Indhrivanam

An ecological mountain retreat
Welcome to Indhrivanam!

Indhrivanam, located in Kumily Thekkady in the South Indian state of Kerala, is a unique place to stay with only one detached stone cottage available for tourists. The cottage is situated in a small private forest with hundreds of rosewood, rudraksha, mango, jackfruit, avocado and orange trees, creating a setting you won't find elsewhere in Thekkady. Indhrivanam is ideally suited for a couple, Indian or non-Indian, who want to get away from the crowds of India, for people, for instance honeymoon couples, who would like to enjoy their holiday in privacy, for foodies who enjoy the luxury of having vegan/vegetarian meals prepared especially for them, and for anyone wanting a stay low on impact on the environment, fauna and flora.

Indhrivanam means a sense of forest in Malayalam. The word indhrivanam is made by joining indriyam, meaning a sense of, and vanam, meaning forest, and by adding an h to more accurately reflect the pronunciation of indri. The name is a reflection of reality as the 2 acre property is almost entirely under tree canopy. In addition, the canopy is layered, which makes an ideal habitat for our slender lorises (a primate that is very rare and usually only found deep in the forests of South India and Sri Lanka), Asian palm civets, giant squirrels, Indian squirrels and more than 50 types of birds, including Malabar grey hornbills. Roaming at ground level are wild boar, barking deer, sambar deer, mouse deer, hares, rabbits, porcupines and monitor lizards.

Staying at Indhrivanam is a different kind of experience as the focus is on ecologically sustainable practices like rainwater harvesting and the use of dry toilets. For people wanting conventional luxury (swimming pool, flat screen television, and room service), Indhrivanam is not recommended, but for people seeking the luxury of privacy, peace, nature, ecology, helpfulness, comfortable living in a very nice stone cottage, Indhrivanam may be the perfect place. Unsurprisingly, it is difficult to categorise Indhrivanam. We are a retreat because by staying here you are retreating from the outside world. We are a resort because the property is large. We are a boutique hotel because very few people stay here at the same time. And we are a homestay because we deliver a homely, informal and friendly atmosphere.

If this appeals to you, please do read on!

The tariff excludes food. However, a maximum of two meals (breakfast + lunch, breakfast + dinner, or lunch + dinner) can be provided as follows.

Breakfast: INR 500 (for up to 2 people). The Indhrivanam breakfast consists of freshly baked homemade bread with various homemade nut butters, relishes, jams and cashew cream cheese. Served in the guest cottage from 07:30 to 08:00.

Lunch: Free. Usually, a traditional South Indian lunch (sometimes referred to as a meal in South India), which may be inspired by cuisines from other parts of India. Not available on arrival and depature days. Served in the guest cottage or main building at 13:00.

Dinner: INR 400-800 (for up to 2 people). There is a light dinner version and a heavier one. The light dinners can be Japanese noodles in a peanut sauce with salad, an Italian style spaghetti dish in a creamy tomato and basil sauce with salad, Indian rice and dal with raita, or Indian puloa/biryani with raita and papadam. The heavier dinner is something from the Indian cuisine, North or South, a fusion, Jain or a new invention consisting of rice, several curries and salad or Indian breads. So, the menu is very short, but we are happy to accommodate your requests whenever possible. Served in the guest cottage from 18:00 to 20:30.

The food is vegan which, in an Indian context, means pure vegetarian without dairy products. For guests who prefer to eat out, there are around 100 restaurants located within 4 to 10 kilometres from Indhrivanam. If required, we are happy to recommend restaurants that suit your budget and taste. You are also welcome to bring back a takeaway/takeout/parcel to enjoy in the cottage.

We do our best to maintain a natural habitat for animals by having a continuous canopy on most of the property, we use rainwater only, and we minimise the use of unnatural products and harmful chemicals.

At Indhrivanam we will always attempt to limit our negative impact on local and global environments. One way of doing this is to avoid the risk of polluting groundwater reservoirs with sewage. Therefore, expect to meet some of the coolest composting toilets ever!

There are free laundry facilities on the property.

If you worry about where your money is going by staying at Indhrivanam, we can assure you nobody is getting rich from this business, and any money generated, including any profit, stays in India. For the foreseeable future (decades), any profit will be used to maintain and add to the property, and for donations to our favourite charity, Humane Animal Society (HAS), which is a non-profit Indian trust that improves the welfare of stray animals in Coimbatore through animal birth control and anti-rabies drives, and by rescuing animals in urgent need of treatment.

