Words: Jia Singh
Relax, rewind and take a moment to rejuvenate your senses as you prepare to take on what life has in store for you. The monsoon in Kerala dampens the holiday spirit, makes accessibility an issue as a result of which hotels suffer terribly during this time. This year, the news had warned us on heavy torrential rainfall during the week. My parents egged me not to leave because of the warnings but I didn’t listen to them. I spent two days in the beautiful beach town of Kovalam but was super eager to visit the backwaters as it was my maiden visit to Kerala.
I had a car pick us up and bring us to the hotel in Allepey district, Kerala. We arrived at the Sarovar Vasundhara Resorts and couldn’t help but marvel at the sprawling greens, state- of-the-art facilities and houseboats and floating cottages. The resort, run and managed by Sarovar Hotels has a state of the art 24-hour gymnasium and a wonderful spa with signature Kerala treatments like the padh-abhyangam and the shirodhara. I opted for the udvarthana- a signature treatment that focused on lymphatic drainage, circulation and weight loss. The treatment consists of an exfoliating herbal powder scrub that is said to improve circulation, boost metabolism and assist with lymphatic drainage. I highly recommend it for immediate stress release and for visibly firmer skin. I felt energized, toned and taut all over after the 60-minute session.
The resort had an all-day dining restaurant, a tea stall called chaikada and a seafood restaurant called Chemeen. Carnivores like me are in for a treat because of the large variety of beef and pork dishes served with coconut shavings and cooked in coconut oil. We chose to eat a la carte because of our greed for the traditional keralite specialties like the beef coconut fry, pork in ghee and vegetables with dry coconut. Traditionally, the food in kerala is for the most part organic, farm raised, fresh and full of healthy fats such as coconut. The locals here don’t eat a lot of wheat but eat a lot of rice-based starches and ferment a lot of their drinks and vegetables. By and large, the cuisine in Kerala is extremely healthy and good for the heart as well as at promoting longevity and preventing disease. The highlight of my trip, as you can see, would have to be the food in Kerala.
We would spend our mornings doing yoga and sunbathing by the pool. You can choose to get onto one of the boats and go on a guided tour of toddy tapping and watch fishermen collect fresh crab, prawn and mussels by the bucket. Toddy tappers are skilled, agile and strong and climb the tree a few times a day as it is a dangerous and tedious process. The toddy collects in the pot after dripping all night in the form of a milky white, translucent sap. This virgin, unadulterated sap is called Neera in Kerala and it has lots of nutritional benefits. You can choose to let it ferment to become even more nutritionally dense. However, they also tap those trees that are bearing fruit. The tapping is done by the locals of that area in accordance with the government. The palm tree is used to make toddy, yeast, jaggery, palm sugar and vinegar making it a highly versatile crop. I tried toddy and although it is an acquired taste, I quite liked it.
There’s not a lot to do here while you are at Allepey. Fort Kochi, and Kochi City are about an hour away and you can choose to spend an afternoon there waltzing about the cafes, drinking coffee and watching the fishermen cast their nets. If you like peace and solitude, you can hire cycles and ride up to the Kumarakom bird park and follow it up with a breakfast at the Kumarakom Lake Resort. Kumarakom is a sleepy town only about half an hour away and overlooks the stunning emerald green backwaters of lake Vembanad. Prince Charles also chose to spend his 65th birthday by the serene backwaters of Kumarakom and spent his nights in the palatial presidential suite (which you must see to believe).
Vasundhara Resorts, Kerala, Address: VP II/123F, Vayalar, Cherthala, Alleppey District, Alleppey, Kerala 688536
Phone:+91478 661 3000; http://www.vasundhararesorts.in/
Kumarakom Lake Resort, Kerala, Kumarakom North Post, Kottayam 686566
Phone: +9148125249000; http://www.kumarakomlakeresort.in/