Banasura Island Resort
For its setting alone this new resort makes the grade. Overlooking the 64 sq km Banasura Sagar Dam catchment area and unusually (for Wayanad) set upon a sparse grassland shola forest with the hills for a backdrop, every room catches the breeze coming off the expansive waters. Elephant sightings, we were assured, are commonplace. The ambience is a mix of contemporary kitsch and Kerala-style architecture, but not unbearable. Trekking, jeep safaris and speedboat rides are arranged.
21km from Kalpetta, straight ahead from the dam’s ticket counter, 5km to the left of the T-junction (no signages whatsoever); not to be confused with the nearby Banasura Hill Resort, which does not overlook the dam waters. Accommodation: 1 honeymoon cottage, one 2-room cottage (also given out individually), 5 rooms in a nallukettu (central courtyard)-style building, another 6 in the main block, where the reception and restaurant are located Best rooms: All rooms have a view of the reservoir but the honeymoon cottage is best placed and entirely independent. Service: Good Food: Multi-cuisine fixed menu, no à la carte Tariff: Rs 4,000-5,000 on double occupancy plus 15 per cent luxury tax Contact: 09387 - 359349, 096455 - 46295, 081292 - 23484, 085475 - 06961, 099464 - 87776, firstname.lastname@example.org.
A travelogue by Jose Niveditha during the Wayand Monsoon Carnival.
It took about 30 minutes drive from Kalpetta to the Banasura Dam site and another 4km drive through the rustic countryside took us to the foot of Banasura mountain. We passed the shutters of the dam and entered a rural setting which reminded us of a scene torn out of an old classic film.
“A shepherd is on the way to his nest with the sheep, labourers way back to home after a day’s toil, the sun is leaving the day for the night, and birds flying towards the nest…..” We left the tarred road for a metalled road and entered thick jungle. And Rakesh Banasura, the day’s host has been in constant touch.
At many points the endless expanse of Banasura Dam waters intercepted our vision. From long distance, we found the Banasura Island Resort atop a peninsular hillock. The Banasura peak just behind was majestic and the water front down kissing the property. Vipin, the manager received us at the entrance and the view from the spot was just exotic. The 23 acre property is the only link that connects the mountain with the water front. Half the view is robbed by water and the other half grabbed by the mountains. In between is the Island Retreat-It is not a place, but, a feeling…..Just come and have the feel.
After having supper we sat at the cottage facing water. The moon has his miracle on the water surface with a million stars shining below. We were silent and through myriad ways, moon interacted with our silence.
Early morning we saw Elephant herds roaming at the nearby hillock. With children I went for an open bath in the tiny waterfall just few metres away. There was a bathing spot where smooth pebbles kissed our feet. The jungle brook giggled off to the bushes and the music remained.
The suite rooms and the wooden cottages are spacious, airy and provide fantastic views in all directions. The cuisine is buffet, native style and made from local vegetables, some of which is grown within the farm. The resort hosts features such as swimming, fishing and trekking apart from boat rides and sight-seeing at the Dam. The resort includes a children’s park, outdoor gardens, camp-fire, botanical nursery, kennels, convention hall, dining hall and a spacious car park.
The main building is constructed in the form of a “Nalukettu”, is built according to Vasthu and is in the traditional style. Building has a wooden roof with clay tiles. It uses all the terminologies of a traditional Kerala house. The house has “Nadumittam”(central courtyard), “Kolai”(verandah) and is “Chathurmugham”(four faces). It includes many terminologies such as Sopanam, Monthayam, Thazhikakudam, Attam, Soothram and so on.
In the morning we had a speed boat adventure in the Dam. We saw mist clad mountains, elephant herds, meadows and so on.
Flaura and Fauna at Wayanad
A Park Dedicated to Butterflies
For the butterfly enthusiasts of the district, the results of the recent ‘butterfly survey’ are a reason for hope and joy. The Greens of Nilgiri Biosphere have been exploring ways for establishing a butterfly park in the Wildlife Sanctuary for quite sometime. The sensitive eco-system of the Western Ghats also is ideal for butterfly hatcheries, points out experts.
The region in total harbours 333 species of butterflies of which 41 were endemic. North Wayanad division has got 149 species and the wildlife sanctuary has got 141 species. The survey team found rare species of butterflies such as Baby Five Ring, Black Price, Colour Sergeant and Spot Puffin. Endemic species sighted in the survey were Malabar Branded Swallow Tail, Malabar Rose, Southern Bird Wing, Tami Dartlet, Oak Leaf etc.
With this rich presence of butterflies the forest department with support of experts can easily convert the natural park into ‘butterfly friendly’ park.
Butterflies are known for their affinity towards a particular plant (host-plant) during the larval stage. Many of these plants belong to rare, endangered and threatened category and some are medicinal plants. But the changes in habitat, human encroachments into forested areas, grazing, and climate-change are gradually pushing these species into the verge of extinction.
The concept is to identity the ‘host and nectar’ plants of butterflies and plant them in a massive basis across the forest patches. The forest department has already two butterfly parks, one at Thenmala and another at Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechy.
Instead of artificial breeding it is ideal to promote better habitat management, thus creating the ambience for butterflies to multiple themselves. It is learned that the forest department would be submitting a detailed project report for the clearance of the government after thoroughly analysing the final results.
(The writer is a researcher of Hume Centre for Ecology and Wildlife Biology, a wildlife research organization - Courtesy SPLASH Magazine and C K Vishnudas )