Are you planning a visit to heaven?
Where does one start describing a land that’s so beautiful that people call it God’s own country? Can I even begin to do justice to the beauty, wonder and lushness of this place?
You know what, I am not going to try to. You can read about it online in thousands of trip reviews. However, I will share my experience of travelling to Kerala last year.
I had wanted to visit Kerala for a long time and we finally went last December!
We landed in Cochin in the middle of the night and spent the night in the beautiful Hyatt hotel with a charming courtyard pool and delicious buffet breakfast. Next day we wandered around Cochin, visiting the tourist hot spots: Chinese fishing nets, St Francis church, Portuguese Mattancherry palace and so forth. Our driver picked us up in the afternoon to drive us to the famous Kerala backwaters.
Most people when they think of Kerala, they think backwaters and house boats. We were keen to explore the backwaters and the house boats but we also wanted to have a slightly difference experience. After much research, we had discovered a hidden gem in the backwaters: Philip Kutty Farm.
It’s a 35-acre organic farm resort on a reclaimed island in the middle of Lake Vembanad. The farm is run by the mother-daughter duo and they grow cocoa, coconuts and bananas.
After couple of hours of car ride from Cochin, we reached the shores of lake Vembanad; our host had arranged for the punting boats, called ‘vallam’ (country boat) by the locals, to take us across the lake to their island farm. I hadn’t tried punting boats since the time I went punting in river Cam in Cambridge, so was very excited!
Our host Anu and her mother-in-law were at the dock to welcome us to their island home. I am sort of lost for words.. which is rare but I am going to try to describe the experience of being at Philip Kutty farm. As soon as we stepped off the boat, it felt like we had entered another universe, another world, a dream set in a lush tropical forest, with birds and boats floating by, trees laden with flowers, coconut, bananas and cocoa.
The farm has been exquisitely designed, lake-front cottages are luxurious havens, designed in the traditional Keralan style and furnished with antique South Indian furniture. Every morning, the ladies from the local village come to help, they start the day with decorating the front of the cottages with the traditional Keralan “rangoli” made with fresh flowers. It’s a joy to watch them create such lush, beautiful designs every morning.
Food! Anu’s mother-in-low supervises the kitchen staff herself and if you are kitchen keen, she also offers personalized cooking lessons. Being served with such love by Anu and her mom was what made it so special.. we ate in an open verandah surrounded by the lush jungle, in the company of other guests, sharing our experiences of travel.
My dad was very keen to get a tour of the farm. He is a mathematician by profession but in his heart, he still thinks of himself as a farmer 😍. An opportunity to spend time in someone else’s farm is his idea of a dream holiday! He quizzed Anu endlessly when she took us around the farm. Poor Anu!
Our early morning and evening rides on the punting boats rowed by the local fishermen with amazing knowledge of the local flora and fauna, taking us through the backwaters of lake Vembanad were gloriously delightful. Watching life happening on the shores, in the waterways and on the lake while taking in the sun rises and sun sets in the middle of the lake was magic.
In the afternoon, we whiled away the hours, sitting on the verandah chatting, reading, watching house boats go by as if in a dream, having fragrant chai and cool sherbets, nibbling on delicious home-made savories.
A dream, I didn’t want to come out of but other journeys and destinations called… Philip Kutty farm, a haven, a dream….
I have been to heaven. When are you planning to visit?
Please share your experiences of places where you felt as if you have stepped into another world. I will be writing about my experience of visiting Munnar, tea- growing mountain region of Kerala, in my next blog post about Kerela.
Tip: If you visit Philip Kutty farm, they can also organise a house boat for you, which picks you up from the doorstep of the farm. How fun!