Do you want to trade the noise of the city for the sounds of the jungle ? Do you want to leave the pollution laden air behind for the freshness of the forest ? Do you want to leave home for … yet another home ? Well Jungle Hut, Masinagudi allows you to do exactly that and more !!! And despite its name, it is far from being a ‘hut’, providing you with all the comforts that you could want on a tranquil holiday.
Located deep in the Mudumalai forests, this beautiful resort nestles at the foothills of the Nilgiri mountains and is actually the last resort at the end of the long road that goes past the tiny hamlet of Bokkapuram, Masinagudi village in the district of Nilgiris in tamil Nadu. Fenced only in the front, it lets nature take over at the back, with its mountain bound borders.
Before you proceed –
I usually do not travel to the same place twice because the world is vast and time is disproportionately short. However, Jungle Hut was one of the places that I had visited 15 years ago with my family and there was a certain charm about it that stayed in my memory … apart from the delicious home made chocolate ice cream that they served.
So when I received the invitation to write about the place, I accepted without hesitation, knowing well that this was a place I would not regret spending more time in.
How the resort came about –
Jungle Hut is one of the earliest and oldest resorts in the area that is now filled with many more. This was the creation of Joe and Hermie Mathias who were tea planters. On retiring in 1984, they bought 20 acres of land that was lying fallow and over the years they developed the land by growing several hundreds of indigenous trees that now attract both birds and animals … and of course humans.
Being highly hospitable in nature and used to a steady stream of guests over at their plantation home, they decided in 1986 to start this resort, so that people could enjoy their bounty and they could enjoy the company.
They started out with just 2 cottages and a borrowed fridge that ran on kerosene and now 32 years later the place boasts of 16 cottages and a host of modern amenities.
Their initial visitors were a lot of foreigners who would make their bookings via (postal) mail and telegrams (in the days of yore 😀 )
Their son Vikram and his wife Anushri have now been running the place for the past few years and they stay on the property with their children.
About the resort –
The 20 acre space contains the parking lot, the games room, dining hall, kitchen, reception/office area cum gift shop, the extended porch (gazebo), the audio visual cum children’s TV room and the owner’s residence. The staff quarters lie behind the main building and so do their sheds and coops for their domestic animal and birds.
The resort has a total of 16 rooms that are grouped in little cottage like clusters.
All the rooms are large and airy and equipped with the standard facilities for tea/coffee, kettles, glass water bottles etc.
Large windows frame the view and one can draw the blinds for privacy.
There is air conditioning, which I seriously think no one would ever need in that place.
All cottages have quaint porches where one can sit and enjoy the view.
The washrooms are pleasing, with their large mirrors and aesthetically done up tiles, walls and flooring.
They are spic and span and a pleasure to use.
The in house carpenter has innovatively and skillfully fashioned the most charming wooden clothes pegs and tissue holders with the wood from the resort.
Some of the older rooms have bright paintings of the local animals/birds on the bedroom wall.
The rooms are capable of accommodating 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 children.
There is no intercom or room service but the main building is not too far away and cell phone signals do work.
Room categories –
The 2 basic categories are the premium rooms and standard rooms.
The premium rooms have an extra ante room at the entrance and have also been recently refurbished with enhanced decor.
The 4 standard rooms have similar facilities but do not have the extra foyer.
Apart from the regular cottages, the premium category also includes 2 (semi) tented rooms and 2 cottages on stilts.
The semi tented rooms are tucked away in a secluded corner of the property and are usually occupied by honeymooners or those looking for privacy, romantic or otherwise. The walls are of canvas but the roofs are tiled and thatched and the structure is built on a raised platform.
Besides being large and well equipped with all the amenities as the other cottages, these have a large window and also a long verandah which offers them a picture perfect view of the mountains.
The stilted cottages are the other end of the resort away from the main building. They too offer a view of the mountains as well as the central water body.
The grounds –
Clusters of bamboo thickets abound on the premises. There are two water bodies, one near the swimming pool where the ducks and geese swim in and one larger one behind the cottages, with a charming bridge and central gazebo all crafted in house, in wood.
There is a spectacular view of the mountains from the Blue’tiful swimming pool and the deck nearby has a bonfire pit where the fires are lit every night.
There is also a children’s play area with swings and tyres and tree house.
There are hundreds of trees that include the Silk cotton, Silver Oak and Rain tree, some of which have taken birth along with the resort.
The simple Bare necessities are pretty much covered by the fruit like the Ber, which also take care of Bear necessities when a stray Bear or two come a visiting 😀 (Ber is the Indian Jujube)
Cashew and Jamun (Java plum) can also be found on the premises.
Most of the fruit are eaten by the birds and squirrels which the owners are very generous towards.
There are 2 cows, several geese and ducks including the very important looking Muscovy ducks with their wattle covered eyes and pompous gait.
Spotted Deer (chittal) have adopted the resort and they stroll around the place, coming out in herds especially in the early mornings and evenings and the sight of them nonchalantly grazing, fills the city dweller with sheer enchantment.
An occasional elephant or bear do come and steal from their jamuns and other vegetation but I was (un)lucky enough not to come across any 😀
Responsible tourism and community development –
The owners have always believed in being responsible towards the environment. Usage of plastic is minimized, paper straws are used, local produce is bought for cooking, composting is carried out, energy efficient lighting is used, solar panels provide the heating for heating kitchen and bath water and rain water harvesting systems are in place.
To a large extent, the decor and furnishings use local material. The services and skill of local tribals and villagers who inhabit the vicinity, are utilized for most of the jobs on site, thus enhancing the economic welfare of the communities.
