The drive from Alleppey to Thekkady continued through an enchanting landscape. As we left the flat lands and placid backwaters behind, we entered into another mood of Kerala. The distant waterfalls kept us company while the roadside trees swayed past us. We were gaining some altitude and the verdant vistas fascinated us. We were heading to Carmelia Haven, a luxury plantation resort in a sprawling area. The cardamom estate engulfed us as we entered the resort.
Perched atop a hillock, Carmelia Haven looked gorgeous. We were welcomed by their staff with a smile. A vast estate surrounded us and every corner of the resort was adorned by well maintained plantations. This beautiful resort was going to be our abode for the next 2 nights. The surrounding plantation estate was predominantly cardamom, along with tea. We were taken to our Villas where a blissful experience awaited us.
The beautiful Carmelia Haven Resort amidst cardamom plantations
Right in front of our Villas, an azure swimming pool invited us for a swim. But, we had exciting activities planned for the day. I promised the pool to meet soon and freshened up in my room. I took some time to admire the surroundings and listen to various tunes being played by nature. There was no noise, of traffic or a bustling city. Only sounds, of different scales and notes, of the whistling wind and chirping birds. A slight humming of caddies driven by the staff was the closest representation of traffic, and I didn’t mind that.
The rooms at Carmelia Haven are gorgeous and spacious. The soft bed, brightly lit interiors and a balcony made the stay impressive. The interiors were plush and it didn’t feel like we were in middle of nowhere. Carmelia Haven offers a wide range of room categories to choose from. They have Deluxe rooms, Deluxe cottages and for a high degree of indulgence, you can opt for their Jacuzzi Villa also. In case you love an offbeat accommodation, you can consider staying in their tree house or a cave. Irrespective of the room category you choose, your stay at Carmelia Haven will be unforgettable!
The list of activities that Carmelia Haven offers is almost never ending. To unwind, you can also spent some time at their game room or indulge in outdoor sports. You can enjoy plantation walks, bird watching, fishing, Jeep Safari through Cardamom estates, trekking, bonfire and barbeque. Star gazing from Carmelia Haven would also be a great experience if the sky is clear. Once you have enjoyed these activities, you can rejuvenate at their Spa. Booking a stay with Carmelia is like getting a ticket to assured fun and a great indulgence!
Rooms & Facilities at Carmelia Haven
The Deluxe Cottage where I stayed (PC: Carmelia Haven)
The Tree House (PC: Carmelia Haven)
I sat in my Villa’s balcony and started to wonder. I didn’t feel I was away from civilization. What is civilization, really? The most basic definition would be a socially advanced race of humans; a town or city, where the skyscrapers become taller, roads wider, vehicles abundant and tech parks stretch till horizon. With every passing year, these advancements are made. However, the roads might not get wider every year due to the lack of initiative from the civic bodies. But, I would rather adopt a simpler definition then this. For me, civilization would be just a way of life!
A day spent in company of singing birds, swaying trees, quacking ducks and a bunch of friends would be an ideal definition of civilization for me. Along with all these ingredients, stunning landscapes and sumptuous food would make a perfect recipe for happiness. Carmelia Haven was just that, a civilization in its own capacity, a way of life and an epitome of overwhelming indulgence!
After freshening up, we had lunch and soon left for Periyar Tiger Reserve. Today, we had a boat ride and night walk planned. I was glad my friends agreed for the night walk. We would be trudging through the jungle at night, listening to the various calls and ruffling of trees in wind.
The first activity on the day of our arrival was a boat ride through the placid lake amidst the dense Periyar forest. A shimmering water body stretched till the horizon along with silhouette of hillocks. The late afternoon Sun was shining brightly upon the waters and wildlife roamed freely on the bank, calmly grazing and being content with the Sun and the surrounding landscapes. The boat ride kept a fair distance between us and the wildlife which didn’t make them elope as soon as they felt our presence.
