The word brings a plethora of images to mind. Whether it’s the impregnable greenery of the silent valley or the surreal houseboats of Alleppey; whether it is the rich tea gardens of Munnar or the sandalwood paste anointed majestic idol of Padmanabhaswamy in Thiruvananthapuram; Kerela has something special for every temperament.
But, where most people who visit Kerela wake up to a busy day of destination hopping, hurriedly trying to squeeze in as many tourist attractions as they possibly can in their tight schedule, a lazy village at the foothills of Western Ghats near the Neyyar dam reservoir gently stirs from its deep slumber lazily pulling aside a heavy blanket of fog that has engulfed it during the night.
This little place has never seen swarms of tourist; it has never experienced the rush of deadlines; it has never noticed that it is decades behind the ‘civilization’ of modern world. Thus, not knowing what it is missing, the silly little village goes about its day merrily, dreaming up shapes in the clouds or gazing at the radiant stars which somehow seem bigger and brighter in this part of the world. To it, all mundane thoughts of ambition, goals & chasing a number are mere idiosyncrasies.
Away from the prying eyes of commercialization, Neyyar dam hides within its abyss a beautiful lion safari park, deer park, crocodile rehabilitation center, Sivananda Yoga retreat and the best tea stall or ‘chai ki tapri’ as it is called in Hindi.
It is here that I spent a month in November during my Teacher Training course from Sivananda Ashram. The ashram is located right on the banks of the Neyyar dam reservoir. A typical day here starts at 6AM with meditation and satsang followed by yoga classes, brunch and an afternoon lecture leaving the evenings free to wander. As Neyyar dam is quite conveniently cut off from the world, a day off usually means walking barefoot on grass with a book in your hands, squishing your toes into the murky lake shore to tease the fishes or spending endless hours at the small tea stall next to the ashram gazing at the water changing its hue with the setting sun in perfect harmony. You may also go for a swim in the emerald green waters of the lake, sit and meditate in the serene temple in the vicinity or hike up a small hill to visit a secluded shrine dedicated to the mother goddess.
Once the initial reluctance and rigidness of the mind to give up on the comforts and gizmos sweeps out of your bones, you open your eyes to a whole new world. A world where people are happy for no apparent reason; A world where you wake up to the roars of the lions rather than a rude alarm clock; A world where it is completely normal to have life changing conversations with complete strangers at a humble tea shop; A world where every sensation of touch and sound is enhanced.
All things said and done, if you are looking for a fast track holiday with copious amounts of excitement and glamor, then Neyyar is not the place for you. But if you want to enjoy a day without an itinerary, if you want to experience the joy of life without any superficial commodities, if you want to watch the rain drops make quirky doodles in the water puddle, then this is the place to be. It will teach you not to take life too seriously; it will teach you to rejoice in what you have and live each moment with colossal passion; it will teach you to break the mind’s preconceptions about what we need to be happy… It will teach you to fall in love.
How to get here
- Take a taxi from Airport (Rs 800)
- Take a bus from Kattakada then Auto or bus to Neyyar Dam
Where to Stay
Sivananda yoga vedanta dhanwantari ashram
They offer many programs like yoga vacation, teacher training courses, advanced teacher training courses, Fasting and detoxification program, Ayurveda wellness course, kids camp etc. Yoga vacation is the best program if you would like to get a taste of the yogic lifestyle.
Website – http://sivananda.org.in/neyyardam/
What to do
- Sivananda Ashram has a daily program charted out for its yoga vacationers which keeps one occupied for most part of the day.
- lion safari park, crocodile park, deer park etc are all within walking distance from the Ashram