Even though this was not really part of my solo trip, I was lucky enough to see some amazing places while on this family holiday, over one of the busiest times of the year for southern India.
Those 24hs floating with a houseboat on the Kerala backwaters in Aleppey were a great kickstart for our…relaxation. As the houseboat took off from the port, we were concerned at the numbers of swarming houseboats all moving at the same time, like an ant procession on the canals… Nonetheless, we were soon alone, with paddy fields and palm trees extending till the eye could see, birds chirping around us, and calm waters leading us along. Innumerable naps were taken during that afternoon! As the sunset was approaching, we anchored near a few other boats, and enjoyed the evening dinner (with some noisy neighbors, who seemed to be playing many fun games on the boat nextdoor!)
The experience was brief but sweet, recommendable for 2 or 3 nights (or more!).
Fort Kochi offered us quite a bit of entertainment (as well as the mandatory holiday shopping), especially thanks to the art Biennale that was being held in that same period (#traveltip: research events happening before you reach the place, which was marvelously done by my sister in the case of Kochi). We ate well, strolled around colonial buildings holding expositions, and watched a LOT of Kathakali! Our first Kathakali show was a bit disappointing, as the lights continued to go out (together with the air conditioning!), and the artists’ …etiquette was questionable. The second Kathakali show at the Kathakali Cultural Centre, however, was very impressive, all the way through the make-up session, the demonstrations of facial expression in Indian classical dance, and the short story performed by the artists.
Marari beach delivered exactly what we wanted: a quiet stay, not very touristy, cute beach huts providing delicious food, and even dolphin sighting! The location was perhaps a little too quiet for someone seeking some New Year’s Eve excitement, but luckily we were able to join the festivities at the neighboring Marari Beach Resort, which resulted to be delicious and entertaining! (First time welcoming the new year with Bollywood dances???)
Finally, the 4-day detox retreat with Saptrashmi, in Mevellor, was the cherry on the cake!
7.30am detox therapy, morning yoga, midday meditation, evening yoga…it sounded a little like a work schedule, rather than a holiday, but it actually turned out to be a fantastically energizing experience!
Every morning we’d wake up to the lazy mist over the silent river, take a brief stroll to wait for the effect of the detox therapy (I’ll spare you the details of the therapy…), then stroll over to a little round table surrounded by benches which hung right over the river, and received a deliciously spicy hot tea, while exchanging chats with the other visitors.
The morning pranayama helped wake us up to a fruit breakfast, before a brief morning break, to relax or go canoeing on the river, and then the midday meditation grounded us (at times to the point of making us sleep!) for the new day. The light lunch was followed by three or four free hours, during which some people got slathered in coconut oil by the Ayurvedic masseuse, to then meet again for our afternoon spicy tea, and then a slightly more demanding (sometimes back-breaking and tear-flowing) yoga session, followed by a pleasant group dinner, before each person made their way back into their beds.
A yoga/detox retreat is not an usual destination for a family holiday, but we sure enjoyed sharing that experience, and would recommend it to all!
We managed to see only a speck of this beautiful Indian state, but without a doubt Kerala, with its luscious green backwaters and amazing coconut-centered food, is a destination most recommendable to travelers hitting up southern India!