Spice Village is the essence of a mountain tribal village, re-imagined for the modern independent traveller. A tribute to ancient ways of life. And to one man’s patience and passion. Curling around a misty ridge 2,000ft high in the Periyar vastness, we found a ranger’s home, with fruit trees, rare herbs and a profusion of flowering plants. And here, we set out to build a resort.
INTO THE WILD
The Eternal Rainforest
The timeless wilderness of Periyar Tiger Reserve is just a short distance away from us. Its 925 sq. km sprawl includes forests, marshes and aquatic habitats that together support 62 species of mammals, 320 species of birds, 27 species of amphibians, 45 species of reptiles, 38 species of fish. Innumerable medicinal plants round off this incredibly rich collection of biodiversity. Some 25000 tribals also draw on the reserve’s resources for subsistence.
On treks, tours and safaris with our guides, you can spot sambar deer, bison and elephants in their natural habitat. And if the gods are smiling down on you, you may even catch a glimpse of a leopard- or that elusive ghost, the tiger!
A Thrilling Night Trek
A night’s trek into the reserve will plunge you neck-deep into the mystery and magic that is Periyar. The real romance of the forest comes into play after dark, when a completely different side of it comes alive. As you trek the night trails, you experience a haunting silence, broken only by the cries of nocturnal denizens of the wild. This is when elusive creatures such as the rare fruit bat, nilgiri-flying squirrels, owls and nightjars make an appearance. Experienced tribal guides will open a doorway into this magical realm, leaving you with a new insight into the wonders of Mother Nature. This is another universe altogether – one that cries out to be experienced.
ECOLOGY, COMMUNITY, CULTURE
Man, Nature and Harmony
At Spice Village, our understanding of ecology has come directly from the tribal people of the Cardamom Hills. Over millennia, they have perfected a gentle codependence, an almost spiritual harmony with the works of nature. All we needed to do was uncover these ancient wisdoms and put them to work. Our self-sustaining fish pond was inspired by similar ones in Ooralie villages. And we learnt that neem and lemon grass oils are marvelous, biodegradable pesticides.
Housekeeping Ooralie style
The whole of Spice Village is a chemical-free zone. The sprayer you’ll hear most afternoons is actually helping the ecology, not harming it. It uses only oils extracted from the forests, mixed with a little water. Little clay pots dotted about the grounds provide natural mosquito control, as does the camphor burner in your room and the incenser we use in the afternoons. It burns Black Damur, a powerful tree resin that insects hate. Even the strings of aloe vera plants hanging from the verandah thatch serve a purpose, keeping flying pests away from the dining areas.
This hemp variety produces a strong natural fibre that can be woven. The resort and the Periyar area in general, offer an amazing diversity of flora, much of it unique. You’ll encounter, among many others, the Indian Pennywort, Kalachoo and Sweet Flag, all medicinal in nature, and processed into remedies at our ayurvedic facility.
If you need evidence that comfort is easily obtained without intruding on Nature, you don’t need to look further than Spice Village’s cottages. No fancy carpets. Just coir mats on bare stone floors. Modern bathrooms and interiors, but with a spartan elegance based on simple, natural materials and local woodcraft.
No artificial airconditioned spaces here. Just cool, naturally lit rooms and airy private porches. So open a window, and your mind as well. And let your senses be enveloped by the sounds and scents wafting in on the forest air.
Under Elephant Grass
From a rise, the roofs of Spice Village will seem to spring from the forest itself. In our cottages , you sleep under a thatched roof made of elephant grass, identical to those on the tribal huts of the region.Each year after the rains, the roofs are inspected, and a team of deft tribal artisans recreate or repair the ones that need tending. Old thatch is used for rope making or fodder, an elegant and ecological recycling method we’ve adopted from the tribals, who’ve done this for centuries.
A Personal Garden, Complete with Bench
Ever wanted a park bench to call your own? Well, here it is, with a garden attached. Our larger cottages all come with these cozy personal spaces, often hung with fruit trees (though ask us before sampling some. They won’t be poisonous but they may be raw!). Hmmm. Time to put away the ipod and let the hum of dragonflies lull you with their own special music.
The Tiger Club
The Tiger Club is where you find out everything you wanted to know about Periyar but were afraid to ask. Pictures of wildlife, images and maps of the region adorn the walls. Tigers, elephants and other animals beckon invitingly, daring you to enter their domain. The shelves are filled with a wide assortment of books, periodicals and videos that will help you to plan your treks into Periyar,and are a great learning experience.
- Our buffet offers a wide choice of cuisine styles, local and international.
- Journey back in time in The Tiffin Room.
- Chai(masala tea) at the dhaba, with guinea fowl for company.