Boat ride and sightings at Periyar Tiger Reserve
The boat ride and sightings at Periyar Tiger Reserve
We didn’t see any tigers or other predators, but bison, wild boar and deer along with birds in their most natural habitat. For me, this is wildlife. Many people consider spotting a tiger or a leopard as a thrilling wildlife experience. Yes, admiring a tiger strolling in the dense woods, with all its glory, is overwhelming. Noticing a leopard staring right back at you from a tree top can bring euphoria. Even a couple of wild elephants crossing your path might make you want to squeal in joy. But when we see just a bison, deer or Gaur, quietly living their life in a beautiful residence we call forest, we complain that we didn’t see a tiger! We complain how our encounter with wildlife was incomplete.
Well, I don’t admire that school of thought. When I go for a wildlife adventure, I prefer appreciating even the simplest representation of nature. I like the thick envelope of green around me. I enjoy the company of dense trees, leaving little space for the sky to show its vastness. The blanket of mist around morning or evening brings me peace. The distant sounds and calls of fauna make me feel alive. If I spot a tiger, great! I would be thrilled. But, not being able to spot a tiger would not lessen my joy. If that disappoints you, maybe the Periyar boat ride isn’t for you. However, if you agree with my take on wildlife, the landscapes of Periyar tiger reserve will surely impress you.
Birds spotted while cruising in Periyar lake
After an hour of enjoying the boat ride, we returned to the booking counter. Taking an evening stroll through the woods was a peaceful experience. The evening Sun had touched the horizon and kept appearing through the pockets which pierced the dense forest. Our next tryst with nature was going to be a night patrol in the Periyar forest. This was the part of my Kerala trip which excited me the most.
Night Patrol in Periyar Forest
Our night patrol started by wearing anti-leech pants. All armed against the leeches, we started the walk. We spent a good 2.5 hours in the dark forest. Hidden in darkness, I am sure at least a hundred pair of eyes would have seen us. They would have seen us panicking in dark, tripping over stones, throwing light around, fighting away the hanging branches and trying to steer clear of the swamp. But eventually, we did go ankle deep in the damp marsh. The night walk did become a bit mundane after an hour, but then I suggested turning off the torches and standing still. We saw stars, both above and around. While I had seen the stars above many times, admiring the stars around was a wonderful delight. There were many fireflies, fluttering around in darkness. Due to our artificial lights, these beautiful natural lights had stayed hidden!
Some images from the night patrol
The night patrol came to an end. We headed back to Carmelia haven where a late dinner awaited us. I couldn’t wait to know what the next day had in store for us.
The 2nd day had a lot of surprises lined up. We had a sumptuous meal of Sadhya, a Kerala speciality. The spread offered as part of Sadhya is vegetarian. The variety on the banana leaf spread in front of you is overwhelming to say the least. I thoroughly loved savoring the food.
The scrumptious Sadhya meal
We also visited Kailasapara estate which is a sprawling 1500 acres vast. Mostly cardamom plantation along with some tea plantations surrounded us as we went Offroading to a hillock. Perched on the hillock stood a church from where the gorgeous vistas of the estate enchanted us. 4 wheel drives always excite me and this drive, through the tall lemon grass, was truly exhilarating! We spent some time at the top, snapping the widespread landscapes. There were no other tourists at this spot and it made Kailasapara estate go right into my list of favorite attractions in Kerala. If you stay at Carmelia Haven, you can also enjoy this site, landscapes and the thrilling Offroading experience.
The Offroading experience at Kailasapara estate
The day ended with a walk within the sprawling estate of Carmelia Haven. Later, while my curious friends helped the kitchen staff and displayed some culinary talent, I spent some time enjoying the swimming pool. Sparkling under the night lights, the pool looked irresistible. I felt completely rejuvenated after taking a dip. After some rejuvenation, I snapped some shots at night which made the resort look truly beautiful!
Some night pics of Carmelia Haven Resort
A campfire was set for us as we had our dinner. We played Mafia again as the flame started dying. Our epic stay at Carmelia Haven was nearing its end. But, as they say, all good things must come to an end so that it can be transformed into a cheerful memory and be cherished for lifetime. Carmelia Haven will always be one such memory!
Disclaimer: I was invited by Carmelia Haven to experience their plantation resort and write about it. However, my views mentioned in this blog post are not influenced at all by the partner.