METRO PLUS

House of bamboo

COUNT THE STARS At Aranya  



ARANYA

KALLAR, THIRUVANANTHAPURAM
USP: Riverside vistas, treks unlimited

From Thiruvananthapuram, it takes about 90 minutes to reach our destination in Kallar. The road winds uphill all the way and most of it hugs the river, not little more than a stream in several places. Rubber and banana plantations jostle for space and look invitingly green on a hot summer day. Quaintly named places called Pathinonnaam Kallu (literally, 11th milestone), Pathaam Kallu and Onpathaam Kallu (Ninth milestone), that hark back to a time before Kerala moved to the metric system, indicate that the road leads to places that still bear vestiges of a bygone era.

Finally, we reach our destination: the house with the bamboo door, bamboo roof and bamboo walls, but no bamboo floor! But, as the song goes, you sure can have fun in this house owned by social scientists Ravindran and Sundari. Situated at the confluence of three rivers (Meenmutty, Ponmudi and Golden Valley), the house tempts you to shrug all cares and become a child again.

The mercury dips several degrees as you step into the house — tall trees shelter it from the blazing sun. The incessant murmur of the rivers, which, the friendly caretakers and ardent green-lovers, Kallar Harikumar and Subi N.R., tell me, is a roar during the monsoon, has a soporific effect. The rivers' constant conversation with the rocky riverbed provides a pleasing background music through your stay in the bamboo house. As the rivers are not in spate, one can easily wade across to explore the surrounding countryside.

But, daytime is best spent indoors during the summer. The two rooms, all furnished in bamboo and shades of green, blue and brown, open to majestic views of the rolling hills and have sit-outs where you can laze around and soak in the plenitude of Nature.

If you are a trekker, this is haven for you. Put on your most comfortable shoes, get the help of a good guide and start in any direction, and get the opportunity to travel up many a road less travelled, including the famous Meenmutty Falls and Peppara Wildlife sanctuary. Monkeys abound and so do various species of birds, making this an ornithologists' delight.

As dusk falls, count the stars that dot the clear skies that are not marred by neon lights and high rises. Sigh! If only this could be transported to the city.

Getting there

Aranya is on the Thiruvananthapuram-Ponmudi Road, about 44 km from the city.

Keep your eyes open about seven km after Vithura.

Ask for Sundari Madam's house at Vattakayam Junction.

For details, call Ravindran: 9446066066, 0471-2593020

Tariff

Rs. 2,750 per day for the entire house

Rs.1,750 per day for each bedroom

Things to do

Travel 25 km to Nedumangad to see the heritage Koyikkal Palace, which also has a folklore museum and a numismatic museum.

The entry to Meenmutty Falls is a 10-minute walk. Take a pass and the competent forest guides take you on the 45-minute trek to the pristine waterfalls.

Take a book and lounge in the sit-out to read and watch the changing moods of the day reflected in the hills.

Wade in the river, make paper boats and discover the child in you.

Dip your tired feet in the river for a free massage and pedicure.

Explore the picturesque Golden Valley, beyond the river, which is crisscrossed with streams and weathered rocks. Peppara Dam, (12 km), Aruvikkara Dam, (37 km) where you can feed swarms of fish near an ancient temple, and Neyyar Dam (30 km) are other attractions.

SARASWATHY NAGARAJAN