Below you, the pool is a rippling blue patch, set in a scene abuzz with life. A kingfisher dives low out of a clear blue sky, hunting vainly for its fish lunch. Bees hum around Colombian coffee bushes. Guinea fowls and ducks chatter about (amazingly tame, because they’re used to guests.) Bamboo bursts in tilting spires. Cascades of cinnamon, pepper and honeysuckle wash down the hillside. And everywhere, the structures of Spice Village peep out of the woods, as if growing naturally from the surroundings.
An Ayurvedic Holiday :
Spice village has the most comprehensive ayurvedic facilities in the Casino Group, and it’s the site of our popular Ayurvedic packages. Ayurveda is, of course, the ancient Indian science of wellness, now gaining a faithful following around the world. It’s aim is to create harmony within, using combinations of medication, massage, diets and other treatments. The basic principle of Ayurveda is that illness can be prevented if balance in body, mind and spirit is maintained. A combination of three principal energies, or Doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) determines what type of body you have and impacts on your physical and mental wellbeing. Curious to know more? There are a variety of books on the subject at our gift shop. Of course, one of our qualified ayuvedic doctors will be the best guide in your journeys into wellness. In fact, spend a little time with one of our ’vaidyars’, and your entire view of Spice Village will transform. Suddenly, it’s as if you’re living in Nature’s own pharmacy. For all over the grounds is the stuff of life and healing. These carefully labeled medicinal plants can turn your evening stroll into an education. Perhaps the best first-hand introduction to ayurveda comes from the magic hands of a masseur. If you aren’t with us long enough to enjoy a full course of treatment, try an invigorating leaf-bundle massage, or one of the general oil massages. You’ll soon see the difference in your well-being and energy levels.
The Taste of Fresh Spice Mealtimes at Spice Village are an unhurried affair. In fact, we urge you to dawdle. Eat too quickly, and you miss the subtle nuances that spices take on when they’re absolutely fresh. Rush through your meal and you give yourself no chance to enjoy the amiable atmosphere that’s common to all our dining areas. There are three of these. Choose from the rustic wooden tables in the dining hall proper, or take a heaped plate out to the long verandah and enjoy your meal al fresco, watching the kingfishers flit around the swimming pool. Besides these. literally, is the historic Tiffin Room, where light snacks are served all day. The rosewood chairs and tables here are restored antiques, from a 100-year old restaurant in the next valley that sadly closed its doors in 1995. Spice Village’s popular cookery classes for guests are also conducted here, most evenings, and you can pick up some tips while chef Velayuthan unveils a few (but only a few) of his secrets.
Tiger’s Tales The Tiger Room, behind the long verandah, is a fine place to get your first taste of the jungle. It was set up for a wildlife conference in 1996, and features a slide show every evening. Another spot for a civilised introduction to the wild is the Woodhouse Bar. It’s name betrays its provenance, for on this exact spot was the residence of A.W. Woodhouse, forest ranger and woodsman extraordinary. In between sips of your Bloody Mary, look over the old framed prints that cluster on the bar’s smoky timbers.
They make for fascinating reading. And for a nightcap, you can pick up one of the books on the shelves. This is our little circulating library of paperbacks, passed around among our guests as they move around the group’s properties. For some reason, mystery novels predominate! The next day you should be all set for your first venture into the hills. There are several options. Regular jungle treks, lasting from one to three hours, depart most mornings. Equipped with leech-proof socks and fortified with a few of chef Velayuthans appams, you can go on for ever! The Periyar Tiger reserve sprawls over 777 sq. km. of diverse biosphere, including some of the most pristine tropical rainforests in the world. It’s home to an astonishing variety of life. 140 species of orchid alone thrive here, as do tiger, elephant, leopard, varieties of deer and rare species such as the lion tailed macaque. Here and there, patches of open grassland provide grazing grounds for many of the herbivores. And along the lakeside, you’re likely to spot boars and otters, the expert fishermen of the Periyar. The lake itself is man made and a mere 100 years old. A variety of tourist boats ply its tranquil waters. Comforts vary, but it’s a simple way to see wildlife without leaving your deckchair. Preserving the Enchantment. The Periyar area is a unique, precious eco-system, home to many endangered species of plants and animals. From the water recycling and ozonisation plant, to the solar heating systems in the property, our efforts are constantly aimed at a more sensitive and ecological approach to tourism. We are commited to preserve this beauty from within, by being an informed and responsible part of it. In this, we invite our guests to join us. Spice Village is not only of the environment. It is also from it. And it is this that makes the experience unlike any other. Imagine a mirror, a perfect looking-glass held up to its environment. A mirror that reflects the place itself, its people and, magically, its history too.
Naturally, it offers little of its own to distract from the purity of that experience. Air conditioning? Unnecessary anyway, and what would it do but mask the heady spice-scents that fill the air? Piped music is no substitute for birdsong. And while there is a lone television on the premises, we cannot conceive of a single reason why you should wish to turn it on. No, the experience of Spice Village emerges not from the fixtures of civilisation, but from Kerala’s lofty mountain spirit. And to know this spirit fully, we must first travel a little, back in time
The Land Where Pepper Grows.
Spice Village is located in the Periyar wilderness, high in the western ghats of Kerala. For centuries, the area attracted voyagers and adventurers, mercenaries and empire builders, kings and merchant princes. Men and women drawn not only by the lure of spices, but by the romance and wild beauty of the land.
The Portuguese and the Jews of Cochin visited as traders, turning the natural bounties of the area into wealth. Pepper and cardamom, cinnamon and ginger, nutmeg, mace and anise the Periyar hills became nature’s taste factory in the 14th century, as Cochin became nature’s harbour, the port of lading for a spice-hungry world.
Later, the area came under the Kingdom of Travancore, and many of its plantations, orchards and hunting lodges date from that time.
The Raj too, left its mark on the Cardamom Hills. Early efforts at conservation came from its dedicated forest rangers, who loved the land and its people as their own.
Today, it’s the rainforests, the animals and the vast silences that attract the modern visitor. On the road to Spice Village, it’s easy to feel this centuries-old allure yourself. The earth boils in a fertile outpouring, every conceivable shade of green, flecked with the crimson and gold of mountain flowers. This is a world of forests patterned in dappled sunlight. Plantations of rubber, coffee and spice. Rolling highlands and crisp, cool air.
190 Kms from Cochin airport
145 kms from Madurai airport
Jan - Mar: Cool, dry
April - May: Summer
June - August: Monsoon
Sept - Dec: Pleasant, dry
Kumily Road, Thekkady
Kerala - 685 536