For the shooting of his upcoming Malayalam film, 'Ayyappanum Koshiyum', popular actor Prithviraj was at Attappadi in Wayanad. During the course of the long shooting schedule, the actor stayed at SR Jungle Resort at Anaikatti. Actor Biju Menon, another major character in the movie, also stayed at the same resort.
With two popular Malayalam actors staying for a stretch of 67 days, the resort along the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border became a talking point among film personalities.
The resort has been built on a barren land that was first afforested. There are 42 rooms at the SR Jungle, including a private bungalow, villas and cottages. Varied options are available for the visitors from dancing and cultural activities to trekking. With these incentives and the now star value attached, several people are making a beeline for the resort.
The barren land
Kozhikandimoola is the border village at Annaikatti, which is between Palakkad and Coimbatore. The Tamil Nadu village is at a distance of two km from the Kerala border. The village, which is at the southern valley of the Neelgiri forest region, is an arid agricultural land. People in the village made an income by cultivating corn and sugar cane, and breeding cattle.
This area was previously known as the land, where the spiritual guru of Tamil Superstar Rajinikanth, lived. The present SR Jungle Resort is just 1.5km away from the guru's ashram.
Task 1 - Afforestation
The Jungle attached to SR in the title is not just for namesake. Manager Saleesh explained the scientific approach they adopted to afforest the area in just three years.
"Fifteen acres of land was bought about 3.5 years ago. It was then just a dried-up paddy land. Even herds of elephants frequented this area.
“Pits were dug, filled up with biodegradable waste. Then we planted nearly 1.5 lakh trees and shrubs, before constructing the resort,” he explained.
A native of Thrissur, Saleesh was given the task of afforestation by the resort owner Santhosh Janardhanan.
Santhosh owns several hostels in various parts of Tamil Nadu, Sindhuja Residency. These hostels have been named after his sister, Sindhuja.
Task 2 - Construction
Once the trees were planted, they went for the construction.
"After setting up an electric fence to keep the wild animals at bay, the landscape was designed. First, we constructed the main entrance and the path. The construction of bungalow, cottage, dormitory, swimming pool, and play area was part of the next stage.
“Two honeymoon cottages, four suite rooms, corporate suite room and villas were then constructed," Santhosh explained.
A private bungalow too
On to the left side of the main path is the bungalow, which is made of five rooms, an inner courtyard, hall and a verandah. The interiors have been decked up beautifully and resemble rooms of five-star hotels. Bedrooms have a regal appearance. Bathrooms are equipped with jacuzzi, bath tub, and a rain shower cubicle. Glass ceiling has been fitted for one of the bathrooms, offering a clear view of the sky.
The Bungalow has an exclusive badminton court and swimming poll. "A wall was also constructed around the bungalow to give the visitors privacy. They can close the gates and play in the courtyard or swim in the pool without worrying about any outside interference," Saleesh said.
Food & fun activities
Check in time at the resort is at 4pm, while the check-out is at 2pm.
Visitors are greeted with a welcome drink on arrival. They can later head to the 'coffee hut' for evening refreshments. The swimming pool is opened to guests by 4.30pm.
The resort has as many as seven swimming pools, spread across the bungalow and villa. There are swimming pools, exclusively for families, and pools for bachelors. Guests can use the pool till 6.30pm.
By then, the entertainment zone would come alive. Guests and their families can join in the song and dance programmes that would go on till 8.30pm. Only after which bachelors would be allowed entry.
The camp fire also be lit then and it is time to take out for the music programme. Interested families can stay on. The rest can move on to the restaurant.
Traditional cuisine of Tamil Nadu would be served for all the meals at the restaurant. The lip-smacking dishes include mutton thanni kozhambu, and nattu kozhi (chicken) mulakku curry.
Trek your way
Trekking would begin at 6.30am. You can walk for 3.5km along the forest surrounding the resort. You would have to make your way through the long plants. It is a safe trek. You can return by 8.30am and head for the sumptuous breakfast that includes idli, upma, dosa, juice, chicken curry and mutton curry.
About 120 people from the Kozhikandimoola form the staff at the resort. Santhosh has instructed that the resort should employ at least one person each from every family in the village.
With the construction of the conference hall, pub and three more swimming pools, more people would be hired.
For those, who are staying for more than one day, would be taken on a tour of the tribal hamlet. Arrangements would also be made to let guests take a dip in the Siruvani River.
Those, who are ready to devote an entire day at the resort, can be part of the day-out package. They can take part in indoor, outdoor programmes or swim in the pool. The day-out package includes lunch, and tea-snacks.
Another package is for a bunch of visitors. They can avail the AC dormitory facility that provides 31 beds. This is particularly suitable for large gathering of friends or family meets. However, a minimum of 12 people is required to avail this package.
The nearby major tourism destinations are Silent Valley, Isha yoga centre in Coimbatore, Maruthamala Murukan temple, and botanical garden. If you travel 90km via Puthoor Road, you would reach Ooty. People, who head to these destinations, now prefer to stay at the SR Jungle Resort.