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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Wrenn-Haye

Inchathotty Near Thattekad Kerala South India - A Serene Escape on the Periyar River

Updated: Apr 7



"A stunning place on the Periyar River to relax and unwind."

General Overview


Inchathotty is a small village in the Ernakula District in the State of Kerala surrounded by forests and rubber plantations, set along the banks of the Periyar River located approximately 8 kilometres (5 miles) from the town of Neriamangala and 16 kilometres (10 miles) from Thattekad, where you will find the beautiful bird sanctuary that offers an amazing glimpse of tropical birds and their landscapes. 


In addition to this, it also sits 22 kilometres (13.5 miles) from Kothmangala which is situated in the foothills of the Western Ghats mountain ranges and known for its Christian churches, as well as being a spice trading centre.  It is also quite often visited as a stop-off point for travellers between Cochin and the world-famous Munnar hill station area. The nearest airport is Cochin which is approximately a 2-hour drive away.


Inchathotty is particularly known for its famous hanging (suspension) bridge that was originally built in 1877 by Albert Hency before being updated in 2012.  It is the longest suspension bridge in Kerala measuring 183 metres (600 feet) in length and about 1.2 metres (4 feet) in width, set in a stunning picturesque environment overlooking the Periyar River itself. 



You can also visit the famous Bhoothathankettu dam and park situated 11 kilometres (7 miles) away and if you fancy travelling further afield you can access the Paniyeli Poru waterfall just over one hour away by car.


Where to Stay


We chose to include some much needed down time here during our India trip after having visited Delhi, Agra and the Taj Mahal in north India, plus Ranthambhore, Jaipur, Udaipur and Barli in Rajasthan beforehand. We consider that two to three nights is sufficient in this region to relax and unwind and take in the wonderful surroundings.


Our UK travel company 'Audley' booked us into a very pleasant retreat called ‘Windermere Riverhouse’ an old Colonial bungalow which is a real oasis of calm, nestled in two-acres of gardens alongside the banks of the Periyar River and surrounded by evergreen forests which host some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world which are all waiting to be explored.  The retreat is open all year round.


Windermere Riverhouse colonial bungalow retreat Inchathotty Kerala India
'Windermere Riverhouse'

On arrival we were blown away by the setting of this beautiful place which specialises in the art of slow travel. It is one of the most peaceful locations that we have ever stayed in and you are at home with the sound of nature and the melodic calling of the birds. The gardens are just simply stunning and there are many butterflies too.



The Colonial bungalow has five rooms which are all large with soaring ceilings giving a sense of real spaciousness and are furnished with traditional handcrafted furniture. Our particular room on the ground floor had its own verandah overlooking the gardens where you could sit with a good book and while away the hours listening to the sounds of nature.


VIew from our room onto the lush gardens situated at the Windermere Riverhouse Inchathotty Kerala India
'View from Our Room'

The common areas of the riverhouse have been thoughtfully arranged to balance camaraderie with privacy.  There is wi-fi at the property in the common areas only.



Food & Hospitality


The establishment is run by John who is an absolutely wonderful host and who speaks perfect English and he certainly ensures that you have a truly memorable stay with the excellent attentive, but subtle service provided by his dedicated and cheerful team. John really made our stay for us, we had many a chat with him and learned a lot about how the retreat was conceptualised by his father Dr Simon, as well as hearing all about his vision going forward. It is worth a mention that we also stayed as his family's other retreat called the 'Windermere Estate' in Munnar. Both retreats are run with the same concept



The food that is served each lunchtime and evening is freshly prepared, there are no pre-set menus and the meals themselves are Kerelan home-styled inspired dishes from the bounty of the land with certain foods being grown in the on-site kitchen garden. We chose the non-vegetarian options as our basis, but obviously this included accompanying tasty vegetarian side dishes too. As you will see below there were a lot of different choices on both days, nothing was ever repeated and when you sit down for a meal, John personally takes the trouble to talk you through each dish at your table and how it is made by his experienced chefs. He takes great pride in his food and his retreat and it was definitely well received by both of us and his other guests too.



We indulged in some really delightful delicacies during our two night stay here both for lunch and dinner and their breakfasts were outstanding too, with flavoursome ice cold fresh juices being served throughout the day which are a welcome relief in the heat; fresh watermelon was our favourite juice and fresh sweet lemon which is very refreshing too.


Things to Do


Unwinding by the Pool at 'Windermere Riverhouse':

Your days can be spent unwinding around the infinity pool which overlooks the tranquil Periyar River, followed by a wonderful lunch in the relaxed and informal restaurant in the pavilion by the pool. Our first day was spent just doing that - chilling out by the warm infinity pool in the wonderful gardens.



Alternatively, you may wish to go for a long unhurried walk with the on-site naturist who can spot the selection of birds in the area, so it is a real haven for bird watchers so don't forget to take your binoculars with you. Otherwise you could book something special during your stay with a quiet boat-ride for sunset on the Periyar river.


During the day there is kayaking on the Periyar River, or you can organise a yoga session or you may even like to cycle through the Neriamangalam forest which is quite a rewarding experience too.


If you wish to travel further afield then a visit to the Thattekad bird sanctuary is recommended. Whatever you decide during your time here, you will leave feeling refreshed as this unique and stunning retreat is good for the body, the mind and the soul.


