Hectic life in the cities makes you realise the need to be close with nature. The easiest option for an urban dweller for the rejuvenation is to pick a resort amidst greenery. The Wild Planet Jungle Resort at Devala on the Kerala–Tamil Nadu border in Malappuram is one of the ideal places for the purpose in Kerala.
Though there are several routes to reach Devala, the one via Nilambur, is among the best due to its scenic beauty. The road covers the Nadukani Churam (ghat road). Devala was in the past a haunt of gold hunters who camped there on the way to the mines.
Wild Planet Jungle Resort is about 7.5 km from Devala. Caution: Plan your trip in such a way to reach the resort before 6pm as vehicles are not allowed on the route, frequented by wild animals, after dusk.
From Devala, there are sign boards indicating route to the resort. This stretch leads you through tea gardens and their beauty could tempt you to make pit stops.
Make sure that you download offline map in Google Maps as the mobile coverage ends 3km into this stretch. A couple of more kilometres along the path and the resort comes into view.
The Wild Planet Jungle Resort is in the forest between the hills of Wayanad and Mudumalai National Park. It is set in 100 acre and there are 36 luxury cottages of four categories named– Hilltop, Valley View, Jungle Log House and Kenya Tent House.
The entire property was once a plantation. Four years ago, hospitality facilities were arranged to convert the place into a travellers hub. The path to the lobby winds its way through tea gardens. The lobby, designed like a Japanese Buddha temple, is an amalgamation of Kerala and Japanese architectural styles. In the lobby, the history of Devala’s gold mines are displayed proudly. Among the items on display, there are rock pieces containing traces of gold.
A glance from the lobby offers a view of the tea gardens which border the Nilgiri Mountains. Lucky ones can even sight elephant herds wandering along the grasslands on the hills.
Restaurant is on the floor above the lobby. A wide choice is available, including traditional Kerala dishes to North Indian and Chinese cuisine. The 10 hilltop cottages are right next to the lobby. Here, the interiors are designed in Western style with all facilities.
The dusk sets in quite early in the area. Night offers an entirely different experience at the resort. The sounds of the wild are distinct. The lobby of the resort is lit up with yellow bulbs to jell in with the fireflies and the stars atop. Facility for camp fire is also available.
Guests interested in trekking can opt for the services of Mahesh, the resort ornithologist, who will take them deep inside the rainforest. Follow Mahesh's instructions to enjoy a trek through the forest that's home for leeches, numerous snakes - many of them non-venomous, civets, wild squirrels, frogs and numerous insects. The forest is also home for some stunningly beautiful butterflies - blue tiger, Buddha mayuri to name some.
The area housing the resort is among the five places in India with the cleanest air. There are boards reminding visitors to breathe deeply to make most out of their short stay.
Trek to Churulimala
Visitors interested in a longer trek can head to the hill named Churulimala nearby. The climb is rather steep and one will have take support of the tea plants and trees to ascend. At some places, a rope is fixed to help the climbers. The path separates Kerala and Tamil Nadu. From the top of Churulimala, Nilgiri Mountains offer their majestic view.
Apart from trekking, adventure seekers can engage in activities like zip-line, monkey crawling, kayaking, archery and mud ride. A safety squad which has received special training supervises the activities.
Those who prefer indoor games can choose to involve in various activities provided by the resort. There is also a coffee plantation and plot where spices are grown.
A unique accommodation at the resort is the Kenya Tent House. From the exterior, they look like tents fixed on pillars. Inside, the facilities rival the most modern luxury hotel rooms.
Wild Planet Jungle Resort has a swimming pool which offers a view to the Western Ghats and the tea gardens. Above the pool are the Valley View Cottages which offer the best view of the tea gardens.
Travellers who love a stay inside the forest can head to the Jungle Log Houses - small cottages amidst huge trees. There are three such cottages in the resort. A stream flows close to these cottages making it all the more romantic.
Wild Planet Jungle Resort offers a slice of the rainforests, which are considered the lungs of the earth. No wonder if you spot visitors leaving the resort with a smile similar to that of the Buddha statue in the lobby.