On my maiden visit to the God’s own, Kerala loved me back. After a tough year of floods, not many thought the state would stand back on its leg so soon. But there were several who believed. Thanks to Kerala Travel Mart 2018 edition, my dream of exploring this tropical state did come true!
In my previous blog of Kerala series, you must have read about Kumarakom Lake Resort; its infinite pool, long walks, souvenirs that I made to take back home. This blog takes you 120 kms away from it, closer to the highlands of Periyar…
Welcome to all things spice, organic, environment friendly, aromatic, relaxing, at peace – Spice Village Thekkady by CGH Earth Resort exudes raw spirit of unblemished nature. Closer to the land and its people, the resort truly believes in eco-living close to the wild, bringing organic fruits, vegetables and spices to your table, following environment friendly measures, filled with all things calming and relaxing.
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Right in the middle of Forrest and in the vicinity of #PeriyarNationalPark of #Kerala – we are at Spice Village, CGH Earth property. Stay tuned for stories of nature, beautiful Flora and fauna, organic farming, healthy living, sustainability and more. @spicevillageofficial @keralatourism #KTM2018 ———— #keralaTravelMart #Keralatourism #keralagodsowncountry #keralaattraction #keralaholiday #eco #ecohotel #hotels #cghearth #explore #pool #serene #peace
Rooms to opt for:
The resort has standard and deluxe cottages to spend your time at. Large bedroom, sitting area, bathroom with a shower cubicle, small porch became my home for 2 days in one of the standard cottages at the resort.
Influenced by the people who have lived here for centuries in these surrounding, CGH has adapted several self-sustaining systems. Like the roof of the cottages which are thatched using elephant grass is a unique way of Mannan tribe of Periyar.
Each room offers herbal toiletries, notepad made out of handmade paper, no cards to open the room door but old school keys with a unique message. Due to the cooling effect of the thatched roof, the rooms do not have (or require) an AC. The furniture is made of simple pine wood and when you step out in the morning all ready to go about with your day, the sunrays peek through the lush greenery making for a great photo opportunity in every step.
There is a total of 52 cottages our of which 5 are deluxe in this resort which is spread across a sprawling 14 acres of land. The resort follows in minimum use of plastic, glass bottles are kept in each room filled with water, the dustbins are lined with cloth and not plastic – what’s not to be happy about?
- Handmade at Spice Village: DIYs always excite me, especially when it is organic or making use of things you might feel are to be discarded. The handmade paper unit at Spice Village makes handmade paper from kitchen waste, old fabrics, waste paper and produces notepads which I found in my room, garlands during the welcome and even the hotel brochure kept in each cottage. With the help of two lovely ladies who are at the unit, you can even make your own luggage tag to take back home.
- Cookery Sessions: Come to the land of Spices and not get to know about spices? Possibly no. The cookery sessions organised by Spice Village in the restaurant is a great way to know about the spices grown locally and in the vicinity of the resort and how they make way into your meals.
- Nature Walk: A walk through 12 acres of botany – you will find all kinds of fruits & trees which are a delight to see in their organic form like Jackfruit, mango, kokom, figs, cherries, guavas, chikoo, and cocoa. If you happen to explore the entire resort, you will find a plethora of spices like ginger, turmeric, cloves, cinnamon, pepper.
- Interpretation Centre – Tiger Club: Go to Periyar and not talk Tigers? Spice Village by CGH Earth is stone thrown away the Periyar National Park which is an Elephant and Tiger Reserve. If you are a wildlife enthusiast, the Naturalists at the Tiger Club of Resort give you a walkthrough to know more about the reserve with the help of slideshows.
- Swimming: Cool off the pool after a long day out or simply sit by it – the swimming pool at this property is chemical free, uber cool and relaxing.
- Spice Plantation Walk: Lingering aroma of clove, cinnamon, cardamom filled the air as we walked through the spice plantation few kms away from the resort. Kerala Tourism Mart 2018 had organised this walk on the winding pathways among the plantations which became one of the most memorable part of the trip. We visited the Spice Farm, Thekkady which is owned and managed by 2 brothers Thajudeen and Suhail. Right from seeing the tiny flowers of the cardamom that surprisingly grows at the bottom of the plant; to getting to know there exists a flower called Helekonea which is often used in the decorations at the weddings (It is the National flower of Peru); to knowing about the coffee grown in the south to how long it takes to grow the spices which take almost a few seconds/minutes to consume while having our meal.
