There are two ways to experience the Periyar Tiger Reserve. You could either stay with the rest of the crowd in the built-up and touristy Kumily town and visit the touristy Thekkady from where the boating and other jungle activities start or you could get away from it all and stay in one of the only private estates deep inside the Periyar Tiger Reserve. Accommodation is in simple but comfortable and stylish lodging by a perennial stream, overlooking the jungle. For people who love the outdoors and nature there is no better place to be to experience the Periyar Tiger Reserve. The estate is a haven for wildlife that roams freely as they are undisturbed and protected on the estate. It is common sight to see elephants who come to the stream below the bungalow. Sighting of Gaurs and Sambars are common in addition to numerous small and large animals. During the nesting season the Pied Hornbill is often sighted. Wildlife experience at the Forest Bungalow is by either jeep or on foot exploring the estate. For people interested in birds you dont need go far... just sitting on the lawns is good enough!
History : The Estate, which has an original title deed dated 1912, was granted to a band of local planters hailing from Kuruvinakunnel and Kallarackal families along with a few other energetic planters from the neighboring plains by the Maharaja of Travancore. J.R.Vincent, the brother of A.D.Vincent, a prominent rubber planter in Mundakayam Valley, bought the initial clearing of over seven hundred acres in 1926, and named it the Downton Estate. He built a colonial style ranch home, the Downton Bungalow in 1930, which is still seen at the entrance of the Estate. The Downton Estate was brought by the K.I. Varkey in 1947, and is now with the Karimpanal family.
The Periyar Forest Bungalow was started much later in one of the most picturesque part of the estate, bordering the National Park and a perennial stream flowing next to it. Built by Renju Kurian the bungalow is a granite and wood structure. The ground floor built of rocks gives the building the strength to withstand the onslaught of wild elephants that roam the estate and the timber floor above provides a cool and comfortable stay. Renju has been a keen wildlife enthusiast and involved with the conservation of wildlife in the area and being in the core zone of the park is no easy task. Initially built as a personal retreat for family and friends the Periyar Forest Bungalow now takes guests interested in wildlife and being in the wild.
Renju and family originally from the plantation town of Kanjirapally now reside in the hill station of Kottagiri but he often makes the journey to Pachakanam to ensure the upkeep and smooth functioning of the estate and property. At the Periyar Forest Bungalow the concept is to make you feel at home. If you like the wilderness and to get away from the tourist track then you have come to the right place! Ours is also a Responsible Tourism project with the money going into the local economy. All the food served is sourced locally or grown on the estate. The staff are all local and the project is run fully with the staff from the estate. We try our best to try and reduce the impact on our environment especially being where we are.
Built of stone and timber the Lodge is a sturdy structure necessary to keep some of the pachyderms at bay. The upper floor with 3 rooms and a wide viewing verandah for wildlife viewing in comfort is the main floor for accommodation. All three rooms are large and have private en-suite facilities. Good wholesome food from ingredients sourced locally cooked by our resident chef is served in the dining room during dinners and outdoors for breakfast and lunch.
The property is surrounded by thick jungle and you get to see a variety of wildlife right from the property. While you are very close to nature you should also appreciate that the jungle noises is heard around the clock. While you hear the chirping birds and howling Langurs in the day, nightfall brings totally different noises. The jungle never sleeps! Also while you are in bed you may hear the civets and sometimes monkeys jump on the room. Don`t be startled as you are perfectly safe in your room. All the rooms are sealed to keep insects and creepy-crawlies out and have wire netting on all the doors and windows. Just make sure you don`t leave them open!