Coconut Lagoon Kerala India
If you truly want to get away from the maddening crowd and relax after a hectic time sightseeing in Kerala; then look no further than the unique Coconut Lagoon, reached only by boat, on the shores of Vembanad Lake in the Backwaters of Kerala. I just love the ride from the landing jetty to the hotel – it gently releases you from the outside world and slows you down to Coconut Lagoon pace!
When you arrive it’s a watercolour picture – everywhere you look there’s water of every shade and hue - from deepest blues to ultra marines and shades of green and browns in the monsoon rains: all framed by the natural beauty of the lake shimmering at sunset and aglow in the soft dawn’s rays. Small canals, filled with fish and water lilies, wind their way through lush grounds.
Tethered cows placidly graze the canal shores – the endangered Vechoor, one of the world’s smallest breeds munch contently on the grass ignoring all the ‘paparazzi’ snapping away! The hotel has a breeding programme to try and build up the herds once again. The butterfly garden is a blaze of colour and, close by, the hotels paddy fields (when I last stayed there) were awash with monsoon rains. The only sound to break the silence is the chatter of birds and the throb throb throb of a kettuvallam (barge) laden with goods or today – tourists! Don’t come for frantic night life or wide screen TV. Come here for the real heart of nature and a wonderful Backwater Welcome.
The hotel has three categories of rooms: delightful Heritage bungalows, Heritage mansions and luxury pool villas all nestled along the banks of the canals and Vembanad Lake. Many of the mansions are restored ancient Therawads (feudal homes), each carefully renovated and a vision of polished wood and brass. This time my bungalow was right on the shores of a canal – each evening I was loathed to leave my terrace, as I was so engrossed with my daily ritual of watching a cormorant diving for fish. He would leave the water and preen himself on branch metres away from me, casting shy sidelong glances and, diving back immediately I pointed the camera at him – he won – I never did get that action shot!
Do go behind the scenes and see their set up for recycling - everything from rain water harvesting to bio gas to using plastic bottles to build walls! It’s a integral part of all the cghearth properties ethos:– sustainability.
There’s a small Ayurvedic spa – using the wonderful massages developed, over the generations, by the Masters of the Kalaripayattu Martial Arts , who sought to find ways of treating muscle injuries after practice bouts. Today it’s a unique method of massage – and sits comfortably alongside the traditional Ayurvedic massages. No treatment takes place until a fully qualified doctor discusses the patient’s individual medical history, and, only then, the treatment is prescribed - deep and penetrating or soft and relaxing – pure heaven! Visitors can also stay longer than the usual 2-3 nights and partake in a course of therapies depending upon their needs. Yoga and meditation are also arranged and the centre has the prestigious Green Leaf certificate.
Food here reflects the area – lots of fresh fish – with organic vegetables mainly from their own gardens and of course lots of coconut. After all this is Kerala! Don’t worry if you’re not into spice – there’s always a selection of international food on offer. Each evening a Chef gives a cooking demo and tasting so you can learn the secrets of this delicious food – taste is so important in Keralan cuisine.
Light cultural entertainment fills the evenings – maybe a classical musical programme, perhaps a dance or a pulsating Kalaripayattu martial arts performance. Children will be entranced by the sheer exuberance and enthusiasm of the dancers awed by the martial arts performers – Kung Fu Panda will never be the same for them after watching these impresasive performers....... Early risers can watch or join in the morning Kalaripayattu practices - I promised myself I would but just never made it!
One evening a young dancer captivated the audience with his solo routine. For a split second he was a macho male the next a soft wilting feminine dame.........quite extraordinary ...........The emotion captured in his face was amazing – you felt the pathos and the deep despair, then laughed as he joked and toyed with us. I took numerous photos trying to catch those moments of emotion – I added one or two to the text, but, annoyingly they are slightly blurred due to the rapidity of the movement and my lack of photographic skill!
It’s a great place for kids with a good size pool and loads of space to explore. The naturalist is only too delighted to show them the flora and fauna of the grounds on a nature walk and explain the nuances of their eco schemes – the plastic bottles made into walls will fascinate – young and old alike. Take them for a day trip around the Backwaters discovering hidden canals or simply watching the world drift by. Local kids will shout with delight as you cruise along.
Things to do for free
• Cookery demonstrations
• Butterfly sanctuary
• Fish and Turtle sanctuary
• Classical dance/music evening shows
• Local village walks – self guided
• Kalarippayattu – simple introduction to Keralan martial arts
• Swimming pool
• Fishing with Bamboo rods
• Sunset cruise – a must do experience to watch the sunset over the lake – totally unforgettable
• Music- brief introduction to various Indian instruments
• Bird slide show
• Ayurveda talk
• Small library
• Fitness centre
• Watch TV in the Hornbill room
• Play chess/cards etc
• Nothing but relax
For an extra charge
• Hire of small wooded boat
• Ayurveda – ideal for relaxation or rejuvenation
• Bird Watching in the sanctuary
• Village visit via the canals
ï‚© Why I like it
ï‚© Relax and unhurried atmosphere
ï‚© NO TV or radio in rooms
ï‚© The soporific sound of water
ï‚© Keralan Seafood – jumbo prawns to die for!
ï‚© Commitment to the environment
ï‚© The quiet beauty of the hotel
ï‚© Terracotta roof tiles
ï‚© Tea and coffee making in room
To get there:
Emirates fly direct to Cochin in Kerala
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Debs RatcliffeExpereinced journaist with fortnightly food column with the Press & Journal in Scotland, monthly 'Boat Bites' copy in UK 'Sailing Today ' magazine. Regular contributor to numerous web sites including www.ceotraveler.com, www.romertraveler.com, the Maltese Sunday Times and 'I Do' magazine. Also writes holiday brochures for www.industours.co.uk,web copy for various companies including the latest - www.manoelislandyachtyard.com.
Located: Marsaskala Malta
Likes: food, spa, ayurveda, nature, people, environmant,culture