Experiencing the Great Backwaters of Kerala with Punnamada Resort & Punnamada Houseboat

The feeling you experience once you’re in Alappuzha is a concoction of placidity and enchantment of the serenely quiet backwaters and the different hues of the skies. Lush green waves of paddy fields on either sides of the roads cools ones eyes to pure bliss. Here is where nature runs free and lullabies you to peaceful living. Not to fail to mention, a paradise for the epicurean with a rich and varied menu and for me particularly because I have a fondness for the creatures of the sea!

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The largest backwaters, the Vembanad lake is kissed by a breathtaking scenic beauty and along this beautiful stretch of backwtaers is the fully fledged Punnamada Resort. As I entered this Keralan architectural grandeur, the splendid décor and wooden works amazed me. Each step I took witnessed the traditional Kerala style cottages with walls adorned in typical mural paintings conveying stories of the many gods, its heavy timber doors and ethnic wooden furniture. This is where tradition meets modernity yet providing with the utmost level of comfort. Our room was furnished with four-poster bed and classic interiors and the elegant balcony opened to a breathtaking view of the tranquil lake view. I relaxed on the lounger for a while and watched the local fishermen fishing and my kids waving at other houseboats cruisers. To add-on to the romanticism is the partially open bathroom so as to feel one with nature.

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Once settled, we went to explore the grounds in and around the resort. Alapuzha being the pioneer of coir products, you get to see how it is made inside the resort itself. Just to feed on to my curiosity, I tried a hand in making a coir rope myself, and it was quite exciting! They had a sunset cruise on a shikara boat, but since we had plans for a Houseboat or Kettuvallom cruise the next day, we gave it a pass and thought we could rest for a while. But the irresistible activity hall with indoor games and a swimming pool kept me and my boys occupied for the rest of the day. After a quick shower, we went on to watch a cultural dance of Kerala nadanam and Mohiniattom. I should say, I couldn’t help being mesmerized with the moves and the story they depicted.

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The multi cuisine restaurant is an effortlessly refined traditional heritage experience. Serving us beautifully presented authentic Keralan dishes, I was told that the resort takes pride in cultivating their own vegetables and using fresh produce to prepare meal. Here is the crème de la crème of the restaurant: an amazing view of the lake and the islands beyond and we opted to dine out under the tall mature trees. As the breeze escaped through my hair satisfying me with a cheerful mind and filling my belly to glory with the local food.

The next day, we boarded on one of the Punnamada Luxury Houseboat, locally known as the ‘Kettuvallam’ for an overnight cruise through the famous Vembanad Lake. And once you step foot in one of these, you will be taken back by the traditional construction of the interiors and the furniture used. It was like a comfy home inside a boat – a living room, bedroom with attached toilet, kitchen, outdoor deck and all. Totally feeling pampered and spoilt; I make the best of my time spent here.  The shimmering Vembanad lake beckons you with its swaying palm trees, the rippled pristine waters and the river banks showcasing the way of life of the commoners. There’s no doubt of that ecstatic feel you get when you are carried along with the smooth ripples on the waters. For lunch we were served with a traditional kerala meal on a banana leaf, truly king size and finger licking. We whiled away in the boat with long stories of our days and telling the kids of the habits and cultures of the people here, all the while watching the stunning tapestry of the sunset view. At night once docked, after a sumptuous a dinner, we headed back to our rooms inside the kettuvallam. Soon enough we were drifted off to slumber and dreams afloat.

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Breakfast was served onboard with Puttu and Kadala (the famous breakfast of Kerala) and fruits. After an hour more of cruising on this exquisite beauty of a lake and being treated as royalty with mouth-watering food and excellent services, we checked out from the houseboat.

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Cultured and historic, exotic and tropical, couldn’t ask for anything more on a holiday and Punnamada Resort and their luxury houseboat promised me with all of what my heart desired for a relaxing, enjoyable and memorable days. What more can the Venice of the East delight you with?

