Updated: Aug 2, 2019
The small are easily overlooked. No one making a list of Indian heritage hotels would forget to mention the world renowned and luxurious Lake Palace on Lake Pichola in Udaipur. Kerala’s Lake Palace is not even known to all Indians, although millions of nature enthusiasts know of the Periyar National Park. Its rough hilly terrain encompasses three different tree zones, an abundance of animal species and an extensive lake landscape, making it one of the most beautiful locations in the country. More than a quarter of a million visitors visit the park each year to take boat rides or join one of the guided hikes through the park. Some of them camp in the park for days, accompanied by armed rangers. The core zone however remains strictly inaccessible to visitors. The intention is to prevent any disturbance of the park’s tigers, which seldom put in an appearance.
Can there actually be a hotel in the middle of such a sheltered, remote and amazingly thrilling wilderness? A Lake Palace?. Yes there can. Guided boat tours on the lake take visitors past an island on which the outline of the palace can be seen, partially hidden behind trees. The palace has only 6 rooms and is fully booked during the tourist season. Thats hardly surprising, given its one of a kind in the world location.
The lodge was constructed in 1899 to accomodate the hunting guests of the Maharajah of Travancore, which was a part of present day Kerala. The construction of the Periyar dam destroyed 55 square kilometres of valuable forestland which disappeared under the rising water. The Maharajah then declared the forest a protected area. It was taken over by KTDC in 1978 making it one of India’s oldest heritage hotels.Its the perfect place for guests who enjoy whiling away the morning or afternoon hours sprawled in a sundeck under leafy trees. Theres not much luxury here. Nothing comparable to its namesake property in Udaipur. But residents wont need ultra luxury here. Instead every morning or during the day they will see a whole herd of elephants, deer, bisons or peacocks on the other side of the lake, close enough for every detail.
The decision of KTDC (Kerala Tourism Development Corporation) to convert this hunting lodge into a luxury heritage hotel turned out to be a sound one. The steps leading up to the hotel from the jetty are easy and the hotel staff takes care of your luggage. The gardens are a delight. The structure has remained intact. The rooms are spacious and smell of an age old time with beautiful antique beds, almirahs and mirrors. The black furnishings add a modern touch to the decor.Guests are unanimous in their praise for the good quality of cuisine offered. To top it all, service is outstanding. Guests are indeed “royally” treated.
Dont forget to pack your binoculars. In case you do, they have great ones too.
Wake up early for the sunrise on the lake. You can thank me later for this.
Address: Thirumala Ward, Chungam, Alappuzha, Kerala 688011
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