Leaving behind the regular life to experience something new is everyone's vacation wish. But more often than not, after spending a good amount of money, most of them end up in a place bedecked with luxury and comfort - an extension of the same living.
So if the holidaymaker in you is seeking an experience that detaches you from the din of the cities, then Red Earth Cottage Resort in Kabini is for you. Nestled near the Nagerhole Tiger Reserve, this resort is accessible from Wayanad and Mysore by bus. Or you may opt for a paid pick-up service by the resort either of these locations.
Closer to nature
With a name inspired by the colour of the soil typical to the region, this place will remind you that sometimes luxury lies both in and outside your hotel room.
The resort has only cottages constructed using rammed earth technology with the soil dug from the property. This technology is an upgrade from the mud houses that most of our antecedents used before thermostatic comforts of air conditioners and heaters were discovered. The walls are built by 'ramming' the soil to form compressed layers making the subsequent rooms automatically adaptable to the climate.
The faces of Kabini
It is also what lies outside these comfortable rooms that will make your vacation unique. Surrounded by Kabini backwaters on three sides, this resort sits on a peninsular stretch of land and has more to offer than scenic vistas – its people.
Almost all the employees of Red Earth are humble tribesmen and village folk of Karnataka and they have been redefining hospitality with their warm and efficient ways. Despite the lack of formal degrees and diplomas, these people will win your heart with their dedication to their work and knowledge of their field.
Prakash, their junior naturalist, knows his birds and trees like the palm of his hand and a morning walk with him can familiarise you with exciting trivia on local flora and fauna. On cold Kabini mornings, he will very patiently explain to you the nuances of certain birds' behaviour as you take a walk in the hamlet outside.
Prakash has been trained by a 35-year-old Manju Admil, who is a member of the Kuruba tribe and recently completed his class 10 studies from an NGO. He says his knowledge is sourced from the daily chat sessions with the seniors of his village who have spent their whole lives in and around the forests and know how to give nature its space to grow. Spotting Manju in the resort won't take time, he can be found helping the guests with their queries or helping with the farming. Strike up a conversation and he will instantly engage you in anecdotes from his village days.
Manju considers it is his duty to give the community the knowledge he has attained by staying close to the nature. "People do not pass on their know-how to the next generation anymore," Manju laments.
At their multi-cuisine restaurant 'Poshini,' you will be greeted by the cheerful food and bevarages manager Manjunath whose smooth ways with the kids of the guests will impress you. He even has a joke or two for everyone to enjoy a good chuckle with their meals.
Manjunath is not the only peculiarity that enhances your fine dine experience at Poshini.
From the vegetables to the chicken, almost every principal ingredient used in their cooking is grown on the wildlife organic garden all over the property. A wildlife or wild garden allows the birds, bees, animals, and other organisms to interact with their natural environment, as they would in an untouched surrounding. Even their poultry runs free on the property, feeding on naturally available worms and seeds. All this contributes to preparing meals which are flavourful to the palate and easy on the stomach. Even if the vacationer in you decides to hog the delicious breakfast, you will be hungry again just in time for lunch.
Staying true to their ideals of sustainable tourism, they have installed a water-treatement plant – water from this plant is used for irrigating the gardens. Solar energy is used for water-heating systems so you do not have to worry about putting a burden on the environment while you enjoy your holidays.
The large pits formed while digging out the soil has been turned into ponds. On one of these ponds stands the Wetlands bar, that also houses a tiny library and an activity area to enjoy a game of billiards or carom.
Laze around in the cool summer breeze of the afternoon or go for a swim in a pool under the shade of grand jackfruit trees, or relax in the open-air jacuzzi in your cottage, but be sure to visit the Wonkey Money cafe in the evening for high tea. Facing the backwaters, this open-air cafe is the perfect spot to rewind after a long day of activities like cycling, swimming, and safaris.
Resort's vicinity to the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve, gives a chance to go on one of the most rewarding safaris. Leopard and tiger spotting is very common here, especially during summers. But do not let the anticipation keep you from delving into the beauty of the wilderness.
Such postcard-perfect frames will pass you by all day when at Red Earth and you will have the urge to share every moment with your followers on social media. But to keep you from taking your eyes off from the nature and burying them in your phone, the resort has enabled Wi-Fi services only at two spots – the cafe and the office. You may not realise but soon the urge to share will be taken over by the urge to stare at the surroundings.
A rewarding sunrise
The cozy cottages await you after a rejuvenating day. But no matter how tired you are, do not miss the sunrise from the banks of the backwaters. Every other sound drowns out in the chirping of birds and the green of land turns translucent with the first rays of the sun. The picturesque vista will get imprinted in your memory.
Red Earth will leave you rejuvenated and reconnected with your roots. The natural way of life here is not something alien, yet it feels so unique because we no longer share a symbiotic relationship with nature and this resort takes you back to how life used to be.