 

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India Food Tours

A Cultural & Culinary Adventure to South India

Covering some of the finest sights of the southern-most states of India, Our Cultural and Culinary Adventure tour commences with the atmospheric temple towns of Tamil Nadu. In seafront Mahabhalipuram, see the stunning bas relief and the ancient shore temple. After an overnight stop in the uniquely French town of Pondicherry, drive to Tanjore to see another UNESCO World Heritage site, the Brihadeeshwara Temple. Continue southwest to visit the vibrant and bustling Meenakshi Temple at Madurai before crossing over into the Western Ghats at Periyar in Kerala. Take a boat ride on the Periyar Lake to spot the Wild Elephants. Drive down the hills visiting tea and rubber to to the tranquil backaters of Kumarakom. Spend a night under the stars, in a rice boat, on the picturesque backwaters. Colonial Fort Cochin is the final stop before heading home.

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Our culinary tour to Kerala & South India explores the rich cultural and culinary heritage of this beautiful state. Cooking classes and market visits with our experts enhance your experience of this exhilarating destination. Accommodation is mostly in delightful homestays and small charming hotels where we enjoy the special hospitality and superb cuisine of our hosts, whose families have lived here for generations.

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Dreaming of a Kerala Holiday ???. Email us on info@indiaviakerala.com to contact one of our India Travel Specialists for preparing a tailor-made Kerala holiday.

VARANASI – A MYSTERIOUS PLACE STUCK BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH

Varanasi, also referred to as Benaras or Kashi is one of the oldest living cities in the world. This holy city humbles you by bringing you face to face with the balance of life and death. The best way to capture the spirit of Varanasi is an early morning boat ride on the sacred River Ganges from Assi Ghat to Manikarnika Ghat. You’ll witness people taking a dip in the holy River Ganges to wash away the sins and you’ll also witness people cremating their loved ones on the banks to attain moksha (liberation from the cycle of rebirth). For people living in this holy city the life revolves around the sacred River Ganges. Attend the puja or prayer ceremony that takes place early in the morning and in evening at various ghats where the air is filled with prayers, chants, music and incense. The holy city of Varanasi is not just to see. Its to feel and experience. A visit to this city is for people who are ready to accept that this is the culture and embrace the chaos that is Varanasi.

 

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Sadhu on the Ghats of River Ganges in Varanasi

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Sadhu trying to attain Nirvana..

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Open air beard trimming on the ghats

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People selling floating lamps

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Ganga Aarati, a spectacular must-see and extravagant show is performed daily in the evening by group of priests at the Dashashwamedh Ghat on the banks of the holy river Ganges.

Ganga Aarti takes place at 07.00 pm in the evening after the sunset for around 45 mins at the Dashashwamedh Ghat on the banks of the holy river Ganges in Varanasi.

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Preparing huge brass light lamps for the evening Ganga Aarti

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Platforms prepared for Gaga Aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghats

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Worshipping River Ganga

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Get up at the crack of the dawn for an amazing boat ride on river Ganges. A spectacular way to see the life along the banks of the river Ganges. As the sun rises you will see people flock to the banks of the river for morning worship and rituals.

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When Sun rises at Varanasi

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Kishan the 15 year old boy who took me for the boat ride on river Ganges early in the morning

Kishan the 15 year old boy who took me for the boat ride on river ganges early in the morning

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People doing Yoga on the ghats

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Morning dip in the holy river before going to Kashi Vishwanath Temple

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Our most recommended option for your stay in Varanasi is Suryauday Haveli on Shivala Ghats. A beautifully restored heritage haveli built by the Royal Family of Nepal on the ghats overlooking the River Ganges. You stay at Suryauday Haveli begins with a 15 minutes boat ride along the famous ghats of Varanasi to reach the Haveli.

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Suryauday Haveli a beautifully restored haveli on the Shivala Ghats

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Restaurant – Suryauday Haveli

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Inner courtyard at Suryauday Haveli

The holy city of Varanasi is not just to see. Its to feel and experience. A visit to this city is for people who are ready to accept that this is the culture and embrace the chaos that is Varanasi.

