Please login to vote.
Monday, 22 March 2010

Beaches, Ashrams, and Backwaters: Exploring Kerala (& Mumbai), India - Page 3

Written by Christina Kay Bolton
  • Print
  • Email
  • AddThis Social Bookmark Button
Rate this item
(0 votes)

When we arrived at Thiruvananthapuram’s (also known as Trivandrum) airport near the southern tip of India our driver, Arun, was magically waiting for us even though we’d given him the wrong arrival time and flight number. Arun works for SITA and was very personable, spoke English well, and was the source of great conversation throughout the trip. I told him we wanted to do a bit of sightseeing in town before heading out to Varkala beach, so we stopped to look at Sree Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple (non-Hindu’s cannot go inside) and then explored the city palace museum which had some beautiful ivory pieces including a basinet made entirely out of ivory, some nice paintings, and a large throne-like chair adorned with huge crystals from Slovakia.

After lunch (which is the most substantial meal if you’re sticking to ashram food) we went to the beach. The waves were mesmerizing at 3-6 feet high and crash loudly into the retaining wall of rocks that was built to protect this very vulnerable strip of land. Swimming and sunbathing are not allowed at the ashram’s beach – westerners in small bathing suits does not fit in with the ashram’s policy of trying to respect its neighbors and to not overly influence the local culture. The beach is used for early morning and evening meditation (and there is a swimming pool at the ashram if you want to swim). Next to the beach there is a building with many of the ashrams small business ventures – there is a shop selling Ayurvedic medicinal mixtures made on the compound. Amma has many charitable projects all over India and the world and they are supported by these purchases.


Another thing you may want to do while here is have a Vedic astrology reading (be sure to sign up the day before) – there is a very experienced astrologer who can tell you all about your life stages, strengths and challenges. Vedic astrology is very different than western astrology and most people end up being a different sign.

Rooms at the ashram are basic, with thin mattresses on the floor, but they do have private bathrooms and couples can request their own room. If you come alone you’ll be put with other singles of your gender. You need to bring soap and towels (you can also buy them at the shop just next to the temple), but can borrow sheets, pillows and cleaning supplies. You are required to clean your room when you leave. Ashram life may be for you if you’re looking for an experience like Elizabeth Gilbert had in Eat, Pray, Love. Try to come when Amma is here as a hug from her really does open you up and change you for the better.

*Note: Pictures are not allowed at the ashram, therefore none have been included. Check their website for a few.

Houseboat

Beaches, Ashrams, and Backwaters: Exploring Kerala (& Mumbai), India, Arabian Soul, guest house in Varkala, Thiruvananthapuram, Trivandrum, Claufouty Café, Harmony Restaurant, travel kerala, Amritapuri, Amma ashram, houseboat cruise through the backwaters, Kumarakom, Cocobay Resort, Kochi, Cochin, Malabar House, Kathakali dance performances, Chinese fishing nets, yoga and Ayurvedic retreat centers, Mumbai travel, Bombay tours, SITA, sita tours, Christina Kay Bolton

Beaches, Ashrams, and Backwaters: Exploring Kerala (& Mumbai), India, Arabian Soul, guest house in Varkala, Thiruvananthapuram, Trivandrum, Claufouty Café, Harmony Restaurant, travel kerala, Amritapuri, Amma ashram, houseboat cruise through the backwaters, Kumarakom, Cocobay Resort, Kochi, Cochin, Malabar House, Kathakali dance performances, Chinese fishing nets, yoga and Ayurvedic retreat centers, Mumbai travel, Bombay tours, SITA, sita tours, Christina Kay BoltonAfter a short drive from Amritapuri we arrived at the launch for our houseboat to slowly cruise through the backwaters – an experience not to be missed. The boat had one bedroom, a large covered deck with a comfy seating area and a kitchen in the back to keep us well fed. Upon arrival we were offered fresh coconut juice as our skipper took the helm.

 

 

 

Beaches, Ashrams, and Backwaters: Exploring Kerala (& Mumbai), India, Arabian Soul, guest house in Varkala, Thiruvananthapuram, Trivandrum, Claufouty Café, Harmony Restaurant, travel kerala, Amritapuri, Amma ashram, houseboat cruise through the backwaters, Kumarakom, Cocobay Resort, Kochi, Cochin, Malabar House, Kathakali dance performances, Chinese fishing nets, yoga and Ayurvedic retreat centers, Mumbai travel, Bombay tours, SITA, sita tours, Christina Kay BoltonThe backwaters are canals that are the traditional ‘roads’ of Kerala. You see all of rural life as you meander through; women washing clothes, schoolchildren returning home, milkmen delivering in their handmade canoes. It was so peaceful to just sit and watch as we floated by. After a couple hours we stopped for an incredible lunch: four delicious vegetarian salads and curries with rice and fried fish. We rested there and then continued our journey until just before sunset when we stopped for the night.

 

Beaches, Ashrams, and Backwaters: Exploring Kerala (& Mumbai), India, Arabian Soul, guest house in Varkala, Thiruvananthapuram, Trivandrum, Claufouty Café, Harmony Restaurant, travel kerala, Amritapuri, Amma ashram, houseboat cruise through the backwaters, Kumarakom, Cocobay Resort, Kochi, Cochin, Malabar House, Kathakali dance performances, Chinese fishing nets, yoga and Ayurvedic retreat centers, Mumbai travel, Bombay tours, SITA, sita tours, Christina Kay Bolton

Beaches, Ashrams, and Backwaters: Exploring Kerala (& Mumbai), India, Arabian Soul, guest house in Varkala, Thiruvananthapuram, Trivandrum, Claufouty Café, Harmony Restaurant, travel kerala, Amritapuri, Amma ashram, houseboat cruise through the backwaters, Kumarakom, Cocobay Resort, Kochi, Cochin, Malabar House, Kathakali dance performances, Chinese fishing nets, yoga and Ayurvedic retreat centers, Mumbai travel, Bombay tours, SITA, sita tours, Christina Kay BoltonWe walked around the remote area, met some of the villagers and saw the cutest little lamb that scratched the back of its neck by folding his head all the way back and flopping his ears from side to side.

The chef served us a huge feast for dinner that was even better than lunch: chicken in an incredible sauce, the best dhal (curried lentils) I’ve ever had, green beans with coconut, potatoes with cauliflower, and homemade chapattis and rice. This was the best meal we’d had in India and we loved the southern food and its unique spices and flavors. On houseboats they will often stop at local fishermen’s huts so you can buy fresh king prawns if you prefer that for dinner. The prawns are huge – one should fill you up. Most movement in the backwaters comes to a halt after sunset, but we watched some other boats continue by in the darkness with no lights and wondered how they did it.

(Page 3 of 7)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

Search Content by Map

Search

All Rights Reserved ©Copyright 2006-2019 inTravel Magazine®
Published by Christina's Arena, Inc.