There are some places in India that are very close to my heart. One of them is Kumaon in Uttarakhand and the other is Kerala. My frequent visits to both these places have given me a sense of oneness with them. As soon as I arrive, I know exactly where I am and where I need to go and the familiarity is heart warming.
This time as soon as I landed in Kerala, I went straight to my favourite cafe, Oy's cafe in Fort Kochi. After a few hours of wandering the streets of Fort Kochi, I got right to work and started my exploration of Kerala with three objectives in mind - Explore a hidden beach, find a secret backwater retreat and scout out soul-soothing experiences in God's Own Country.
1. Explore a hidden beach
After a quick pit stop at Fort Kochi, I made my way to Marari beach where I spent two days beach-bumming, relaxing at a beautiful beach villa and learning about local practices from the fishermen of the adjoining village. I have to say that Marari beach is one of the cleanest beaches I have seen in India and I was surprised to find soft, powdery white sand. The beach villa where I stayed was located 5 kms from the main Marari beach, far away from the crowds, and amidst clean waters and white sand, giving me two days of absolute peace and serenity.
2. Find a secret backwater retreat
While I came across various backwater retreats in Allepey and Kumarakom, the one that blew my mind was located far away from the touristy places, on a quiet stretch of the backwaters somewhere between Allepey and Kochi. I am convinced that this place is by far one of my most stunning finds! From the moment I reached the jetty (the island is only accessible by boat) and spotted the cute blue boat, my heart lit up and I knew I had found the perfect hideaway in Kerala.
The boatman, Shaji rowed me to the retreat located on a peaceful stretch of the backwaters. Once I arrived there and looked around, the reality and the beauty of the place sunk in and I knew that the next two days on this secret island would be absolutely stunning!
I spent my days cruising on the backwaters chasing sunrise and sunsets, getting Ayurvedic massages, and walking through the local villages. The rest of the time I just lazed around and napped, ate yummy freshly cooked meals and meditated on the small pier on the backwaters. My experience at the retreat was nothing short of amazing and the lovely team at the place made sure every minute I spent here was fantastic :)
3. Scout soul soothing experiences
Sometimes my work demands that I experience things that I might not personally choose to do. I do these things anyway, just to ensure that my travellers who wish to do certain activities have the most stunning and flawless experiences. Allepey, known for its houseboats and backwaters, is something most travellers want to experience in Kerala, so I decided to add that to my trip, keeping in mind that amidst the commercial madness of this place, I must find a hidden, soulful experience.
I started the day on a houseboat, but got off it as soon as I was done documenting it for my website. I took a smaller boat to explore the narrow canals, hoping it would lead me to less frequented parts of the backwaters, but I was wrong. After exactly 20 minutes of being on the boat (I was supposed to be on it for 2 hours), I asked the boatman if he could take me off the main route and somewhere where I could experience something more authentic. While he pondered on where to take me, I shamelessly asked him if he would take me to his village on the backwaters.
Hesitant at first, he humbly agreed and off we went to his village with mango orchards and golden rice fields. I was glad I found a piece of Allepey where there were no tourists, just lush farms and blue skies! I left Allepey happy and satisfied, knowing I had experienced something magical!
A big thanks to my hosts Olga and Maneesha for hosting me at their retreats that they have created with so much love and passion!
I will cherish the memories of my journey to your properties for a long time and hope to inspire many more Wanderbug's to experience the beauty that you have created in Kerala :)