Husband and I landed at Kochi airport and headed straight to Kumbalangy – a suburb of Kochi. While researching on the place to stay, we came across a homestay called Kallancherry Retreat. It caught our eye as we had never done homestays in India before, and this one seemed pretty interesting. For one - the property was right on the backwaters. To add to it was the fresh mouth watering food that their cook used to pamper us with every day. You just need a beer and a book and you are sorted - watch the boats go by, Chinese fishing nets, and chit chat with the friendly hosts.
Nextop Kumarakom backwaters. This is a must-do in every Kerala traveller's check list, and rightly so. We got a room facing the Vembanad Lake. We hired a boat for the day and got baked in the sun. Yes, getting baked is possible even in December here!
The Vembanad Lake is a huge freshwater lake, and frankly, it seems large enough for a sea. The sights at this lake are difficult to describe with the huge expanse of the lake coupled with the lush greens of Kerala, fresh sea food, stop overs at islands that you pass by, and houseboats. Kumarakom is also the first place where we tried the famous Kerala Ayurvedic massage.
After having our heartful of Kerala backwaters, we made a move to Vagamon. Munnar is The famous hill station in Kerala. However, we decided to give it a miss to avoid the touristy crowds and opted for Vagamon instead. You simply can not avoid staying at Vagamon Heights, if you reach this part of the world. It has 6 cottages spread over sprawling 250 acres property, with options to walk through thick greens on all sides, boating & fishing in lakes, jeep safaris et al. It's a relatively untouched property, though there is always a down side of staying very close to nature in the form of insects and reptiles.
From Vagamon, we made a move to the Varkala beach, by taking a direct morning train from Vagamon. Varkala beach is next to a cliff. You have the shops and restaurants on the cliff and need to go down the steps to reach the beach. Having a meal at a cliff restaurant with the beach view, watching the sun go down is an experience in itself. We tried the Ayurvedic massage again at Vagamon. We also shopped for Kerala coffee, spices, coconut shell handicrafts, and tea.
There is one thing though that I would prefer changing if I have to re-live this experience. We booked return tickets from Kochi, however Vagamon is very close to Trivendrum, hence it would have made more sense to return via Trivendrum. Anyhow, on our way back, we took a train from Varkala to Kochi, which we almost missed and caught totally DDLJ style.. albeit with a slight modification. My SRK was running behind me and a nice helpful fellow helped me jump into the moving train. SRK followed shortly. Adventure is not my thing.