Escape to Nature

CHITRA RAMASWAMY

“The tree houses can be accessed by wooden steps and also by an indigenous crane lift.”

The tiny droplets have gathered momentum to become a thin white veil as we enter Kerala’s picturesque Wayanad district from our earlier destination, the Nagarhole sanctuary. We head straight for Vythiri Resort, at the heart of the district, 2600 feet above sea level. Away from the dust, grime and din of urban existence to which we have become accustomed, Vythiri is not just a welcome change, but also a haven, an escape to the lap of nature.

We have hired a four wheel drive for the fortnight-long vacation trip that covers the Southern Indian places of Coorg (famous for its plantations), Nagarhole (which has a fantastic national park) and Vythiri in Wayanad. The vehicle trundles a good two miles on bumpy, slushy mud tracks, our approach to the resort area. In spite of being “soccered” around in the vehicle, we enjoy the jaunty ride, being transported, as we were, to what appeared undiscovered, pristine territory, an almost magical and romantic getaway. The surrounds flanking the mud tracks give us glimpses of the greater stuff to come.

The heady aroma of coffee, cardamom and vanilla waft through the atmosphere as we wind our way through curves and bends in the middle of expansive tropical rain forests that provide breathtaking vistas every few yards till we reach the resort area. The terrain is unique, a microcosm of the globe with luxuriant valleys, gurgling brooks, frothing waterfalls, little green hillocks and a tremendous variety of plants and trees that are home to abundant creatures of all sizes and shapes.
As we breathe in the fragrance of our bucolic surroundings, we feel transported to an entirely different world, away from concrete jungles to be in complete harmony with nature. The resort ambience is exclusive and refreshing and can best be summed up as eco-friendly environment that is ethnic in decor. The treetop “houses,” cottages and huts with thatched roofs, terra cotta tiles, soft lights, bespeak conservation at its peak.

A mild satin drape of the fine drizzle gently drops its tresses almost continuously through the dense canopy of trees as we follow one of the trekking trails. We keep switching our gaze from the bedecked foliages of the tall trees that glisten with the rain drops, and the giant, fluffy tailed Malabar squirrels that forage from tree to tree with such agility and swiftness that we fail miserably with our digital companions, to capture their antics on our lenses. Life seems to erupt from every crevice and corner, from snails and butterflies, crickets, chameleons to the glowworms and monkeys, and all of them in synch with their surroundings.

The resort is an adventure waiting to be discovered – many activities are available at Vythiri: bird watching, boating, fishing, rock climbing and trekking. For those wishing to relax and re-energize themselves, Vythiri is a sanctuary designed to peel away the stress layers with a host of customized Ayurvedic massage therapies.

Eco-friendly Décor

Whatever the activity or inactivity that one wishes to pursue, one is struck by the eco-friendly décor of the resort, with its eco-lodges and ethnic houses built on and off trees. Conventional electricity and power from diesel generators have been substituted by combining solar energy and biogas from cow dung, and aesthetically crafted hurricane lamps with kerosene serve to keep out air and noise pollution. Nature and tradition are blissfully preserved at the resort which is only an extension of the surrounding woodlands. Native architecture has been combined with local craftsmanship to create a perfectly symbiotic living ambience that is at once alluring, enticing, making one feel as if embraced by the gentle arms of Mother Nature.

Spread over 150 acres, the resort is designed in the traditional Kerala architectural style. No trees have been cut, rock and boulders are left intact in their places, mud walls and roughhewn steps lead to scintillating views – they are all Vythiri’s unforgettable experience. A swaying bridge made of bamboo, wood and coir adds a further splash of romance to the environment. The bridge leads to the cottages cantilevered over streams. No blaring sounds from television here – rather, one wakes up to the call of nature and prepares for the day to the soothing lullaby of the whispering water from its streams.

The tree houses can be accessed by wooden steps and also by an indigenous crane lift. We are told that no food would be served in the tree house where smoking and drinking liquor are not allowed, and that no heavy pieces of luggage would be hauled up there. Anyway, we opt for a less adventurous accommodation on terra firma. We choose a paadi room that is equipped with a swimming pool in its precincts, and a couple of deluxe rooms.

Vythiri Experience

The Vythiri Spa menu includes a wide array of classic and new treatments that combine the best of Ayurveda, aromatherapy and massage therapies with fitness programs based on vegetable and fruit juices, to make for a holistic approach to health and relaxation.

The resort dishes up traditional Kerala cuisine served on tender banana leaves, adding its special flavor to the aroma inherent in the Malayali cooking. Of course, guests enjoy the privilege of ordering food of their choice, provided they inform in advance. The resort, we learn, has methods at work to minimize wastage of fresh water.

There are many locales of tourist interest, a short drive from the resort that includes the crowd-pulling freshwater Pookote Lake nested above wooded hills, the only one of its kind in Kerala.

Wayanad is the newest jewel in Kerala’s tourism crown and Vythiri is a magical experience where time moves according to the ancient rhythms.

“The resort, we learn, has methods at work to minimize wastage of fresh water.”

 

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