The local government schools benefit from their largesse in the form of furniture, books and other equipment and material required. Along with help from friends, they sponsor the education of over 40 children.
They look after the housing, medical and educational needs of the employees and their families. Some of their employees have been with them almost from the start.
Gift shop –
There is a tiny gift shop that occupies space in a corner of the front office, next to a faux fireplace. Many of the items here are Nilgiri centric and made by the tribals.
Here they sell also their homemade jams and pickles, T shirts with punny jungle themed messages to drive you Hissterical while you are Multitusking. You get the drift ?
They also have souvenir coffee mugs, essential oils distilled in the Nilgiris, forest honey, multi purpose notebooks from recycled paper, pencils from rolled newspaper, jungle themed books and also varieties of teas.
Another unique brand at their gift shop is the Secret Pillow Project which is an initiative started by an English friend of the owners. This is a women empowerment project where she employs the tribal and local women to produce secret sarees (those which open out into a ready made sarong of sorts), secret pillow (which is actually a folded blanket), secret shawls that fold down into a purse and such like. These are all exported to the UK and Jungle Hut is the only retail outlet in India. Do connect with Jungle Hut directly if you wish to purchase these interesting articles.
Anushri obligingly modelled one of the Secret sarees for me, so you can get an idea of its purpose 😀
At my behest she also said she would think about selling the wooden items that they craft in house, like the wooden clothes pegs, bamboo cutlery holders etc.
Phone and internet connectivity –
Currently it is mainly BSNL which works well in many of the areas. Locals are helpful though and are ever willing to lend their phones.
The other phone services also work in certain spots but Jungle Hut has its WiFi facility within its office area. In the rooms, one will have to depend on the vagaries of one’s own service provider.
Visitor profile –
The owners are very particular about their guest profile and strive to maintain the family centric ethos of the place.
It is also a good place for birdwatchers, artists, photographers and those who want to spend their holiday in solitude and peace.
It is ideal for those who look for an atmosphere where the place is not overrun by corporate team outings or bachelors. In fact the website says Stags not allowed. Fortunately the deer cannot read and hence the necessity does not arise, of explaining to them that the warning is meant only for the human species 😀
Best time to visit –
Being situated deep in the forest and at the foothills of the Nilgiris, any time through the year is a good time, climate wise.
Temperatures through the year range from as low as 18 deg c in winters to about 37 deg c in summers.
The monsoon season from June – October is one of the nicest times to visit this place, with weather so consistently perfect that it seems Utopian.
The summer months of March to May are a good time for bird watching because the trees are abloom with flowers are fruit. This is also the holiday season for Indian schools and there are a lot of families that visit.
But this season can also get a bit warm, so foreigners who are very keen on bird spotting, usually tend visit this place from October to March where they come in quite large numbers with target lists of birds to sight. The guides that the resort offers, are well trained and make sure that the visitors get to fulfil as many of their feathered aspirations as possible.
Being in the rain shadow area, also ensures moderate showers and hence one is not handicapped by heavy rain.
Getting there –
Jungle Hut Masinagudi can be accessed from the nearby airports, railway stations of Mysore (2 hours by road), Coimbatore (3 hours by road), Calicut (3.5 hours by road) and Bangalore (5 hours by road).
Comfortable air conditioned Volvo buses ply from most of the nearby big cities. Most of the buses stop at the junction at Theppkadu on the main road, from where the various resorts send their vehicles to pick up their guests. Shared Jeep taxis also ply and carry commuters to surrounding villages.
My journey –
I was booked on the 6.15 am KSRTC Airavat Club Class bus from the Shantinagar Bus Stand at Bangalore. Though the buses are quite regular, keeping perfect time is not really their thing and we set out 30 min after scheduled departure. However, KSRTC does send helpful SMS messages just before the journey, giving the drivers contact number and other relevant details.
The air conditioned bus is actually quite comfortable and does stop for loo breaks a couple of times during the 6 hour journey. Not at the best of places though … but not at the worst either !!!
The last part of the journey through the Bandipur sanctuary in Karnataka and its extension across the state border, the Mudumalai sanctuary in Tamil Nadu, was quite scenic through the forest and the driver made sure he slowed down to give us glimpses of the Indian Gaur, Peacocks and herds and herds of Deer.
My bus that left at 6.45 am, arrived at Theppekadu junction at 12.45 pm. This junction has a visitor’s center and is also where the government run jungle safaris start from. It is also the playground of hundreds of Langoors, some of which are quite bold and one would do well to maintain a safe distance.
I was picked up from here by the Jungle Hut jeep driven by Francis who has been with the resort for several years. The 14km, 30 minute drive to the resort via the jungle and the Masinagudi village, is in itself a mini safari of sorts with a profusion of deer and peacocks along and even across the road.
I reached the resort at around 1.30 pm. Always good to reach just before a meal 😀
My return journey was also booked by the KSRTC bus but a visiting couple from Bangalore were kind enough to invite me back in their car and it is even more pleasurable to do the 250 km in a private vehicle.
The roads are excellent and we made good time, with finally only the Bangalore city roads slowing us down.
For more pictures see My Facebook – Jungle Hut-Part 1-Overview
Booking and contact –
Jungle Hut is located at –
Nilgiris – 643223.
Tamil Nadu, India.
They can be contacted at their website Jungle Hut
and their Facebook Page – Jungle Hut, Masinagudi
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Pl Note – This assignment has been carried out by me, in collaboration with Jungle Hut. The information in my narrative is based on the inputs that I received from the client and also from my personal experience.
June 21st-23rd, 2018