Planning to visit the holiday city of Varanasi. Email us on info@indiaviakerala.com to contact one of our India Travel Specialists for preparing a tailor-made holiday plan.

 

Top Reasons Why You Should Get Married In Kerala…

You met, became friends, there was love in the air, you get engaged and then the big day comes when you say “I Do”. As important as these words are, the place where you say it is also equally significant. The perfect surroundings, that special feeling, the right ambience all triggers the vibes in you to say the magical words and then to experience everlasting bliss… In a land filled with natural beauties like sparkling beaches, tranquil backwaters, ancient churches and temples, rich culture, heavenly cuisine, romantic weather and ultimate post nuptial getaways, the possibilities of the perfect wedding destination is endless in Kerala.

Many couples are charmed to be wedded in Kerala, often because they find it serene and romantic with wonderful setting and environment. With competitive wedding planners around, arrangements are taken care of concerning the best wedding venue, luxury accommodations for you and your guests, transportation facilities, decorators, bridal makeup, florists, photographers or videographers, wedding minister, wedding service, etc., and all you need to care about is to enjoy the best of your dream theme wedding coming true. There is an amazing variety of wedding venues in Kerala, so you are about to discover just the right place to have the ceremony, reception and the most memorable honeymoon escapes of your dreams. We’re giving you the top reasons why Kerala beats other destinations for a perfect wedding.

Scenic Enchantments

It is a cliché when you say Kerala is known for its picturesque locations. If you love beaches, Kerala is proud to shelter some of the best known exotic beaches in the world like Kovalam, Marari, Bekal etc. Or if you find beaches too common, yet wish to have a water body as a setting, nothing can compare to the remarkable yet peaceful backwaters of Alleppey, Kumarakom or Kollam. Want to choose a cool atmosphere? Then the mist clad hill stations of Munnar,  Periyar or Wayanad spread out with tea and spice plantations alongside spectacular waterfalls and gurgling rivers is for you. So, how about a wedding aboard a houseboat overlooking the serene backwaters or a wedding on palm-fringed beaches? Or choose a wedding with verdant greenery and the music of tropical birds in a private plantation on the high altitude hill stations.

Weddings & HoneymoonsCultural Heritage

Even though migration paved way to modernity, Kerala portrays an exceptional diversity with its traditions, classical music, dance forms and trumpeting festivals. Kerala loves to sustain its heritage. When you choose to be wedded in Kerala, we give you the most of cultural experience by including lavish elephant pageantry, traditional Kerala welcome with flower garlands and fireworks, classical art or fusion dance forms, mehendi etc. Whether you decide on a Christian wedding in a church, a Hindu wedding in a temple or a wedding ceremony in a traditional theme, Kerala guarantee a unique cultural experience not only for you but for your guests too, to remember and cherish always.

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Kerala Cuisine

Vegetarian? Non Vegetarian? Sea Food lover? Sweet fanatic? You name it, We have it! Kerala loves to cook local and international. She loves to experiment in food combinations and also loves it the authentic way. But more than serving you, the ultimate satisfaction is when you are filled with a pleasure only food can provide. Maybe it is the strong culture the people of Kerala endorse- they are the best hosts ready to greet you always with a pleasant smile. Any more worries of picking the best food for your guests? Absolutely nothing can go wrong with Keralan gastronomic delights.

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Kerala with its exquisite scenic views and rich heritage, lip-smacking food and warm natured, friendly people has always been popular among travellers and thus is the perfect honeymoon escape. Here is where you get to accomplish both your dreams-to get married at the absolute perfect location and then savour all that Kerala has to offer on your honeymoon. No wonder Kerala is topped as one of the best honeymoon destinations in the world.

weddings_honeymoonsClimate

The enigmatic climate of Kerala is what sparks a romance in every couple who come to Kerala. The fascinating rain within a plantation tour, the cool dews of the hill stations or the warm sunshine on the coast of your favourite beach or the tropical climate by the backwaters- Kerala gives you the opportunity for the best fairytale weddings ever. In Kerala there are no “best dates” for your wedding because any day can be chosen as per your favourite season to be wedded. All you need to be prepared is for the romance to ignite in you and your loved one and for the everlasting memories your guests will carry of this beautiful coastal place called Kerala.

