Experience Shinrin-Yoku at its best at Shola Shack!
It all started a year back when Rajesh responded to our article about our trip to Mudumalai in the Deccan Herald. That’s when he told us about his property in Wayanad. Fast forward to this March when we started speaking again and he invited us to visit the Shola Shack. So we freeze the dates and decided to visit the Shola shack.
It was amidst this greenery that we were introduced to the concept of Forest Bathing. The Japanese call it Shinrin-Yoku. The concept was alien to us until Rajesh told us. And we surely were surprised and curious. So went through our forest bathing sessions in a sweet little eco-stay, nestled almost inside the lush Shola jungles.
With an intent of spending maximum time there we left for Wayanad by the normal route. Which was from Mysore Road → Hand Post → Bandipur → Bawali → Kattikulam. From Kattikulam we reached the Shack via Mananthavady. It took us about 6 & 1/2 hours to reach the destination. Oh, by the way, on-the-way we saw something that we always hope to see – a family of ele-friends.
The first thing we noticed as soon as we entered, was the drop in the temperature. It felt like the temperature dropped by a few degrees. Thanks to the wonderful forest that Rajesh and his team harnessed over the years. We climbed up a steep slope and a few steps to reach the common area. While we sat sipping the hot ginger tea in the balcony, Rajesh told us the story of how Shola Shack happened. And it was a story that made us happy. We were sitting beside a man who along with his dedicated team of people have embarked upon a journey to bring back the lost forest. The property was bought with an aim to plant some endangered species of plants that are critically endangered and endemic to the western ghats. The rooms are a means to support this endeavor.
Know the Shack
Currently the Shack has 2 rooms for the guests and facilities for some big groups to camp. Being an architect, Rajesh, put his skills to use and has managed to make the entire property eco-friendly. Almost every aspect of the Shack is well-thought of; be it the waste management, water conservation or the materials used to build. It also houses a mud hut and India’s first eco-toilet. The rooms are spacious and have balconies that overlook the valley and the forest. We recommend sitting there after sunset and you can just stare into the forest. Enjoy and feel the darkness. Most of our time on the first day was spent standing on the balcony and observing the zillion birds and animals that visited the Shack. Every flight we heard, Rajesh could tell the scientific name and features of that bird. Also, we spent a lot of time eating. The food was so simple and yet so delicious, that we overate every time we sat to eat. We had a ball.
Second day started with the tour of the entire property and a little sunbathing. It relaxed both our mind and body. The heat was not a problem at all for us. After lunch, we decided to go to the village doctor from the Adivasi tribe of Kurichiya. He is a Naadi Shastra expert, i.e he can feel your pulse and tell the problems you have. After we heard this, we wanted to experience it firsthand and we were stumped by the accuracy. When we reached there, we saw people flocked in from across Kerala. It was such an unusual sight. A humble setup, people waiting in line and the doctor calls one person at a time.
The surprising part is he doesn’t charge for consultation or medicines. According to them, it is a sin to accept money for treating people. You can take the meds and pay whatever you like or can. Wish all doctors were like this!
So from there, we went to a nearby river, which did not have a lot of water but enough for me (Beardo) to take a dip. I love swimming in ponds and rivers. Loved this too. A quick detour and Rajesh took us to wonderful secluded place, it is where the forests began. As it started raining, we left for the Shack. Many enlightening conversations and a meal later, we called it a night.
The next morning, we stopped at our aunts place in Thrisselary for breakfast and returned to Bangalore via Nagarhole. The journey was so therapeutic and we look forward to more journeys likes this. “It is seldom that you meet people like Rajesh who want to extend the forest into their properties. It just gives you hope.”