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Resort Review: Evolve Back Kuruba Safari Lodge, Kabini in India

By LLM Reporters on 31st March 2019

On the fringes of the famed Nagarhole National Park and Tiger Reserve in Karnataka, Kishore and Smita Iyengar still their pace at the multi-award winning five star Evolve Back Luxury Resort –Kabini.


Our bumpy ride down the hills into game country brought us to the Kabini River, meandering around the world famous Nagarhole National Park and Tiger Reserve. Here, on the fringes of this pristine water body, the Evolve Back Luxury Resort Kabini offered an entirely exhilarating experience for us.

Part of the Nilgiri Biosphere, bordered by a legendary forestland and eco-sanctuary this inspiring, multi global award-winning luxury resort, deemed several times as India’s Leading Wildlife Resort’ , is designed as a living haven styled on the lines of the local, indigenous Kadu Kuruba tribal homes.


The Evolve Back Luxury Resort Kabini is an award winning luxury eco-resort

Yet another globally renowned award winning destination of natural bounty and rare bio diversity, -the Evolve Back Luxury Resort Kabini lives up the regional tribal ethos and harmonious sync with the ecology that dominate the central philosophy of award winning, globally acknowledged responsible tourism.

On the languid Kabini river, this is another kind of endearing peace announcing its welcome to visitors. On the water’s edge are spacious, hand constructed luxury huts in the Kadu Kuruba tribal design accents of the Hadis (tribal villages), quaint bush pathways and walkways leading to various features of the resort.

Welcomed warmly by Thomas Paul, the unassuming and effusive General Manager Operations of this fascinating destination, we were briefed by him with easy going flair about the ethos and eco-philosophy of the resort that has been endearing to a growing number of dedicated global visitors in search of real, world class experiences that have won numerous awards for this unique five star hospitality property.


Pool Reserve villas reflect the ultimate in decadent luxury living

Luxury here is exemplified in extra spacious individual ‘huts’ that reflect the ultimate in decadent, state-of-the-art lifestyle. Their expansive Pool Reserve is fit for a monarch with magnificent, upscale safari lodge design and interiors, extra large living and dining areas, indulgent bedroom, luxuriating bath and ozonized and temperature controlled swimming pool.

The unique, one-of-its-kind highlight is an elevated stairway Star Bed with a charming canopy high up in the surround of stately trees that allows you to gaze and ponder over the starlit sky in a gorgeous bed. With a chilled flute of a suave Nicolas Feuillate Champagne waiting in the wings, you soak in the nocturnal romance with your beloved as the noir environment enchants you in nature’s lap.

The elevated Star Bed offers a unique and unforgettable experience

The luxury indoor courtyard pool huts with bedroom, living and dining spaces and a sit out relaxation verandah deck make it an unforgettable experience complete with bird song and natural sights. Each luxury hut is equipped with modern amenities, relaxing ambience, sit outs for nature and bird watching and spending real quality time in the lap of nature.

Architecture, construction, interiors and designing of every aspect of the luxury resort adhere firmly to endearing local heritage and ecological sensibilities, reinforced with practical and modern infrastructure. We found it exciting to discover every tiny aspect of such attention to detail and appreciation of local expression in different forms.

The Pool Hut suite combines luxury with an eco-sensitive philosophy

The intriguing interiors of each living space brings alive the creative ethos of local crafts, hand finished elements and eco-sensitive philosophy. Our fabulous private Pool Hut suite was decked with bottle gourd lamps, hand-plastered facades and flooring, vernacular and ethnic furniture finished to feather soft excellence, tribal furnishings and soft luminance spots to add to the country seduction. Thatched roofs, open-to-sky inner courtyards and mud-plastered walls attract little birds of many feathers.

Attention to the smallest detail come alive as we explored around. Nothing was installed readymade, -hand made was the baseline. In keeping with their ‘Spirit of The Land’ philosophy, local artistic accents are sensibly highlighted, a serious encouragement of regional tastes, bio-diversity and simple yet highly evolved lifestyle.


The Honeycomb serves a multi-cuisine menu accompanied by fine vintage wines

Dining here is an everyday discovery. At their multi-cuisine ‘Honeycomb’ eclectic global dishes jostle with Indian specialties, organic cuisine and local flavors of the Kurubas. The large buffet spread for all meals makes choices a tad perplexing as guests indulge liberally in delicacies over fine vintage wines. Our first multi-course dinner was exciting, washed smoothly with a well picked red, a Chateau Los Boldos Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile’s Cachapoal Valley. As the cool breezes lilted our mood, we took in the peppery and blackcurrant notes, the fresh tannins and full-bodied complexity adding zest to dishes like Kerala Curry Meen, Avial and Paneer Achari.

The spherically laid out all candlelight romantic Kuruba Grill whips up grills and off-the-skewer wonders that thrill by the minute. We chose a vegetarian sizzler and the irresistible garlic and cardamom paneer tikka that matched a marvelous Chateau De Fontenille Bordeaux from France that lit up our palates with green pepper, black truffles and lingering ripe fruit flavors.

‘By The Kabini’ is the ideal location for a candlelit romantic meal

But the icing on the riverside cake was experienced the next two evenings.

‘By The Kabini’, the thrilling outer dining deck overseeing the placid, shimmering Kabini river and the hills beyond, beckoned to us with candlelight and lantern glows, a petite bridge leading us to an immaculately laid out table for an intimate night of fine wining and dining.

