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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in India

By The Riverside: a tiny hideaway wrapped in the wilderness

Staying here is about getting off-grid and being close to nature while living life like a local person…

By Pravin Shanmughanandam
Manager of By The Riverside

We are blessed to be in a place like this. The house is on a coconut farm in the foothills of a tiger reserve, with a river running along its boundary, in a stunning, undiscovered part of India. Staying here is about getting off-grid and being close to nature while living life like a local person. 

It’s a very small property, with just six rooms, and we want to keep things simple. For instance, we don’t have room service, but we have a dining hall where you look out over a small pond. The food is authentic Chettinad cuisine, local South Indian food, cooked without much oil or spice. Most of the dishes are traditional handmade recipes passed on through families. It’s a set menu, and you get to interact with the cook and find out about the dishes, which are not ones that you come across in mainstream hotels or restaurants. 

There are three types of rooms: garden rooms, private pool rooms and mountain-view rooms. The private pool rooms appeal to people who just want to relax in peace and quiet. The mountain-facing room is for nature lovers: you put your chair out and you can count 30 or 40 species of birds right from your balcony or go for a walk around the farm and see what other wildlife you can spot. We don’t have TVs in the rooms and the Wi-Fi goes if there’s heavy rain, so you can really escape the noise of modern life here. 

If you want to explore, we can tailor-make experiences for you, whether you’re into handicrafts or nature. There’s an organic farm where they make soap, a village of weavers, pottery making and so on, and we can take you on an immersive wildlife trek with a local who knows the area like the back of their hand. Everything we do is by walking, and you may come face to face with an elephant while you’re inside a deep, dense jungle, but it’s more about interpreting nature. So the whole experience gets elevated, because right from the breaking of a branch to the rustle of a leaf, from a pug mark to a smell to the call of a bird, the guide will interpret it for you. 

I’m a son of the soil. My own farm is 15 minutes away, and going and watching elephants was a childhood hobby. That’s why I started doing wildlife tours, then documenting the native arts and crafts in this region. I want people to come here and be at their leisure, exploring the place one day at a time, not packing each day with things to do from morning till evening but letting things unfold organically as if they were staying with friends.

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Alfred & Pravin Shanmughanandam

Born into a farming family in rural Pollachi, Pravin grew up exploring the dense, biodiverse forests of Anamalais with his grandparents. After graduating in management studies from Bangalore, he came back home and started a travel magazine, The Pollachi Papyrus, which morphed into a travel company that curates and promotes authentic, immersive experiences. In 2020, he undertook operations and management of By The Riverside, a boutique nature resort in the foothills of Sethumadai.