I’ve been to India once before, on that occasion I was in Delhi, Jaipur and Rishikesh (you can read about that trip here). I was fortunate enough to revisit recently and explore the South, mostly Kerala and one very special place in Bangalore. These are my reflections, may they be of use to you.
- The house boats of Kerala (first picture above) – stay onboard overnight with your own captain & private chef, we felt like the king & queen of the back waters as we sat on the top deck. In the morning we were picked up by canoe to explore a little deeper into the canals.
- Trek Munnar! The locals and your driver probably won’t advise it but we thought this was the only justifiable reason for driving 6 hrs from Kochi, the other things we did in Munnar felt fairly touristy. If you are interested in a hike you MUST contact Sri from Munnar Trekking Adventure he made this experience so special. Think 10kms through mountains, tea plantations, a little jungle and breakfast outdoors cooked by Sri’s wife.
- Eat local – our driver took us to a few roadside diners and we had some of the best and most fun meals of our trip like this. Ask for a Kerala meal and you’ll typically be given a banana palm leaf as a plate followed by rice and an assortment of curries, sambals & chutneys unique to each restaurant. Be bold and eat with your hands, I even slurped soup from my palm.
- Marari Beach Resort – this was my favourite place to stay. Think palm trees, the Arabian sea, butterfly & organic veggie gardens, yoga, cooking & music lessons. There was enough going on that you didn’t need to leave the resort for entertainment which meant I gave in to a proper holiday of doing very little.
- Nature Zone Resort Munnar– unfortunately I didn’t stay here, but passed these incredible treehouses whilst hiking and wish that was where I would lay my head.
- Soukya (Pictured below) – ok this is (at least for me) a very expensive place to stay, you will understand why if you ever visit. 80% of the properties requirements are produced on site, the food, the medicinal herbs and oils for Ayurvedic treatments, this is almost a completely self sustaining place! It’s also magical – the gardens are incredible, the 2km walking trail that encircles it, the prettiest yoga shall I’ve ever seen, the sweetest staff. .
A note on yoga – whether you’ve tried it once or been practising for years you must do some classes wherever you stay in India. I’m always humbled by the simplicity of the classes and reminded of it’s use as a holistic therapy (rather than a workout).
- Nature is incredible – it’s very common knowledge in India that nature provides medicine. Our driver kept stopping to pick a leaf for us, explaining “Ayurvedic”, good for such and such an ailment.
- Go with the flow – The weather is intense, between the heat and sudden downpours of rain, life doesn’t run to schedule and that’s ok. In fact it’s quite charming if you can surrender to it.
- Organic Wealth – Seems to me the happiest people we encountered in India were making a fairly low wage but displayed an obvious connection with spirit. Meaningful work and a sense of community make a rich man.
I hope you’ll get to visit someday. Most of our travels were planned with the help of Geetha and I highly recommend having a local such as her organise the details for you as there’s SO many possibilities for confusion (half the fun sometimes but stressful the other half).