Make this monsoon memorable with this resort in Vandanmedu which is a destination in itself
Rains in Kerala attained a villainous image last year because of the devastating floods that hit the state. However, if you try to recollect anything else about monsoon from Kerala, nothing might jump to your mind—because it’s ‘off-season’ for the small tourist state.
While there is a popular assumption that this destination is not worth visiting during this season, a casual search on the internet can reveal that there is more to it; especially if you’re a romantic at heart.
Carmelia Haven Resort located at Vandanmedu, Idukki—a place known across the country for its high-grade cardamom—has much to offer when it comes to comfortable and hassle-free travelling.
“Apart from the 55 acres on which the resort is located, we have almost 1,500 acres of plantation in which the predominant crop is shade-grown cardamom. So, we have something for every kind of traveller in terms of an immersive plantation experience—from organic food to getting them involved in our farming activities,” says director Scaria Jose, welcoming us at the 25-cottage property located just off Puliyanmala-Kumily Road.
The hillock, on which the reception of the resort is set, is covered in tea shrubs, but an arboreal cover greets us as we take the private road towards the cottages. We’re guided to the Planter’s Villa, set right across their swimming pool, but we get out fast to explore the property.
We take to the paved path lined by electric lanterns that run throughout the property and immediately realise what bird calls and fragrant winds can mean for our city-weary minds.
“We’ve planted a lot of fruit trees around the campus and so birders who come to visit Thekkady, (located 24 kms away) love staying with us,” informs Scaria, as we check out their unique cave accommodation and tree house.
Rithgeham, their Ayurveda spa, which offers treatments for detox and stress management would be a great place to spend a rainy day, I think as I pass by. Just as we contemplate taking a small trail leading into a thicket of trees, chef Ajo Jose announces that lunch is served
Sure, you do get your multi-cuisine specials at the restaurant, but how can you miss regional flavours when the ingredients come from the chef’s own garden?
“If it is harvest season, we let our guests pick their own fruits or vegetables and cook the same for them,” says chef Ajo, as we have a sumptuous meal with chena (yam) cooked with bird’s eye chilli and naadan chicken curry. Soon our ride to the bigger estate, located roughly 20 kms away, arrives.
Kailasapara is simply a destination in itself with hills, patches of shola forest and a private lake! After a cup of hot tea, we’re taken on a guided tour of their cardamom processing unit. As the horizon turns crimson, we decide to ride up a tall hill to catch the sunset.
Plantation workers (whom you can join on the field if you choose to) turn their heads as our jeep rages through the mud roads, but soon there is no one in sight as we go off-road, hopping over rocks and head into thick grass taller than the vehicle.
The jittery ride feels worth it when we come out onto a vast expanse of rock with a chilly wind and a fantastic view of the locale including the multitude of trekking trails within the estate and the windmills of Ramakalmedu at a distance.
While on vacation, being cut off from the internet and cell coverage can be a good thing. Plantation bungalow, Silver Oak, is favoured by many people, for this reason, we’re informed. The four-bedroom villa is set on the banks of the private lake which is a perfect spot for ankling and even boating.
As the Western Ghats recede into darkness, we start back to Carmelia Haven and all I can think of is sitting on the deck in front of the villa with a book and a cup of hot tea.
The writer was at Carmelia Haven upon invite.