Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dukes Forest Lodge - In the Lap of Nature !!


Fog clad mountains, beautiful stream with crystal clear waters, lovely woods spread over green veiled valleys, modern amenities with isolated - traditional cottages, virgin forest, if all these provides you ecstasy, then here is a gem of a place which offers all this and much more. The addicitive quotient is scaling new heights after a visit to this destination - " The dukes forest lodge" located at the foot of Ponmudi (Golden peak), one of the highest peaks in Western Ghats.

Come new year 2012 and a dilemma starts on how to kickstart the new year. Last new year it was pure bliss, in the company of like minded friends and their families, the effect of which had an impact through out a joyful 2011. The dilemma paved way for some excitement when my wife's cousin invited us for an overnight stay at the little known Dukes forest lodge on the way to Ponmudi.

The ponmudi hills already owes a special place in my heart and when ever I visit this place I feel grateful to be living in a city very close to this pristine hill station (Watch my earlier blog on the beautiful hills here). I have lost count on how many times I passed through the winding roads, on two wheels and four wheels, with the former mode being my favourite. Some hectic work at office and some last minute shoppings ensured that we started pretty late than the scheduled check in time at the forest lodge.

The route is 
Peroorkada - Nedumangad - Vithura - Dukes Forest Lodge

After Vithura the roads give the feel of a village and just before we make our entry to forest roads (about 30 kms from Trivandrum city) the board to Dukes forest welcomes us.

Passed some not so well maintained roads, but the surrounding ambience raised the expectations, for it was an unknown place to us. About a kilometer in this road, there was another board signalling the entry to Dukes. 


The gates and the security post does not evoke any traits on what was hidden behind. This is an estate property and roads are not tarred. I sensed a kind of adrenalin rush sitting behind the wheels, driving through some lush greenery amidst a truely picturesque location. Just watch the beautiful roads. 


Even my little kids seemed to enjoy the trail, for there was a stunning silence inside the vehicle as all of were watching the beautiful settings akin to watching a Santhosh Sivan film. There were some deviations in these roads too and some of the boards available there were pointing to lakes, coffee plantations etc. 


This estate is realy big. As it was already getting dark we decided to head straight to the reception. Our expectation about this place had sky rocketed by this time and the beautiful memories of Vagamon heights (Watch the switzerland of Kerala here) flashed through our minds. The reception building completely justified our expectations and it was a typical Kerala structure with lots of wood work, and whose architecture exemplified royal class. The big swimming pool adjacent to this classic structure was an example how old and new styles are delightfully blended together. 


My wife's cousin and family were already there and they too were not having different views on the first impression. A quick walk around ensued soon. The cottages are well isolated and neatly hidden under the woods giving a pleasant private place for the occupants. A construction reminiscent of exotic dwellings in our dreams. 


All these cottages are perfectly blended with the nature, where we can feel the nature upclose. All the cottages are two storeyed. The ground floor contains a private pool and jacuzzi. 


We could hear the sweet music of a stream flowing and it was the Kallar river. All the cottages are facing the Kallar river. 


Even though the river is not clearly visible, thanks to the long grass around, the hotel guy informed that in case of rain at Pomudi hill top, water level can rise by about 7 feet of the current level within 30 minutes. Ignorance of this sudden rise in water level has taken a heavy toll of human life, especially youths who thinks themselves as invincibles. 

A beautiful golf course was also under construction. After a walk around we went inside our cottage and voila, it was indeed A ROYAL SUITE. The space is huge. The furnishing and interior decorations was done so tastefully that whoever designed it deserves real credit. The high cots were reminiscent of those in Palaces of Travancore kings. The lightings were perfectly blended with the rest of ambience. The mood setting is perfectly romantic and this sure is one of the perfect honey moon destinations. 



Watch the balcony overlooking the woods, the flow of Kallar generating soothing audible pulses and the mood which you will be in, if you sit here for some time is some thing which should be experienced for real. 


I could not express it in words. Some kind of calmness will be filled in our mind and we began to feel that life is beautiful and problem free. You start to think only about good things and suddenly you will feel to have acquired an ability to communicate with the nature. Is it from such a mind that great novels and poems are originated? I don't know, but surely watching the woods in solitude does bring out interesting changes in ones mind. 

More interesting times was yet to come as we all together began to play games which my son had carried along with him. NO wonder, that we chose the balcony as our gaming area. Whatever noise we made just faded away into the forest. Surprisingly the calmness demanded by nature has had its effect on our children too as they were not making too much of sounds. Dinner was made to order and the ever courteous staff had a good discussion to find out our likes and dislikes. He also ensured to take order for next day's breakfast too. Within no time he made us feel like we know him for ages. 

Dinner was served in the main building. The walk through the walkways amidst the woods listening to the music of the fluttering leaves and the insects around was a good experience. The cottages were lighted up just enough to make it look a classic.

After a good dinner, kids were soon busy playing some board games available at the recreation area and we had a nice stroll around the huge swimming pool planning about the things to do tomorrow. It was pretty late into the night when we called it a day. Somehow I did not feel like sleeping and decided to spend some more time in the balcony listening to the music of the river Kallar. Soon I was in another world and could not remember when I actually slept that night. The sound of rain was sweetly amplified by the presence of so many trees and this sound woke me up early in the morning. Within no time I was again in the balcony. It was really cold as expected in a december morning. Every thing looked fresh, thanks to the overnight rain which was still continuing.

I looked at the river as it was making less sound now. The water level had increased a lot and I could not see many of the plants near its side which were visible yesterday. 


