjee in its recorded rainfall and that’s why its streams never run dry.

From our rustic looking cottage we could see a crystal clear stream. Infact when we arrived that was the only sound in the resort- of the water gushing over the boulders in the bed of the stream. When the sun rose the view was breathless, unspoilt, panoramic nature. The hills rising up in the distance were thickly forested and the lower reaches covered with pepper, coffee and tea estates. The mist wrapped lush forests held a variety of flora and fauna and we were told that the occasional leopard, deer, elephant, wild boar and monkeys put in an appearance.

Just outside the resort is a beautiful little waterfall enclosed with tall shoulders of wild cardamom. The waters rush over the edge in a frothing foaming mass making an awesome sight. Only true nature lovers can enjoy the pleasures of Vythiri. Take off your socks and shoes and paddle in the icy cold waters of the stream. The scented tree cover overhead and the silence of the place is protectively enveloping and soothing all at once.
The cottages are simply furnished with basic necessities. No TV, no fridge, but hot water is available for showers and each cottage is large and airy and overlooks the babbling brook. A beautifully clean swimming pool which thankfully is not the typical funny shaped resort pool, is open to those who would like to work off the excesses of the restaurant.

The fun part of Vythiri is the spectacularly long rope bridge stretching over the stream that swayed alarmingly as we crossed to go to the restaurant or the pool. However try walking in step then the sway is even and heart stoppingly a great experience!

Birds flitted everywhere along with jewel coloured butterflies and dragonflies among the greenery. We breathed in great lungs full of air which had the crisp ferny scent of the hills.

One morning after a breakfast of appam and stew the young and very clued in resort manager Roy Chacko asked if we had heard the Malabar whistling thrush. Hen he recounted the hilarious incident of a young groom who was very annoyed thinking someone was whistling at his new bride and only backed off when he was shown the bird by the manager!

In the night a big bonfire was lit while we sat around under the bright stars eating dinner. Apparently lots of legends abound and one was of the ‘chain tree’. Apparently the Brits were always on the look out for hill stations. Once an Englishman heard about the area he got hold of a local to show him the route over the hills. Then he chained the hapless soul to a tree and poured molten gold down his throat to silence him forever. So the ghost of the man haunts the tree till a local priest chained the tree and silenced it forever. "These are the kind of stories our visitors enjoy and I tell them around five times everyday," says Roy wryly.
Today the resort also offers ayurvedic spa treatments only with prior booking.

Getting there: From Bangalore take the overnight bus and the jeep from the resort will meet you once reservations are made.
Reservation Office:
34/2336A, dwaraka
kannayath road, mamangalam,
palarivattom, kochi-682025
ph: 0484 – 4055250
fax: 0484- 4055253
mob: 09388555250

© Marianne de Nazareth March 2007

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