With our own steward-in-waiting, we tucked into Continental and wok-stirred delights as two wines graced our keen palates… a fine Frizzante (sparkling) Riunite Lambrusco Emilia IGT Amabile enchanted us with plum, fruity and berry flavors. As the piping entrees came along, a super South African Pinotage –Two Oceans from Paarl with unmistakable cherry and oak aromas teased our the palates with clove, musk and saffron flavors.

The Sundowner Deck overlooks the tranquil Kabini River

An exciting Sundowner Deck overlooking the tranquil river sets the mood for the evening as spatial mauve and amber juxtapose with a crackling bonfire, fine cocktails, choicest wines and piping canapes across sumptuous sofas and hearty conversation. Vishnu Soman –Food & Beverage Manager and our cheery host smiled his hospitality welcome with verve, offering us a finely chilled white blend in Chateau de Fontenille –Entre Deux Mers from Bordeaux, France. His courtesies and easy going demeanor are a favorite with guests and many repeat visitors of the resort.

One more romantic dining sojourn that was laid out exclusively for us by Ankita Chakraborty -the ever smiling and charming Asst. Manager Hospitality, was the Infinity Pool Moonlight Dining experience complete with floral décor and mellow country lanterns, fine wines and a splendid four course leisure gourmet menu to match, that inched well into the langoring night.

For romantic couples and newlyweds the candlelight river Rice Boat Cruise dining experience is like none other. While specialties are whipped up right on board while you whisper intimate unforgettables over a chilled Portugese Mateus Brut Rose adding spirited verve to the moments, the boat gentle rocks on the placid Kabini as an orange moon looms over the hills, casting a seductive glow, well into the night.

The Rice Boat Cruise is a seductive experience not to be missed


At Kabini, wildlife conservation is of paramount importance where encouraging limited visitor access to the Nagarhole Game Reserve is enforced and high levels of personal awareness created in myriad ways.

Our boat river safari and the wildlife safari were out-of-the-world experiences that brought us up close to ‘distinguished’ creatures. Short films and videos took us on journeys of realization and appreciation of the land’s wild inhabitants and their right to live and be protected peacefully.

Later, as we drove three hours down the hills, to the fringe of the world renowned Nagarhole Game Reserve (Rajiv Gandhi National Park) on the Kabini river. Here, rare and endangered species co-exist in protected freedom with unique bird life and another distinct tribal population –the Kadu Kurubas, whom we came face-to-face with.

Their authentic Kerala Ayurveda Vaidyasala on the estate offers centuries honed holistic rejuvenation therapies and treatments.


Evolve showcases eco-technology while retaining a sense of luxury

Their Interpretation Center illustrates in great detail the ecological aspects of the region and the fragile biosphere that the resort is doing best to preserve along with local communities and the government. In fact we were told that the resorts have their own wind power facility which even supplies power to the government. Reverse osmosis plants cut down need for bottled water, only direct purified drinking water flows into every accommodation!

The very same locals have been actively involved and employed to contribute their artistic and practical skills in both resorts, Natural waste wall artworks and paintings, hand crafted furniture, doors, windows and partitions, accommodation items like flower vases, fruit bowls, terracotta lamp holders and much more reflect local expression and creativity.

Interiors reflect local expression and creativity

Our naturalists mentioned to us about educating them, taking them on safaris to enlighten them, funding their schools and development projects, periodic health, immunization and dental camps, even a monthly checkup by a resort appointed doctor. Most of all, with the resorts’ visitors coming over to the small hamlets for first-hand insights, regular village cleanup programs have succeeded.

In contrast to the much hyped about city fad for organic produce, we were gladdened to find that the resorts have encouraged local farmers to seek authentic Organic Certification to source local produce in greater quantities.

A quick lunch awaited us at ‘Honeycomb’ the all-day dining restaurant lined up with Kuruba flavors. Our resort cruise boat revved up towards the shores of the Nagarhole Game Sanctuary. With baited breath we aimed our lenses at passing herds of elephants, sprinting deer, hordes of restless primates and noisy cormorants roosting on tree stumps around the river Kabini.


The Reading Lounge is an excellent spot to relax and take in the surrounding nature

There’s nothing like unwinding by a verandah on large sofa chaises overlooking a calming water body, a book in hand and the resort’s very own much awarded fine Sidapur freshly brewed coffee for company. On the elevated Reading Lounge with an impressive fireplace, we stilled our nerves, occasionally watching egrets, chaffinches, and beaver birds do their waltz, the tall grass whistling away into our relaxed stares. Life stood still to nothingness. We had arrived.


The Resort has been rated with ‘25 World’s Best Ecolodges’ by National Geographic Traveler and winner of the World Legacy Awards Winner 2015.
Has also won the prestigious ‘Earth Changers’ Award at the World Legacy Awards (WLA) by National Geographic in Berlin, Germany on 5th March, 2015.

The ‘Earth Changers’ Award “recognizes cutting edge global leadership in environmentally friendly business practices and green technology, from renewable energy and water conservation to zero-waste systems and carbon-emission reduction”. Feathers in the cap for Responsible and Sustainable Tourism.

Address: Bheeramballi, Kote, Karnataka 571116, India
Phone: +91 80 4618 4444