Kerala in Style with CGH Earth Hotels

Somehow we’re very fond of the CGH Earth Hotels. The staff are amongst the most cordial, the food- divine, properties- surreal and the experience- an achievement that is impossible to forget! It wouldn’t come as a surprise that they are commonly known as CGH Earth because of the pro environmental measures they look into and partake. Their green credential goes up to growing their own organic produce and if need be, will be taught to cook and prepare it in the local taste. So when you come across a CGH Earth experience, rest assured, you are in the safest haven with pure food and encountering a natural way of life.

Kerala in Style with CGH Earth focuses on a relaxed yet enthralling tour of Kerala’s most stunning CGH properties. Starting in Cochin, Stay at Brunton Boatyard or Eighth Bastion. After recovering from the jet lag, your delightful journey begins with a relaxing sunset cruise from Cochin Harbour and seeing the sights of traditional manually operated Chinese fishing nets. Fort Kochi and Mattancherry are must see places in Cochin. Explore the historic townships from where you can try out the local fare at the fish market in Kochi surrounded by fishing nets and the freshest catch of the day. You can even buy fresh fish from here, get it cooked and served in the authentic Kerala flavours. Mattancherry is a sanctuary for people who love to shop. Find interesting souvenirs to take back home or simply take in the sights around. You can also see historic attractions like the Dutch palace that was gifted by the Portuguese to the Raja of Cochin in the 16th century and adjacent to it, the Jewish Paradesi Synagogue.

The Brunton Boatyard, Fort Cochin

From the colonial port town of Cochin to the amazing wilderness, a stay at the Spice Village will take you to another world of experience. Sleep in the lap of nature in cottages made with indigenous materials. Spice Village promotes organic farming and takes pride in buying provisions from around a vicinity of 50 miles. So that adds up to the freshness even more. If you are interested, they’ll be happy to show you their farming techniques and offer you cookery classes with the day’s harvests. Chill out in the colonial-style bar and find the Wildlife Interpretation Centre here. A resident naturalist will show slides and answer queries about Periyar and its fauna and flora. Enjoy a wide range of activities like boating on Lake Periyar, Nature Walk, Bamboo Rafting, Jungle Walk, Border Hiking etc. At Periyar Tiger reserve.

Spice Village, Periyar

Travelling to the West, Coconut Lagoon is set on the laid back town of Kumarakom. This is an architectural splendour which was built by dismantling various antiquated near-to-ruin ancestral homes from all around Kerala and set up in Kumarakom as heritage bungalows and mansions to revive the lost architecture, craftsmanship and culture. Surrounded by tranquil backwaters, here is the place where you tend to unwind. Try out a rejuvenating massage with the age old Ayurvedic therapy. You can even choose to cruise on a houseboat during the day and see the life along the backwaters or choose to sleep in one overnight.

Coconut Lagoon, Kumarakom

From Kumarakom, a 45 mins drive takes you to the fishing village of Mararikulam. Stay at the Marari Beach Resort and soak in a fête of sunshine, seamless service, relaxing vibe and a daily dosage of exquisite food. Experience the life of local fishermen which has remained unchanged over the lapse of time. Marari Beach Resort also offers to demonstrate organic farming and shows you how Kerala cooking is done. The tropical climate tempts you to take a dip in the ocean skirted with swaying palm trees.

Marari Beach Resort, Mararikulam

Your magical experiences with CGH Earth and Kerala takes a new turn as you pack your bags to go home. You may be ending your holiday here but you take back with you wonderful memories. When you are transferred to Cochin International Airport to connect your onward journey, we’re not sad to see you off because we know you will come back for more to experience Kerala to the fullest.