Inchathotty Suspension Bridge:

On our second day, we personally chose a a leisurely stroll through the village to the Inchathotty suspension bridge early in the morning. John had arranged in advance for for us to go the kayaking; this is something which I had never done before. Early morning is a great time to visit the bridge because of the sunrise over the river and the beautiful light it casts on the water and the greenery and surrounding hills. Of course sunset is an ideal time too for all you photography buffs out there.


'Our Walk Across the Inchathotty Suspension Bridge'


Our walk on the suspension bridge was quite an exciting experience, as it shook when you walked. The bridge is a fantastic spot to enjoy the panoramic views and the charming countryside.  I am so glad that we got up early to experience this during our stay in Inchathotty it was so peaceful and serene.



Kayaking and Paddle Boats:

Our kayaking experience with our personal guide was great fun along the Periyar River and we also entered the side canals where we saw a myriad of different birds along our route; we even saw a spot where elephants come down to the river. 


Our kayaking safety guide on the Periyar River Inchathott Kerala India
'Our Kayaking Guide'

We also learned a lot from our guide who stayed alongside us for the duration of our kayaking experience for safety purposes. He spoke of many things, including the surrounding rubber plantations and the process of extracting the rubber from the trees which is eventually exported around the world; the predominant market is for the production of tyres apparently.


For those that prefer, there are also paddle boats to hire instead of the kayaks which work your legs rather than arms and shoulder as paddling in a kayak for 2 hours can get quite tiring if you are not used it. We highly recommend either a kayak or a paddle boat journey on this amazing river as an activity to experience during your time here, and do remember that you can organise a sunset session if you so prefer.


The Periyar River is just gorgeous and so tranquil which makes it a really relaxing and fun experience to do. It actually runs for 440 kilometres (273 miles)and is the longest river in Kerala.



Rubber Plantations:

There are endless natural rubber plantations in Inchathotty; we stopped briefly on our trip to the suspension bridge to visit a small plantation and observe how the tapped latex is collected from the trees.


We learned about the rubber trees which have to grow for five to seven years before they can be tapped. Rubber trees are generally tapped once every two days which only yields a cupful of latex that contains approximately 50 grams of rubber; it is not a quick process. After the trees are tapped, this sticky latex is then mixed with formic acid to create a coagulation that looks like curds of milk and it is this process that actually extracts the rubber itself.  The rubber is then washed and dried and compacted into blocks and sold for export.



Natural rubber is used in excess worldwide and has over 40,000 uses which include medical and surgical gloves, aircraft and car tyres, clothes, toys etc.  It is a very important polymer used by our society.  It was certainly very interesting to see this process.



You can if you wish organise to visit a traditional Keralan farmhouse and spend time learning about the tree tapping process in depth and then experience a lunch with a local family who work on the rubber plantations.


Thattekad Bird Sanctuary:

The Thattekad Bird Sanctuary is one of the best known for ornathologists; it is described as the richest and most acclaimed bird habitat on India’s peninsular. Opened in 1983, it is the first bird sanctuary in Kerala and is located in a dense forest covering 25 square metres (9.65 square miles) at the foothills of the Western Ghats.  It has two rivers and two streams which run through it and shelters approximately 300 species of birds which are mainly forest rather than water birds.  


You are best to take a guided birdwatching trail through the forest that takes approximately 3 to 3 1/2 hours to complete, or alternatively a river boat trip to look at it from a different perspective; you can expect to pay from around 150 Rupees for the boat trip, both of which can be booked at the main entrance.  Some of the species that you may see on your journey through the forest include Malabar Grey Hornbills, Grey Drongoes, Kingfishers, Flycatchers, Warblers, Sunbirds, Flowerpeckers and rarer species including Sri Lanka frogmouth to name but a few.


Weather


As Inchathotty is within the State of Kerala, the weather is the same as it is across the state; it is a hot tropical climate which has a high humidity factor and generally you will experience high temperatures throughout the year. There are both dry and rainy seasons. The summer season is from March to June when you can expect temperatures in the region of 35 degrees and the rainy monsoon season is from June to September, although it does not rain continuously during this time so people do still visit, as the state becomes beautiful lush green from the rain and it is a sight to behold.


It is suggested that best time to visit is during the winter months October to February when the temperatures are lower and it is pleasant for sightseeing.


Our Conclusion


"If you are looking for a place to stopover on your journey through Kerala, then we highly recommend this spot where you lose all sense of time. Feel at one with nature, it is great for calming your mind and rejuvenating your body and your soul."

Not only is Inchathotty near Thattekad Kerala South India a stunning location to enjoy, you are also completely away from the hustle and bustle of the roads and towns. Nothing better in our eyes when travelling through India than to have a bolthole to recharge your batteries.


A stay at the 'Windermere Riverhouse' in our opinion is a must; you will be met with the most exceptional service and the best night's sleep with nothing to disturb you and you will leave feeling totally revived ready for the remainder of your journey through Kerala.


Our blog maybe short about this area, but we think it gives a great overview of this special place. If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to get in touch with us via the 'Contact Us' form below.


Thank you for reading our blog and "seeing the world through our eyes."



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