Greenwoods - A fantabulous Nature Stay in Thekkady
‘Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit’ Here we are to share our experience of yet another place that we explored during our travels. ‘The Greenwoods.’ We got this very interesting and exciting opportunity to stay in the Greenwoods resort in Thekkady which is very close to the Periyar National Park. We were in Vagamon, involved in a few sessions of paragliding and our next plan was to stay in Thekkady for the next two nights. We checked the web and got to see Greenwoods and few other properties ranked well in a lot of reviews websites. Our choice was Greenwoods, and we had our own reasons for it. If you get to read the reviews on TripAdvisor or any other review websites, you will get to know how Greenwoods was different from all the other places and all of those elements would prompt anyone to book this place.
As the name suggests, Greenwoods is a setting in the middle of the woods. It is located in Kumily which is the town centre. But the woods around will never give you a feeling of the same. Instead, it creates an entirely different ambience of being close to nature. We arrived by evening, and we got a very warm reception at the front desk. We were welcomed with cardamom garlands and the traditional bindhi welcome. Instead of bindi, they used sandalwood mixed with water. It’s a conventional Keralite setup of greeting guests, and mostly the sandalwood acts like a ‘prasadam’ from the temple. One can see a lot of people with sandalwood marking on their foreheads.
After the lovely welcome, we were excited and eager to explore the beauty of the place. We went into the rooms allotted to us, and it was a spacious suite. The name of the suite was ‘Amravathi’, and it was close to the pool. In tangible terms, I would say the room was awesome. It had all elements of luxury envisaged in the design. It was a suite with all of the modern facilities that you would find in any 5 star hotel. But that was not what impressed us. Before looking into it, let me complete the day. We went to the restaurant and had a great dinner. The same day was ‘World Earth Hour’ day. As part of the celebration, all of the lights in the property were supposed to be turned off. And Greenwoods managed to do it wonderfully, they lit up candle lights all over the place including the restaurant, and all of the public lightings was put off except for the essential ones. We appreciated that moment when the whole property was celebrating something which was very anonymous to the way being sustainable and nature-friendly. Later we headed to the restaurant for a great dinner with a variety of local soups like the Thekkady vegetable soup; a veg soup with a tinge of tamarind. After a sumptuous dinner, we got back to the room and dozed off.
The next day morning we had a walk around the property. There was an essence of mist in the air, the chirping of birds, and the whole ambience was a different story altogether. It was like nature’s way of wishing good morning. The green plus woods was evident, the beautiful garden and the people around were welcoming us to a beautiful day. The first thing we wanted to do was a property tour, and Nimisha the guest relations executive wholeheartedly came with us and explained to us about all the varieties of trees and plants in the property. We got to know that there were lots of hornbill nests inside Greenwoods. The Malabar hornbill or the grey hornbill, which is a common hornbill that is seen in the Western Ghats, was a frequent visitor at Greenwoods. Hornbills have just one mate in their lifetime. A few years back one of the staff noticed that there was an issue with a hornbill which had already laid eggs, starving inside it's nest. Hornbills are birds of a peculiar characteristic. The female rests inside the covered nest, and the male gets food for the female while sitting to hatch the eggs. In case the male bird is dead or by any chance is unable to come back, the female will die there out of starvation. It is a very depressing moment when you think about it. One of the staff noticed that the male bird was missing and the female was starving in the nest. They informed the forest department, fed the female and got the eggs hatched with the female inside the nest. It was a moment of celebration for the whole property, and they celebrated in a with a lot of happiness. We were impressed hearing these stories, and a sense of happiness filled our hearts, just to know how much they care about nature around.
