Snuggled into a cosy valley, high up in the hills, with the grand old forest peaks towering paternally around it. Fringe Ford is as cut off from the world as you can get. It probably doesn’t feature on a map, has no traffic fumes, no traffic, not even a road, and is thankfully ignored by the cell phone towers. What is does have however, is a fabulous, authentic experience of living in the middle of the jungle, some great treks, silver silence punctuated only by the occasional warning calls of birds or monkeys when a carnivore comes visiting. And it offers you the best peace you’ve had on vacation anywhere anytime.
There is a 360 degree view of jungle; all looking identical, but each with its own tale. The balding Namboodri peaks, named after the estate’s ex-accountant, the range of hills that rises almost perpendicular at the back of the house, which once climbed, leads one on to Coorg, the peak out there, with the watch tower, which was built one day, and demolished that night by wild elephants.
Fringe Ford was named by the Englishman who had first bought the land and built it into a plantation. It changed hands since then, and was finally acquired by its present landlord, Ahmed, who being a naturalist, let the land go back to the forest. In fact, the 520-acre property shares its boundaries, not fences with the wildlife sanctuaries of Wyanad and Tholpaty reserve forest, making this entire stretch, one of the last remaining bastions of the Malabar rain forests around, with shelter for its fauna and flora.
Fringe Ford itself, is a beautiful low-slung bungalow, with mangalore tiles, and the wide glass windows that make it a 24-hour look out for some of the best wildlife around. There are 3 rooms in the main house, with another 5 rooms coming up a level higher, near the rock-pond and the perennial stream that is the background track to your evening bonfire. Each room is snugly outfitted with heavy wooden furniture, the softest beds you can climb into after a hard day’s trek, and luxurious bathrooms, some with entire walls converted into windows. Just in case, there are some peeping tom (wild) cats out there.
Old-fashioned cooking on a smoke-free charcoal stove. Start with that and there’s not much that can go wrong. The cooks dish out some local cuisine that’s hot and heart-warming. They go into the forests, for example, foraging for a local fern that grows nowhere else in the world, and chop it up into dinner. Other Kerala dishes make up the rest of the menu, and what makes it even more unforgettable, is that you get to eat in the kitchen itself, around a large wooden table, or against the backdrop of the flaming setting sun, or even get it all carted to a nearby waterfall, where you can trek to, only to find the food waiting already.
Whichever way you come in, you’ve finally got to make the last stretch by road, which being a National Highway in Kerala, is a really well-maintained one. At Talapoya, it is recommended that you leave your vehicle at our designated pick-up point, and then make the trek upto Fringe Ford in the pick-up van we send you.
The nearest cities to Fringe Ford areThalassery (60 km) and Cannore (75 km)
The nearest airport is Calicut (135 km). From Calicut , the road connects through – Kalpetta – Mananthvadi – Talapoya to Fringe Ford. The entire drive time is estimated at 3hrs.
The nearest rail stop is Mysore (130 km). The road connect Mysore , through Gundelpet – Sultan Bathery – Meenangadi – Mananthvadi – Talapoya to Fringe Ford. Drive time is around 3hrs. There is also a train stop at Calicut .
Calicut : From Calicut , the road connects through – Kalpetta – Mananthvadi – Talapoya to Fringe Ford. The entire drive time is estimated at 3hrs.
Mysore : The road connect Mysore , through Gundaelpet – Sultan Bathery – Meenangadi – Mananthvadi – Talapoya to Fringe Ford. Drive time is around 3hrs.
Ooty : The road connect Ooty (150 km), through Gundalpet – Sultan Bathery – Meenangadi – Mananthvadi – Talapoya to Fringe Ford. Drive time is around 4 hrs.
Coimbatore : Travelling from Coimbatore (250 km) involves hitting the Ooty road, and then making the usual route through Gundalpet, Sultan Bathery, Meenangadi and Manantavadi. Drive time estimated at 7 hours.