Yesterday we had planned to do an early morning swim. I got a call from my cousin to check whether I am ready for a swimming session and I was grinning to have a partner with the same mindset. We left to the pool with our wives and children sleeping away to glory in the chilling morning. The swimming pool was looking beautiful. There was a slight drizzle too. 


The shower was innovative too. It took us some time to figure out how to operate this as the pipes were neatly hidden under the artificial tree like structure. 


Dived into water which was not so cold as expected and I was soon enjoying my swimming in some prestine settings. Last year my new year resolution was to learn swimming and I expressed in my blog written last January. This January I am proudly writing a blog about me swimming, something which I does atleast 4 days every week. If I start writing about swimming, its benifits, its addictive quotient etc then this blog will not be enough. Swimming is all about balance and just like any thing this can also be learnt at any point of time in ones life provided you put in the effort and dedication. 

After an hour, we were joined by our family. Sun was not coming out as it was a cloudy day and we lost track of our time. Our breakfast was ready in the main reception adjacent to swimming pool. But the staff did not call us, even though it was well past the breakfast time as they found that all us enjoying the pool. When we got out it was already nearing 11 am !!. Still they served us hot pooris as they timed the preparation perfectly and started making it only when we got out of water. An action which took us all by surprise. These people are really good and surely knows how to make guests happy acting according to thier needs implicitly. 

During breakfast we decided about our further course of action. We were going to Ponmudi which is about 25 km from here. Since it was already noon, we knew that it will be another 6 hours before we return. We had a commitment for the midnight of Dec 31 to spend some time with our friends. So decided to check out in resort and then proceed to Ponmudi, but my cousin and family decided to spend the night here itself. Before leaving to Ponmudi, we had small function to celebrate. It was my cousin's daughter's birthday and we celebrated in the most perfect destination and birthday girl was really happy. 


Gifts were given, photo sessions followed suite, party poppers popped out, birthday songs were aired, it was fun eventhough it was just a party of 8 people !! Soon we were moving out of the resort,through the beautiful estate roads, and then through some better laid tarmac to Ponmudi. The roads to Ponmudi where we relaid last year January, is still in excellent condition and oh boy did I enjoy the drive !!!. The hair pin curves are just awesome. 


There are 22 such curves. As we moved up we could see that it was a real foggy day and the roads were looking even more gorgeous. 


By the time we reached the top, it was almost past 2pm. We headed straight to the KTDC restaurant, which was almost engulfed in fog.


Completed the lunch for a formality and then walked around. Saw a group of students sitting on top of the restaurant for a photo shoot and I didn't spare them too.


The KTDC guest house and the landscaped garden in front of it is not at all maintained properly. Still it looked beautiful because of the fog


We left to the top station and decided to do some trekking. None of the mountains were visible as it was thick fog. The climate was simply superb. The fog and the chillness made my cousin remark that this seem like Munnar and never did he expect that this place will be like this. Yes he was right, no one would expect such a hill station close to the Trivandrum city. 



We roamed here and there over the never ending hills and rocks. This time it was quite differen from our previous visits. (Click here to See the scenary from the Golden peak during our last visit). It was almost 5 pm when we decided to proceed back. The fog was still on and the trees lined up on both sides of the road were looking even more beautiful. 


We wanted to stop at some point of the Kallar river where it is real wide and were searching for one such spot. Found one after all the 22 hair pin curves and the spot was really awesome. Watch Kallar flowing down from the Ponmudi hills. 


A more zoomed up view. The sound it makes while gently passes those rocks is something special.


Watch it flowing away to its ultimate destination.


We spend some quality time near this beautiful river and it was getting dark when we decided to retreat back to the resort. We were in for a pleasant surprise when we reached the resort. It was new year eve and the whole resort were decked up to welcome the new year in a grant way. 


We had a tea at the roof top restaurant, during which time we were discussing about the good place. A single day is not enough to explore this sprawling campus. This resort has a private lake where boating and fishing is possible, coffee plantations, trekking path etc, all of which were not explored by us. 

Thankfully we are going to return here soon for exploring all these. For the moment it was time to bid good bye to this wonderful resort. A lot of colored memories were inscribed into our minds by the time we started our chariot and zoomed off. 


Quick Facts. 

Name of resort: 
Dukes Forest Lodge 

Location: Kallar. 
After vithura, in the Trivandrum - Ponmudi route, (approx 30 km from Railway station and 35 km from airport) 

Facilities: 
Individual cottages with real spacious rooms. 
Separate private pool with jacuzzi downstairs for each cottage 
Big swimming pool near reception. 
Some board games at the reception building. 
Golf course will be ready soon. 
Trekking path 
Coffee plantations 
Lake (boating and fishing possible) 

Best time to visit 
Any time during the year (my perception) 
Watching the rain from this place is simply too good. Rates: Rs. 3500 to Rs. 5000/- (for correct rates please check their website) 

8 comments:

Vijayashankar said...

lovely!

R Niranjan Das said...

Nice post about a lovely place.

www.rajniranjandas.blogspot.com

ahmedabadonnet said...

Classic blog...
ahmedabadonnet.com

Viper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Viper said...

Hmmmmm...guess we should all go to this place on our next visit to tvm...looks really inviting..!!

windows fix said...

wow.. what a place..thanks for such a good info.. good photos too..

picture said...

Nice shots...

picturebite.com

preethaa said...

Thank u so much for the beautiful description. Your post has made me to visit it. Thank u once again.
p.s.
I wish to get ur updates. kindly add my mail: hubertsatheesh@gmail.com

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