There are three very friendly local dogs living on the property: Ashna (born in 2010), Teddy (born in 2018) and Maya (born in 2023). They are all sterilised and have up-to-date vaccinations. However, as they are territorial in relation to other animals, we cannot accept bookings from people travelling with pets.

Indhrivanam is a property of undulation: some places are level whereas others are a little up and down. Consequently, we are, regrettably, not well suited for people who have walking difficulties, and completely unsuitable for people who are dependent on wheelchairs.

If you are looking to spend your holiday in the company of a television, you will have to carry one in your luggage, plus accessories like, for instance, a satellite dish. But we do have 40/40 fibre Internet, so connectivity isn't an issue.

The stone cottage

Play stone cottage video
The stone cottage

The stone cottage (there is only one) is located in its own 1 acre piece of woodland. It is made from local hand-chipped rock, and has a traditional terracotta roof. Very little concrete, paint and chemicals were used in the construction, and the wood used for doors, windows and shutters is, mostly, locally grown silver oak, a non-indigenous tree with low absorption of CO2. The cottage has a front veranda (12 m2), bedroom/living room (20 m2) and attached bathroom (6 m2). The bedroom has double/twin beds with extremely comfortable king sized spring mattresses. In the cottage there is an electric kettle, coffee, teas and clean drinking water.

Regarding occupancy, tariff and discounts, please note the following:

1) We can accommodate a maximum of 3 adults or 2 adults with a 1 child aged 12 or above. The third person will have to manage with a foldable camping bed. There are no extra full size beds or mattresses available. We cannot acommodate children below the age of 12. Adding a fourth person is not possible.

2) The tariff for 1 or 2 people is INR 3750 per night including any/all taxes/fees. The tariff for 3 people is INR 4750 per night. There are no hidden charges. The tariff is unchanged throughout the year; high season, low season, national holidays and other artificial constructs are all the same for us.

3) We do not give discounts. However, for exceptionally long stays (more than 10 nights) a small reduction in the tariff may be possible.

4) We don't have 24-hour check-in/out or other convoluted ways of staying. Our check-in time is after 13:00, and check-out is before 11:00. However, we can be quite flexible about check-in and check-out. If you let us know your requirements in advance, we may be able to find a solution.

5) Minimum stay is 2 nights. You are welcome to stay for just 1 night, but the tariff will be the tariff for 2 nights.

6) If you are booking your stay at Indhrivanam through a booking website, please note these take 30% in commission and taxes. Therefore, you may find booking a stay on a booking website is more expensive than booking directly with us. Travel agents and tour operators are no different, except they want their percentages from our web tariff. As we have priced our cottage at an absolute minimum, we cannot accept bookings through agents who require payment from us.

7) We do not have driver facilities. If you are travelling with a permanent driver, and you want the driver to have facilities, you will have to arrange this elsewhere. Luckily, there are free/cheap places for drivers to stay in Kumily Town. Drivers are paid a so-called bata to cover such expenses, but as this doesn't amount to much, you may want to consider giving the driver some additional money.

8) To book directly with us, please use one of the contact methods listed below.

Before contacting us, you may want to check our Internet reviews on Tripadvisor, Airbnb, and Google. We got a nice mention in an article by Mahananda Bohidar on halabol.com (pdf, 476 kB), we really appreciate the considerate blog posts from Barbara Bell, who stayed at Indhrivanam in 2013, and Shivya Nath, who stayed at Indhrivanam in 2020, and, finally, we were reviewed favourably in Lonely Planet Magazine India (pdf, 1 MB) in August 2015.

In addition to the cottage, there is only one building at Indhrivanam, which we usually refer to as the main building. In the main building there is an office, reception and so on. It is also where you find amenities like computer and printing facilities, laundry service, a very small library of books, playing cards, dominos, chess, backgammon and scrabble.

Activities in Thekkady

Activities

Indhrivanam is located only a few hundred metres from the perimeters of Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR), the main attraction in the Thekkady area, and 9 kilometres, from the main town in the area, Kumily. From a nature preservation perspective, PTR is most definitely in the top five of the best run tiger reserves in India, and from a tourism perspective, PTR is probably unrivalled; there are a number of well-constructed walks and treks in PTR that suit any level of fitness with varying chances of spotting wildlife, including elephants. The tiger, however, remains illusive.

In addition to the activities in PTR, there are a number of activities of varying quality in the Thekkady area arranged by private service providers. We have created a page with all relevant information about the recommended activities in Thekkady.

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