Fancy spending a tranquil afternoon under a thatched roof with a mesmerising lake overflowing with birds in front of you? The breeze gently caressing your soul while houseboats gently stream past your eyes? Fancy gorging on delicious Kerala cuisine and experiencing Kerala in a nutshell, not quite leaving out anything? Well, reach Coconut Lagoon, a premier property of the CGH (Clean, Green, Healthy) Earth Experience Group which runs some magnificent and unique properties across Southern India.
Built in 1993, this resort/experience is unique from the very beginning. There are no roads up to the property. You can only reach and leave by a boat which comes to pick you up from a private jetty. As you wind your way through the canals you reach the stunning gateway leading to the property. In no time a group of ever smiling staff, a flute player greets you with refreshing coconut water.
The architecture is strikingly unique and more unique is the story behind it. The entire place is made up of wood, traditional Kerala tiles and thatched roof offering a respite from the extreme humidity and heat of the place. Following their strict eco tourism regime, all the wood have been sourced from old Kerala houses dating back to 150 years and refurbished as heritage bungalows, duplex heritage mansions (which I chose to stay in) and lake facing private pool villas.
The Heritage mansion is a story in itself. With a partly open air washroom with banana trees inside them, a living area below and the bedroom upstairs, the impeccable art decor is reminiscent of the glorious wood and thatch work Kerala is known for. The rooms smell and look like some out of a dream and the curtains take inspiration from the traditional white Kerala saree with golden borders so famed in Mohiniattam recitals.
Food is the next important thing which comes to your mind. Traditional, continental, Indian and Chinese, they have it all. Apart from that, they have a speciality seafood restaurant serving freshly cooked crustaceans and other delicacies. I chose their epic Curry Lunch which had a dose of everything from Syrian Beef Fry, Vembanad Fish Fry to Pineapple Curries and Payasam. A three course royal meal which is going to set you back by Rs 1500 but will leave you spellbound and extremely satisfied.
They have a host of activities arranged for you till late evening. Cooking classes, Paddy Hut dining, saree demonstration, a complimentary tea snacks session made on a floating boat by a local lady, an hour of sunset cruise on the lake, traditional dance and music performances, early morning bird-watching, Kalaripayattu (an Indian martial art and fighting system that originated in Kerala, dating back to the 3rd century B.C) demonstration and a wonderful property tour with a visit to their in-house Butterfly Garden.
The sunsets are magical to say the least and due to the extremely strategic location of the lawns bordering the lake one can soak in the entire magic of them (even if someone skips the cruise). As evening dawns and the lights come up, the entire place looks magical with the diyas and soft sounds of traditional music being played. In a similar way the mornings are magical. With the lake turning an inexplicable blue with the first light and innumerable migratory birds flying over the property one surely lives a dream.
Kumarakom is a hidden gem with Coconut Lagoon being its crown. Even after receiving fame in the international circuit for its design, breathtaking location (it's right on the lake!), impeccable service and its strong eco tourism concept it has still remained local; a strong sense of belonging to Kerala, a celebration of Kerala in all its aspects. As I was leaving on the boat with the staff waving and smiling at me from the jetty, a girl shouted out “Sir, please come again!” I realized how attached I have become to this place in such a short time and I knew deep in my mind and heart, I needed to surely visit it again!
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