|On the edge of wilderness
||[Apr. 18th, 2008|08:53 pm]
A walk in the wilderness : Wayanad, Kerala.
A place next to the forests, a calm house and a chef who treats you to a king's buffet; that is Fringe Ford, where I spent a long weekend taking walks in the forest, reading a book and generally relaxing.
The approach road to the farm house starts as you take a deviation from the main road and take a smaller road through a few tea estates, then the road disappears and so does cultivated land, as you continue on the jeep track surrounded by forest. You know you are at the edge of wilderness as you get a peek of the place through the thick trees. A few neat rooms with huge bathrooms, the water taken directly from a perennial stream and a solar water heater providing hot water takes care of a few basic needs, but you will be spending most of the time outside, either sitting in the porch, or under the mango tree, leaning back and most probably reading a book or sleeping, and waiting for the next meal.
The food is a king's feast and you are not to be blamed if all you end up doing is eating and waiting for the next meal. If you end up staying alone here, you will indeed feel like a king at the open dining table, as the table is set just for you with food to the left, right and center! just taking a single bite of everything that is served would have satisfied even the hungriest person; this is one place you do not want to end up when you are on a diet.
Most of the farm land has been left unattended, to be reclaimed by the forest and that is what makes the place unique. When you think you have had enough of sitting around reading and eating(which may take some time!), there are a number of walks that can be undertaken in the surrounding forests.
A really short easy one takes you to a small water fall and a slightly longer but still easy one takes you to a 30ft water fall where you can enjoy a shower even if you have had your bath. A long gone jeep-track takes you to the waterfalls, with a canopy of trees providing cover all the way and lots of plants keeping you interested on the way.
A longer and slightly steep walk up a hill will take you to the fallen watchtower; apparently the forest department put up four pillars and built a watch tower but the next monsoon two of the pillars collapsed leaving the remaining two pillars standing isolated and looking strange on the top of the hill. But this place does give a nice view down to the surrounding mountains and the forest. Another longer walk along the hills behind the farm house takes you through almost untrodden forests with huge cement blocks put up by the forest department reminding you that you at the official edge of the forest!
The place is obviously filled with wildlife and they tell me they have seen elephants and gaurs come right up to the house. They show me the bones of a young deer lying on the ground which had been killed by a leopard in the nearby forest. A family of giant malabar squirrels live in a group of trees nearby along with a number of birds visible everywhere and a black eagle seen soaring in the sky once in a while. One snort of a gaur, around a corner and not even visible, while taking a walk was enough to freeze us on the track; thankfully the gaur decided to run off into the forest!