The 'Periyar Reserve Bungalow' to which this review refers is a 1930s two storied lodge deep in the Downton Estate in the Periyar Reserve, staffed by three or four people. Having checked in to the reserve’s gate (closed at night) our taxi took us a couple of kilometres further along a narrow tarmac road. It parked, and we were transferred to an Indian jeep for another 15 minutes of very rough track to get to the bungalow. There are three large guest bedrooms over a simple reception and dining room. As it’s on a steeply sloping site the large balcony is on the same level as the tops of tall trees, giving good views of the little valley and the wildlife in the trees. Below us should have been a cascading river but it was nearly dry when we went. All around are cardamon plantations and magnificent teak trees, with ‘jungley’ sounds day and night.
Although clean and spacious the accommodation was fairly basic, there’s no hot water for showers and the generator (and light) is off at night. The food was simple but quite good. There’s no alcohol available so buy your beer in the government shop in Thekkady before you arrive. What the place does offer are guided walks through the forest (fairly strenuous as it’s so steep) and going around at night in the jeep with a powerful lamp to see forest animals, mainly sambar deer. We paused at one point and turned the engine and lights off. Apart from the sound of some crickets the place was silent and the all that could be seen were sparkling stars in the jet black sky. On the reserve elephants are sometimes seen but tigers never. Trips are organised (via the jeep and taxi route) to Periyar Lake where elephant and bison were seen at a distance, and an interesting demonstration at an organic spice plantation.
This was not a ‘comfortable’ stay for our three nights. My wife didn’t like the difficult access and hostel-like accommodation but I loved the unique isolation and atmospheric setting. An extraordinary experience.
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- Also Known As:
- Periyar Bungalows Thekkady, Kerala