After a healthy breakfast, we went on with Nimisha. She was a jovial person who was fond of explaining the things around. She had good knowledge about the plants and trees in the property. We took almost one and half hours to see around the property. During the tour, we got to see the farm that they have. They preserve the Vechoor cow which is at the edge of getting extinct. Vechoor cow is known for its medicinal values, for the milk and cow dung. They also have a few rabbits, ducks and turkeys. It almost works like a small farm. Everyone was excited to see us roaming around with the camera and taking photographs. They were giving up many stories of their farms, the cows, the ducks etc. They were excited to see us. Further, we went on, and we got to know that Greenwoods follow a slogan ‘Preserve our Reserve’, which essentially means to preserve whatever is left back with mother nature. They follow a practice of recycling whatever is possible. The sewage water is converted into garden water; Drinking water undergoes reverse osmosis and served in glass bottles in rooms, restaurants and wherever possible. Unless and until you are so particular about having packed drinking water they won’t serve plastic bottles; The solar power is used for heating water in the rooms; Biogas is generated for staff cafeteria. Through all these initiatives they intend to deliver a message that we should be more protective of mother nature. You should conserve and preserve whatever is available for the future generation. The whole idea is to reduce the impact of our existence on the Mother Nature, and this message is very precisely and specifically delivered in the way they do things. Such steps help in reducing the impact of our activities in a larger way, something more than we can imagine. To follow such steps for a greater cause is not as easy as it sounds. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication and perseverance. It is a tiring process but having a passion towards the cause ultimately leads to successfully making a difference. However, we were impressed about the whole thing. It’s not just about the property; it’s about the concept that everybody should inculcate in themselves for a better future, for the coming generations.
We got back to the front desk and saw something interesting. On top of the tree, it was a small coffee shop waiting to catch our attention. One needs to climb up wooden ladders and a hanging bridge to reach the coffee shop. They serve local delicacies and snacks like ‘Ela ada’ and ‘kozhikatta’. On order, they made tea for us. The ambience was of a local tea shop, with posters, lottery tickets, old radio, etc. The tree house was something which was built to keep away wild animals away from humans in the forest, and later they came up with the concept of smaller shelters. Here they have converted the whole thing into a tea shop instead of a room, like what you see everywhere. It acts more of a common place for people to come and enjoy some tea and local snacks. We had a great lunch at the restaurant and then went back to room for a nap.
By evening it was time for some local activities. Giving importance to local culture, cuisine and people was all in their DNA. We got to the conference hall where there was a cooking demonstration happening. There were women from different countries attending the cooking demo. It was more of an interactive session where the chef explains the local ingredients used to prepare local delicacies. Women were very keen on about learning it. Lot of them wrote down recipes, and finally, they served us the "Kerala fish curry" and "potato mezhuperatti". We enjoyed all of it, and further, we went on to the audiovisual room where we saw a documentary about the Periyar National Park and the Western Ghats which lasted for about 45 minutes. The documentary left me flabbergasted. The kind of flora and fauna and beings of the forest were so vibrant and beautiful. God's such an amazing architect. I was stunned to see the variety, the colours, the peculiarities of each being; the frogs, the spiders, the bats, the birds, the mammals. Everything shouts aloud reminding you about an incredible Creator. Further in the same hall was the venue for a Mohiniattam performance by a 16-year-old artist and everybody was impressed to see this local art form of Kerala. It was time for dinner, and we headed to the restaurant. It was a grand feast out there, a buffet and the counter was filled with a variety of preparations both local and continental. Everything was there, but most of them tried out the local delicacies because travel brings in new experiences and that idea was evident. It was time for us to get back to our rooms. We took a bath and crashed into our beds. The day was eventful, and we were tired, but our minds and souls felt rich.
The next day morning we packed our luggage and headed for the next destination which was Madhurai. The two nights stay at Greenwoods was a memorable one especially for Jenneya. The whole concept of staying in Greenwoods was a learn and discover experience, where we got to know a lot of exciting things which we never knew and probably all of these things could be practised in our daily lives which adds beauty to the whole process. The people we saw, the traditions, the initiatives, the fragrance of nature, the local art and cuisine, everything has given us something to take back along with us. I would describe our stay as a learning experience, and Greenwoods successfully lives their slogan of ‘Preserve our Reserve’. So the next time you are planning a Kerala tour, and you wish to take a step closer to nature, ‘Greenwoods’ would be the perfect place. I had a lovely experience and am sharing it with you. We have made a video of it as well, and you can watch it here. Thank you so much for reading our blog. We are active on social media. Check out our Facebook and Instagram page as well.