Looking for an eco-friendly homestay in Munnar? Paulson and Elza from Kerala have created a stunning treehouse on a 400-year-old jamun tree.
No matter what your age is, there’s little chance you wouldn’t find the idea of living on a tree fascinating.
Kerala couple Paulson and Elza, too, found the thought alluring. This, combined with their desire to live as close to nature as possible, led them to conceptualise Jungle Jive Tree House in 2012.
“My wife and I wanted to return to India after spending a considerable number of years in Dubai. Our only criteria was to be able to give our children the same opportunities that we had growing up here. Being close to nature was of utmost importance,” Paulson tells The Better India.
Elza notes, “Our life in Dubai was comfortable, but what we missed the most was greenery. We wanted to give our children access to green spaces and moving to Munnar was something that we often discussed.”
Paulson and Elza have four children — three sons and one daughter — and each one of them is environmentally conscious, working towards making a meaningful difference to their immediate surroundings, he says. “Whether it is recycling materials or just being conscious of how much we consume,” adds Elza.
Paulson has many memories of the land where the treehouse has been built.
“I have a deep connection with many of the trees here. As a young child, I would always try and climb these,” he adds.
It was Paulson’s grandfather who purchased the piece of land in Devagiri, Munnar years ago. Given its close proximity to the hill station of Munnar, it attracts many tourists. Paulson and Elza kept this in mind while deciding to build their own eco-friendly treehouse.
He says, “Even when my grandfather was looking after the property, he ensured that none of the trees was cut down. He was cultivating land without any damage to the existing green cover. He had also built a treehouse, which was used as a watchtower during his times. This was to make sure that the elephants that crossed our fields did not destroy the trees in the process.”
Paulson says that he has many memories of that treehouse, which he wanted to recreate not just for his own children, but also for other tourists.
From Dubai to Munnar
“Since the land was family-owned, we had leased it to local farmers while we were away,” says Paulson. However, when the family returned, they found that excess use of chemicals had made the land infertile. “We wanted to introduce organic farming, and prepared the land accordingly,” he explains.
Elza adds, “In 2012, when we made the move from Dubai, Munnar had just started turning into a tourist destination. We met many people who were trying to build resorts and hotels, but they were all cutting down trees for this. While we also wanted to build an eco-stay, we were sure that we would not cut a single tree. It was with this thought in mind that Paulson and I decided on a treehouse.”
For this, the couple selected a 400-year-old wild Jamun tree after examining several of the large and dense trees in their fields. Along with the treehouse, they also started cultivating tea, coffee, black pepper and cardamom on their land. Paulson says, “Our treehouse is two-storied and is about 10 feet above the ground. It has a total of four rooms, all of which have attached bathrooms. To support the treehouse, four pillars have been erected below.”
Speaking about the construction material used in building the treehouse, Paulson says, “We tried to ensure that we only use natural materials like bamboo, wood and metal. The stairs have been made using bamboo and metal. From the rooms on the first floor, you can see the garden we have nurtured.”
He adds, “From the second floor, you get an unobstructed view of the mountains. The temperature here remains welcoming throughout the year. This also means that we do not need to install an air conditioner in the treehouse — it remains naturally cool.”
And aside from environment-friendly aspects, it’s the warmth and hospitality of the hosts, and their efforts to make sure everything is taken care of, that will make your stay worthwhile.
From providing the guests with wholesome home-cooked meals to organising day trips and camps for them during their stay, Elza and Paulson are constantly finding new ways of improving. A review that the couple often gets to hear is how peacefully their guests sleep when in the treehouse, surrounded by so much greenery. Elza says, “Many guests who visit us come to take a break from their hectic schedules. They enjoy the peace and quiet here. They say that even the food tastes fresh here.”
The room tariff begins from Rs 5,500 and goes upwards depending on what package you opt for. For more details, click here.
(Edited by Divya Sethu)