One thing is sure: if ever your eyes need a balm, head to Kerala. That verdant, lush, watery southern-most state of India. My first experience of a trip to this wonderfully green and clean state is permanently etched in my mind.
It was dusk, in the month of May. I found myself in a motorboat, going along pitch-dark backwaters of the dense coconut groves of Kerala. The powerful beam of light from the boat was the sole guiding factor, and besides us, there seemed to be no sign of life, anywhere! The dark waters reflected the dense coconut trees of the grove we were passing by. In effect, the mirror image of the coconut trees was giving it an optical illusion of floating , and we gladly were entering a dream like world.
The place I was actually in was a beautiful resort known as the Estuary Island Resort, Poovar,(Kerala) . Three escorts were ready with umbrellas, as a slight drizzle was threatening to turn into something more serious. Later we learnt that in Kerala, it is compulsory to arm oneself with these huge black umbrellas in the rainy months. The estuary resort was so named as the sea comes in according to the tide. So, at times, the hotel is surrounded by sea at times, and when the tide is low, the sea goes further back. In this respect, it was the first estuary resort hotel I experienced.
The well furnished rooms, boast of great wood work, a hall mark of Kerala and it’s artisans. The balcony overlooks the resort swimming pool and garden, and the sea (visible only at daytime) at the distance. The place boasted of being a one-of-a-kind resort, being at the juncture of a river, lake and sea.
An early morning short boat ride took us to a sand bar, dotted with fisher-folk, dozens of them, tugging at fishing nets. Some fishing boats were already at sea. The sea waves, the blue sky, and golden sand, with it’s accompanying powerful breeze, set the whole moment in what one could term, that “perfect” moment. The food here is fresh, and the ambience of the sea just adds to the flavours of anything one partakes. For those enjoying sea-food, this is the perfect place. People are friendly, hospitable and also laid-back, a quality that surprises most city dwellers.
Also to be checked out is the wonderful Ayurvedic Farm cum Resort, which had several cottages, massage centers, meditation ,and Yoga facilties. Various hued butterflies danced among the primroses and hibiscus bushes. Greenery, flowers, a world away from the frenetic, commercial and noisy environs of city life.
Do not miss out on a holy trip (darshan) to the famous Padmanabhan Temple, at Trivandrum (now known as Thiruvanthapuram). This ancient temple, approx 2,500 years old, is the abode of Lord Padmanabhan, or Lord Vishnu. If you happen to be visiting this ancient Hindu temple, be cautioned: men folk need to be dressed in a “lungi”. Women need to be in ethnic attire. Lungis are available all along shops around the temple complex. On entering the temple, in the main foyer, is a huge brass lamp, in which devotees pour generous quantities of oil, and offering to the Deity. Temple timings are strict, and be well informed of the timings before planning your trip. The temple is, besides being the abode of the Lord, a treasure house of ancient architecture and rich sculpture, and leaves one with a sense of utmost wonder. The sculpture is on view while taking a “pradakshina”.
Kerala, that wonderful, abundant state of Southern India, is truly what the travel brochure calls it, “God’s Own Country”.Visit Kerala for the traveller in you, for the wanderer in you, and to partake of it’s healing touch. I benefited greatly: I’m sure you will too!
Article and Pics by Ruma Sen