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 a remote plantation surrounded by forest, 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 view of the remote plantation surrounded by forest; 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 remain as plantation but adhering to strict eco friendly practices. 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.
At Fringe Ford you will get traditional Malabar cuisine. You can experience here an 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.