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Monday, 25 April 2011

Kerala: 'God's Own Country' - Page 3

Written by Brian W Fisher
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The hotel's restaurant can only be described as 'brilliant'. No à la carte dinner menu. Instead, Keralan delicacies were served by attentive waiters. The chef was highly qualified and insistent that food should always be freshly cooked and served at the moment it was ready; not a single guest argued with his point of view and we were all more than satisfied with our culinary experiences as well as being treated as honored guests. My overall impression of this hotel was one of complete satisfaction. Hard to find these days, but so welcome when come across.

My rating...9/10

As we left Periyar's altitude, descending toward sea level, the scenery changed markedly. Tea shrubs gave way to pineapple plantations, rubber trees, bananas and coconut palms and the air temperature went up to 33°C. Water was visible at all points of the compass as we entered the magical region of Kerala known as the Backwaters. Traffic increased and our progress slowed but that allowed me to witness more aspects of the Indian way of life.

Along an ever narrowing series of minor roads, we emerged from the trees to be confronted with Vembanad Lake, a 2033 km² mass of fresh water. Tributaries spiral off it at numerous locations, giving life to this watery landscape and its indigenous population. A number of tourist resorts and hotels are dotted along the shores, but are far enough away from each other to seem exclusive.

From many resorts, it is possible to sit and watch the diverse activities of the boats which plied this way and that, some so overloaded with local reed, that one could be forgiven for believing that giant floating haystacks knew how to navigate without human assistance.

An hour's evening cruise on a six seat motor boat at the end of my first day certainly set the pace of my internal clock a number of notches slower. In every direction new sights and sounds were there to wonder at. This really was witnessing how the people of Kerala make full use of the canal waters.

The Punnamada Serena Spa Resort did not disappoint. Comprised of twenty-six villas situated with care and a common aim – seclusion and tranquility. My villa faced the lake, allowing me to savor the magical light that infuses the place at sunrise and sunset. Furnishings and facilities are top notch – some air-conditioning units are even solar powered.

The resort’s swimming pool was in high demand with temperatures soaring. I did overhear a few complaints from guests as to the number of sun-shielding parasols. However, as at all well run establishments, the Front Office Manager, Sanjay, listened attentively to my quiet 'word in his ear' and more 'magically' appeared.

During my three night stay, pre-dinner entertainment was featured on an outside stage where local dancers displayed their exquisite talents to the guests. Guests normally dined either in the air-fanned restaurant or at tables outside on an adjacent patio. For those of a more romantic nature, a nod in the right direction earlier in the day and a table would be laid on the lawn aside the lake, lit only by candlelight at no extra charge.

DSC 0324I was beginning to get used to my inactivity; lazing around, floating in the pool, listening to the birdsong and over-eating; but I had to make a move. Not much of one, as the next phase of my tour was a twenty-four hour stay on one of Kerala's world famous Rice Boats, and all I had to do was step aboard, wave goodbye to the lined-up staff of the resort and put myself in the hands of a capable captain.

My rating...8+/10

(Page 3 of 5)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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