Email us on info@indiaviakerala.com for a tailor-made Kerala holiday.

Mayapott – a true plantation experience

Relaxed and refreshed is the wish that Mayapott Plantation Villa granted me as I walked out of the doors into the softly falling rain. The drive to the resort through winding hills of Western Ghats was well worth the amazing and unforgettable experiences.

Mayapott - a true plantation experience

Mayapott – a true plantation experience

Driving through the meandering roads, I gripped the seats a little tighter as the hair pin turns are daringly bent with deep gorges on one side but with a breathtaking panoramic view of distant mountains and waterfalls. As you reach the hilltops, the roads showcase acres of cardamom plantations on both sides. Situated 810m above sea level, the high range of Idukki is also known as the spices capital of Kerala. Mainly populated by migrants from different parts of Kerala with the main intention of agriculture and spice cultivation such as cardamom, tea, coffee, pepper etc, Idukki is a haven for expeditions through spice plantations, hiking and trekking.

Nestled amidst the hills of this Western Ghats, in a sweet spice scented village called Kattapana, is where the romantic plantation villa of Mayapott dwells. Set unobtrusively in a 100 acre cardamom plantation, Mayapott exudes the soul and spirit of nature. Here nature’s sounds are of unpredictable showers of rain, birds chirping and singing and the gushing stream flowing besides your room and under your walkway. The resort modelled out of the rocks from the region and with wild plants, creepers and tall trees all around imparts the raw demeanour of nature.

On arrival, we were greeted by the friendly staff with a steaming cup of lemon tea which was refreshing and revitalizing. We were ushered to our room which had a big boulder and an exotic open shower with river stones, which made me feel all the more closer to Mother Earth. After unpacking and a quick change, we went out for a walk through the plantation. Nature beckons you to see and feel more of herself in different forms. The soft mud under your feet, high notes whistled by the whistling thrush, the aroma of wet earth and cardamom pods, the cool misty air that breathes on your cheeks, lush greenery, the strokes of different hues all around… After one and a half hours of exploring nature and walking until the cardamom treatment plant, it was back to the resort for the evening. The staff prepared a fire in the reading room fireplace and all of us gathered to chit chat a little while. Was it the warmth spreading through the grooves of the stone walls or the sound of the gurgling stream that made me feel so calm? A tranquillity so magical that cannot be described! No wonder they named this place so aptly Mayapott which colloquially means the mystical point. After dinner, we retired for the night. In the hopes of catching up on lost sleep, we intend to wake up late. Being accustomed to the hustle and bustle of city life, I am in a conflict of perfect silence. Ironically, at this point of time, I feel nature is quiet raucous and I find a hard time to fall asleep initially. But the white noise cradled me to slumber soon.

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Waking up early in the morning (all hopes failed), I’m amused that I feel fresh and well rested after all! Wrapped in a shawl with a cup of hot black coffee on a bridge over a gurgling river everyday might be a wishful wish. But I’m enjoying every second of it at present and tidying aside a special place in mind to treasure the memoirs. I already miss the place and the beautiful serene ambience. This is the one home with a thousand stories. Here is where people tend to come back for more. And I too shall return soon to fill the empty spaces and be one with nature.

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Mayapott Plantation Villa is a luxury getaway resort that is well suited for a perfect family holiday, romantic honeymooning for couples, fun group get-together, a retreat for peace seekers or for nature enthusiasts. The accommodation includes 2 studio rooms and a villa suite with a view of the river and the plantations. The attached open bathrooms have a natural ambience. The earthiness is found throughout in the resort. The dining room which connects the rooms with a bridge also has a fantastic view of the flowing wild river. The stone walled reading room has a fireplace and a modest library. The resort itself is a good opportunity for activities such as walks or tour of the plantation, half day farm visit, jeep safari and many more. Or you can continue your hobbies of cycling, bird watching, trekking or photography.