Located at Kuttikanam, some 230 km from state capital Thiruvananthapuram, this 600-acre property at 3,500 feet above sea level offers breathtaking scenic beauty.
"This property was purchased in bits and pieces by my father and later by me. The main building is the palace built in 1930 by Sethu Lakshmi Bai (ruler of the erstwhile Travancore state), who was the regent for her nephew Chithira Tirunal during 1924-31. Later, I bought property around the palace," Michael Kallivayalil, the 90-year-old owner of the property, told IANS. He has been staying there for nearly 50 years.
The property has numerous cottages and dormitories at vantage points and can accommodate 60 tourists at a time.
"We turned to tourism about 15 years ago and we are in no hurry to expand. Sometimes we have to turn away tourists," said Kallivayalil, who drives his car even at this age.
The resort offers much to the outdoor-minded, with facilities ranging from fishing, cycling, canoeing and bird watching. There are also two waterfalls where one can indulge in a natural shower.
Trekking is another favourite pastime with tourists, who can explore miles and miles of surrounding rough terrain and can spend time in the plantation area, which grows tea, coffee, cardamom and practically every spice that Kerala is known for.
Then, the abundant flora and fauna here is a delight for nature lovers and botanists.
With electricity bills shooting up in the property, Kallivayalil is now working to generate his own power via a 3 MW hydroelectric plant.
"The cost is expected to be Rs.10 crore," said Kallivayalil.
An Italian student said this was one of the best places he has visited as it has an ambience that soothes one's mind and body.
Getting there: From Thiruvananthapuram, go by train or road to Kottayam (150 km) and then by road to Kuttikanam (80 km).
The tariff ranges from Rs.2,400 to Rs.7,200 per night.
(Sanu George can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
--IANS (Posted on 01-08-2013)