Our guide helped us through, was patient enough to answer all my questions, helped us know how ginger is grown, benefits of each spice and more. They also have a store where pure spices & natural stevia sweetened chocolates are sold. Did you know that Cinnamon takes almost 8 years to grow?
- Ayurveda Centre: The herbal massage and therapies at the Ayurveda Centre of Spice Village by CGH Earth was oh-so-relaxing! It not just helped me unwind after a long day out but also took all the stress away.
- Gift Shop: A souvenir store where you can shop for unique crafts and art made by the locals.
- Visit to the Periyar National Park: I was looking forward to this the most! Especially after my 2017 trip to Kanha National Park, I have grown fond of Elephants and Tigers. Did you know if you sight an elephant it means your trip to the Jungles is complete? I totally believe in this!
Kerala Tourism Mart 2018 had organised a Boat Safari for us during our stay at Spice Village. One can even opt for a trek through the jungles. The landscape of the park is filled with greenery, tropical trees, grasslands, various species of birds and animals. It sure is great bliss to be among nature – for an hour of that boat ride, I was awestruck with the changing colours of the lake water, goose bumps made their way through while my eyes wandered in all possible directions hoping to sight my two favorites. More of it to follow in my blog on things to do in Kerala.
Cultural show: Go to a new place and not know more about its culture? Especially when you are exploring a state of the country known for its diverse culture.
- The resort hosts a cultural show almost every single evening for the guests to get acquainted with Kerala’s art and culture. We got a chance to witness two graceful dancers perform Kuchipudi which is the traditional dance form of Kerala. One of the segments had their feet confined to the rim of a brass plate which had the audience squeal in excitement, including me!
- Watching the traditional performances like Kathakali and Kalaripayatu was the cherry on the top. The town of Kumily organised several shows at various centers which are popular with tourists. More to follow in my next blog.
There are 2 restaurants and 1 bar at the resort.
- Tamarind Tree – made for a seating capacity of up to 130 guests, the restaurant is open from breakfast to dinner time offering multi-cuisine meals which are organic, made of fresh ingredients, with minimal usage of white sugar, whole-wheat breads and live folk music during dinner. Every meal had this section of salad whose ingredients were picked from the organic farm of the resort – just explains how much the brand puts in to make sure the guests have an authentic experience and get closer to mother nature.
- 50-mile diet – Though I did not get a chance to eat here, every dish served at this restaurant is made of ingredients got from within 50 miles of the resort which not only benefits the locals but also reduces the carbon footprint which is quite inevitable if you transport the ingredients from far away. While I did not get a chance to eat here, what did catch my attention was Binu M’s music. While capturing his melodious work in his camera, Dakshin made sure to have a little chat with him. Binu hails from Pallipad village in Alapuzha. He is a poet and has 3 of his poems being studied in various Universities in Kerala. One of his poems was published by the Oxford University in 2014 and he has been a part of CGH Earth Spice Village family since the last 17 years! Sure, makes for a wonderful story to tell others.
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Walking in the midst of a Forest resort, his flute caught my attention. Very deep eyes, engrossed playing music and an innocent smile seeing someone coming to visit him. That is my 1st impression of Binu. M. After having a conversation with him I came to know that he is from Pallipad village in Alapuzha. He is a poet too. Infact 3 of his poems are being studied in various Universities in Kerala and one of his poem was published by the Oxford University in 2014. Working since the last 17 years, you can meet Binu at @CGHearth Spice Village in Periyar playing flute for 4 hours a day. #keralatourism #kerala #SpiceVillage #Poet #flutist #traveldiary #TravelStories #travel #canon77d #storiesofindia #humansofindia #HumansOfKerala
- Woodhouse bar – Previously a house of A W Woods – the 1st forest ranger of Periyar is now a bar bought by the resort from his family. It houses the glimpses of his life where one can unwind with a drink in hand and game of billiards. It also has a well-stocked library and overlooks the pool of the resort.
How to get here:
Get on a plane to Kerala this instant! *grins*
CGH Earth in Periyar is 190 km from Cochin International Airport and 145 km from Madurai Airport. If you are taking a train; nearest railway station is Kottayam, 107 kms away. From stations/airports, the best bet is to take a prepaid taxi to have a smooth sailing journey.
If you do happen to be backpacking, the nearest bus station is in Kumily, a mere 1.5kms away.
So, what are you waiting for? Kerala is calling you, more than ever!
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